Copyright & criticism fears – is it worth it to get a reader?

28/03/2011 2 comments

There’s a lot to suggest that the writers who go out to get their work read by somebody, whatever it takes, often have the best shot at publication. Even while submitting the official way, it seems that getting your work read and discussed elsewhere can sometimes make the difference.

If you’ve finished something, it can be frustrating not to have a reader. Even if things are going as well as they can be without an actual book deal; great agent, lots of interest, etc etc, there’s probably going to be a time when it all goes very quiet, and what happens happens somewhere far away while the writer waits. You’re no longer drafting, so you don’t necessarily need feedback (hate that word), but neither are you published so your book sits and waits with you. In time, you might start to wonder what Novel 1 was for, and whether it ever actually existed. That’s where the idea for Yet-to-be-books came from.

In our first few months, we’ve had some really good discussions but there have been a couple of concerns raised by writers;

1) Criticism / negative comments. Overarching negative comments such as ‘the book is crap’ won’t get through because all comments are moderated. (There haven’t been any comments like that so far). There are some grey areas; minor negatives, criticisms, and criticisms by inference among them. Although it’s explicitly not the aim of Yet-to-be-books, some writers do ask for ‘feedback’ during the discussions, which is fair enough. What of those who don’t, though? It would be interesting to know how writers – members, potential, or otherwise – feel about the idea of criticism in the public domain.

2) Copyright / plagiarism – someone could steal your work, distribute it in an unauthorised way, or let it pass into the wrong hands by negligence. There is some reciprocity in Yet-to-be-books – to get the books sent to you, you need to have a book to send. That way they’re not getting fired off to hundreds of any-olds. The concern remains for some, and there has been a suggestion that we ask all participants to delete electronic copies from their computers and email accounts, then confirm by way of the organiser (me) that it’s been done. Another suggestion is that participants agree, when they join the group, to deleting electronic copies after each discussion. It would be interesting to know what people think of this too. Is plagiarism, etc., likely and are measures like this worthwhile?

In my own experience, a couple of friends have got book deals through other writers who’ve read their novels, then passed them on. I don’t know anyone personally who has experienced plagiarism, but would be interested to hear from anyone who has, in the comments on this post. Do the potential benefits (and immediate satisfaction) of having a reader for an unpublished book outweigh the risks? Is it almost as difficult to plagiarise and publish a book successfully as it is to write and publish one? Writers who have had work discussed on this blog – what has been your experience of criticism / discussion in the public domain? Over to you.

(Thanks, by the way, for a good discussion on Monday 21st – 226 page loads from the UK and US, including 36 new visitors and 43 unique visitors in total. The next discussion will be on 9th May and will be on ‘Strange Affairs, Ginger Hairs’ by Neil Leigh.)

Witherstone – J.A. Brunning

Our next book is ‘Witherstone’ by JA Brunning. You can join the discussion from 8pm UK time today by commenting on this post. You might also like to follow the Twitter tag #yettobebooks for live highlights from the comments.

The discussion will stay open indefinitely after the initial hour’s session, so if you’re reading this after 21st March, please still feel free to comment.

Some guidelines here.

Here are the first 100 words or so of the novel:

I couldn’t run fast enough, and knew we wouldn’t be able to escape. I looked back over my shoulder. Dad was right behind me, hauling on Mum’s arm, trying to help her keep up, and he was carrying my little sister Catherine as he ran. Mum’s face was hidden from me but I knew she was frightened for all of us. Catherine was stretching her arms back over Dad’s shoulder towards Grandma, and I groaned. I knew there was no way Grandma would be able to keep up. She was already way behind us, and I caught only glimpses of her as she fell further and further behind.

Next book – 21st March

Discussion on the next book, ‘Witherstone’ by JA Brunning, will start at 8pm UK time on Monday 21st March. Discussion stays open afterwards, so do comment later if you can’t make it then – there are usually some good general writing / reading topics discussed, so may be worth a look even if you haven’t read the book. See you then!

