It’s always a bad sign when I feel the need to start a post by saying how much I love certain institutions. I love Nanowrimo, it got me started in writing and it can be a way of dipping your toes or a push to be more productive. Fantastic event. I love Smashwords, I used them for the brief e-publication of Rust and they provide a vital service for authors looking to get their books into various e-markets as painlessly as possible. Fantastic company. The Meatgrinder rocks.
Do you know where I’m going with this?
If you don’t, you likely haven’t seen Smashwords/Nanowrimo promotion, by which Smashwords is giving a place for people participating in Nano to put their works, whether in progress or recently “finished,” up for the world to see.
Right now there are only 42 books up, and I’m happy to see that most of them are actually free, but…well…let’s get back to something I said just about a week ago now:
However, please keep a few things in mind. I’m sure I don’t have to tell this to anyone reading this blog, but what you’re writing the next thirty days is a rough draft. Nothing more (though in my own experience, occasionally less). Don’t be that person who is sending their manuscripts out to agents or publishers on December 1st. Yes, those people exist. Yes, those people are why Nanowrimo has a bad reputation in some circles.
Yes, I just quoted myself, but I want to repeat that exact point. What people are creating during Nanowrimo are drafts. Rough drafts. Often extremely rough drafts. They really aren’t stories that are ready for human consumption. This move by Smashwords feels like an attempt to enable those who feel that the act of creating in November is good enough, that what they have at the end of the month is a novel, and that it’s ready for the world at large.
I’ve fallen into a similar trap. The entire reason I eventually pulled Rust off various online stores (in spite of the best efforts of Lulu to keep throwing it back up) was a realization that what I had written had a beginning, a middle, and an end. But it wasn’t a complete novel. What editing it saw was my own amateur editing, and I really am my own worst editor. I pulled it down because it was a bad representation of my writing and a rather poor excuse for a work made available for a price.
I’m not going to pretend there aren’t writers in the world who would put their Nanowrimo novels up on Smashwords on December 1st and pat themselves on the back for being a published author. I’m sure they see an uptick every year in that first week if they felt the need to put this promotion together. However, I’m less than enthused about the apparent promotion of that idea, especially the promotion of putting up a work in progress that isn’t just unedited but incomplete.
And beware. Anyone putting their stories up this way is burning their first publication rights, which will make these novels almost impossible to sell in any traditional way should they eventually be cleaned and polished.
Perhaps I’m being a curmudgeon. Grumpy Ole Mr. Thurston. I just want more people who want to be writers to actually be writers, and not just someone who threw something onto a website and called it a day.