Almost a year ago I started searching for people outside of my family to read, edit, comment on, and critique my book, The Key of Kilenya. I was lucky enough to get in touch with Jeff Blackmer, a member of one of my mom's email lists, who pointed me toward one of the best sites I've ever come across as an writer. I'm very passionate about this site (run by HarperCollins) because of all the things with which it helped me. The name of it is...
*Drum Roll* :-)
HarperCollins set it up to help them find more books to publish. Authors critique each other's work - you post at least 10,000 words of your WIP (it's a safe, secure site), and other people read and comment. If they like your work, they "back" it. The more backings a book receives, the higher it rises in the charts. If it's in the top five at the end of the month, HarperCollins will review it (reading the whole thing), and consider it for publication.
My book was pretty ugly before I came across the site. The first chapter was long, boring, and irrelevant. :-) I learned a lot by reading other people's stories, and made a lot of really good friends. One of those friends introduced me to her publisher who is now my publisher.
There are downsides to the site. All comments, messages, etc., are public. This actually prevents people from being really, really rude, but you have to have thick skin. (Which you need to have anyway. :-)) Also, you need to read other people's work in order to get them to read yours. Luckily, you don't have to read their whole book. :-) Most people only go over a couple of chapters. I found that by getting to at least four books a day, I had a steady stream of comments and backings on The Key of Kilenya. My book rose fairly quickly: in 24 hours, it rose from number 11,000, to 775. In three months it had hit #73 (out of 14,000 books). Then I signed with my publisher and pulled the book.
At first it was hard to read what other people thought of my book. The comments were abrupt, pointed, and sometimes downright rude. But, as I edited and perfected things - that first chapter, especially - the comments became lifesavers when I was about to give up on writing. They encouraged me to continue onward, letting me know I really did have something worth pursuing. Yay for Authonomy!
Questions? Comments? Complaints? :-)
And now, because I have nowhere else to post it, my brother playing Jon Schmidt's All of Me (he hadn't played it in a long time, so there are mistakes. :-)):
Have a lovely day!