Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Karl Malden Question on Essays, Short Fiction and Poetry

So, here is the Question of the Day, writers:

If you have had an essay, short fiction, or poem published ONLINE that is no longer available, do you recycle said essay, short fiction, or poem as an unpublished piece?

Now, think a moment before answering. Perhaps you've had a flash fiction win a contest, and the winners were published for a couple months, then dumped to make way for the next winners?

Or maybe you've had an essay published in an online magazine that has sadly gone defunct? Now, no trace at all of this work remains in cyberspace.

With most online contracts, the author's rights revert back after 6 months to a year. So it's not a question as to whether the author owns a piece of writing. It's a question, I suppose, of writer ethics.

After all, only the author knows the publishing history of his/her work. And maybe that author really, really loved that essay (or short fiction or poem) and hates to see it relegated to the dusty laptop files where it languishes, unread and unenjoyed.

I'm just saying. In the immortal words of that great actor, Karl Malden, "What would you do?"