Friday, 17 June 2016

The Bountiful Opportunities for the Internet loving Writer

The internet is a brilliantly vast and ever-expanding resource for writers and authors. So many websites, e-magazines and blogs all offering the chance to get your work published or win prizes. You only have to type 'writing competitions' into Google's search bar and thousands of results pop up; individual competitions, lists of competitions put together by other writer's or bloggers. I myself have a writing competitions page on this blog that I like to try and keep updated with interesting and current competitions. It brings people in, we all want the chance to see our work in print right? And to enter... most of them simply require you to email your piece and pay a small fee over paypal, done, quick as a flash.

Writers and authors everywhere are utilising this fantastic resource, the internet, to showcase their work, to sell their work, to build up a following of loyal readers, to advertise their books and of course, to connect with other readers and writers.

There are now a whole host of online websites, communities and forums that allow you to do just that; sign up, post your work for your fellow writers to read, and read the work of your fellow writers. The sites are, of course, all available to non-writing readers who, usually for a small fee, can browse the hundreds of titles on offer and read and rate the ones they like, or dislike.
All of these sites offer you, the excited new writer searching for your first glimmer of success, the chance to publish your work without fear of it being rejected by a publisher before it ever gets to the eyes of a reader, and most offer some form of payment based upon the popularity of your creative pieces.
Perfect right, what could be better?

In many ways this is indeed a perfect solution, and if yours is a next big best-seller people will read it and like it and rate it and subscribe to it and you'll rake in the cash.
But the bitter truth is that there is so much choice, so much out there, that the many unedited, often first draft, stories that I have seen posted online just do not attract that sort of following and thereby that sort of popularity or, of course, payment. So try not to set your hopes too high unless what you're sharing has already been through the first and second draft stages.

However, I have found that these sites can be utilised in a fantastic way: to write a story.
I utilise one site to keep myself writing chapter after chapter of what, I hope, will eventually be my first published novel. When I signed up for the site I chose to publish a new chapter of my story every two weeks and this gives me a deadline that I must keep to, because we all know that if your posts are unreliable then you lose readers fast no matter how good your story is! This deadline is fantastic for me and my busy lifestyle as it forces me to keep writing, even when I don't feel like it. I find it far too easy to put my story to the bottom of the to do list, always believing that 'I'll come back to it as soon as I have some free time'.
And of course, because it is a subscriber site, I am earning a small amount of money based on the number of people who subscribe to my series.

This also serves as a fantastic way of getting an idea whether people like what you are writing. For me, I bear in mind that I am using the site as a tool to write my first draft, so if people like it then that's extra bonus points, and a really good incentive to carry on and aim for eventual publishing! If people are liking the first draft then surely when it's all polished and perfect it's got a good chance of being at least fairly popular?
Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.
Of course there is so much choice in reading material out there now that your work either has to be unique and interesting or it has to sit comfortably in a well known genre that a loyal following of people will always read purely because they love that genre. However even in cases such as that, if the story is not well written readers will drop it pretty quickly in favour of one of the other hundreds of stories in that genre.
Barefacedly putting your unpublished work online for hundreds of readers and writers to read and criticize is actually a pretty brave thing to do, and it can be pretty helpful too. Because as soul crushing as it would be to have little or no readers interested in or enjoying your story, that can tell you a big thing: that if you want to succeed as a writer you need to do something very different.

And that brings me oh so nicely onto my last point. Blogs, forums, writing sites, reading sites, they all have one big thing in common and that thing can be incredibly helpful.
They all allow you to connect with other writers. It's like one giant support group potentially spanning all the writer's in the world.
You've got a question? Ask it and answers you shall receive. You need to know something about grammar? Type it in and you'll have your answer within minutes. Looking for inspiration? Every decent blog or writing site has a prompts page! Want to know how the big names got big? The internet is littered with articles, interviews and features about your favourite authors and their journey to the front page (or shelf). Simply want someone to talk to about your writing struggles that really understands your frustration? Just log in and write a post, you're guaranteed a reply... writers love to write! Just written a new piece and want some feedback on it? Upload it on a site like Scriggler where other writers can read your work and comment on it.
I could go on all night.
The point is, there is a whole writing community out there just waiting for you to go and become a part of it. They're all great people, they all like reading and writing and they all want to help each other out as best as possible.
What an amazing, fantastic, resource. And one that is infinitely accessible through the world wide web any time of day or night.

I'm very interested in this topic and have spent quite a lot of time recently finding different websites, blogs and forums, some of which I really like.
Over the next couple of months I'm going to try out a few of them and let you know how I got on, what I liked or didn't like, and whether I think they're worth signing up to.

Of course just because I liked it doesn't mean you will, and vice versa, but it will be an interesting resource if you're thinking of joining the online writing community and are looking for somewhere to start.

So keep an eye out for more articles.

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