If you follow me on twitter, or if you were awakened this morning by what sounded like the screams of a thousand beansidhe wailing for the future of original fiction and fandom in one long, desperate howl, then you’re aware that Amazon is a nest of fucking vampires who will not rest until they suck the very life out of the industry that built them. I’m speaking, of course, about the new Kindle Worlds program, a venue for fanfic writers who really don’t give a shit about the creations they’re purporting to love to exploit the fuck out of fandom and sell what in the past has always been given away for free out of integrity and a need to not get sued. You can read about the fucking travesty here at The Mary Sue, although they take a much different view of this bullshit than I do.
I was going to come here and write a scathing post about why this is shitty and why it will harm both fandom and original fiction, but you know what? I am tired of feeling like Ned Stark at King’s Landing. I’m not going to be the Hand of the King on this one. If readers and ficcers want to be Robert Baratheon and refuse to see that the boar of paid fanfiction is wearing Amazon’s Lannister colors…
Wait. Let me dial my nerd back a little.
Basically, I’m not going to rant on the subject (at least here; my twitter account is going to be bitter and terrible for A WHILE), because it has yet to do me any good other than getting a nice mad on and whipping you all up in an angry frenzy. Instead, I’m going to do something constructive that I’ve been considering for a little while.
Ever since I started recapping 50 Shades last year (Jesus, a year. A year of my fucking life) I have had requests to read people’s original fiction and fanfiction. Some of you have written to me asking if I can be as critical of your work as I am of 50, and that’s very flattering. However, everyone has gotten a no. Not because I don’t love and care about you all, dear readers, but I just don’t have the time to fulfill these requests. I write about forty-thousand words a month, excluding the 50 and Buffy recaps, so I really just don’t have time left over for stuff like beta reading or leaving the house or showering.
In my spare time (which exists in the same magical realm as dragons and unicorns and plus-sized jeans that aren’t made of stretch material that make them super fall-downish), I’m the president of a not-for-profit group that seeks to help writers at all stages of their careers. We have a mentor program, in which an author further along in their career helps someone who is either just starting out or is stuck and doesn’t know the next step or whatever, and sometimes that turns into a beta reading relationship. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me before, but you can credit one of the blog regulars, Thea K, with giving me the mental push into, “Oh yeah, I could do this” land.
If so many of you are looking for beta readers… why not pair y’all up HERE?
So, this is how it’s going to work:
- Leave a brief comment with the genre, word count (or estimated word count), and a one sentence description of your work. That’s really all that someone needs to know whether or not their project is for you. “High Fantasy, 100k, a girl embarks on a quest to avenge her father, murdered by a wizard.”
- Leave people some way of getting ahold of you. Your twitter (if your account is unprotected), your facebook, your GoodReads account, your email address (youraddress at domain dot com, to avoid spambots) so that if someone is interested in beta reading your work, they can find you.
- Volunteer to read someone else’s work. This will only be beneficial to everyone if everyone participates and volunteers their time. You can work it out between yourselves and set your own limits, whether you’re looking for someone to read a chapter at a time or the whole work in one piece, and what you’re willing to do in return. But you have to give something back, either to the person who volunteers or another person in the comments section.
- Leave a follow up comment when you have a reader. This is for two reasons: one, so you don’t keep getting people offering you help when other people on the list are waiting, and so there’s a record that someone read your work, in case something… untoward goes down. Which leads us to the next and final step:
- Don’t be a dick. Don’t plagiarize, don’t leak chapters, don’t mock people, just don’t. Don’t be a dick. I think most of us here are not dicks, so this should be a pretty easy one to follow.