Forum / Flagging previously unpublished stories?

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    Tony Hightower
    Nov 13, 08:54am

    I wonder if it would make sense to have some kind of indicator showing whether a piece was previously published somewhere else or not.

    I'd like to use this place as a workshop to try stories out, but it seems that a lot of the site has become a bit of a trophy case for people who are a bit further along on the evolutionary scale than I am.

    I don't know if such a feature would make any sense, and I certainly don't want to force any unnecessary flags on anyone, but I admit I find it mattering whether something has already been vetted and polished somewhere else, versus it being someone's early attempts at trying something on for size, or something someone is working out in semi-public.

    I just figured I'd ask if this matters to anyone else.

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    Susan Gibb
    Nov 13, 09:50am

    Hi Tony,

    I think you're asking the same thing as Dorothee did in a recent post seeking a workshop area for those stories on which we'd like some feedback.

    It would certainly seem reasonable to seek the critique of writers of such high caliber here and I'm wondering if the single group called "The Workshop" can maybe be a bit more prominently displayed as a feature of Fictionaut.

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    Sam Rasnake
    Nov 13, 10:37am

    Every editor has a different perspective, Tony. I edit an online journal of poetry and art - and have since 2001. I only consider work that's unpublished - print or online. That includes online magazines, blogs, FB - and the like - and yes, work posted here at Fictionaut. Obviously, all editors don't have this policy, but you need to realize that some do. I only post work here that's been previously published. And I guess that could be taken as me trying to place a star in my crown - but I won't post unpublished work here because I want it to be available to submit to all venues.

    There are, I believe, some groups here at Fictionaut that function as a private workshop - Everyone wouldn't have access to it. Only members could post and comment. If that doesn't truly exist here, it needs to - for writers like myself. I would not consider work posted in a private group here to be published - since only a few would have access. That would be the same as the writers' group I'm in. There are only three of us. We exchange works, discuss, comment, edit, and so on. I would consider a private online group to be the same.

    Again, every magazine or journal has a different policy. Just keep that in mind.

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    Jürgen Fauth
    Nov 13, 12:39pm

    Hey Tony --

    You can use tags and the author's note to let readers know you that a story is unpublished and you're looking for constructive feedback rather than "just" praise.

    We also have a workshop group you could add the stories to: http://www.fictionaut.com/groups/the-workshop -- or, if somehow that one doesn't appeal to you, you're welcome to start your own.

    You could also start a private group where you could meet with friends to discuss writing that doesn't show up on the front page. (To do that, create a private group, then set stories you post as "private" and add them. Invite your friends to join private group.)

    Sam's concerns about posting unpublished stories are well-taken -- some editors might not accept submissions that have been posted here before. Others don't care, and of course, you're always free to hide or delete stories at any time. There's more on this here: http://www.fictionaut.com/groups/wigleaf/threads/15

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    Dave Clapper
    Nov 13, 12:59pm

    Jurgen, while I appreciate the different ways that folks can currently show whether things are pubbed or unpubbed, as an editor, I'd love to have an actual way of pulling up only unpubbed stories. We've solicited one or two pieces that appeared here, and would gladly do so again. Having the ability to find those stories quickly would rock.

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    Sam Rasnake
    Nov 13, 02:30pm

    I like Dave's point - I could run the same check, only with the reverse in mind, to make certain a work is meeting my guidelines.. That would be a great & useful feature if it's possible.

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    John-Henry Doucette
    Nov 13, 04:16pm

    Hello all. I'm new to the site, and have posted only unpublished stories in the hopes of improving them or, at least, talking to other writers.Hoever, I would like to publish some of what I posted here. Do a lot of places consider Fictionaut a "publication"? I had not really considered that.

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    Dave Clapper
    Nov 13, 04:39pm

    A lot of markets won't consider anything that is already publicly available, correct.

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    Ben White
    Nov 13, 09:11pm

    I agree with Dave. You know that upper right white box? Where the story's data is?

    That's that kind of area where an additional stat could be. It could even a wider variety of statuses:

    1. Published (journal)
    2. Unpublished
    3. WIP

    Etc. Using tags to do this is a bit of a kludge and not nearly high profile enough in terms of screen real estate for it to work.

    People have been talking about different views on the new stories, exclusives, reprints, etc. I think having that data immediately visible will do some wonderful things for the site experience overall.

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    Jürgen Fauth
    Nov 15, 01:20pm

    Hmm. I'm still not entirely sure how useful such a flag would be -- once we have the flag, we'd have to add another view on the story pages that allows you to sort accordingly, but who'd use that? Editors looking for submissions, I suppose. But you're still relying on writers actually setting that flag. Wouldn't be just as easy to create a group for "unpublished stories looking for publication" and asking writers to add their stories there?

