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As a creative writer in my free time, I sometime suffer from a lack of feedback. To get some impressions on what I've written, I either have to ask my girlfriend (who acts as a sort of beta-reader) or some friend.

Now, my girlfriend doesn't seem to mind, but getting feedbacks from my friends is kind of difficult. I usually get no answer back - meaning that either my writings aren't interesting enough to be read, or they have better things to do. Either way, it has little sense to me to bother them further with this topic. If they don't read willingly, they won't give me honest feedback either, and I'll get "yea it was nice" answers at best.

So I was thinking of opening a blog where to publish my short stories, or some of the chapter of my longest novel (which still is far from completed).

I've seen it done a couple of times, mostly by a local author in my country (she managed to publish on Amazon some of the stories who passed through the blog, also). She has a nice community of readers around her blog.

I'd like to build something similar, but I understand it may be a waste of time - worse, free time I could have used to write instead. My other main worrying is that I'm after some cheap, ego-fulfilling way to pass the time, instead of doing something useful.

Note that I'm not searching for beta readers specifically, I'd just like to share my work with someone else. Writing makes less sense if my stuff mostly lays in a pc folder.

What's your take on the matter? What are the up and downsides of opening such a blog. in terms of time consumption and/or motivational gain.

  • I don't want to be "that guy", but this seems like a question that invites a lot of opinion-based answers, which is usually not the point of this site. Maybe you want to reword it a bit. – noClue Aug 25 '17 at 10:20
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    Maybe instead of asking if it's a good idea or not (very subjective), you could ask something more along the lines of what the pros and cons are of using a blog to get feedback (objective). The answer of the first question really depends on the person (it might be a good idea for you, but not for others), while the second question would offer a lot of fact-based answers, which could help more people (IMO at least). – noClue Aug 25 '17 at 10:55
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    Despite asking for opinions, this is actually a practical question. Putting your fiction in a blog post has certain measurable effects that are not a matter of opinion. – user16226 Aug 25 '17 at 11:25
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    Relevant to your question: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warbreaker Sanderson published all of his drafts online, and got feedback from readers to improve it. You can still access it for free, although it's also sold in bookstores. Worth noting though that he is a well established author with an existing fanbase. – Ethan Aug 25 '17 at 18:00
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    One note, setting up a simple blog on blogger.com is trivial and should not take more than 5 or 10 minutes. No need to worry about wasted time. And to 'advertise' simply post a social media update when you publish a new story. Those who wish to read will do so. Also, you can make a 'commercial' Facebook account (at no cost) and it can show up in various feeds at random. And if you wanted to actually promote it, you can start with very little money (as little as $5). I would suggest having several bits to read before promoting it to let people get a feel for your writing when they visit. – CramerTV Aug 25 '17 at 23:25
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Pro's:

  • It gives you feedback. Any feedback can help you to improve your work, if you are able to filter it properly.
  • It gives you exposure and generates hype for your work. It allows you to build an audience even before your work is finished.
  • It prevents you from procrastinating. If you don't write anything for weeks, there will be a public record of your laziness. This can be a great motivator to force yourself to write regularly (or at least post an excuse why you didn't publish any new material this week).

Con's:

  • Posting too much might affect your ability to monetize your work. Why would I buy your book when I can read most of it on your blog for free? So think carefully what you publish as free samples on your blog and what you keep behind a paywall.
  • Feedback can be misleading. People might complain about things which only bother them, but are irrelevant or even positive for most of your primary target demographic. Trying to appeal to everyone will result in a work which appeals to no one.
  • Feedback can be demoralizing. There will be people who just bash your work without offering anything useful. The best you can do about that is ignore it and move on. The worst you can do is to feed the trolls and start a discussion with them which takes up time and energy you could spend on improving your work or interact with those people who deserve it. But taking the bait is a temptation which is hard to resist.
  • In the worst case, you might not get any feedback at all. You spend a lot of time on setting up your blog and then get no attention at all except from the occasional spam bot. To get people to read your blog, they need to know it exists. That means you need to spend resources to advertise it. Advertise it too obnoxiously, and you will turn people against you. Getting too obsessed with the success of your blog might blind you from what purpose it is actually supposed to fulfill.
  • Selecting yours as the answer since you did a good job explaining the principal Pros and Cons. Thanks! – Liquid - Reinstate Monica Aug 28 '17 at 8:02
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Publishing a blog make a lot of sense for a non-fiction work. Almost all of my last non-fiction book appeared on my blog first and this had three big benefits:

  • I got me lots of feedback on the quality and interest of the ideas.

  • I got lots of criticism and discovered lots of errors and omissions in my thought and lots of places where my explanations did not come across.

  • It built an audience for the book that both helped to sell it to the publisher and to promote and sell it after it was published.

I can still see a correlation (an imprecise one, admittedly) between the frequency of blog posts and sales of the book.

All of that might work for fiction as well, but there are some downsides:

  • Fiction is almost all about the execution, not the logic or the ideas. A careful and sympathetic critique partner or editor is far more likely to give you good feedback on your execution than a blog reader.

  • Most readers will not want to wait weeks or months between chapters and will lose the thread of the story if they do.

  • Putting your story on you blog counts as publication. Selling a previously published story can be much more difficult. (Unless, of course, it is a huge success and commercial publishers are clamouring to get on board. But the chance of that happening is so remote as to be discounted out of hand.)

The engagement between a story and the reader is personal. If you write a story that one person in ten loves and everyone else hates, you will have a best seller on your hands. But by the same token, you need to know where your critiques are coming from to know if they are of any value. This is why a regular in-person critique group is valuable.

Find a critique group. If you can't find one, start one. If you can't start one, join a local writing class (most are essentially critique groups with a dedicated leader with some more or less tenuous qualifications).

  • I appreciate the critique group advice a lot, even if probably it's impossible to form one in my area. Also, thanks for the good fiction-related advice. – Liquid - Reinstate Monica Aug 28 '17 at 8:01

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