Calling all Australian Authors

Writers’ Web is an Australian initiative geared toward providing Australian authors with an alternative to the plethora of online book distributors popping up all over the place. I recently chatted to the team from Writers’ Web to see what it was all about.

writersweb

What is writers’ web?

Everyone knows that a farmers’ market connects the producer direct to the buyer. writers’ web is just like that but for writers – it connects would-be authors directly with readers online to create a community of readers and writers.

It’s really only been possible because of the changes to the publishing industry and technology. Publishers are no longer gatekeepers to the release of new books. YouTube allows musicians to showcase their work direct to the public and now writers’ web does something similar for Australian writers.

How did you come up with the idea?

Everyone knows the story of JK Rowling having the Harry Potter manuscript rejected by publishers, 12 in total. If she had given you her manuscript, you would have passed the word to ten of your friends and them to ten of their friends, going viral. In today’s connected world, this is entirely possible and the idea that underpins writers web. We’d love to discover the next big Australian writer.

Like many good ideas it involved a glass of wine! A few years ago at our bookclub, co-founder Emma Mactaggart was lamenting how easy it is to get stuck in a publisher’s slush pile – it’s so demoralising not to hear anything from publishers after you’ve submitted a manuscript.

It’s this bottleneck that prevents writers getting their work out into the public domain. “Why not change the paradigm?” piped up now partner in writers’ web, Janet Kieseker. And so we did. It took a few years to work through the logistics and technical side of things before we launched at the end of 2011.

How does it work for writers?

Writers complete an online registration form, then submit information to build their writer profile and so we can put their book into our online shop. Our reviewers are invited to read the work and review it. Reviews are posted here. Authors may then use these reviews in their own promotional material.

What is the cost to writers?

There are no up-front costs for writers. We take a 35% commission on book sales.

Is it only for eBooks?

No, writers who have produced hard copy books can be part of writers’ web (WW).

What are the benefits for writers?

There are lots of advantages for writers, including:

  • There is no rejection - every book or manuscript we receive (as long as the content is not inappropriate) goes out to our reviewers for their feedback
  • Using the feedback from the reviewers to refine their work
  • A means of promoting emerging Australian writers for no up-front cost
  • Helps writer “discoverability” to targeted Australian reading audiences and as a possible springboard to publishers
  • Speeds up the process of getting a work into reader/purchaser hands
  • Provides an exclusive or additional promotional channel for authors and their books
  • Builds an author’s reading and purchasing networks
  • A channel to sell their books.

Are you currently looking for more writers?

YES! We have over 120 reviewers in our system waiting to read the works of writers.

Which genres can writers submit?

Both fiction and non-fiction genres are covered and if there’s enough interest in a genre other than the ones we currently offer, we will look at including it.

Non-fiction

  • Biography/memoir
  • Cooking/food/wine
  • How to
  • Articles

Fiction

  • Chick lit
  • Children’s
  • Comedy
  • Crime/mystery
  • Fantasy
  • General fiction
  • Literary fiction
  • Historical fiction
  • Romance
  • Short story
  • Young adult

Writers’ web sounds like a perfect hunting ground for publishers looking for some fresh talent – is that the idea?

Yes, writers’ web complements traditional publishing by providing a chance to demonstrate commercial viability as an author to “traditional” publishers. In today’s competitive market, proven authors have a higher degree of success in securing deals. We would love to be the go-to place where writers “get spotted” by mainstream publishers through the reader reviews and reader profiles on the site.

It’s for emerging Australian writers – how do you define them?

They might be self-published, unpublished, with an edited manuscript or traditionally published through a publisher with a new work not taken up by that publisher. Or already published authors looking for a new way to promote their book.

What’s in store for the next 12 months?

We look forward to having more emerging writers join us. We would be thrilled to discover the next big name Australian author!

Written answers provided by writers' web. For more information, visit the website at writers' web. Or email them here. They're a friendly bunch who would be very happy to answer any queries you may have.

