Monday, August 29, 2016

Writing Off Write On

The time has come to let the dream die--Write On was not all that it was cracked up to be. I thought that I had found something that would help out with some significant gaps in my writing process, but it all ended up just being a big headache.

Write On, for those who don't know, is platform where you can upload your work-in-progress or completed project to get feedback from other members. I've tried it with two different projects and the results were less than thrilling. Is it a beta read site? Not really. Is it more of an online critique group? Not quite. Is it more like Wattpad, offering your completed work for free to build an audience? No. Definitely not.

Before publishing it last year, I put up my novel Seeing What Develops. I initially thought Write On was geared more towards the beta reading aspect of writing: users would take my almost completed project, tell me what's still not working, and I could go from there to complete a final round of revisions. While there was some interest, the comments were more of a "I like it" aspect without any suggestions. And once I put up the final chapter and marked it complete, it only received about 58 reads--and it's unclear whether those reads were counting the whole project or counting every time someone read a chapter.

So it wasn't for beta reading. This year I put up In Another Life to see if users would be more helpful earlier in the writing process. This project was two revisions in (I usually do 4+ before I think it's ready to go) and so far, I've had one helpful comment. But this time around, Write On has more options to provide information to the reader. You can choose to label your project as Drafting, Revising, or Complete. I left it on drafting for some reason. I don't know why, even though I was definitely in the revising stage.

The site isn't for early-stage critiques, either.

I guess the issue with this site is that most of the users are writers, not readers, unlike Wattpad where there's a more even mix of readers and writers. And the biggest problem with writers? We have egos when it comes to time management. Example:

"Oh, I would love for all these people to read my story. But I'm not going to bother with theirs. I don't have time to read something that isn't finished yet."

I'm not criticizing anyone--I've had these thoughts too. So if the site has something like 80% writers on it, then you're probably getting upwards of 60% with this mindset.

I don't like how the site works for my projects, but there are authors who've found success, like one author who only put up the first 5000 words of her novel, then took the critique of that and used it to build her Kindle Scout campaign (and won a contract). Let's just say that might have been my own intention, but again, it's not working for me personally. What I failed to realize from trying to mimic this situation is that she brought an audience with her. I was trying to use this resource to build one.

I haven't tried a fully formed, finished project upload to compare it to Wattpad. But I don't think I'll bother. Aside from the lack of enthusiasm I fail to generate, I also realized that my novel was 20k short of a standard-size novel, which means a massive rewrite or combining book one and book two (which I know at first draft is only 25k). Nowhere near ready for the plans I had for it.

I need to find something that's more helpful in shaping my writing to be the best it can be, which is probably building a small beta reading group just for myself. Of course I'll have to build twelve separate groups because I hate writing in just one genre, but whatever. As long as the story gets what it needs, it's worth it.


K R Smith said...

I really believe the points you've made here are right on the mark. I'm having the same problem with Twitter followers - 99.9% are other authors trying to sell their books. I want to find the readers. If you don't already have a large following it's difficult to get feedback.

From the reader's point of view, I'm not sure how many average readers even know about the site (Write On). I've talked to a few folks recently that were looking for books (Amazon users) and they had no idea what I was talking about.

I don't know much about Wattpad, though I suppose I'll try it out someday. But Wikipedia says "there are over 100,000 story uploads per day," so how do you get people to notice your story?

Sounds like a permanent uphill battle for writers like me.

Terri Deno said...

Exactly! I have more than 1200 Twitter followers, and at least 1100 of them are writers. And I've been avoiding the "if you read and review mine, I'll read and review yours" deals authors sometimes throw out there because it's a gamble on whether someone's going to get offended by honesty.

And Wattpad... that's a lot like any other platform. You sort of have to bring an audience with you and hope they are extremely vocal to get other people to notice, although it has a much higher percentage of reader-only members.