A few days ago I discovered WEbook. You tough, veteran writerly folk who’ve been on the frontlines for a few years now will be rolling your eyes at this point. WEbook is old news, I know. It started back in 2008 and reached a peak of activity around 2010-11. I’m blogging about it not because of some sort of writing-hipster revival quest. It’s just I only discovered it last week, and it’s great.
Summed up, WEbook is “an online community geared towards discovering new writers and helping them on their path to publication” (thanks Wikipedia). They offer various services (all free), but the one I’m going to talk about, and the one that I’m giving a shot, is the “Page to Fame” system.
It’s delightfully simple. You submit a very brief summary of your novel, its title and the first page of writing. Other WEbook users then rate it on a scale of 1-5. If people rate it highly, you progress onto the second round, where you submit the first 5 pages and repeat. If you make it to round 3, agents start getting involved.
Pretty nifty, right? But there are other writing forums and platform-assists out there which do similar things. What makes WEbook a wee bit awesome is that this voting system is totally anonymous. Voters have no idea who it is they’re rating until round 3, and there’s no search engine so you can’t hunt down someone’s work and vote for it specifically. To rate you’re given random stories within your selected genre. Nor is the author of the work informed about who rated them (though the rate-bestowers can leave a little feedback).
All this means that on WEbook writing is all that matters. It’s not about your name, your publicity, your platform. You’ve got a few hundred words to hook and impress an anonymous stranger. It’s commercial writing at its crunchy best.
Coming straight from trying to attract Jukepop Serial votes (and since you asked yes, I’ve just uploaded the latest chapter of Werekynd) this is an absolute breath of fresh air. There is a very real danger, when pursuing a commercial drive, that writing and attention to detail can fall by the wayside in the manic rush to build a platform, attract readers and look generally smouldering in your windswept sepia author bio photo.
WEbook blows all of that out of the water. It’s great to be able to go back to the roots, focus on what’s really important – the crafting of words to tell a compelling story. The only downside is, as mentioned, WEbook is kinda old news now and it doesn’t seem that many people are active on it. But I can assure those who haven’t tried it yet, it’s addictive. The work to be read and rated is all bite-sized, can be finished in barely a minute, and there’s some really great stuff on there. In all, it’s an excellent lesson in what makes a great opener.
I doubt much will come of my own WEbook entry, but that’s not the point. The past few days have really prioritised my objectives. Being rendered helpess when it comes to publicity is a liberating effect. It’s not just about the platform, so stop worrying about how many followers your writing Twitter account has, and get back to making great stories!