Can Pozible make it Possible?

possibleAn International Conference accepted an abstract for my paper on how technology is changing the way readers read and the way writers write. I'm over the moon! It's a wonderful opportunity for me to take to the world stage to present my work.

But in my enthusiasm and excitement about being accepted to present at the conference, I’d overlooked one small detail. The conference is in Greece. And I don’t have the capacity to get there.

Friends and colleagues urged me to explore the crowdfunding option and I resisted for a while. But after overcoming the initial fear, I’ve decided to go ahead. With a bit of a push (or rather, a massive shove) and a reminder that it is not a process of randomly soliciting money, I have put myself out there to offer what I have and what I can do, in exchange for funds that will enable me to travel to Greece to deliver my paper.

Pozible is the crowdfunding site I’ve chosen to list my project with. It’s an all or nothing site, which means if the total goal is not met the funds do not exchange hands.

It operates on a system of rewards. A person may contribute any amount they choose to the project; there is no minimum or maximum.  But there are set amounts at which contributors may select a ‘reward’. The rewards vary according to the amount of funds contributed, and will be delivered at a time negotiated after the completion of the campaign.

The rewards are of most benefit to teachers and writers, as these are the areas in which my expertise lay. I am also offering paperback copies of my novel Fake Profile, or eBooks.

For writers: you may want an article or blog post written for your newsletter, website or blog. There are also Writers’ Workshops, manuscript edits and advertising space on my website for your books.

For teachers: professional development opportunities on Social Media Literacy and Cybersafety; or a seminar on the emerging MetaLiteracy environment students are engaged in.

I would love you to check out the campaign. See if there is anything there that benefit you or your colleagues, and jump on board to help me get to the conference.

Crowdfunding for Writers

crowdfundingLike most writers, I have to work to support my writing. While I am very lucky to be able to earn enough to eat and pay bills, I yearn for the day when I can throw myself into my writing without having to worry about finding the extra funds necessary to pay a professional editor, graphic designer, and publicist for my books.

Imagine my surprise when, recently, someone suggested to me that I list my current project on one of the crowd-funding sites available to creative artists to source the necessary funding. Now I've always assumed that if it 'seems too good to be true' then it probably is. And being able to list a writing project online and have money pour in from unknown sources, in different amounts to reach a predetermined goal amount set by me, seemed way too good to be true. So began an extensive investigation into the phenomenon of crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is the concept of an individual, usually a creative artist, receiving small contributions via the internet from many sources in order to finance a particular project or venture. It evolved out of the crowd-sourcing movement where one might solicit content, a service or project online from multiple contributors all over the world. It’s a business model borne out technological globalisation where anyone, anywhere that has the required skill has the opportunity to provide a service. Individuals and businesses alike are increasingly turning to crowdsourcing as an alternative means of reducing costs.

There are many sites for the purpose of crowdfunding, and more are popping up all the time. How it works it this: you list a project on whichever site you choose, and offer some form of award to contributors, for example, a musician crowdfunding to make an album might offer copies of the album, a writer may offer copies of the book, etc. You set an end date for the campaign and then publish and promote your campaign to all your online networks. People then pledge contribute amounts of as little as $1 to as much as thousands. If your target is reached by the end date nominated, the site releases the funds to you, minus their fees and charges, at which point you are obligated to release whatever rewards have been claimed. But if you do not reach your target, no money changes hands.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Most sites are ‘all or nothing’ sites, where if a particular campaign, so even you fall short just a bit, you don’t get the funds. Because the campaign takes place online, it’s important to have already established online networks. A fan base, so to speak. It is, after all, these contacts that you will be calling on to fund your project. And as with any venture you embark on online, there is fine line between promoting your project, and spamming your contacts. Much caution is required to walk this line.

Some fabulous projects have been funded using the crowdfunding model, albums, books, documentaries and movies, to list a few. But many many more have failed due to the project listers displaying more enthusiasm than project management skill. Running a campaign requires hard work and lot of preparation as well as strong belief in the project mixed with a heart-felt enthusiasm.

I spent quite a bit of time browsing the various sites based here in Australia, and overseas. And I found that crowdfunding is branching out further to include such initiatives such as educational scholarship and university research.

