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Novelatte

Fantasy Writing, Stories, & Publishing

4 Popular Writing Social Media Sites

Sold to Figment and shut down a few weeks ago, Inkpop has left a lot of users feeling homeless. The two social publishing sites are merging together, but not everyone who used Inkpop is willing to switch over. I can’t blame them; I have no doubt that Figment has its high points, but taking one look at the appearance of the two websites is enough to make me wonder why people would want to switch over from Inkpop, which looks so professional, to Figment, which looks like the Kmart website at Christmas time.

Inkpop screenshot
Inkpop's homepage
Figment Screenshot
...where's my present, Santa?

Alright, but we’ve all heard the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’, so I suppose I should cut Figment some lack. But let’s say that I thought that HarperCollins’ 3 day notice was inexcusably rude and so I refuse to endorse them by going over to Figment. Where else would I go? Well, four popular ones, in no particular order, are:

  1. Wattpad
  2. Mibba
  3. Fictionpress
  4. Miss Literati
Wattpad
In a nutshell, if Twilight and Facebook married and had a baby, Wattpad would be that baby.
Twilight Meets Facebook
~True Love!~
I don’t mean this as an insult. If you love Twilight, you’ll probably love the stories on Wattpad: they tend to have the same type of content and writing. For the most part, the stories that get on the “What’s Hot” list on the front page are loaded with these, and they receive plenty of attention. Some people, though, are drawn to Wattpad because, aside from Fictionpress, it is the largest story repository on the internet. And sure, if you’re looking for a wide audience, and if you have the specific type of story Wattpad users like, you’ll thrive there. But what if your story doesn’t run with the ‘Twipad’ trend?

Well unfortunately, it sounds like the answer is ‘no’. Sure, you’ll still get the occasional review and such, but if you’re not on the “What’s Hot” list or a favorite of the authors whose stories are, it’s tough to get discovered. From a reading perspective, as discussed in forum 215 comments long,  Wattpad might have “quantity” down, but “quality” is up for debate. Based on this discussion, others like it, and my own use of the site, it seems that the general consensus is that Wattpad’s good-to-bad ratio (with “bad” presumably being the Twipad trend) is as infamously low as Fictionpress’.

It all comes down to what you’re looking for. Like I said, if you enjoyed Twilight, as a reader, you will probably like Wattpad. The same goes to writers who would be happy to be compared with Meyer. For more serious writers, it also depends on who you expect to read your stories. According to an author who inquired about Wattpad’s demographics, users are 70% female and 70% are between the ages of 15-30. If that’s your target audience, your book will be shown to the right people.

Mibba
Mibba is known as a friendly and highly interactive community. Some of it’s unique features include a chat room and a rating system out of 10 stars, but in general, it doesn’t seem to be drastically different from the flashier Wattpad. According to quantcast.com, 42% of people on Mibba are under 18, while 57% of users are female. Just to evaluate the age group in a similar manner to Wattpad’s, that translates to 66% of the audience under 34.

On a different note, Mibba seems to be mostly about socialization. If you want support for your writing and confidence, Mibba is great. If you’re looking for a serious writing critique, though, it’ll be harder to find.

Fictionpress
Okay, since this has the largest quantity of stories, I’m obligated to put it here. I will say straight off the bat, though, that Fictionpress is old school. I’m pretty sure it’s the first social publishing site that ever came about, but it’s been static ever since it’s created. You can’t attach covers to your books or be impressed by the layout of the site, to name a few issues. Since I can’t find actual demographic information, I have to guess, and I’d say, given how old it is and the users that frequent Wattpad and Mibba, that it’s probably more of the 18 and up female crowd.

Miss Literati
Alright, I have to fess up for this one. I haven’t joined the site, so I can only talk about it based on a reading perspective. It’s a part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a publishing company, and the beautiful appearance of the site confirms it. But right off the bat, the site seems teen oriented. Also, the word “miss” in its name means that if you’re hoping guys will read your book or want to read a book you expect guys are more likely to write…good luck. The site also doesn’t divide its books into genres. There only way to search for books is to get the title list to resort itself based off of what is the newest, most popular, features, or through random selection. Still, since a company is in charge of it, it’s in Miss Literati’s best interest to improve the site based on what people say they want, and a couple of these features are easily solved. I suspect Miss Literati is in its baby stages; maybe it will be a worthwhile investment later on?

From the Idea Mine

Alright, I was cruising through Amazon and GoodReads for the last week, and found some ideas that sparked my imagination. Some of them might not be new, exactly, but at least, they are ones I haven’t seen often, or old ideas with a twist. Some of these books had rave reviews, which is always nice to see. Others…not so much. In either case, I have a list of ideas that particularly stuck out to me:

  1. A dragon court and cities, out in the open, and on land (not mountains as many are)
  2. Gods in the Greek mythological sense, who interfere with politics as if they were their own independent nation; bonus points for appearing in person, instead of through a vision or an intermediary
  3. Dragons who shape-shift into humans; sounds like a Eastern influence
  4. A Spain-inspired fantasy world
  5. A fantasy world where white people are the unusual and attacking foreign nation (“they’re so colorful!”; cue my laughter :))
  6. In a fancy summoning ritual, the main character summons who they believe is a beautiful, pure, literal angel – and he turns out to be the demon king
  7. Angels and “fallen angels”; perhaps authors are starting to take influences from less explored territory? Either way, it’s an interesting alternative fantasy being
  8. A vampire senate; a lot of fantasy creatures tend to have a monarchy instead of a form of democracy

A Publishing Revolution?

