Saturday, February 26, 2011
Pros & Cons of Online Writing Forums
Inkpop, Authonomy, Fiction Press, Figment! There are so many websites dedicated to writers. Some are privately owned, while some, like Inkpop and Authonomy, are owned by companies such as HarperCollins. There is a lot of speculation and fear about posting one’s writing to the internet. I uploaded my writings to Inkpop, but I respect others who fear to do so. Please do what feels comfortable to you, but I’m here to explain why, for me, the benefits outweigh the possible downfalls.
Stolen Work or Ideas - This is understandably very scary for writers. Until we are published, we don’t want anyone getting their sticky fingers near our ideas. This is an honest danger, and there are horror stories out there, but I didn’t worry so much about this one. For one, Inkpop has disabled the copy and paste function, which makes it a lot more work for someone to steal. Majority of online writers are focused on getting feedback on their own work. I have a hard time imagining that someone is hard-up for a story idea, so they take the time to read through a bunch of unpublished works for inspiration. If this is a fear for you, one way to bypass is not to upload your entire project. Only share the segments on which you need critique. My best advice: do not post your entire story online!
Copyright - This concept is often misunderstood. In the US and many countries, you own the copyright on everything you write the moment it hits the paper. Posting to an online site actually gives a better record that it is, indeed, your work and has been since at least the date you posted. You own it and you can remove it at any time.
Online Work Loses Value with Agents and Publishers - If this was true, HarperCollins would not have started two writing sites, and they certainly would not be publishing anything that they find on said sites. From what I’ve seen, agents and publishers don’t care if you’ve had a team of online writer friends reading and critiquing your work. My agent did recommend not to post the ending, but I’d already taken that precaution. In fact, my agent said that sites like Inkpop are a good way to build a network and “fan base”. Leigh Fallon’s writings are still sitting pretty and available to read on Inkpop this very moment.
Better Writing - My personal experience with Inkpop has been amazing. Posting my first book on there was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Why? I have a problem writing those introductory chapters. I can bang out the body of a story, no problem, but the first chapters are a bumbling mess. Within a month of posting my story online, I had received so much honest, helpful feedback that my introduction took on a complete facelift, turning into something beautiful that I don’t think I could have managed on my own. You have to be willing to take the critique without feeling insulted, though.
Motivation - I can’t count the number of comments I received that lifted my spirits. As writers, positive feedback is our fuel. There is much needed encouragement available from online writing groups if you’re willing to invest the time. Some of the people I met on Inkpop have become valued beta readers outside of the site, and even more importantly, they've become friends.
Helping Fellow Writers - You can’t join an online writing group and expect to receive without giving. Inkpop was like a part-time job for me during the Spring of 2010. In order to continue getting feedback and moving up the ranks, I had to give feedback of my own and support others in their journey. There is something soul-satisfying about helping one another reach our potentials.
14th -- Jennifer Galasso
16th -- Chris Bedell
22nd -- Rosanne Rivers
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