Best Websites for Writer Feedback

The other day I wrote a rather controversial piece about Authonomy (www.authonomy.com), and received mixed responses, with most of the discussion taking place on the Authonomy forum after a member shared the blog. In my post, I encouraged people to avoid Authonomy. Today I will share my favorite alternatives to Authonomy.

1.) YouWriteOn (www.youwriteon.com – This website is formatted similar to Authonomy in regards to the rating scale, but the interface is rather difficult to get used to. Nonetheless, it’s much more secure and reliable for feedback and advice. The premise is simple; you upload your novel and then the website assigns it to another member to read and review. You then review another member chosen at random. After 8 reviews, your story enters the website’s story chart, and the top ten highest rated writers each month receive a review from Random House, Penguin, Harper Collins, etc.

The beauty of YouWriteOn is that the number of writers on the site is significantly smaller than Authonomy, meaning your chances for reaching the story chart are much greater. There’s also the ability to have your book self-published for a very small fee, though I do not recommend self-publishing for various reasons(see previous blog posts). From what I’ve experienced as a short-term member of YouWriteOn, the reviews are top notch, and you really get a feel for how readers will view your book in the future. It’s easy to create an account and begin right away. You don’t have to spam people for reviews, nor do you have to spend hours trying to get people to back your book.

2.) Blogging – I recommend this because it is so easy. You simply upload portions of your story, submit the post to various forums, etc, and people will respond. You can update the blog with your progress on the book, and eventually you will create a following which you can use to promote your novel once it’s published. My favorite blogging website is WordPress, but Blogspot offers a great alternative, depending on your personal preference.

3.) Scribd (www.scribd.com) – This is fairly new, but it’s a great way to share your story with friends on Facebook. You can upload it and have your Facebook friends provide feedback, etc. It’s the easiest way to get reviews of all the tools I’ve listed.

4.) Writing.com (www.writing.com) – An older website, but still a fun way to upload documents and have people provide advice. It’s one of the largest writing communities on the internet, and has a good track record of success.

I still cannot in good faith recommend Authonomy, but it’s a free website, so if you’d like to try your luck, then by all means create an account. I believe that YouWriteOn offers a much better system of receiving feedback than any other similar site on the internet, and for beginning writers, it is an invaluable tool. Share other favorites in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe.

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Spamming until you see Results

So, you’ve finished writing your book, script, graphic novel, etc. Now what? This is where the going gets tough, and if you’re tough, you’ll get going. By this I mean sending your book into the cacophony of literary agencies, publishing houses, editors, etc. At this point in the game, you’ve just spent months or years completing your novel, and you’re ready to move onto the next project, right? Not just yet. You still have to find someone to publish your creation. There are several methods to achieve this sought after goal, and I’ll take you through a few of them.

Step One: Research. Find out what companies books that are similar to yours are being published through. Contact other authors and seek their advice. Many popular writers have a blog, and like to share the journey they took to become an author, so I would suggest starting there. Authors aren’t selfish people, and most would gladly help you the same way they were. Visit the Literary Marketplace (www.literarymarketplace.com) which has a comprehensive list of agencies and publishing companies to send your manuscript to.

Step Two: If you have the funds available, consider hiring a Publicist. They specialize in promotion, and perhaps they can generate more interest in your book than you can. You might be the next J.R.R. Tolkien, but you probably don’t know the first thing about the advertising industry. There are things that agencies look for that might not even realize. Your book might be the best thing since sliced bread, but if you can’t explain it the right way, it will forever remain a document file on your computer.

Step Three: Spam. You spam them until they shut down their website, or change their email address. Ok, so maybe not quite as dramatically as that, but you will want to continue sending your manuscript into the world until you receive a positive response. If an agency turns it down, hopefully they’ll also have given you a few reasons as to why they refused your manuscript. Take this in good spirit, and revisit, revise, and resend your manuscript to them. Don’t place all your bets on one agency or publishing company, however. Send it to them all.

Step Four: While it might not be the dream you’ve always had, smaller publishing houses still offer a good stepping stone for your career as an author. This can be a great first stop on your way to the Bestseller list, as long as you play your cards right. Continue spamming(sending) your manuscript to the agencies, but if you receive a contract from a smaller company, you might want to think about it. Now, this is only after you’ve just about exhausted yourself spamming(sending) your book to as many agencies as you can, with zero positive reception. Small presses will give you everything the larger companies will, just in a smaller dosage. They’ll advertise, promote, and sell your book as best they can, because the future of their business is riding on your success.

In the end, don’t give up. I’ve known authors whose books have taken 5-6 years to publish, and authors who were published in under a year. It’s different for everybody, but if you have a good book, and it’s written, edited, and formatted correctly, chances are high that you will receive a contract for it. Keep spamming(sending) your creation to as many places as you can. Dedication is usually rewarded with success, so don’t quit, no matter what. And remember, spam on, my friends.