Active reading, interactive reading; Coliloquy
The makers of a new reading format, dubbed "active reading"

Today, I came across a fascinating article! People have probably heard that the publishing industry has been struggling to adjust to the internet and all that it’s brought along with it, both positive and negative. Well, it seems like a new start-up company, Coliloguy, has given us it’s response.

Coliloguy is basically trying to popularize a “choose your own adventure” style of reading, which they refer to as “active fiction”. So far, the company has released mainly Young Adult romance novels, so I’ll take an example from the romance genre. Let’s say that the main character has met 3 different potential love interests. Early on, the reader could get to choose who to initiate a romance with. Another example reveals that the reader can customize even more than that; the reader could even choose a love interest’s appearance by entering in their preferences before reading. While some of this can be done through print, customization like the one I just mentioned is unique to the ebook.

The concept reminds me of role-playing games. I suspect, though, that unless there are a team of writers involved, drastic divergences in plot and such won’t occur from a reader’s choices, and one of the Amazon reviews for their novel, Arcania, seems to agree. Can you imagine how many radically different stories could be written based off of a change in one decision? Fanfiction.net alone had an archive of over 2.2 million stories as of 2010, many of them based off of divergences from canon choices. I think this means that the choices, polls, and more inside the book are more to help authors write a sequel – all of them will receive data based on aggregate reader decisions. That information may sway them to bring back certain characters, bring some plots to the forefront, and so on.

So, will this become “the new thing”? Choose-your-own-adventure books existed before, and yet, they never became nearly as popular as “static” books. I wonder why? According to my roommate, she just didn’t like having so many options (so frequently) and felt like plot development was sacrificed for customization.

From a different angle, when I receive feedback on stories I’ve posted online, I like integrating them into the next chapter I write. At the same time, though, I’m sure plenty of authors will feel this choose-your-own-adventure platform pressures them into writing for the crowd, not for themselves. And what if an author likes a particular plot line that isn’t as popular? Or perhaps, since writers always know more about their story than a reader does, readers will make a choice based on incomplete information, and the writer will never get to “advertise” a certain something to it’s full potential?

This happened to me back in 9th grade, when I wrote a fan fiction for Harry Potter. When I asked my readers what they thought about a certain character, they said they thought he was annoying – until the last scene he had, which completely changed their opinions. Fortunately for me, I could reveal this character’s hidden depths in one chapter, but not all development can be that quick.

Well, I’m willing to give it a shot, and I hope you found reading about the idea as interesting as I did 🙂

Unexplored Settings

Alright, I’ve spent way too long trying to think of a way to “introduce myself to the world” and convince everyone that I’m a nice, humorous, and interesting human being. If my marketing class was right about SEO, I’ll basically be trying to impress my computer screen for the next few months, and since my screen isn’t too judgmental, I may as well just jump right in 🙂

I love writing. I love reading. In my free time, I do either, and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been desperately searching for a satisfying read. I’ve clawed through Amazon, waded through mounds of fantasy, YA, and paranormal novels, glommed sample pages, and broken my mouse clicking on so many of my recommendations.

Nothing.

Rabid Bookworm
I feel you, buddy.

I can’t say I’m innocent in this, because I’m tragically picky about what I read. I must be getting indigestion from the slew of books I devoured over the years; during my book hunts, déjà vu plagues me. But I have to be realistic. When it comes to books, nothing is truly original. The way tropes are combined in fresh ways is what gives readers the sense that something is new. If not, it’s through taking story elements that aren’t frequently used and playing with them. But knowing that, what can a writer do?

Personally, I’d love it if writers took advantage of oft unexplored settings. I know when I struggle for uniqueness, my first instinct is to try to change is the plot. Yet is the plot the only aspect of a story that contributes to uniqueness? A story’s setting can be incredibly powerful. Why not change it? After all, how many times have you read a novel set in or based off of South Asia? East Asian settings are trickling into use, but I’ve yet to see a fantasy set in an Indian-inspired setting, for instance. What about in ancient times? You can’t tell me that Ancient Egypt doesn’t have a certain mystical feel to it or an otherworldly culture. As a bonus, Rich Riordan, famous for the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and a former history teacher, said his students found Egypt more fascinating than even Ancient Greece. And as Percy Jackson has shown the children’s book industry, inspirations from Ancient Greece can be incredibly popular.

Imagine how drastically a story would change if a typical Western setting was switched out in favor of those three. Values, conceptions of the word, social tensions, societal expectations, culture, and so much more, would be altered. You could argue that a writer’s characters would become completely new people. But moreover, that rare creature called uniqueness would, for a time, stop being something so many sighed over. It would be there, in the writing, for people to enjoy.

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