Saturday, July 29, 2006

YouWriteOn Turns me Write Off

I've been checking out a new web service over the past few days. It's called YouWriteOn and is a sort of peer review exchange.

The idea is, you log in, review a chapter of a book someone else has uploaded, and receive one credit. Then you request another book to review. Review it, get another credit. You get the idea.

With your credits, you upload your chapters and make them available for the system to assign them to other members to review.

So far, so good. But . . .

The 'chapters' are a minimum of 6,000 to 10,000 words. That's a lot of reading. And let's face it, most of what you're required to read isn't very good.

The draw is the promise that the most popular chapter is shown to some high-powered publisher. And if you don't get your book excerpt sent to these high-powered publishers, there is always their self-publishing service.

The site smacks of hitting the lottery, wannabees desperate for publication uploading their work in the hopes they can short-circuit the traditional publishing process. This site has been advertised in Writer's Digest--they must have hundreds of thousands of members by now, do you really think you're going to become their 'favorite'? Personally, I think it's a front for their self-publishing business.

And think about it, here you are, a wannabee writer, passing your questionable efforts out to other wannabee writer's who are, like you, struggling to create passable prose, for them to evaluate. It's either going to turn into a group hug or a chance to vent pent-up anger at faceless peers.

I did one review, for research purposes. The story couldn't even hold my interest for the 10,000 words. I was kind in the review. I did not ask for another chapter to review nor did I upload any of my stuff. It just seems pointless.

Basically, it's just another web site designed to divert writer's energy from what they should be doing--writing.

That said, I'm going to have a beer and cigar on the balcony.


  1. Hi,

    I happened upon this and, as a member of YWO for a year, it seems to me you might write an update.

    The site is a huge success, and has led to several publishing contracts, with undoubtedly more in the pipeline. Two more big publishers have just come on board. Other people are copying YWO and starting similar sites.

    The quality of work is, of course, mixed, but a lot of it is very good, and the bad writers tend not to stay very long.

    I've found the reviews have helped my writing enormously. Three of my pieces have made the site's Bestsellers Chart.

    It's neither a group hug, nor angry. There is a co-operative ethos.

    Instead of dismissing it on the basis of one random reading, why don't you take a look at the Top Ten and the Bestsellers?

    It's a site for writers that works.

  2. I can't believe this post has received a comment after all this time. I even had to re-read my post to see what it was about.

    Having re-read my post, and revisting YouWriteOn, I stand by what I said. Great if it works for you, but in my view, writers write; anything else is a waste of time.

  3. Anonymous7:12 am

    Well, Mike, if you hear of a more effective writer's site, please don't be selfish. Share it with others who may even be as good as you. ;)

  4. Once again, I am amazed to find another comment after all this time.

    You Write On seems to have some devoted followers. That's great, and I hope it works for you. It just doesn't work for me. We all have to find our own way.

  5. Hi, I have to say I sympathize with your take on this, without wishing to detract from people who find the site useful and who have been helped on to greater things. Writers are a notoriously quirky lot - we have to be, or we would never write anything original or creative. I am inclined to think that one should go by the comments of the literate reader.

  6. Once again I am amazed that this old post still attracts attention. And as I have said, every writer has to find their own way. You Write On seems to be a good way for some, but to me it just seems to be a huge diversion.

  7. Anonymous7:04 pm

    I posted a sample at YWO and immediately got the ugliest review I have ever received from an UK author. I don't mind honest critique, but this review had fangs.

    Hey, I don't need the abuse. I'm too busy having fun.

  8. I posted on YWO and received the most abusive review I have had in years for a story that was well-receive elsewhere. I dropped out immediately.

  9. Gosh doesn't time fly! I posted this four years ago, and still it draws comments.

    MM and Anon: sucks about the reviews. You can be critical and helpful but some people just like the critical part. Don't let it ruin your day.