Writing Online; Tips for Newbies- Conclusion
This is the final part of the series Online Writing For Newbies.
I hope that the advice was useful and did not scare away potential contributors.
Although it may be embarrassing for some sites to have their 'private business'
brought to light the public has a right to know.
Perhaps it causes chagrin to admit what kind of submissions actually reap coin,
but it is better to walk into the arena knowing what exists and what works, then
to enter the snake pit without proper warning or protection.
Choosing The Venue
One of the dangers new writers can expect is being beset by Shills.
Shills are those whose 'job' is to entice you to join the sites that pay them.
Pay them for bringing in 'new blood'.
Shills leave their referral codes so if you do join the pimped site the
Shills get part of the revenue.
Most writing sites distribute these referral 'codes'. The Shill's job is to go around
the Web with;
"Hi! I want to invite you to this great writing site! www.ripoff.com/myref"
As you don't want to be a Shill, never invite anyone to a writing site unless you are sure it is not a ripoff.
Many times if the Shill who invited you is the type to help in marketing your work, then
it is cheap at the price. You join under their referral and because they get a kick back
they work to insure your items are networked.
If you don't know the person who invited you it may suit you to visit the site
Be very chary of Shills, especially those who boast;
"I make Six times on that site what I make here." (Why are they here then?)
Always Read The Terms of Service
There is no redeeming feature in joining any site which takes your copyright.
Whether they toss $15 at you or nothing, whether they claim that by clicking 'I agree' you willingly handed it over, never sell your copyright.
And never believe a site will not steal your copyright.
Always read the T.O.S. look for the word 'copyright'. If you are not sure, then only post one item, (not an important one) then try to delete it. If you can't delete it, it has been stolen.
If it has been stolen, meaning the site took your copyright, do not publish there again.
As examples, these are composites. Although there are actual cases with all these facts, I am not using any specific situation.
A.B. wrote a short story for one of those competitions.
She received nothing.
Further; "All submissions become the property of...."
One night, watching her favourite drama serial, she saw what was substantially her story. When she contacted the site, she was told that she had signed away her copyright, and that she was mentioned in the credits.
As she had written under a pseudonym she didn't even have the benefit of her real name being publicised.
C.D. had allowed her work to be put in an anthology for 'charity' .. "All profits go to...." she also saw her work on television. She learned that the publishers had been contacted by a producer and sold the rights to the story for $$$$$, said sum they gave to the charity.
E.F. received nothing for his work, it was subsequently published in an non-English hard copy. There was no bye-line, and no payment.
Hence keeping your copyright at all costs must be your goal. It is better to get $12.00 over a two year period, and be able to remove your work and resell it or republish it on a site that does not limit itself to 'Original Work', then contribute to a rip off scheme.
The Writing Itself
You may decide to post a money making article as a sop, but also post what you really wish to write. This is a usual choice.
Write what you want, collect the 1c from it, while your crap churns out the $. You may find that it suits you to create your own blog and collect all the Ad revenue, especially when you have a particular series or genre you wish to write about.
Chose the right kind of blog, one which gives you a lot of options, and learn how to use them. You can create very professional looking pages which you can network and market.
Yes, it takes more time and more commitment to do it this way than to post on a pre-fab writing site, but does have its benefits, especially if your work becomes popular.
Do not believe that anyone who took the trouble to comment is honest or is giving constructive criticism. Many people get pleasure out of insulting, hurting, downvoting other people's work. They are so good at masking their true intent others might actually believe their comments are 'honest'.
Learn to differentiate between the true correction and the comment made by a Troll.
Appreciate normal behaviour. If you were reading something you felt was so badly written or so stupid that it ought never have been published, you wouldn't read to the end, you wouldn't take the time to leave comment. You would stop and go on to someone else.
Put it in mundane terms, if you ordered a meal at a restaurant and it tasted bad, you wouldn't eat the whole plate of it.
Almost every article you write can be improved. Often, over time as you become more fluent you see where a paragraph should be reworked, words changed, substituted, etc.
Again, where you maintain your copyright, you can make these corrections. (If you can't, you've lost your rights and it may take a lawsuit to regain them.)
Many writers find Stephen King's experience apt.
He admitted that when he first began to write he found his 'editing' would make the piece longer. As he became adept, he found it would be noticably shorter. This is because he learned how to make every word count.
You don't have to be perfect, you just can't be too imperfect. Yes, there are the grammar nazis who run around with the corrections, but good grammar is necessary for proper understanding.
Use the spell check before publishing. Never be afraid to edit your work and correct it.
If you've begun a piece in Academic style, don't change to chatty. If you've been tossing data without references, either go back and put in all references or have none.
The item should hang together.
Avoid enormous paragraphs and long sentences. Try to have spaces between your ideas so as to set them off and mix short and long sentences.
Read your work outloud before publishing to see that it makes sense. Avoid repetition. This isn't verbal communication where you have to repeat yourself three times to be heard. This is written where one assumes that in paragraph one, if you've stated, "In Barbados...." a proper reader won't be arguing that; "This is so wrong! We don't wear school uniforms in Brooklyn!"
Be aware, however, that reading is a lost skill. Many people who use the Internet can not read, do not comprehend what they read, and that for some, sarcasm, irony, and other techniques will be lost.
Don't be discouraged. If others catch your 'tricks' you know that the one who doesn't is the aberration. If no one catches them, rewrite the piece.
Enjoy your online writing.
On writing sites, participate. Read other people's work, leave useful comments. Join Fora, make friends and followers.
Avoid competition sites where there is voting. This leads to all sorts of unnecessary friction.
Very often you'll read a piece and are inspired to write your own version, or enlarge upon the topic. You'll see what 'sells'.
Many of the most popular items may be written in particular styles. You may find that you are too chatty or too academic to pull the reader. Your titles may not be grabbers or your tags are not useful.
Even if you are writer in RL it is a bit different in Cyberspace. People like pictures, they like to be spoken to not at.