The Sad Demise of Ms Snark

Miss Snark left her website nearly four years ago, and I arrived two years late, missing out on her wonderfully straightforward advice and use of the word “nitwit”, which she definitely would have used to describe me. So many questions, but no solid source.

For those of you who do not know who Ms. Snark is, she was an inspiration to us all. Along with her faithful canine friend Killer Yapp, and the wonderful experience of being a literary agent, she made it clear to the would be novelists the complexities of the industry, the proper way to write query letters, and proper etiquette for writers.

I still go to her page now and then, because the information is invaluable, and I wish occasionally that I could give Killer Yapp a good sized steak. But alas, fate is cruel.

The reason that I am writing about the sensation Ms. Snark today is because I found her blog to be invaluable, entertaining, and overall, totally cool.

I hope that my miserable tone over this post has not conveyed the wrong message.

Miss Snark is not dead!!

She is simply retired, and married to the wonderful George Clooney. To understand that last sentence, you should read her blog. I don’t have any suggestions for the poor readers of this (if any in fact exist) for any sites that have attempted to make up for Miss Snark’s much-felt absence. If you have any suggestions for me, I’d be happy to take them.

Intro

This blog is basically the adventures of an unpublished novelist.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 And, because I’m such a nice person, I’ll include some juicy information for my many many friends in the unpublished world.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.

2. Writerscafe

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.

3. Ficly

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.

4. Figment

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.