Noah Lukeman, President of Lukeman Literary Management and author of The First Five Pages, answers aspiring authors' questions about writing and getting published.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Can I post excerpts of my work online?
"Dear Mr. Lukeman, I was wondering if it was legal to post sample chapters of a book on, say, Facebook? I have been trying to publish for a while and want to establish my career as an author, so wish to create a Facebook page for my work. However, I am not sure if posting sample chapters would deter agents from picking up my work or if I could not do that because, once published, I would have restricted rights to post material. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks! "
There are two questions here. The first is whether or not, legally, you have the right to post excerpts of your own work on Facebook or anywhere else online. The answer is yes, you do. You own the work, and it is yours to do with as you wish. Of course, this is assuming that you have not signed any agreements with any publishers for its publication which might restrict such activity.
The second question is about marketability and overexposure. I addressed the topic of serialization and overexposure in a recent blog post. Please search this blog for the response to that. But just to recap briefly, you don't want to risk overexposing your book too much, giving away all of it for free online. It can certainly be a good strategy to give away a little bit of it, say one or two chapters – but I would not recommend serializing the entire book.
The other issue is whether this strategy would turn away a potential agent. It is doubtful. Unless your page is read by millions, usually posting a chapter or two of it will have such little impact that it is not likely to affect an agent or publisher's decision. And it can work both ways: if you're giving away the book for free, and millions of people are downloading it, that just might help you entice an agent or publisher to want to take it on. Keep in mind that while I don't recommend serializing your entire book for free, giving your entire book away, as an e-book for sale on the etailers with the price listed as free, is a different matter entirely, which I will not go into here.
Please feel free to ask Mr. Lukeman your questions about publishing (or about the craft of writing) by posting them in the "comments" section of the blog. He cannot answer every question, but will pick questions to respond to periodically. Please be advised that he is providing this service simply to give back to the writing community and that he is not accepting new clients, so please don't use this blog to query him.
To give back to the writing community, Mr. Lukeman has made several of his books available for free, including How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, How to Write a Great Query Letter and Ask a Literary Agent (Year One). Feel free to visit www.writeagreatquery.com to download the e-books.
Periodically, Mr. Lukeman will send out the Ask a Literary Agent ezine. If you'd like to subscribe, you may do so here:
Noah Lukeman is President of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd, which he founded in 1996. His clients include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, finalists for the National Book Award, multiple New York Times bestsellers, major celebrities, and faculty of universities ranging from Harvard to Stanford.
Mr. Lukeman is also author of several books on the craft of writing, including The First Five Pages (Simon & Schuster), The Plot Thickens (St. Martins Press) and A Dash of Style: (W.W. Norton). He has also authored two e-books: How to Write a Great Query Letter and How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, which he gives away for free as a way of giving back to the writing community. He has also made available over 100 pages of free advice for authors from all his books, which you can read on his site.
Mr. Lukeman has been a guest speaker on the subjects of writing and publishing at numerous forums, including Harvard, Columbia University, The Juilliard School, Stanford University, and the Writers Digest Panel at Book Expo America. He earned his B.A. with High Honors in English and Creative Writing from Brandeis University, cum laude.