Writing a Blog: Is it a Publication Credit?


During my recent intense search for a permanent fulltime job, I kept forgetting to mention that I’m also published online.  Every week, at least once a week, I write a 500-700 word essay here about writing, my writing projects, or classical music subjects.  That is the same as if I were writing a column for a newspaper or newsmagazine.  And yet, oddly, I don’t think of it as publication

The internet and progress in digitization is forcing a re-definition of many things, a re-assessment of legitimacy in some instances.  For my purposes here, I will stick to things literary.  Traditional publishing has been rocked a couple of times in the last one hundred years.  It began the 20th century with hardcover books and only hardcover books, some even leather-covered.  Then came paperback books.  They broadened publishing possibilities and added a couple points to the profit margin.  I don’t know when recorded books first came into existence, specifically for the blind.  No one considered at that time that sighted people might enjoy them too — until the 1980’s, and then they took off.  I have a good friend who loves audio books, and listens to them on her work commute and long road trips.  At the end of the century, the internet opened up a whole new world with seemingly endless possibilities.  Traditional publishing was not terribly pleased.  In fact, if I remember correctly all the articles that appeared in Publishers Weekly during the 1990’s, publishing houses were terrified of losing their business and terrified of not thinking of a way to take advantage of the internet themselves. 

We are now in the midst of a huge change in publishing.  Websites are considered publications of those who created them, and it can be expensive to have one created for you.  There is an entire segment of the workforce dedicated to them.  In addition, authors have posted their writing online, giving it away for free or asking for payment through Paypal.  Is that a publication credit?  E-books, while still a small percentage of the total books published each year, have finished the hurdles race to be accepted as real publication, especially with traditional publishers on board with e-publishing divisions.  Some believe e-publishing will eventually make traditional paper-and-board publishing obsolete while others believe it will be like audio publishing, i.e. just one more content platform for sale.

My publication credits currently include essays published in magazines, a journal, and a hardcover anthology.  Why can’t this blog join them?  Or must I compile an anthology of my posts to be published in e-book or traditional book form before I can claim a publication credit?  If to publish means to disseminate or to put before the public or issue the work of a writer, then the form, i.e. hardcover book, CD, or digital file, doesn’t really matter.  However, if it means to issue the work of a writer only in specific forms accepted as publication by the industry and the general public, then the form does matter.  And who determines that?

Literary agents and publishers currently tend to dismiss POD and self-publishing as not really publishing.  I think they’re justified in that belief to a certain extent.  However, I don’t believe they completely ignore books that have been self-published.  In fact, John Grisham’s first book was self-published.  I think it depends on the quality of the product, as in all business.  And in self-publication, writers need to understand that quality counts, and it costs.

So where does this leave blogs?  I think I need to work harder at including this blog in my publication credits.  If I treat it as a publication, then it is a publication……

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12 responses to “Writing a Blog: Is it a Publication Credit?

  1. If you head off to a different realm of publication, one finds scientific, peer-reviewed journals. There is a distinct quality issue here. One can’t get ‘published’ unless one convinces the journal of the quality and value of one’s work. This is no different superficially than publishing at Bantam or Vintage. One difference, as I understand it, is who does the ‘approving’. These journals get reviewed by others who do the same type of research, who are therefore better able to identify the scientific quality and value.

    I am never going to “get published”, to use the phrase as scientists do. My thesis research isn’t really all that great. Hypothetically my advisor could include me as a “secondary author” when he publishes the bigger research project which mine leads into, though I can’t imagine him doing so.

    This is an option I only notice on scientific journals: primary authors and secondary authors. The primary author’s name is first, and if it’s the first name, it’s the primary author. Everyone else gets listed after that. I don’t know if journals have a rule about the order. I did get included as a secondary author once, many years ago, and it wasn’t alphabetical. Actually, the list was:
    Boss,
    VP of R&D,
    Worker with More Hours, and
    Worker with Fewer Hours (me)

    I see novels and non-fiction published with more than one author, but I have the impression that there are simply two names listed, and the first name is likely chosen for marketing value.
    The key factor in my decision to include a blog under ‘publications’ on my resume would be the same as any other item: how relevant is it to the job requirements?
    If I was applying for a job which required extensive writing of any kind …? Yes I would include my blog.
    If I was applying for a scientific job, and I thought my blog was scientifically fantastic, I would include it only if I thought it was make me look good.

