A Rebuttal….Wiz Kid encourages ‘Progress writing’. This author Doesn’t!

blogging, blogger, wisdom,interviews, author quotesPeter Armstrong, co-founder of LeanPub,  recently lectured on UTube about writing a book (in progress) on line….in a blog or on UTube or on your web site.  This is called ‘progress writing’ or ‘progress publishing’.   He claims you will get great reader feedback and gain traction for your final, finished book.

And this might be right for you.  It may give you the stimulus, the poke in the rump that you need to either start writing or to continue writing.
Here’s how I feel about it:

‘Progress writing’ makes it too easy for someone to steal your idea/story.  Even if you have covered yourself with a ‘poor man’s copyright’ like I’ve told you how  to do or even if you’ve sent it partially written to the Library of Congress, your idea can be plagiarized and you may never know it.  And what if the person who took your idea for a story gets it finished before you do.  They are published and now you look like you ‘borrowed’ their idea.

Feedback from readers of your ‘writing in progress’.  Feedback from unqualified critics  can contaminate your work.  What do I mean?  Youwriting, writers, how to write, could get caught up in pleasing your audience, in trying to make your book tick their boxes.  Do I get feedback from people while I am writing?  YES!  But only those that I trust will give me not only constructive criticism but won’t contaminate what I am try to accomplish.

Peter.Peter went on to suggest that maybe paper books were not relevant any more.  I disagree there too.  Oh, yes we will see the day when paper books are collectors’ items, rare, and certainly not published anymore…but that time has not come YET!  Continue to publish your books in paper but be certain you also publish it in eBooks, as well as  Audio.  These publishing platforms are all easy to use and mostly free!

Peter goes on to talk about ‘Pivoting’.  Manipulating your writing until you hit on what the market wants from you.  He continues and talks about ‘Product/Market Fit’.   This does not sit well with me.  It will kill your writer’s soul (and mine) to have something like ‘pivoting’ in the front of your mind as you sit down to write.  The great writers that went before us did not care about product/market fit.  They wrote because they were passionate about their subject, their plot, and their characters.

half.finishedSerial writing:  Peter suggests that you progressively write and publish it as a serial as you go along.  Be very careful for all the reasons I mention above.  I tried serializing my first novel….I offered it for free on my web site….the installments went over several months.  It had moderate success.  But, I made damn certain it was protected by copyright and it was finished before I offered it.

I’m not suggesting that Peter is wrong and I am right.  I just wanted to rebut his ideas and suggestions and tell you some of the pitfalls that I see in his ideas.  I don’t think I’m a cynic….I like to think I’m a realist but those who do not have the talent and are not willing to put in the long hours of hard work it takes to be a writer find it easy to ‘borrow’ from you.pen.Quill
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2 Responses
  1. Doug Johnson says:

    While you and I are often in agreement and I don’t deny the validity of some of what you’re saying, over all I don’t think that serial writing is a copyright problem and it has some advantages over traditional fiction crafting.
    As to the theft of idea…not going to happen. The idea is rarely the key to a written work. An orphaned boy goes to wizardry school….that’s the idea. No big deal. What J.K. Rowling did with it…amazing. Had she serialized it, the characters would still have been protected as soon as she created them. I’m not saying she SHOULD have serialized it, just that it wouldn’t have made her work any less protected.
    Serialization CAN work well. Most of what Dickens wrote was serialized…and yes, heavily plagiarized in the US newspapers…the intellectual property thieves of the day.
    But he was able to develop his story over a period of time, adjusting characters based on the reaction of readers. The very same thing goes on every week on television between the soaps and tele-novellas. The writers for that genre are basically writing serials.
    Again, I’m not saying serialization is for everyone, but I think it has potential to be a fun way to write and for those who are outer/deadline directed, it might be an incentive to “apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair”.

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