Are blog posts considered previously published?

So I’m facing my first dilemma.

I learned of an anthology that’s publishing essays which deadline is due at the end of this month. As I read their essay topics, I thought “You know what would be perfect? My story on meeting Tad Williams at the Festival last year.” It would be perfect. I know it will work well…

Except I’ve already posted it here as a blog entry. D’oh!

That brings me to my first ethical question as a blogger. Is what I posted considered ‘previously published’? We writers who blog are cautioned on posting stories, poems and other fictional works on their blogs because technically, it’s in a format where millions of people (or in my case, dozens) have the potential to see it. That’s why if you do post a story, you should only do so if you want publicity. Sort of a sample of what your writing is like. If you do want to send it to a magazine, you’ll have to check with them first to see if they’ll accept it.

But nonfiction seems to be a different matter. There are some magazines who, if they like a blog entry, will contact the blogger to see if they could publish it. Writers who advocate blogging say they get ideas from the posts they write. Heck, there are people who published books off of their blog entries called blooks. (And may I add a quick plug here? One of my writing list mates just got hers published. D.S. White’s Age is Just a Number just came out in paperback. Pop on over and check it out–and I gotta say, her website inspires me on how to decorate my own…)

So do the same rules apply? Does that blog entry hurt my chances on submitting it to this anthology? I did some quick research on the net here and here, asked some friends of mine, and the general consensus seems to be: yes, I should treat it as a previously published article; however, if you substantially rewrite the article, it should be able to stand on its own as a new article. That’s basically the same with any nonfiction article you write–it can be written a number of different ways and each can be considered a new article.

So I dug out my journal and compared it to the blog entry I wrote. Immediately I already see there are lots of errors in the entry. It wasn’t the 2nd annual Festival this year, it was the 4th. I didn’t meet Tad on Sunday–it was actually a Saturday. Blog writing is so raw because you’re writing it on the fly (and if you’re like me today, writing it at 7am before that first jolt of caffeine kicks in). That’s what I like about it. But it’s also embarrassing to see so many errors in that posting I’m almost tempting to take it down. It’s not like scads of people will suddenly wonder where it’s disappeared to…just only a couple of readers who commented on it. But if I did that, just take the posting down without mentioning it, well, those couple of readers will still know. And so will I. You don’t want to alienate readers when posts start disappearing for no reason at all.

That’s why I’m mentioning it here right now, in case, I actually do take it down. The actual essay would be vastly different from what I posted online, but I still feel uncomfortable with so many errors in it. I don’t want to become another William Frey. But leaving it up is also, it’s a form of protection for myself. If a writer–a very unsavory, unscrupulous, writer–stumbles across this post and decides, “Hey, I’m going to take this post and submit it as my own.” I can have this post as a backup, saying. “Nope. All that false information is still mine, and I got the timestamp to prove it!”

And as for the anthology, it looks like they accept previously published material anyway, so I shrug my shoulders, refill my teacup, and get cracking on editing that essay.

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