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    Sam Rasnake
    Nov 15, 01:50pm

    If not a flag - then a group for unpublished pieces - stories and poems. That would be helpful to me since as an editor I only consider work that's not appeared in a public venue, print or online. This would be helpful to me in that capacity. I know of other editors here at Fictionaut with the same submission guidelines as mine. So I do like this idea.

    The group idea would work for me if work posted there would only be accessible for reading and comment by members of that specific group – only. That would be a writers’ workshop – and I think that would be great and helpful.

    I’ve noted several poems here that I most certainly would have liked to liked to place in Blue Fifth Review – but their appearance here eliminated them from consideration for me. This is the very reason why I only post published work here. My guideline as editor must serve for me as writer as well. Editorial guidelines for fiction, non-fiction, & poetry vary journal to journal – and writers here do need to be aware of those differences.

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    Jürgen Fauth
    Nov 15, 02:41pm

    Sam -- would you consider work that has appeared on Fictionaut if the author agreed to take it down upon acceptance?

    Groups that are only visible to its members exist on Fictionaut. Anybody can start a private group, invite other members, and add stories that are set to "private" and thus won't show up anywhere else on the site. We've been wondering how to better advertise this feature since it's invisible -- but there are a number of private workshops operating.

    Anyone should feel free, of course, to start public groups for unpublished stories and/or poetry.

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    Sam Rasnake
    Nov 15, 04:05pm

    I would still consider the work to be published , Jürgen, so I would not want to consider placing it at BFR.

    However, I know of other venues, such as The Dead Mule Journal of Southern Literature - I've had work placed there, that's why I'm using it as an example - that will accept the work published at a public venue such as a personal blog, website, or a site such as Fictionaut with the condition that it be taken down. And that’s another great possibility for writers.

    This a personal stand with me mainly because of other online sites. The first year of Blue Fifth (2001), I placed a poem in the first issue - and nominated that poem for a Pushcart. A few months later, reading another online journal – I came across the same poem. I contacted the ed. and a statement was placed there giving credit to Blue Fifth Review as the original publication source, and that was fine. I don't think it was the editor's fault, by the way. The problem was the poet kept shopping the poem - so to speak. The writer – with a long list of credits – did not consider "online journals" to be viable venues. I have always maintained that online journals are as valid and as strong as print venues – and should be treated as such. That is my reasoning.

    I’m sure, for example, that I could start a group – of a workshop nature – but I already have a few too many irons in the fire so to speak. But, I might consider joining a group such as that.

    At any rate, I think Fictionaut is such a great source for writing. I’ve encountered so many strong writing voices here. It's been a help to me as a writer - even though I've not posted any new work here.

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    Tony Hightower
    Nov 15, 10:20pm

    This is a great discussion. I knew there were shades of gray here that I hadn't previously considered, so I'm glad this discussion is being had.

    Would setting up a Protected Group for works in progress be enough of a barrier from the public-out-there, or would such a group have to be completely Private?

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    Tony Hightower
    Nov 15, 10:31pm

    I went ahead and formed this group for not-ready-for-prime-time stuff:

    http://www.fictionaut.com/groups/works-in-progress

    It's not a public group, so as long as the stories can only be read by people in the group, then it shouldn't violate the previously-published rule for most publications, right? (To join, message me and I'll send you an invite. The only criterion for membership is the desire to join. In your face, Groucho.)

    If this isn't useful to people, then not to worry. I just figured it might be.

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    Ben White
    Nov 15, 11:17pm

    Such a note wouldn't only be useful to editors. As a reader, I prefer reading things I can't or haven't seen elsewhere.

    There's a good amount of reader feedback that shouldn't necessitate a WIP group. If I'm a reader and want to comment on unpublished stories, there should be an easy way to find out which ones that would be.

    Groups are just not ideal imho.

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    Jürgen Fauth
    Nov 16, 09:57am

    Seems to me the author's note covers those uses pretty well, Ben -- there's space for for just the information you're looking for, and generally the note will tell you about the story's status. It's also more flexible and allows for more detail than a drop-down list. It shouldn't be hard to find unpublished stories to comment on, if that's what you want. (A quick scan shows that 7 out of the first 10 stories on the front page right now are unpublished.) The only advantage of a flag would be that it's sortable, and I'm not convinced that's necessary.

    Tony, thanks for starting the group. Protected groups *are* visible to the world though, so I don't think Sam, for instance, would accept a story you posted there. You might be better off with a private (invisible) group. Perhaps you could start a new thread in the forum alerting people to the fact that it exists, or cruise the site for people to invite.

