Figment. WriterPitch. High School Hero. At one point or another in my writing career, I have used these websites in an attempt to further my writing ability and attempt to connect with other writers. However, I only found significant success with one of these websites and it wasn’t either of the two websites meant exclusively for writing. That’s right. My most successfully online writing venture came from a now-defunct free app meant for social gaming.
Now it’s not like Figment and WriterPitch were completely terrible. The concept behind each site was good and I had fun while it lasted, but ultimately success on each website depended on popularity. WriterPitch, in particular, directly bases their top ten pitches of the day on the amount of shares a pitch generates within the previous day. Now I understand the intention of the algorithm: the best or most engaging pitch would get the most shares which means that pitch would deserve the front page exposure so that agents have a better chance of seeing it.
This is not the case.
What has happened is that writers on WriterPitch are just spamming their Twitter and Facebook profiles with shares for their pitches and encouraging their fellow writing friends to share their pitches. It’s not based on quality; it’s based on popularity. The more writer friends you have, the more shares you’ll get. Although I have made a few online writing friends thanks to WriterPitch and its contest #AgentMatch, I’m still not comfortable spamming my profile with my pitch. Mainly because I still have a YouTube video and 1-3 blog posts to promote every week so I don’t have the time or space to promote a pitch for a website that is only used by a handful of agents. However, they have added several new features that may remedy this problem. It’s just a matter of time to see if it improves anything from the initial experience.
A similar situation occurred on Figment, except there was no share-based algorithm to blame. It was a read-for-read system. If you wanted your story to be read, you would have to complete a task for another writer like commenting on their story or designing a cover for them. But even if you completed that task, there was still the chance that person wouldn’t read your story. I played along with the read-for-read system for a while, but after months of reading stories I wasn’t interested in and only getting a read once every blue moon I gave up.
At least on WriterPitch, I’ve been able to connect with other writers and see how my book appeals to other people. I walked away from Figment with only a slight increase in my graphic design skills. The fact is that I posted the exact same story on Figment and High School Hero and it never achieved the level of success that it received on High School Hero.
Now the reason for its success on High School Hero is primarily because it wasn’t a writing website. On writing websites, it’s a huge community of people who revere writing and hold it to a high standard. On High School Hero, it was just a bunch of preteens posting stories just for fun on a forum placed in between “role-playing” and “gaming.” All of the success came from people’s love for the story. Anyone could start posting at any time and as long as their idea was good and their writing was readable, it was read and loved. There was no “read-for-reads” and people critiqued at will. It was just a mutual system of support and love for each others’ stories without worrying about whether or not you’ll win some silly contest. I didn’t even realize I had gotten so popular until someone stole my username on another free-to-play app and wrote an unauthorized sequel to my original story.
I think that the problem with most writing sites these days is that nothing is for fun anymore. People are too busy trying to get the most reads on their story or hunting for critique partners to have fun. Writing is supposed to be fun! I mean, you’re creating your own world to act as God in and everything bends to your will! When you write, you have the power to make people fall in love, breathe life into the dead, and make Heroes out of Villains. How is that not fun?!
Once writing websites start to focus on the fun of writing rather than the popularity of it, I think they will be much more enjoyable. It’s draining to try and write something that you have fun with only to have it get passed over just because another author has more time to pester people. It’s so much better when the entire community is having fun with a website rather than making it a giant competition for attention.
My friend Linnea Ren has a great blog post that specifies her angle on WriterPitch and other writing websites. Check it out here!