Many of you know that I’ve used critters.org for years in order to get critiques of stories I’m working on. It’s been very beneficial to me, but there’s one thing it’s lacking. Critters.org is a place to get critiques of your work, but it is NOT a place to post your work for people to read it. It’s a site devoted to people who are trying to prepare work for official publication, not for those who want to use the internet to get their work out there, hoping that people will like it enough to want more.
Book Country is similar to critters in some way. You read and critique three others, and once you’ve done so, you can post your own work and be critiqued.
It has a couple features critters doesn’t have. It allows you to rate the pieces you critique. It has a “buzz” and a “favorites” section, which allows users to gain notoriety on this site by having stories that gain the highest reviews and are most often recommended to friends and other sites. So it’s a place not just to improve your writing, but also to find other writers you’d enjoy reading and hopefully gain your own following.
After all, writers need to be read, just as artists need to have their work appreciated and musicians need someone to hear their songs.
For most of us, writing is an avocation, a hobby, an unpaid obsession, and it always will be. It’s great that a few people are able to merge avocation and vocation.
(as per Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time –
“But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.”)
Most of us will never achieve this goal, and yet write we can and write we will because write we must.
So sites like Book Country can give us the encouragement of knowing that someone out there is reading what we wrote, that it’s not something that will be shoved in a desk drawer, forgotten, and never appreciated.
The one concern I do have (and perhaps Book Country addresses this in some way) has to do with “publication” status. If you just put up the first chapter or two of your book, then it’s not published. If you put up your entire finished short story, would that count as published? Critters keeps their manuscripts password protected so only people reading them for purposes of providing critiques can look. Book Country’s stuff is available for anyone regardless of whether they’re registered.
I like this feature of Book Country. I don’t think I will ever fail to be published because I had stuff on the web at some point; after all, if I’m going to be a published author someday, then even if someone DID steal a random short story I had on book country, or even if I COULDN’T sell that particular story, well, I really don’t think that small bit of lost revenue will affect my career at all.
Honestly, I’d be flattered if someone wanted to bother to steal my stuff.
But I’m sure this will be a sticking point for some people.
Those people are stuck in the last century, however. The internet is a tool that allows you access to a large community of people who like to read and write the same stuff as you. This is an advantage, not a problem, and it’s time that we all recognized it as such.