Next book

15/02/2011 1 comment

The next yet-to-be-published book to be discussed will be ‘Witherstone’ by JA Brunning. The opening hour for discussion will be 8pm UK time on 21st March, and the discussion will remain open after that.

Win US edition of The Bird Room by Chris Killen, signed, and probably with drawings

A signed and scribbled in copy of the (hard to come by in the UK) US edition of the (brilliant) novel, The Bird Room, by Chris Killen is available as a prize to a person who comments on this blog by 10th March.

To enter, comment anywhere on this blog, from the publication of this post until midnight on 10th March. You can comment on any of the posts on the blog – book discussions are open indefinitely so you could comment on one of them; ALTERNATIVELY you could comment on this post and let us know what you think of Yet-to-be-books, where you think it could go in the future, the format, any additional things we could do, etc. You get one entry in the draw per comment posted; my rats will pick a winner soon after the 10th, Mr Killen will sign and draw in the book for you and I’ll put it in the post. People outside the UK can enter…the prize may take a little longer to reach you.

You CAN post multiple comments – the point is to encourage discussion – but be warned that any comments split into multiples for the sake of it will be disregarded by the rats. They take a similarly dim view of comments like ‘I would like to win the book’ and ‘please provide biscuits’. Genuine contributions to discussion only, ta. You don’t need to register with WordPress or anything to comment, but to win the book you’ll need to comment in a way that links your comment to your email address, e.g. a link to your blogger identity.

So…what do you think?


Just a quick one to say thanks to those who joined in with the discussion last night – it was, as advertised, a good one. Discussion remains open as always, so those who didn’t make it are still free to comment below. We had 158 page views, from Manchester, Preston, York, Ontario, London, New York and Texas. Some of the comments were live tweeted using the #yettobebooks hastag.

News on the next book soon.

Dark Acres or A Shadow Portrait – Emma Stott

Our next book is ‘Dark Acres Or A Shadow Portrait’ by Emma Stott. You can join the discussion from 8pm UK time by commenting on this post.

Some guidelines here.

Here are the first 100 words or so of Emma’s novel:

This is the true nature of home – it is the place of Peace; the Shelter, not only from all injury, but from all terror, doubt and…

Chapter One.


Rope upon rope of fire wound tight about the pines, and flames hung like over-ripe leaves: again autumn. The burning spread into the sky and cast the clouds with a feverish light. Sometimes Loch Morend’s mists seemed to deepen to smoke and tease her as to whether fire really had fallen. At last, they had kept their slinking promise.

Pinewood was used to make telegraph poles, she had read, and here a brighter message they sent.

See you at 8

Next book in a week – 7th February

31/01/2011 3 comments

Discussion on the next book, ‘Dark Acres or A Shadow Portrait’ by Emma Stott, will start at 8pm UK time on Monday 7th February. It’s readable in a week if you’d like to get in touch and join up in time for the discussion and non-members are free to comment too…there are usually some general writing/reading themes that come up. See you then.

First book of 2011!

08/01/2011 1 comment

Our next book will be ‘Dark Acres or A Shadow Portrait’ by Emma Stott.

The book has been sent out to members and the provisional date for the initial online discussion is 8pm UK time (3pm EST) on Monday 7th February.

There’s still time to join up if you’re not yet a member and would like to read Emma’s novel.

Happy New Year from Yet-to-be books!

Happy 2011!

It’s been a good first few months for this very experimental project, with lots of good discussion, and writers and readers commenting that they’ve found it enjoyable and useful. There are already a good few yet-to-be-published books lined up to be read this year, and more are welcome and encouraged to join.

Please comment with your suggestions for the coming year – not just for the way the blog and discussions are run, but for anything else you’d like to see happening… Guest posts? Some kind of publication?

Got a finished but as yet unpublished book that’s burning a hole in your desk drawer? Get in touch!

Looking forward to 2011! 🙂