Picking a Fight With Jason Davis


For those who don't know, Jason Davis appears to be one of the more successful online fiction writers today. That is, he's making money on his online writings and has a solid readership. He currently runs the online fiction, The Curly Situation, of which a sequel is being published daily, also for the Courier Mail newspaper. Jason also runs the really awesome looking, but now seemingly abandoned site, blookworm.net.

So why would I pick a fight with such a distinguished online writer? Well, first of all, I just like writing juicy headlines so I'm not really picking a fight with him. Rather, I'm taking issue with some of the statements he makes in an article he published last month for the Courier Mail, an Australian newspaper daily. I don't have a problem with him, in fact I wish his online writings nothing but the best. That being said, his article makes a lot of statements that I either disagree with, are objectively incorrect, or failed to mention facts I think would be important. While the premise of the overall article was great, I have to point out some of the errors.

First of all, in the article he uses the terms "blooks", "blovels", and "blog fiction" interchangeably as if there are no differences. The article is mostly about people publishing novels online using a blog. That would be a "blovel". A "blook" is a novel that is a dead tree published book that was originally a blovel(as defined by the blooker prize people). Then of course is blog fiction which is something I've spend a great deal of time defining:

Blog Fiction: (noun) Serialized literature published to a blog that is written in a diary format. Often, but not necessarily, the fictional writer of the blog will interact with its readers.
To be fair, Jason is hardly the only person to make this mistake. Why people, especially someone as professional as Jason Davis fail to make a distinction is probably from a lack of exposure to the varied formats. If your only (or nearly only) exposure to online fiction are novels published using a blog, then the terms "blook", "blovel", "blog fiction" and other various terms would all seem to fit as a proper description of that format. It would not be until you actually have to describe a published blovel, or a diary fiction blog that it would strike you as important to use the terms more carefully.

Another thing I found objectionable was the sites he suggested for hosting a "blovel".
Writers can have a blog up and running in minutes on hosted blog platforms such as LiveJournal (www.livejournal.com), Yahoo 360 (360.yahoo.com) and the easy to use Blogger (www.blogger.com) for nix.
First of all, Yahoo 360 is practically defunct so few people use it. The second thing is that livejournal and yahoo 360 are meant more as mySpace like social networking than as blogging platforms. While they could be used to create blogs, it's not something I would recommend if that is your sole purpose. Blogger is mentioned as being easy to use, but there are several other just as easy to use sites. Check out this listing here.

One thing from the article that really stood out as factual wrong was this statement:
For those who feel the need for their own domain you'll need to pay for website hosting
That is not true at all. I have my own domain and yet my site is hosted by blogger. Wordpress has a similar program to have a custom domain, but still host your site on the main wordpress servers. I'm sure many other blogging hosts have a similar service.

The article does go on to offer several helpful suggestions. However, one thing it leaves out is the most obvious way to monetize your blog: Ads! The article mentions leaving having a pay pal "tip jar", but fails to mention using ads or other affiliate programs.

Finally, the biggest beef I have with the article isn't a factual error, it's more of an "attitude error". He defines success in the realm of online fiction as getting dead-tree published.
Does it work? Yes, but the competition is growing fast. Probably the leading online fiction writer, Cory Doctorow, (a co-editor of pop culture site Boing Boing) has conventionally published four novels and two short-story collections after first offering them free on his site (craphound.com)
This is very pervasive and very annoying attitude about online fiction. It makes writers think that the only use of online fiction is as a vehicle to get noticed by a dead tree publisher. Worse still it makes readers think that unless a writer is dead-tree published then they aren't worth reading. This is an attitude that has got to change in a large number of people before online fiction is taken seriously by itself and by others.

So in the end, I am happy that blog fiction and online fiction got a little exposure from Jason's article, but I would be even happier if it had been a little more accurate and presented in a slightly different light.


Tom Evans said...

Dustin, thanks for your continued interest in my story.

It may interest you to know that it finished this weekend, as I had planned it to right from the beginning... It's now complete and I'm retiring from the fiction-blogosphere (at least as a writer). From now on my writing will be straight to book.

Still I'm proud to have gone from beginning to end without giving up.

Thanks again, and good luck with getting your posting back up and running!

DustinM said...

Tom, You're kidding me! My first Blog Fiction review was going to be yours and now I have to hurriedly rewrite the whole bloody thing! Well, at least now I can factor in how it ended as well. Maybe I'll push it back to Thursday.

Congrats on finishing your blog fiction. I read the ending. I love happy endings, any chance of a prologue?

Emma Pooka said...

The second thing is that livejournal and yahoo 360 are meant more as mySpace like social networking than as blogging platforms.

I was planning on using LiveJournal for precisely that reason! If you want to tell the stories of four bloggers who social network together, there's nothing better. Conversational threads are a lot easier to write and read on LJ than Blogger, since you can choose a particular comment to reply to. You can also see who bloggers' friends are and view an aggregated feed of their friends' blogs, or even friend all the bloggers in the story and have their posts appear automatically in your own friends list.

DustinM said...

Your point is well taken. I admit that is something that I hadn't thought of. Depending on what you're doing, LiveJournal could be a perfect platform for a blog fiction project.

I hope you'll stop by once you start your project. It sounds really interesting.

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