For the aspiring Hard SF writer who doesn't want to go pro

Hypothetically speaking here:

Suppose, purely hypothetically, that there was this guy out there who wanted to write a hard science fiction novel, but didn’t care about making money off of it. Let’s call this purely hypothetical person “trackler”. Hypothetically, of course.

Let’s say this person also believes that “publishing” in a printed medium is basically stupid, because he can just put his Hard SF novel up on the web someplace for everybody to read, and really, his goal is to get eyeballs on this story and (maybe) tongues flapping about it, not to hold on to movie rights or merchandising rights for the line of toys or any of that nonsense. Purely hypothetically, you understand.

Would there happen to be a site someplace that this completely hypothetical person could visit, full of other folks who like reading and writing Hard SF, where he might have a chance to display all or parts of this 100% totally hypothetical novel for others to peruse/praise/criticize? Perhaps someplace that’s friendly to links instead of posting directly to the site, as this completely hypothetical story might get quite long? Although he’s not averse to using the direct-post method.

Hypothetically, of course.

With the caveat that I have not been there in yearsCritters Workshop? “Critters is an on-line workshop/critique group for serious writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. You get your work critiqued in exchange for critiquing the work of others, both of which are invaluable ways to improve your writing.”

Hmmm! This “Critters Workshop” place you speak of certainly seems to be geared for getting aspiring (or even established) writers to critique each others’ works. It doesn’t seem to have any way to narrowly focus the subgenre to Hard SF, though – works are tagged merely as “SF”, “F” (fantasy), or “H” (horror) by their authors.

The purely hypotherical person mentioned in the OP is also wondering about what happens after all the critiquing is done and his completely hypothetical Hard SF Novel is ready for general consumption. What should he do, hypothetically, to “get the word out” about something he’s hypothetically put up on his hypothetical homepage? Hypothetically speaking, of course.

There are plenty of hard Sf writers in Critters, like Carl Frederick, for instance.

But let me get this straight. You’re not interested in publishing or getting paid for your work (forget this “hypothetical” conceit – two posts are more than enough). You just want to put it on the Internet so people will read it. So why do you need to get a critique?

In any case, there are many ways to “get the word out” for a self-published web novel. None work particularly well. You could also leave the printout on your front porch and put out fliers in the local bookstores and supermarkets. That would be just as effective.

If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this: how many self-published Internet books have you read?

If you want people to read your work, you find a publisher for it. If you’re looking for a publisher, than critiquing can make all the difference. However, if you’re not interested in looking for a publisher, then a critique doesn’t make any difference.

But you won’t get any readers.

Three that I know of. They were all picked up by real publishers, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

You’re no fun. :stuck_out_tongue:

Three. Wow. :rolleyes:

Yet I’ve seen dozens of new writers being picked up by publishers without putting their work on the Internet (Publisher’s Weekly does a quarterly summary of first-time authors published by major houses which typically runs a hundred or so names each quarter).

Considering how many people self-publish, your odds of getting an agent and publishing through a regular publishing house are considerably better. Also, those three authors could easily have sold their books without the Internet if they had tried.

The cold hard fact of book publishing is that most books aren’t published because they aren’t good enough. Publishing them on the Internet is not going to make the book any better.

I’ll ask again: how many books have you ever bought or read that were solely self-distributed by an author on the Internet? What percentage is that of your total books bought?

Mrs. Tracer reads an enormous amount of fiction from website(s) whose sole purpose is to provide a place for people to put their works up to be read. A few of these works are interminably long serials, running 300 chapters or more.

The total amount of fiction she’s read on that site alone would probably rival, if not outright dwarf, the amount of fiction she’s read in printed book form.

Since the works she reads are sometimes (ahem) somewhat pornographic, she’s reluctant to share the name of the site with me. And in any event, the site isn’t (I don’t think) tailored for Hard SF, although from peeking over her shoulder from time-to-time it seems that at least some of the stories would belong somewhere within the SF supergenre.

