Writing & Facebook: Caution is Key

I enjoy Facebook like most folks and use it regularly. However what I don’t put on Facebook is my writing that I’m seeking publication for. I’ve been told my stance is extreme at times and I’d like to dive into the why behind my stance.

This is an excerpt from the Facebook Legal Agreement that you sign by getting an account (that little box you check about a “user agreement”).

fb legal

So if you read that now think, “Great! Facebook doesn’t own any of my stuff!” Please keep reading. While they don’t own it you are, in exchange for using their program, licencing your content to them to use however they or their third parties want to.

Would Facebook ever really do much with it? Not likely.

But I’m not worried about Facebook. When I go to sell my work I am selling “first world rights” to a publisher. This means by putting my writing on Facebook (for free let me add) you are giving the world, through Facebook, access to your story. Essentially, you have used your first world rights and can no longer sell them. That’s the problem with posting on Facebook or any online platform.

Writer’s Digest in the February 2019 Issue has a wonderful article called Digital Repository Limbo by Lily Dayton. Dayton calls out many MFA programs where the thesis is posted and available through the college library system (for free use). While Dayton isn’t discussing Facebook the same principle can be extrapolated.

If your story can be found online for free why on earth would a publisher pay for it? Even if it’s significantly revised it’s still the same work.

So I aim to exercise caution around the words that I’ve poured my time and energy into. I aim to protect my right to sell my first world rights to someone who will pay me for those rights. I would hope you’d consider the same care.

Happy Questing.

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