Friday, May 16, 2008


Has anybody else joined HarperCollins' new community for readers, writers and publishers? They're not fully launched yet, but if you signed up to their newsletter months ago you'll have received a Special Invitation today. The idea is to set up your profile, build a page for your manuscript or book, and start showcasing your work. You get to read other members' chapters online and leave your opinion, search out the best of the books on the site and use space on your personal 'bookshelf' to tip them for success. The idea is that writers should be judged on the quality of the work they produce, not on their ability to pitch, market or publicise themselves and that personal recommendations are the most effective way of building support for a book.

It sounds interesting, and a good way to get your novel noticed by a reputable publisher, but in the blog section comments Lee makes a good point when he says :-

"...long-term I'm not sure whether this sort of approach to crticism and editing is truly helpful, unless the writer is appealing to mass taste.

If your work isn't published conventionally, most people seem to think it's a work-in-progress - and that they know how to fix it. I'm rather skeptical about the criticism of those who are 'writers first, readers second' - the sort of thing you're likely to find at such sites. Everyone is looking to make themselves feel better about their own work..."

There were plenty of follow-up comments along the lines of, yes, but at least it's another chance to get noticed, and an opportunity to see what the other unpublished writers are doing.

There's a good section on copywriting your work and overall it sounds rather interesting, but I wonder what everyone else thinks? Waste of time? Good Idea? Couldn't care less? I'd rather take the conventional route to publication?

I don't like to have thoughts on my own, damn you! I need Feedback.


Yvonne said...

Hey Karen, it's a tough one. I agree with the comment - people do tend to go overboard with the criticism when a novel or piece of writing hasn't been published. Personally I wouldn't go for it because I want more objective criticism than subjective - I'm going to submit my work to an editor and to some writers I respect. Much easier to take criticism that way!

KAREN said...

That's what I was thinking too, Yvonne. I'm going to give it a miss. I've had a look at some of the work on there and, shall we say (quietly), some of it's not that good, but even so I wouldn't feel comfortable criticising it. Plus it'll just lead to more procrastinating really, when I should be Getting On With It :o)

HelenMH said...

I think you've answered your own question really my dear. If you feel like that about the other work you see there, then you probably won't benefit from it. It's an interesting idea though.

Lane said...

Haven't really had a thorough look but I tend to shy away from from those big showcase/crit sites.
Critting (don't like that word but can't think of another) other people's works takes a lot of energy, not to mention time . I enjoy doing it for our small groups and I like getting feedback from them on my stuff but I don't trust strangers - unless they're editors or agents of course!

I think you're right. Getting On With It is the best course of action. Talking of which, when are we going to read another chapter of yours?:-)

Jumbly Girl said...

Hmm I need to investigate further, but i don't think its for me. I'm really scared of putting my first draft out on display - I'd rather get the opinions of people I know and trust first. Shame though as it is potentially a way to get your work noticed

Faye said...

Karen, a question from your non-writer reader (how confusing!)on this subject--recently I've been eagerly waiting for the publication of book two of a sequel about Captain Frederick Wentworth from Austen's Persuasion. I was surprised and delighted to find 18 chapters of the draft online. Of course, I immediately printed it off and read in one sitting.

Why would an author be willing to put the whole draft work online? Wouldn't that discourage people from buying the final work? In this case, I'll definitely buy the book when it's published later this year because it's a great account of the Persuasion story from Wentworth's point of view but I'm sure that's not always the case.

wordtryst said...

Just popping by to let you know that author/literary agent/writing coach Orna Ross will be stopping by my blog on Sunday 18th, (that's a few hours away) and will answer (on Monday) any questions left in the comment trail. You're welcome to drop in!

I'm one of the sceptics. I much prefer to get feedback from one or two known and trusted people. I doubt that kind of shoot-in-the-dark criticism from strangers has much value, and like you said somewhere in the trail, you can put the time to better use writing or reading, imho. Definitely not for me.

Fiona said...

I like feedback on my work - and I think you can work out if should act on it or not. I use quite a lot but they can be harsh so you need a tough skin. I enjoy reading other wannabes work - as long as it's not too long!

Debs said...

I did join this and also received an invitation but haven't submitted anything yet.

I've posted on and have found their criticism quite useful although sometimes harsh and also well thought out.

I think it probably helps to get a feel of how a piece may be working and also helps you look at your work from a different perspective too.

Kerry said...

Ah I was excited reading your blog post, and thought I might give it a chance. However, I'm inclined to agree with other posters. At the end of the day you have no idea who will be reading and critiquing your work. As my grandma always says of criticism - consider the source (particularly if the standard of other writing isn't too good). I think I will give it a miss too.

KAREN said...

helenmh - You're quite right...I think I'd already decided!

lane - Yes, I think I prefer my critters (!) to be editors or agents too, and you're right about the energy-sapping potential.

Not sure I'm brave enough to post another chapter. My first one has transformed since I posted it (blush) and it probably wouldn't make much sense!

jumbly girl - It's a bit of a double-edged sword isn't it? It IS scary putting your first draft out there and if it got shot down in flames...well, I'd rather not go there!

faye - That's a good point that I hadn't considered. Of course there will be some quality work on there, but I wonder why the author hasn't chosen to approach the agent/publisher directly in that case. Unless they have and been rejected. In that case it IS a good opportunity to have your work nominated by other readers and maybe get noticed by the publishers. I'm ocnfusing myself now!

wordtryst - How funny, I've just started reading Lover's Hollow after hearing about her on Caroline Smailes's blog! Sadly I was without t'Internet all weekend, due to ongoing DIY faffing, so wasn't able to pop over :o(

Authonomy definitely not for me either, I've decided.

fiona - I love feedback too, which is why I was tempted! Overall though, I think I'd prefer to post stuff on my blog for regular readers to crit.

debs - I've had a look at youwriteon, and think I actually joined a while back, but for me I think it's another way of procrastinating, unfortunately!

kerry - Your grandma sounds like a wise woman. Mine would probably have said the same! I'm going to give it a miss too.

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