I’ve had both the pleasure and the pain of discovering the youwriteon site over the past week. If you’re not familiar with this, it is a free site sponsored by Random House and Orion where writers can post up to 7000 words of their unpublished or self-published novel (5000 for short stories). In exchange for reading and reviewing the work of other participants, your own work is assigned to members to read and review. Once you have four reviews of your work, you can begin to see your ratings summaries, and once you have eight reviews, you can be included in the rankings along with others.
I first learned of this through my connection with Tom Winton on LinkedIn. His novel Beyond Nostalgia (99 cents on Amazon!) has done very well in the youwriteon rankings.
But it’s more than just the rankings that would make this site appeal. Although you need to sift through the review comments, when you see a particular criticism multiple times, you need to pay attention and consider revising your work accordingly. That’s what makes the site so helpful – you can make your work better. It’s a reality check. When you think you’ve made your story as good as it can be, getting objective feedback from multiple sources can either confirm that for you or point you in the direction of what you need to change.
Another appealing aspect is the chance to bring your writing to the attention of publishers. The most highly ranked books get reviewed by Random House and Orion, and authors have been known to land impressive deals as a result of being introduced to the publishers on youwriteon. They are the minority, of course. My reading experience so far has been mixed, with a few potential gems mixed in with a lot of really bad stuff. I’ve been surprised at the number of very dark, unpleasant stories.
So how has my book #2, Sentimental Journey, fared? Well, honestly, it has received mixed reviews – some very high praise along with some rather consistent criticisms. This process is not for the thin-skinned. Interestingly, many of the reviews include comments mirrored in feedback I’ve received historically from agents and publishers – “you write very well, but….” It seems I need to work on making my characters more believable and likeable. When you receive feedback like that fairly consistently, you really need to pay attention. So I’m going to make some revisions in the chapters I have on the site (oh, yes, that’s another nice thing – you can make revisions and re-post) and see if my revisions make a difference in the reviews. That’s the biggest value, after all, the chance to improve your writing.
Looks very interesting, too many writers are just a little bit shy of releasing content from their novels. Throw caution to the wind and trust yourself.
The thing I like about this site is the control – your content only goes to one reader at a time. It’s not posted for all to see – writers have to read and review others’ work before their own work will be “assigned” to a reader. And you don’t know the reviewer, so it’s easier not to take anything personally.
I signed up immediately. Thanks for a very useful link…
Dawn Lajeunesse Website: http://www.dawnlajeunesse.com Author of AUTUMN COLORS Blog: https://mtnwriter77.wordpress.com Twitter: mtnwriter77 Facebook: Dawn Lajeunesse
You might want to read my post “Two Problems with You Write On” (http://expendableman.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/one-problem-with-youwriteon-com/).
Thanks, Peter – it’s always good to have a complete picture. I touched on your mention of the poorly posted editings in one of my blogs: https://mtnwriter77.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/why-self-published-books-get-no-respect/, as it touches on one of the issues you mentioned.( After talking with some English teachers (in the US) I’m not completely surprised that young folks don’t place value on well-edited work, particularly spelling and basic grammar.) As for youwriteon, at first I was going to request replacements for reading assignments that were out of my genre. But I tried a few, and was pleasantly surprised by the better ones (the awful ones are still awful, regardless of the genre). I found if they were well written that I could look beyond my distaste for the genre and critique based on the quality of the writing. Clearly some of the reviewers of my work weren’t quite as open-minded:-). But as long as you can take what works for you from the critiques and not get bogged down in personal tastes, it still has some value! Thanks for your comment!
Great blog and really helpful for those of us who need to find critique groups especially online. Thanks.