This post, from R.J. Keller, originally appeared on Publishing Renaissance on 2/4/09.
There’s been much debate recently – here at Publishing Renaissance and elsewhere around the blogosphere – about the advisability of writers offering their work online for free. This post is not intended to add to that debate. My book is already out there for free, so that ship has sailed. No, today’s post is intended to help those who have already made the decision to offer their books for free to make the most of it.
First of all, you must decide how to put your book online. Many writers post them either in their entirety or one chapter at a time to a blog, or, as it’s sometimes referred to, a “blook.” There are advantages to this, chief among them is that it’s FREE for the author. Also, the built-in comments box makes it easy to get immediate feedback, to interact with readers. The drawback is that it can look a little unprofessional if you’re not careful.
If you go this route, be sure to choose a template that’s easy on the eyes. Your readers will – hopefully – be spending hours staring at your book on the screen. Be kind to their eyes. If you decide to serialize your blook by chapters weekly, monthly, or as you write it, be sure to offer your readers an option to subscribe to a feed, so they know when you’ve updated it.
If you’ve got a little cash to spend, you can post your book on a regular website. This gives you more control over the look and feel of your online book, but it requires at least a basic knowledge of HTML and/or CSS, and is a lot more work. If you like that kind of thing (I’m getting to that point) and don’t mind the work, this is a good way to go.
You can also post your book to an existing website or blog as a downloadable file, usually a PDF. (Although I know there are other formats available.) This can have the advantage of putting your book directly into the “hands” of your readers, but it also takes control of your book out of your hands. This is a huge deal to some authors, not so much to others. If you do opt to go this route, be sure to format your book as professionally as possible and to include links to your website and/or blog.