A few writers I've spoken with dread writing poems and stories on blogs, fearing it will discourage publishers from posting their work. Some writers actually express shock at my suggestion that it might be a good thing. I was watching Sunday Morning yesterday and saw the story of Rin, a 21-year old Japanese writer whose 142-page novel became a huge hit in 2007; she'd written the damn thing on a cell-phone in bits. I'd missed the story that ran on NY Times just a few weeks ago. Forget writing novels on mobile phones. Why aren't writers doing that on blogs more? My friend Charlie baker is the only person I know who has been. He understands the value of it. For every reader who'll read a chapter online for free, there are at least a few times as many who'd rather read the whole novel in a single volume. Of course factoring in that the book doesn't suck.
If the recent Googling on iPhone result shocked even Google, you can bet more people will be reading on the iPhone than anything else: on their train rides to work and back, on the plane, when they wait at the doctors, etc. Making your work available in different forms won't hurt you. Do you think the latest Suze Orman book, which was downloaded over 1 million times via Oprah's site last week, would have done better if she hadn't offered it? So these million of people can forward their pdf copy to a few million other readers. Chances are, they won't read the whole thing on pdf. If they like the first chapter or two, they'll go to Amazon or stop by at the local Borders or Barnes & Noble. I'll bet you a good number of the 1 million who downloaded the free copy will end up buying the book and, as a result, may buy Orman's other books. That's savvy marketing! The free download was only available for 33 hours.
While you wait for your work to find a publisher, your reader finds and becomes loyal to an author you could have for breakfast. How does that make you feel? ;)