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Interview with Adam Charles Founding Director of IWriteReadRate.com

Recently, we were pleased to be able to catch up with Adam Charles and talk to him a bit about his newly launched site geared towards writers. It’s an innovative alternative to piling rejection slips and languishing in slush piles. Here’s what he had to say:

Hi Adam, thanks for stopping by. First off, can you tell us a little about your site, iwritereadrate.com?

The site is first and foremost a website for unpublished writers to upload their work free of charge, sell, and receive constructive feedback from other writers and readers who love to find new voices and ideas.  Our core aim is to help writers improve and prove their writing. Our website will be a place where readers can find new stories, become part of the writing process and experience – a new dynamic in the relationship between writers and readers of all kinds.

We still very much believe that it is every aspiring authors dream to be published in the traditional manner and we think that our website can only help them along their journey to this ultimate goal.

For us, as unpublished writers, our website is all about utilising technology to help other writers like us – whatever stage of their writing journey they’re presently at.

We’ve thought long and hard about what features will be beneficial and have tried to pack as many of our idea’s into the site from day one.  We sincerely hope that other writers will also see the site as a great way to get feedback and to be active members of the rating community.

What inspired you to create iwritereadrate?

As an unpublished writer myself I understand the trials, tribulations, and disappointments of sending your hard work off to agents and not getting any feedback.  Through my research I’m convinced that in today’s Internet connected age that most writers will find an enthusiastic audience for their work, it’s just a matter of reaching them.  Fundamentally the idea comes directly from my experience trying to get feedback on my own writing but being unsuccessful due to the large number of submissions that industry professionals receive.  I’m never going to know if I’ve got something interesting – or eloquent – to say if other people don’t have the ability to read and rate it.

I basically thought what could I do for people like me to help them on their journey, to give them a place that provides constructive support from their peers and helps them find their marketplace.  The Internet has such a phenomenal ability to be democratic and international so I think it’s fundamentally ideal in it’s very nature to the purpose of our website.

The seed for the website began around three years ago, however at the time the technology wasn’t sufficiently evolved or embedded in the public to justify such an investment at that time.  As the years rolled forward the idea evolved and eventually became www.iwritereadrate.com; which just hit the nail on the head for me in terms of expressing what we’re all about.   We started work on the website at the end of summer 2010 with the launch of the Registration Page coming in early December 2010.

We’re aiming to open up the site over the first few months of 2011.

The seed is now germinating and it’s up to our iwritereadraters to make it bloom.

Who is the Site For?

Quite simply our intention is to be for unpublished writers in any genre and readers looking for new stories to inspire them.

If you’re a writer, with a story to tell, and want to join a community of like-minded people, then our site is for you.

If you love reading and want to find new writers and also join them in their writing journey, then our site is also for you.

We can see further potential development in the future for indie publishers to utilise the site and community to test the market before they print a new book.  This is something we’re keen to explore once the pre-launch and launch phases have been successfully completed. We’re also looking to join up with industry professionals for the benefit of our members, and this is something we’ll be continually pursuing once the site is fully launched.

So, what makes iwritereadrate distinct from other online critiquing opportunities?

We’re hoping that along with the myriad features we’re packing into the site that the social element will also be something that gives writers an additional support that they didn’t have before.

Also, from the outset our members will be able to download full works in either ePub or PDF formats, which will make them compatible and readable on a wide range of mobile platforms.  I haven’t found anywhere else that embraces the changing reading habits of people all around the world in this way and makes use of the gadgets they already have in an open way.

How does having a story on your site affect the copyright, or more importantly future publishing rights for those looking to ultimately go the traditional publishing route?

In terms of the Copyright, having a work on our site doesn’t in any way impact the individual writers copyright ownership of their original literary work. Under international law the creator of an original literary work holds the copyright automatically from the moment it is written.  If you’d like to find out more on the various international conventions protecting a writer’s Copyright, there’s more information about this, and some useful links, in the FAQs section on our Registration Page at www.iwritereadrate.com

In terms of publishing rights – writers already submit pretty long extracts all over the place in an effort to get feedback and support from their peers and the reading community, as the industry generally is not able to give them it. We just see our site as an extension of this.  We don’t really see what we’re doing as self-publishing – we’re just providing a central platform for writers to sell their passion, their work, and get valuable feedback which is often difficult to find.  If a writer wants to take down their work, for whatever reason, then they can do so at any time.

