Lately I've become aware of a disturbing debate: Is a piece of writing placed on one's blog, website, or in an online forum considered published and therefore ineligible for submission to a contest or a publisher whose guidelines clearly state, "No previously published work"? If an author retains copyright to the piece, must it then be submitted ever after only as a reprint?
Now, I have no basis for an opinion on the topic, being a newbie to publishing, but it does concern me. One opinion I've read says that what is published on a forum could be considered a draft, which could then be revised and submitted for publication. I've had two short stories published online in two separate ezines, and I do consider those published since they were intended for the general public. "The Kate Chronicles" are currently being serialized in one of these ezines. I'm good with submitting all those elsewhere (maybe) as reprints.
There are, however, many writing forums out there which offer the opportunity to upload material for critiques. I was on the point of joining one when I received my first contract from TWRP, and I decided against it. However, I wonder if the writers who do join this type of forum consider that it might be detrimental to future (print) publication?
I don't think it's a legal issue except in the sense that anyone submitting work would need to be up-front about the fact that it's previously been online. But it's something to think about for anyone considering any type of publication for pay or for the "clip".
Is published published? Or are there exceptions in the writing world? It's something to think seriously about before hitting send.