Monday, 4 January 2010
A Tale of Two Websites
When I finished my first novel, Torbrek...and the dragon variation, I was filled with happy pride. I sent the first three chapters off to six lucky agents, who sent me six form rejections. (Bless you, PFD, whose reader scrawled that she'd enjoyed the story.) I realized my novel might not be as good as I thought it was, so joined YouWriteOn in December 2006, hoping someone would tell me what was wrong with my opening chapters.
Once I'd got enough comments to enter the charts, I rushed to see where my book was. In those days, the charts only showed the top two hundred or so entries. And Torbrek was not among them. It was worse than I thought. But I loved the site, enjoyed reading and commenting on others' books, and hoped to profit by the comments on mine, though still nobody had told me how to fix the start.
Or so I thought...but after three or four months, it dawned on me how much I'd learned. I'd changed the opening chapters considerably, and was aware of all sorts of issues of which I'd been ignorant. I'd pounce on any nugget of good advice in a comment, and act on it.
YouWriteOn was where my writing went to school and grew up.
When Harper Collins launched Authonomy, I was an enthusiastic beta member. It was a terrific site. But over the last year, its ethos has changed. Now the only way to rise to the top of the chart and win a coveted gold star and HC editor's review is to praise and back as many of the books on the site as possible. Look at the comments on any book there, and almost all say the writing is brilliant, the story compelling, the ideas terrific. Dare to write a critical comment, suggesting how it can be improved, and you are unlikely to get a thank you - and indeed why should the author take any notice, when he has dozens of comments assuring him that his writing is excellent?
Today I wonder how my writing would have fared had I, as a newbie writer, had the current Authonomy to load Torbrek to. Reassured by so many that my novel was superb (and please to back theirs) would my writing have stuck at first draft level? Would I ever have understood why it was rejected by literary agents?
Is Authonomy doing naive new writers a disservice?
Posted by Lexi at Monday, January 04, 2010