If the work is good enough it would be self-destructive for a publisher not to publish it to the mass market just because it’s been on our site.  In the end the industry needs to embrace new technology – the change is happening all around us – and our website is ultimately here to help writers on their journey.  We think our site has the potential in improve the quality of submissions they receive and potentially illustrate that there is a market for a particular story, which I’m sure they’ll be happy with. Also, they should expect to see it more that motivated, pro-active, aspiring authors are searching out ways of improving their writing and should see this as an extremely positive step in the evolution of writing and publishing.

We’ll be uploading our work from the beginning, so we’re putting our money where our mouth is on this; however it remains our dream to be published in the traditional manner.  Once the site is live we’ll be trying our best, as it says in the FAQ’s section of our website, to forge strong links with industry professionals.  We think that the benefits of our website significantly outweigh any old-fashioned concerns that it may raise.

It’s always nice to see someone pushing for change within the industry and willing to put their own hard work on the line.

So, are the stories that people submit graded or rated in any way by the viewers?  Can you explain how the feedback process works?

In terms of feedback there will be three different levels at which a reader will rate any work – Synopsis, Preview, and Full.  There will be a rating system for the synopsis and preview.  Then, there will be an expanded rating system as well as a free-text review for the full document.  We’re considering opening up a free-text review for the preview as well (this didn’t make it into the initial site build but is something we’re keen to add as soon as we can as part of the organic evolution of the site).

As an incentive to be active and constructive members of the community we’ll be running a points system as well.  The more you rate, the more points you’ll earn.  There will be a number of levels that our members can achieve through getting involved and rating others work. We’re about building a constructive and interactive community, so rating something when you’ve read it is very much an integral part of the experience of utilising our website.

Are there also benefits for those who aren’t quite ready for publishing but who are looking for early critiques?

A great aspect of our site is that readers that come into contact with your work at the Preview and Full levels may see and suggest areas that could be further improved that a writer couldn’t as they’re too close to their work – thus supporting continuous improvement of your story.

Having said this we think that it’s important that any work that is uploaded to our site is judiciously self-edited to maximise the opportunity for positive ratings and feedback, and ultimately to get their work downloaded.  This is crucial as readers aren’t going to want to pay for the full download if there are fundamental issues with the work, for example flow, spelling, structural, or grammar problems. Before uploading we recommend that writers self-edit as much as possible to ensure their work is as good as it can be.  We’ll be posting a basic self-editing process we follow on our blog later in February – keep an eye on out there for further details.

What will readers get out of this experience that they can’t get anywhere else? Specifically, why should they pay to read the stories on your site over those that are already traditionally published?

It’s about not just finding work that fits the particular model that publishers are looking to print right now, it’s about finding new and interesting stories from people who haven’t had any luck with the traditional publishing industry – yet – but who are motivated and dedicated enough to look to develop themselves and their writing by showing others their hard work.  I firmly believe that if we give readers the same level of information about a story as they’d have in a bookstore, if they can search for particular genres that interest them, that they’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of new writers out there; and likewise, writers will be thankful for the feedback on their hard work. I’m sure that there are plenty of unpublished diamonds out there – it’s just a matter of their potential readership finding them.  This is what our site is all about.

We think there are an abundance of reasons to use our website from both a writing and reading perspective. The only way for each individual writer or reader to find out what makes us different is to join and give us a try!

Are there stories available to read for free?

Yes, readers will be able to read and feedback in several ways before they have to decide whether to purchase the full length work. Readers will be able to view the synopsis and preview completely free. In addition, Shorter documents will have a free option, if this is the writer’s wish.

We’re aiming to give readers the same level of information before choosing to download as they would have if they picked up a paperback in a bookstore – so they can make an informed choice as to whether it is for them, and they will also be able to rate at all stages of this decision process.

So writers can actually make money off their stories on the site? How does this work?

Yes, writers will also be able to upload a variety of lengths of work based upon word count. There will be five document size bands on the site – XS/S/M/L/XL – and this will determine the pricing options available for a writer to choose from.  XS and S documents will have a free option, if the writer chooses it.  Writers will also have a short Bio to sell their individual passion alongside their hard work.

Our writers will receive 60% of a Cover Price that they set themselves from a number of options. They will be paid securely via PayPal. This happens when a reader decides, after reading the synopsis and preview, that they’d like to download the full work.

Writers will not have to pay anything to upload their hard work to the site – this is our commitment and we will never change this.

Adam, thanks so much for coming by and answering our questions about your innovative site. Iwritereadrate is now open to pre-registration. You can also check-out their current contest for a chance to win an eReader and learn more about the site on the company blog and by subscribing to their monthly newsletter, all at www.iwritereadrate.com. Or feel free to get in touch with Adam on twitter @ACharles_writer or @iwritereadrate.

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