The socialist in me quite likes the concept of sharing financial resources to enable talent to be developed equitably. The capitalist in me likes the idea of investing in a project that will, in turn, give back to the economy. But the human side of me struggles with the idea of putting myself, and my work, out there and asking others to contribute to its development.

Regular readers may know that in addition to writing, teaching writing, and writing about the writing process, I’m also doing a PhD in Writing. You could say writing is my passion.

Still, I’d been struggling with the concept and notion of creating a crowdfunding campaign to get my second novel published and I remained a little ambivalent about using the crowdfunding model for myself.

But then, as a writer and academic researcher, I was presented with a fabulous opportunity where crowdfunding was the only realistic option that would enable me to accept it.

I had an abstract accepted to present a paper at an international conference on Writing. And I am about to step way outside my comfort zone to embark on the campaign of my life to be able to present my paper, which is about how technology is changing the way we write, at the conference.

Check out my Pozible Campaign!

Libraries without books

librarywithoutbooksI visited a university library the other day. There’s nothing unusual about that; I’ve been studying on and off in one form or another for most of my adult life. But what was different about this particular visit was that, rather than visiting the uni library online as I normally would, I was physically on campus and actually walked through the door.

I sat at a desk, logged onto the uni wireless network to do some research, and began work on my ipad.  An hour or so later I looked up to give my eyes a break from the screen and glanced around the library. It was then that it hit me. There were no books. I could not see one single book made of paper. The library was completely devoid of bookshelves!

As I’d entered, I’d scanned the room looking for a suitable place to settle and work. I hadn’t noticed the lack of bookshelves. I’d been focussed on finding a comfortable, quiet workspace, away from others, where I wouldn’t be disturbed by chattering students, whirring photocopiers, or walking traffic. Rows of desks with desktop computers lined one side the room; groups of low tables accompanied by comfy lounge-style chairs were strategically arranged around the centre of the room, and back-to-back partitioned workstations with power points for laptops and ergonomic desk chairs looked through a wall of glass over the lush square of greenery that sat nestled between buildings. All this, I noticed as I chose a desk by the window and settled myself, connecting to the network. Once I turned my attention to the task at hand; some last minute research and reading for a conference paper I was delivering that afternoon, everything else became irrelevant.

I have always loved libraries. I love sitting in the quiet, reading, surround by great tomes of knowledge. I love getting lost in whatever book I’m reading, whether for work or pleasure. I love the smell of libraries, the faint musty aroma of paper and carpet and contented sighs. There is something otherworldly about being in a library. I don’t know what it is. But it makes imagination broader, focus clearer, concentration stronger. And time disappears.

I don’t know when hardcopy books disappeared from uni libraries. It was a bit of a surprise. When I asked the (real-life face-to-face) librarian about the books, she told me they were archived in rooms upstairs if people wanted to access them; she also said that they rarely did. I chuckled to myself; the uni library had almost become a ‘book museum’.

old-books

 My local library still has books. I still spend quite a bit of time there. But I don’t browse so much anymore—not physically. I browse online and reserve the books I want to read then pop in to borrow them. I still go to the library to work though. I log onto the library wireless network to read and research. And I write there, for all the aforementioned reasons.

Google Scholar has effectively replaced the uni librarian. And as increasingly more aspects of life become digitised, thereby making information available as soon as it is produced, it makes sense that the most current research and/or information is found online. But what does that mean for libraries? Will they eventually disappear altogether?  After all, I got through a whole Masters Degree without ever stepping through a library door. All my readings and research were sourced online. Even now, doing my PhD, there is a faculty library liaison person I can email for research assistance if Google Scholar fails me.

Personally, I don’t think it’s the beginning of the library demise. Even in the bookless uni library I was much more productive than I am in my study at home. And I still enjoyed the quiet, comfortable space. There is something soothing and collegial about working alone, in the company of others, that technology will never replace. No, I don’t think libraries will disappear; they are just changing shape to reflect societal needs in a time of great technological metamorphosis.