This blog is basically the adventures of an unpublished novelist. Now, that doesn’t make me a bad novelist… because I have yet to submit anything to a literary agency or a publisher. It doesn’t necessarily make me a good novelist either, but whatever. Along the way, I want to ask my readers (perhaps I’m kidding myself about having readers), some questions regarding their preferences. And, because I’m such a nice person, I’ll include some juicy information for my many many friends in the unpublished world.
First of all, the thing that I will write is a list of the top writing sites, in my opinion:
1. Inkpop & Authonomy
Both of these sites are great in terms of professional quality, and both are products of the HarperCollins company. I personally love the ranking system. I’ve used both of them, and for the writers of YA fiction inkpop comes with high recommendations. Inkpop has a friendlier community, with more people willing to read without read requests. In authonomy it’s a fierce competition, and people rarely ever read your work without you asking first. It’s basically only for swapping reads. But inkpop too has a downside in a way. Only YA fiction, and you’ll find that although the targeted members are teenage writers, many of the prominent writers on the site are actually adults. Some of the members say this adds to the competition and helps in the diversity of the site. Others find that the teenage writers get less of a chance at recognition.
Inkpop is the better of the two sites if you want an honest review. Two things disappoint me about inkpop. One, the lack of contests. One or two major contests a year, and that too for US residents only. This, despite the fact that the site claims they have writers from 109 countries. Numero dos, being published is rare. Yes, they have published one book, but to me, that’s ‘one’. I’ve read a lot of the books on the site. Sure, some are boring enough to bore people who are braindead, but occassionally you come across a few books that make you wonder, “why isn’t this in a borders somewhere?
P.S. The submission method in inkpop and authonomy irritates me. They have a five-step submission process, that doesn’t let you skip a step even when you’re only uploading chapters.
Writerscafe’s basic selling point is the contests for me. The contests from users rock. The special column rocks more. It’s a fun site to share your work, and the people seem friendly enough. I haven’t used it that much, but a lot of people online claim that it is the bomb. Yes, I’m aware that expression went out of use a decade ago. The downside of the site is the lack of the ranking system. It makes it hard to find a good read if you’re a reader rather than a writer.
Yes, you guessed it, ficly is the new ficlets. I was an avid writer on ficlets a couple of years back, and mourned it’s untimely demise. None of the writing sites really seemed to be able to take it’s place, and therefore it had a very welcome reincarnation as ficly. It’s all the same, the 1024 character limit, the contests, everything. For those of you unfamiliar with ficly, it’s a writing site where each story, or a segment of a story, is limited to 1024 characters. You’d think the length would be hindering, but the shortness is actually refreshing. The one thing that they should get up on there is the inspiration page, which the site promises to be working on.
This site is very visually pleasing and there are some cool contests. However, I don’t think you can make a lot of friends, and basically my work wasn’t really recognized all that much.
Now, there are some other sites that some writers rave about in their blogs, but these are my faves. All other sites seem a bit amateur compared to these, to me anyway.
But here’s the thing:
I don’t believe in writing sites benefitting writers.
Not ones that want to get published anyway. I know that we’re all looking for some positive encouragement, and we get it on those writing sites. But the truth is that the writers on the site are the same as us, they are individuals with different tastes. You might get two comments that are totally contradictory. You might get vague comments that leave you going “huh?” and scratching your head in confusion. My point is, nothing quite compares the professional critique of a literary agent or an editor. Although writing sites might motivate you to write, they’re not going to get you published.
No amount of positive comments is going to magically improve your writing. Only your practice does that. So, my final advice here, is to go to writing sites, get what you can out of them. Then, get serious and start typing up a novel that you plan to send to a literary agent one day. I’m sort of unsure about unsolicited manuscripts right to publishers.