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I hope you don't mind if I use my diary today to poke around and see if there is some sort of interest out there for an online writers' workshop among folks who frequent Daily Kos.

THE SCOOP

I would like to find like-minded people who are interested in writing long-form fiction and non-fiction for publication in "next-generation media."

By next-generation media, I mean books for publication outside of the traditional publishing house.

That is to say:

  • Books serialized online.
  • Books published in an eBook format, like Kindle or Plucker.  (But also in PDF format readable on any PC, Mac and many portable devices like the iPhone, or even just HTML.)
  • Books published using "do-it-yourself" publishers like CreateSpace (which allows you to distribute physical, printed books that you publish over Amazon.com).

THE GOAL

This would not be a workshop for people who want to create a manuscript and send to a traditional publisher for consideration.

This would be for people who want to start creating fiction or non-fiction for the next-generation market of books created to be read online -- or distributed physically by means of an online publisher/distributor like CreateSpace -- and want to find a community of like-minded people who love books and want to share the experience of being both a writer and reader with others.

BENEFITS

Some ideas that I had about the benefits of such a group for writers ...

It would:

  • Provide the technology platform for assembling ad hoc circles of writers, readers and reviewers.
  • Provide the means of marketing online books virally through communities of interest established in the group.
  • Allow people to share technical information about publishing books to be read online -- for example, after weeks of digging through the obscurantia of the web, I know a lot about publishing books for Kindle and other eBook readers and am happy to share what I know.
  • Provide a social network and sense of community for readers/writers.

NOT GRANDPA'S PUBLISHING

Such a writers' group would inevitably explode many of the preconceptions and restrictions that the traditional publishing world has imposed on writers.

Namely:

A traditional publisher will always tell you not to publish or share any of your work in progress electronically, because this will damage your ability to sell or market the content you develop.

That's fine.

But this would be a writers' circle of the rest of us ...

Those of us who will probably never be able to make a living selling books through traditional channels -- or maybe those who just don't have that ability now -- yet would like a sandbox to develop skills in writing, reviewing, marketing and, ultimately, selling a few copies of our work.

So, we would freely share our works in progress online -- I know that this sounds scary at first -- as well as freely share comments and reviews on other people's work.

(If you are worried about the contaminating the viability of a project from a traditional publishing perspective, you could just keep that one offline.)

TECHNOLOGY

I have the skills necessary to host and run something like Drupal, which I believe can be configured to operate much like Daily Kos, with user diaries, a front page blog, commenting and comment ratings.  A "canned" piece of community-ware like this is probably the best way to get started.

I can also do any of the web stuff needed and fiddle around elsewhere with IT/admin issues.

CULTURE

I would prefer something like Daily Kos, where there are a handful of site rules and principles that keep the thing running at the highest level ... but where most of the moderation is done by the community itself through user feedback and the use of ratings.

Participating in the writers' circle would be much like Daily Kos -- completely at-will, ad hoc and on-going, without schedules and/or deadlines that are not imposed by individual writers.  Writers could share as much of their projects as they wish at any rate they wish, and review and comment on the work of others at the same pace.

CALLING ALL WRITERS ...

Any interest in something like this out there?

Originally posted to bink on Thu May 28, 2009 at 05:39 AM PDT.

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