The Next Big Writer?

I’ve just discovered another website for writers, The Next Big Writer. At first glance, the site seems a lot like WeBook. It’s another online community where members can post any type of writing to get feedback from other writers and readers. It holds frequent contests for (smallish) cash prizes and publication. It boasts that many of its writers have gone on to achieve book contracts, mostly with small presses.

I’m not sure exactly what I think of The Next Big Writer. It charges a fee of about $8 a month for the right to use the private site, claiming that because the site is private, you won’t give away “first rights” to your work as publishers consider you to have done if you publish your work publicly on the Internet (I’d like to do more research to see if publishers really do view self-published Internet work this way). It also works on a credit system. In order to post work, you need credits. You  get credits by reviewing other people’s work–or you can buy credits.

In perusing their books that have been published, I don’t recognize many of the publishers, but they do have the look of self-published work. Some of them have been published by BookSurge, Amazon.com‘s self publishing arm. Part of their publication “prize packages” for some contests includes a publishing package with BookSurge. So essentially, the author is getting a publishing package from a self-publisher for free, but it’s not exactly the same as a publishing contract with Random House.

I’m also a little suspicious of the pay-to-use/work-to-use set up. I think the credit system makes sense so that you don’t have members who take from the community without ever giving anything back. But pairing the credit system with a user fee seems to provide a few too many “gates” to site usage: you have to pay to post your work, but paying isn’t enough to post your work. You need to work to post your work, too. It’s sort of like college, where you pay to work.

I wanted to take a peek at some of the posted work, but I couldn’t without a paid account, so I’m not sure of the quality level (it says writers of ALL levels are welcome, but the typical writing quality can reveal a lot about how serious the users of a certain site are about writing). At any rate, I think I’d explore WeBook for Internet critiques first, if for no other reason than it’s free. But I am a strong believer in the importance of workshopping your writing, and I think that any site like The Next Big Writer is bound to turn out a few writers who come out more proficient than they went in. That speaks to the value of critiques themselves, not necessarily to the value offered in the particular site.

3 Responses to “The Next Big Writer?”

  1. Phil

    I use TheNextBigWriter and have gotten a lot out of it. The membership fee actually works to keep less serious writers out as well as the trolls I’ve found on most other writing sites. The credit system also works to make sure everyone puts in their fair share.

    I’ve found the quality of the writing to be very good. Many of the authors are published by traditional presses (Random House, MacAdam/Cage, etc.), other by small presses, and still others self-publish. The age of the people is generally older (40+) and I’ve also found that to be a benefit.

    The site has been a bit slow in the past but management has just upgraded to a new server so that has been good.

    Overall, my writing has improved significaly since I’ve joined and I’ve enjoyed interacting with the community. Hope that helps.

    Reply
  2. Amber

    I was attracted to the credit system because I wanted thoughtful reviews. However, just because it’s required that people review doesn’t mean you’ll get good ones. To many people, it may simply feel like a task to get to their real goal — posting their own work. It could end up being more half-hearted than if you were on a review-optional site, where the people who like it review it. It doesn’t nessicarily guarentee feedback, either, if nobody likes your work enough to get past the first few paragraphs.

    Having a fee doesn’t mean that the writers there are better, or “more serious”. It just means that they have a disposible income, and I’ve found that some of the best writers out there started out unable to afford such luxuaries.

    Rather than pay to get people to review you, you can have just as serious feedback by going to some sort of forum and finding an author willing to watch over your work. It’s often times better to have one person who understands your writing than ten who stumbled over it and found it “cool”.

    I found somebody who’s given me insight, and I helped her in return, without spending a dime. This site is over-rated. ^-^ I hope this helps.

    Reply
    • Lacey Louwagie

      Thanks for stopping by the blog, Amber, and thank you also for your thoughtful review of “The Next Big Writer.” Even though I haven’t been on the site, I agree with your assessment that paying a fee doesn’t necessarily attract a “higher” caliber of writers and reviewers. I’ve decided that when I go the online writing community route, I’m going to move forward with She Writes (www.shewrites.com).

      (Incidentally, my fiance and I have also found that “paying” dating sites don’t yield higher-quality dates and mates, either, although the advertising for eHarmony and Match.com certainly want you to believe that!)

      I understand that not everything can be free. There are many reasons to pay for websites, such as security, exclusivity, absence of ads, because you believe in the cause, etc. But The Next Big Writer doesn’t seem to offer anything substantial that many free writing communities don’t also offer, which is why I won’t be sending $8 a month in that direction any time soon.

      Reply

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