Friday, 4 February 2011
Interview with Creator of iwritereadrate.com
Advancements in technology and social networking have created a system in which readers are more interactive, and where writers are taking publishing into their own hands. Online platforms for writers are on the rise. Iwritereadrate.com is a new website that aims to give power to readers and writers through an online critiquing community. I caught up with one of the creators to ask for more details.
Q: What makes iwritereadrate.com different from other online writing workshops?
A: www.iwritereadrate.com is first and foremost a website for unpublished writers to upload free of charge, sell, and receive constructive feedback from other writers/readers who love to find new voices and stories. We're about helping writers improve and prove their writing to a broader audience than they would otherwise have access to. Our website will be a place where readers can find new works and ideas, and become part of the writing process and experience, a new dynamic in the relationship between writers and readers of all kinds.
As an unpublished writer myself I understand the trials, tribulations, and disappointments of sending your hard work off to agents and not getting any feedback. Our website is about building a constructive community where unpublished writers can develop and find a market for their work; I'm convinced that in today's internet connected age that most writers will find an enthusiastic audience for their work, it's just a matter of reaching them. Fundamentally the idea comes directly from my experience trying to get feedback on my own writing but being unsuccessful due to the large number of MS the industry professionals receive. I'm never going to know if I've got something interesting - or eloquent - to say if other people don't have the ability to read and rate it.
For us, as unpublished writers, our website is all about utilising technology to help other writers like us - whatever stage of their writing journey they're presently at. We've thought long and hard about what features will be beneficial and have tried to pack as many of our ideas into the site from day one. We sincerely hope that other writers will also see the site as a great way to get feedback and to be active members of the rating community.
We think they're loads of reasons to use www.iwritereadrate.com, and each person who joins will likely find particular area's that are of most interest to them. We're also hoping that as well as all the features we're packing into the site that the social element will also be something that gives writers an additional support that they didn't have before. The only way for each individual writer or reader to find out what makes us different is to join and give us a try!
Q: What incentives are there for readers to rate work and provide feedback?
A: We'll be running a points system from the site launch. The more you rate, the more points you'll earn. There will be a number of levels that our members can achieve through getting involved and rating others work. We're about building a constructive and interactive community, so rating something when you've read it is very much an integral part to the experience of utilising our website.
Q: How would a writer use iwritereadrate.com to sell their work?
A: It's simple, once you've self-edited and got to a stage that you're happy to put your work out there, you just login (or register!) and follow the process to upload the document, a cover picture, set the price and away you go.
Our writers will receive 60% of a Cover Price that they set themselves from a number of options in £GBP, $US, Euros, or $AUS.
Q: Would a writer have to sell their work on the site, and would the reader have to buy it before feedback is given?
A: No, writers potentially don't have to charge for their work (depending upon total word count) and they can receive ratings even if they haven't had anyone download their work yet. Also, readers will be able to feedback in several ways before they have to decide whether to purchase the full length work - more detail on this below.
There will be five document size bands on the site - XS/S/M/L/XL - and this will determine the pricing options available for a writer to choose from. XS and S documents will have a FREE option, if this is the writers wish. The size bands will be based upon the total word count of each document. Also, just to mention, uploading any sized document will always be completely free for the writer, and they'll have a short Bio to sell their individual passion alongside their hard work.
In terms of feedback there will be three different levels at which a reader will rate any work - Synopsis, Preview, and Full - from the start there will be a rating system for the synopsis & preview, and an expanded rating system as well as a free-text review for the full document. We're considering opening up a free-text review for the preview as well (this didn't make it into the initial site build but is something we're keen to add as soon as we can).
We think that readers will be willing to pay a reasonable price to download the full work from new writers, as long as it has been judiciously self-edited and the work is of sufficient quality.
We're aiming to give readers the same level of information before choosing to download as they would have if they picked up a paperback in a bookstore - it will be free to view the synopsis and a short preview of the story so they can make an informed choice as to whether it is for them, and they will also be able to rate at all stages of this decision process.
Q: How would a reader know if a work has been 'judiciously self-edited' before they purchase it, if there are no 'gatekeepers' as such? And do you think readers will be willing to pay for the opportunity to critique someone else's work?
A: It's very much a subjective decision made by the reader based upon the impression that our writers have made with their Bio, Synopsis and Preview - all of which are free for a reader to view. We all know that when we're in a bookstore, we pick up a paperback, read the blurb on the back and if we like the sounds of it we might open it to read the first few pages, before making the decision to buy it - it's exactly the same principle on our website.