    If you like, we can change works-in-progress to a private group.

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    Ben White
    Nov 16, 01:51pm

    I wasn't speaking for me personally, I was speaking towards the future growth of Fn and making it easier to find certain kinds of stories when there are more people and more stories. If the site grows much bigger, the frontpage will be just a tiny slice of what's posted.

    Obviously the author note can contain this information but it is neither standardized nor searchable. I'm not talking about seeing the status of a story once already reading (as you pointed out, that's generally stated); my thought is to be able to find stories by different qualities. As an example, it should be possible to filter stories by other qualifications as well (i.e. word count or tag). So if I want to find only stories less than 100 words, that should be doable. Right now, we can only find stories by time posted or by favs.

    That's my 2 cents. Feel free to disagree of course.

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    Jürgen Fauth
    Nov 17, 11:16am

    Thanks, Ben. Hope I'm not sounding too hardheaded -- I do appreciate the feedback and suggestions. We're trying to keep the site design as clean and simple as possible, so we're careful not to add too many bells and whistles unless we're convinced they're necessary. An advanced search with options for word count and tags is on our to-do list.

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    Ben White
    Nov 18, 12:21am

    Not at all, and I get your concerns too. I just envision a future where volume and content filtering becomes necessities for the user experience, and adding changes to the info people add when they publish stories (if one were to do that) is obviously something better done before the issue arises.

    Perhaps, as an alternative to adding another infobox etc, Fn could "suggest" some popular tags for stories so that people were more likely to use tags that would be useful for other users.

    For example, Fn could have a few additional checkboxes in the tag section of the publish-a-story page for published, unpublished, work in progress, short story, flash, poetry, etc.

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    Dorothee Lang
    Nov 18, 08:48am

    "An advanced search with options for word count and tags is on our to-do list."

    That's great!

    Thinking of it, if a tag search is possible, then all it really would take is an additional note in the 'publish story' page, to establish some key tags (for example: work in progress, previously published / unpublished), no need then for additional checkboxes etc.

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    Jürgen Fauth
    Nov 18, 10:53am

    Suggesting tags is a great idea -- thanks, Ben.

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    Dulce Maria Menendez
    Nov 26, 07:32am

    I did not read this whole thread but technically once you post a story, poem, prose and novel on Fictionaut, it is published.

    Some editors will consider it still for their journal and some will not. If an editor googles you they may find your short story already here.

    Thanks -
    Didi Menendez

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    H-M Brown
    Nov 28, 12:03am

    From what I am reading here, it appears that whatever unpublished work I post here in Fictionaut is considered a legally binding publication. Then is it possible for me to use this website as credentials for actually getting a Publishing House to pick up my other unpublished works that I don't post in here?

    See I have been trying to play it smart by posting up my Origin Stories rather than the Main Stories, thus creating an expanded universe itself, so I could avoid any legalese or any disadvantages that could prevent me from succeeding in having a stable career in Novel Writing, particularly for any story series that I am developing.

    Also if I remove any of my current works that had been posted right now, will that go against me for when I try to pitch them to a Publishing House and my works won't get picked up because they were posted here on Fictionaut?

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    Susan Gibb
    Nov 28, 06:00am

    My take on this question is that if you're concerned about future publication of a story, don't place it here first. There are so many editors and publishers here that many writers want to impress and use the main page and the groups for making that connection, but the 'writing' would be the key; not a particular story perhaps.

    And in the meantime, why not share for free? There are so many editors, publishers, AND writers here who appreciate the telling of a good story that I find myself trying to please rather than publish. And here, there's feedback--comments and backpats that you don't get from the regular reading public.

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    H-M Brown
    Nov 28, 08:42am

    That's because, Ms. Gibbs, I want to take advantage of everything good Fictionaut has to offer, not just write for free only, as you suggest to everyone.

    Not everyone around the world has an internet to come to this site, and those that do have internet, are not aware that Fictionaut exist. In addition, there are readers out there who are not interested in sitting in front of a computer to read a story of any length.

    People still like the old school way of reading, which is carrying a paperback to the beach or the park or in their private den and flip through the pages to read. How can I get those readers if I don't have book published by a house?

    I want to have as many readers as possible, to read and enjoy my stories. To maximize the field of communication among all readers, from my end as best as I can.

    Just to be very clear. I, personally, am not interested in making millions of dollars. If it happens, it happens. I'm more interested in improving my writing skill and storytelling, and one of my key goals in writing is to master the art of foreshadow. I love to foreshadow and it has been a great challenge to my writing and verbal development.

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