    The catch -for me as a professional looking at the healthygopher blog- would be how much profanity or socially unacceptable things I had made. I write my blog for purely personal enjoyment that might not always be appealing to all readers. While I don’t go whole hog with obscenity, I do occasionally use it. This -again for me as a scientist- is really unacceptable. I really can’t imagine mentioning it on a scientific job application because of this reason alone. Similarly, if it was a scientific blog, I would completely refrain from profanity and make an effort to be more objective in my writing. More professional, basically.
    I guess at the end of the day – if you consider it a professional method to distribute your professional writing…? It’s a publication. Perhaps the question isn’t the method, per se, but how the method is used. Are you making and maintaining your blog as a professional tool? For you, the answer is yes. For me, the answer is no. Therefore you’re publishing and I’m not.

    ??

    • Two authors on a novel or non-fiction book can mean many things, not just using the first name for marketing value. In fact, the first name may not necessarily have marketing value at all. Sometimes, the book was started by the first author and he/she died so it was finished by the second. Sometimes it’s a true collaboration with both authors writing and re-writing, although more and more I’m reading about co-authors who merge their names into a pen name instead of listing both their names. Sometimes, author one is the idea guy and author two writes it down. In non-fiction, it’s more common to see a celebrity working with someone who can write — the celebrity has the story, the writer writes it down in publishable form — and the celebrity’s name has market value. Sometimes, a ghost writer does the book and only the celebrity’s name appears as the author (ghost-writing can be lucrative for giving up all writing credit to something).

      You make some very interesting and good points, Elizabeth, especially about scientific publishing of which I know little. I also didn’t know that your masters research was part of a larger project that your advisor was doing. I suppose it makes sense for him to have advisees help him out as long as the advisee gets some kind of credit, which I suppose is your degree, eh? As a writer, I’d want the credit AND the degree! (smile)

  2. With scientific writing, the primary author is the one who did the majority of the work & usually wrote the majority of the paper. Unless there are quite a few authors (I occasionally see up to 5 or 6), the 2-3 authors will collaborate in the sense of making sure their part of the paper is correct and that the overall thing is good enough.

    When/if a master’s student publishes her work, it normally has the advisor’s name on it as co-author.

    When a doctoral student publishes her work, it’s more likely to be a single author than a master’s, but my understanding is that it still usually has the advisor listed because technically she’s doing the work via the advising. It’s more flexible with doctoral students how many people are listed, as the research tends to be much bigger in scope.

    One often sees authors from multiple agencies working on a common paper. There is always a note mentioning where each person is from as a footnote.

    I was quite surprised one day when Pete was telling me about the bigger project, when he described the scope of it based upon degrees: “This should get at least one or two masters’ and one Ph.D. out if it.” I had never considered measuring a research project based upon how many or which kinds of degrees one could get. Which, generally, can be extrapolated to how many publications you can get. A master’s degree might or might not get a paper; a doctoral student is expected to publish one paper at the very least (basically the dissertation content), and preferably more (dissertation content piecemeal). And, in science, the mantra is:

    publish or die
    publish or die
    publish or die

    • Yeah, my older brother went through the “publish or die” thing when he was working for his Ph.D. When he finally published, I was shocked at how short the article was — only about a page. If I remember, his doctoral advisor was a co-author…..

  3. blogging for publication credit?
    Yes, partly right — If there is no economic wants.

    • Whether a writer’s financial situation is good or bad, having and maintaining a blog is still considered publication and would be a legitimate publication credit on a resume….(smile)

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  5. Thanks for this explanation. Im relatively new to blogging and thanks for liking my post
    Cheers Kate

  6. Pingback: Happy Anniversary! | Anatomy of Perceval

  7. A blog with very brief description of its range is worth mentioning if relevant to where you are vying to be noticed, as is the total hit number if you think it’s impressive; otherwise it just counts as one of your hobbies in your professional self-description.

    In scholarly publications, the lead author is the one listed in the paper as the “corresponding author”.(Not necessarily the one whose name comes first). This will usually be the supervisor, who takes responsibility to the community for the pubication, even though the actual work may have been done by a student or post-doc.

    • Thanks for the comment, Paul! And thanks for that mention of scholarly publications — I was actually wondering about that lead author issue recently because of a friend who had a peer-reviewed paper published. She was the “corresponding author” and listed second to last. I was totally confused! Turns out my friend and a colleague were the two who did the work….

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