We hope that there will be a mix of writers at different stages of their development on our site so it will be down to the community to decide what it is that they consider a well written, well edited, and worth paying for to read the full work. The nature of the rating system will mean that the 'best' work is more easily accessible and visible on the site, but you'll also be able to search by genre to drill down to find more works that are of particular interest to you as a reader. As a caveat on this, what our individual members consider 'best' or 'judiciously self-edited' will likely differ from person to person. The rating system will be designed to flatten out the averages, as a guide to what they should investigate further. For me personally I often find books that aren't necessarily highly publicised or rated that I find well written and inspiring - hopefully this will also happen on the website.
I don't think it's a matter of readers paying for an opportunity to critique someone's work: I think it's about them accessing new writers and paying for a good read, the feedback element is about building a community around helping each other - altruistic I know, but then I'm an idealist at heart. I think there are undoubtedly a lot of diamonds out there which, for whatever reason, haven't had any luck through the traditional channels. I absolutely do think that readers will be willing to pay for unpublished work, and the writers should polish what they have as much as they can, to ensure they have the best opportunity for positive ratings.
However, I don't think that uploads which have spelling or grammatical mistakes (or don't flow) will be very popular at all, so it's important that writers do their best to self-edit if they want to get positive feedback and ultimately have their work downloaded. So whilst the site doesn't have any official 'gatekeepers' the community will decide what is highly rated and what requires some further work to get it up to an appropriate standard.
We interviewed a Literary Consultant in January - Helen Corner from Cornerstones - about tips for new writers and posted her answers on our blog. We'll also be posting a basic self-editing process that I follow on our blog during February and looking to post more about this in the future. You can take a look at these and other articles at: blog.iwritereadrate.com.
Q: In the FAQs on your site, you say that you believe it is every writer's dream to be published in the traditional manner using the publishing industry, and that by selling work on iwritereadrate.com a writer can ‘show the industry your success’. However, by selling their work on iwritereadrate.com, a writer has self-published, which means a large publishing house is unlikely to pick up the work. What are your thoughts on this?
A: Yes, I truly believe it is every writers dream to be published in the traditional manner. However, writers already submit pretty long extracts all over the place in an effort to get feedback and support from their peers and the reading community, as the industry generally is not able to give them it. We just see our site as an extension of this. We don't really see what we're doing as self-publishing - we're just providing a central platform for writers to sell their passion, their work, and get valuable feedback which is often difficult to find. If a writer wants to take down their work, for whatever reason, then they can do so at any time.
If the work is good enough it would be self-destructive for a publisher not to publish it to the mass market just because it's been on our site. In the end the industry needs to embrace new technology - the change is happening all around us - and our website is ultimately there to help writers on their journey. Publishers shouldn't be afraid of this, they should embrace it. We think our site has the potential in improve the quality of submissions they receive and potentially illustrate that there is a market for a particular story, which I'm sure they'll be happy with. They should be expecting that writers need this type of support and encouragement in the very competitive environment of new fiction. Also, they should expect to see it more that motivated, pro-active, aspiring authors are searching out ways of improving their writing and should see this as an extremely positive step in the evolution of writing and publishing.
We'll be uploading our work from the beginning, so we're putting our money where our mouth is on this; however it still remains our dream to be published in the traditional manner. Once the site is live we'll be trying our best, as it says in the FAQ's section of our website, to forge strong links with industry professionals. We think that the benefits of our website significantly outweigh any old-fashioned concerns that it may raise.
Q: Though the company is new, what are your visions for the future of iwritereadrate.com?
A: We're just taking it one step at a time at the minute. I've had this idea bouncing around my head for several years, and the seed is finally about to germinate thanks to the team, so just loving every minute of it. When the site is live it'll be down to our members to make it bloom, as we've basically built it with them at the forefront of everything, and then we'll see where it takes us from there.
That being said we're constantly coming up with new idea's for the site and people we think we should approach to join up with. It will undoubtedly evolve over time, but at the minute we're really focused on the short term - getting the site ready for Pre-Launch uploads and then the Full Launch.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. I wish you the best of luck with your venture.
You can register now to be given pre-launch access, enter into a competition to win an eReader, and receive a monthly newsletter by visiting: www.iwritereadrate.com
Posted by Sophie Playle at 08:13