Writing Sites in Review: a Foreword

Ever since Yahoo! 360 shut down their doors, I have been a writer without a home, so to speak. When Yahoo! was at its peak, it was the meeting place for everyone. You could get hundreds of reads by avid readers just by joining a group or two. I had a 360! page that was maxed out on friends, and my story posts were getting thousands of hits a day. I was getting positive comments and feedback from readers around the world. And about the time that I finally figured out what I was doing in the whole indie-author publishing biz, Yahoo! shut down the 360 pages, leaving those thousands of readers not knowing that I had just had my very first novel published.

Undeterred, I moved over to My Space with the rest of the herd. Unfortunately, the fans never found me. And about the time that word started getting around that Nicola was back at her desk pounding the keyboard, everyone left My Space for the new online crazy known to others as Facebook. Well, FB was just not something that I could really get into. The lack of blogging made it really difficult for a writer to be able to post novels and stories. And the very limited character count on the status left a lot to be desired as well.

 Undaunted, I went in search of a new place to post my graphic fiction. Now the internet has offered up a lot of sites and forums to post on, but in the past five years, even though I have looked at literally dozens of forums and sites, I have not found a single home for my brand of filth that I have been comfortable at save for XNXX. So as a duty to my fellow writers who may be looking for a place to cool their heels and get a lot of exposure, I shall systematically go through all the different sites I have tried, what I liked about them, and what ultimately caused me to turn my back on them.

 First, however, I would like to give a bit of advice to any who is looking for places to post their fictional material. There are a few rules and things you need to know before you go signing up for sites and posting your hard work for the world to read.

 1.  Know the Rules.  This is incredibly important. The last thing you want is to have your work pulled or your account banned while your work remains in cyberspace with you unable to get back to it to add to your online portfolio.

                 A.  Find out what ratings they allow and make sure you are not posting anything above the rating. If all they allow is MA and you are pretty sure your stuff should be rated MA17, then it is my opinion as a writer that you should not risk having your work pulled or your account banned.

                 B.  Find out what genres and themes are allowed. This is especially important if you are writing erotic fiction and posting to adult sites.  While you are writing fictional stories regarding fictional, non-existent characters, a large portion of adult sites apparently do not know the difference between real people and fictional characters and will not allow any story to be posted that contain certain themes or characters below a certain predetermined age.

                 C.  Find out what happens if your story gets reported. You need to know if you will have the option to do a rewrite, if it gets pulled regardless, or if you will get banned from the site without any explanation and without any chance to fix the problem.

 2.  Read the fine print i.e. the Terms of Service.

                 A.  This is where you will find out what themes will be allowed and what will result in your story getting pulled. 99% of your story forums and blog spaces will not allow anything that they deem “pornographic” or “obscene.”  This means that even though you are writing about people who do not exist in a graphic novel that depicts the rise and fall of society, it will not be allowed on most forums. In other words, even though The Hunger Games may be a bestseller, it would not be allowed to be posted on boards like Aimoo and Proboards because of the graphic violence, and even though it contains no sex, it would not be allowed on adult sites like Literotica and Lushstories because, again, the people who run the places apparently do not know the difference between fiction and reality (but seriously, they do not allow any characters under the age of 18 regardless of content of the story).

                 B. Make certain you are not giving up your copyrights or agreeing to some other moronic stipulation by posting on a site. I have come across a site that stated you were giving up your copyrights by posting anything on their site and they had the right to do whatever they wanted with the work, including claiming it as their own and having it published. In addition, I came across another story site that made you agree that when you became a member, you would not try to seek out publication with any other publishing house except for the ones THEIR SITE was partnered with.

 In following posts, I will explore different sites, what I liked about them, what they got right, and what ultimately made me decide that they just were not worth wasting my hard work on by posting to them.

Writing Forums: Yes, It’s a Popularity Contest

Any writer who has spent more than a few hours on a writing forum will quickly realize that your talent has nothing to do with how well your stories are received, how many reads you get, how well your ratings will be, or the type of comments you will receive.  As much as it sucks, you could write something to rival Anne Rice, Stephen King, and J. K. Rowling and STILL have your work rate very low, have people tell you that you suck as a writer, and not receive 1/10 of the reads that the top-rated story has, even if that story sounds like it was written by a ten-year-old.

It totally sucks, but writing forums boil down to a giant popularity contest.  Unlike real life, though, it is not necessarily the “who” that is popular so much as it is the “what” that is the flavor of the day.  For example, XN caters to a very specific group of readers.  They are looking for instant gratification in their adult literature.  The more vulgar it is, the more taboo the subject, the better the response.  The readers apparently do not care anything about stories which are well written, well thought out, and have actual storylines and character development.  

Even though I know this, it is still very disheartening to have my hard work butchered and torn apart by readers who have absolutely no idea or appreciation for the amount of hard work and effort that goes into creating the type of erotic fantasy that I enjoy writing.  And despite this, I still post on this site.  I know that if I would take all of the sex scenes out then I would be able to post on other writing sites, but I refuse to jump through hoops and rewrite something that I like just to try to get a few more reads.  Being forced to change who I am as a writer and consequently the writing itself is the very reason why I have turned down mainstream publication offers and chose to go the self-publishing route. 

I know that I could have other options if I changed my genre of writing.  I know that posting on XN will result in my stories being trolled by mean-spirited readers and consistently rated down by jealous writers.  I know that members of the site are not looking for anything that has any type of thought and creativity behind it.  One has only to see all the “That was so hot!  You are a great writer!  I want more!” comments on seriously pathetic attempts at writing to know that most of the members and readers that frequent that site would not know a decent piece of written work if it bit them on their asses. 

This goes back to that whole “popularity” thing again.  If it’s a really badly written piece from a writer who has gotten a “following” because his brain-dead readers seem to think his vulgarity is a rare treasure, then they will continue to follow him around as if he were a literary god.  If it’s a wretched piece of text that jumps straight into an adult situation with no mention of the characters or how they came to be in this situation, then it will be praised and voted up.  Decent pieces of writing, those with thought and character development, coherent storylines and intriguing plot twists, will, inevitably, be voted to the bottom of the pile thanks to under-handed people who want to pretend they are writers by slapping a bunch of crap onto their computers and then post it on a site that has absolutely no literary standards what-so-ever.  Yeah, it’s the only place that would take their mindless drivel.  Most writing forums have standards.

Yet I choose to stay.  If I could find other sites* that allowed graphic violence and adult themes and situations then I would happily post on said site(s).  Until then, I will continue to put up with the trolls and oceans of mediocre writing that is XN.  In the meantime, I feel that each positive vote, each encouraging comment, each additional read is another small victory for the few decent writers that still cling to some ray of hope that XN will eventually stop catering to all the bad writers and mean trolls and start appreciating all the talented writers who give their writing genius to the site FOR FREE.  But it’s a choice that I stand by.  Sure, I’m not popular.  I will probably never be one of the “popular” writers.  But I’m betting that if any of my works ever hit the mainstream publication circuits I’d be a pretty damn big hit.  Of course, that maybe because in my own mind, I am already popular!

*If anyone knows of any good writing forums/sites that allows adult content with graphic violence, allows the writer to retain all copyrights, and does not require an act of congress to join, please feel free to let me know.  I have tried 4chan, fictionpress, Lit., Lush, SOL, wattpad, booksie, and a bunch of others that I can’t remember at this time.