I figure if such a site exists for her kind of fiction, maybe such a site would also exist for the totally hypothetical person I mentioned in the OP’s kind of fiction.

I believe Heinlein once said that anyone who writes for any reason other than to make money is a damn fool. Or something like that.

Personally, I have found that until I can find an actual story to go with it, no one cares if the third ship in the ill-fated Franklin Expedition (the HMS Tartarus) fell through a Symmes Opening and the descendants of the officers and crew established a working soceity in Pellucidar.

It isn’t specific to SF (hard or otherwise), but Authonomy by Harper Collins lets unpublished authors post their works (10000 words to entire novels) for the world to see.

…Mrs. Tracer wouldn’t be reading fanfic, would she? I ask because it’s almost trivially easy to find large repositories of fanfic on the interwebs – but this is because there already exists a large reservoir of people who want to write and read more (e.g.) Harry Potter or Star Trek or what-have-you.

You might check out LJ, another hotbed of this kind of thing. Looking up “SF” as an interest turns up a couple of communities you might potentially consider… http://community.livejournal.com/writers_loft/ and http://community.livejournal.com/sfandf_writers/ came up when I did that search.

If you actually want people to read it… that’s a little tougher. I’ve read three posted-online original-fic non-paper-published works, and all of those have been by people who had blogs/LJs that I had been reading for a while, so I knew that a) they knew how to write, and b) I liked reading what they wrote. Life’s too short unless I can ascertain a) and b) ahead of time. (And yes, one of them had fanfic that I read before she moved on to writing her own original stuff.) My advice would be (unless you want to start your own blog, which has its own issues-- how do you get people to read that?) to start checking out some SF-based community or group online and start posting interesting things/thoughts to it, and build up an audience of people who will actually care to read your stuff.

And I’m sure that the average readership for these stories is probably in the high double figures.

Sure. Baen Books, specifically Baen’s Bar.

Of course, then you might actually get published by a real publisher, something you, for some reason, expressly want to avoid.

Personally, I can’t understand that sort of thinking. When I write something, I want the greatest possible number of people to read it. (I also want to get paid for my time and effort, but that’s a slightly separate issue.)

Usually, the reason why authors are looking for other (and inferior) ways to “get their work out” is that they are afraid of rejection. The trick is to embrace rejection. Rejection slips are your friends. The more you collect, the more you’ll get published.

If your goal is to get people reading your story and talking about it, then you want to be published by a professional publisher. If your goal is to avoid being turned down, by all means put it up on the web somewhere, but don’t expect the dozen people who read it to say much about it.

Or he could have been quoting Dr. Johnson, who said, “no man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money."

Well if the whole point of the exercise is to actually get published something you might want to think about is podcasting your book. Are you any good at reading a story aloud and characterisation? Several unknown authors (at the time) have in recent years begun releasing their books in a audiobook serial fashion over the internet.

Scott Sigler is the poster boy for this trend.

The publication biz, by its very nature, is the business of exclusivity. In order for a publisher’s products to be valuable, they have to be available only through that publisher.

I don’t ever want to be put in a position where the complete copy of the novel I write and put up on my own webpage for the world to see has to be “taken down” because of rights issues.

Is this a reference to Kindle removing 1984?

I was going to write an explanation of that whole situation and how it works to the writer’s advantage, but then I thought, heck with it. It would be wasted on you. Have fun going unread.

There is a website called StoriesVille.com that lets you post works of any length, and lets people comment on them. In fact, commenting on the work of others is how you earn credits, which allow you to post your own work. Thus, it is a community of sorts, and is designed to encourage interaction and critiques. The writing posted there varies from the sublime to the juvenile, but good stuff does stand out.

It does not deal exclusively with SF, but does have that as one of its genres, along with horror, mystery, romance, etc…TRM

Er … no, I’d never heard of the Kindle 1984 debacle before you mentioned it just now.

Aw, now that’s just mean. :frowning:

Then what in the world are you talking about?

No, in order for the writer’s products to be valuable, the writer needs to have control of it.