Feed on

An article in the New York Times explains it; bookcountry.com is where to find it.

Text of the NYT article:

In the old days of publishing, getting your manuscript into the hands of an editor often meant mailing the unsolicited finished product to the offices of literary agents or editors, where it would receive a cursory look from an editorial assistant — or none at all.

A modern version of the slush pile is the online “writing community,” a Web site where aspiring novelists can post their ideas, writing samples or manuscripts and open them to comments and reviews from strangers.

On Tuesday Penguin Group USA, the publisher of Tom Clancy, Kathryn Stockett and Nora Roberts, will unveil its own venture, Book Country, a Web site for writers of genre fiction.

In its initial phase Book Country will allow writers to post their own work — whether it’s an opening chapter or a full manuscript — and receive critiques from other users, who can comment on points like character development, pacing and dialogue. Later this summer the site will generate revenue by allowing users to self-publish their books for a fee by ordering printed copies. (The books will bear the stamp of Book Country, not Penguin, and the site is considered a separate operation from Penguin.)

The site will also explain the business of finding an agent, marketing and promoting a book, using social media and handling digital and subsidiary rights.

Penguin hopes the site will attract agents, editors and publishers scouting for new talent, and allow writers to produce work with more polish and direction than they could otherwise.

The project has been spearheaded by Molly Barton, the director of business development for Penguin and the president of Book Country.

“One of the things I remember really clearly from my early editorial experiences was this feeling of guilt,” Ms. Barton said in an interview. “I would read submissions and not be able to help the writer because we couldn’t find a place for them on the list that I was acquiring for. And I kept feeling that there was something we could do on the Internet to really help writers help each other.”

Book Country users are invited to submit work in certain genres: romance, fantasy, science fiction, thriller and mystery. Those categories are broken down into subgenres like military science fiction, steampunk, space opera and alternate history.

In one discussion in a test version of the Web site, users debated the question, “Is your hook ‘high concept?’ ” (A sample from a writer who signed in as K. S. Brown: “A vampire is kidnapped and tortured, and the man her secret government sends to rescue her is a weredragon, the ancient enemy of all vampires.”)

To discourage plagiarism, administrators have disabled the copy-and-paste and print mechanisms on the site.

Ms. Barton said she had been influenced by Web sites like Ravelry, a popular site for knitters and crocheters. It has more than 1.3 million registered users.

Countless writers’ Web sites have popped up in recent years, including Writers CafeProtagonize and Mibba, but executives at Penguin said other sites did not provide so comprehensive an experience as the site they wanted to create.

“It’s connecting disparate pieces that writers had to go to three or four different sites to find,” Ms. Barton said.


Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 James Ament

Leave a Reply

Bad Behavior has blocked 226 access attempts in the last 7 days.