Writing Sites in Review: FictionPress

Writing Sites in Review:



Of all the writing sites I have visited, this one has more than its fair share of hoops to jump through as well as rules. When you first join, you cannot post stories for 3 days, you cannot send private messages for 3 days … in fact, you have to wait 72 hours to do ANYTHING on that site.

Here, a quick breakdown of the rules, regulations, and why I do not suggest this site.

1.  All writers, no readers.  I posted the first 3 or 4 chapters of The Red Fang there more than a month ago, and in that month there have been exactly ten (count them, people, 10) reads between all of the chapters and only 1 review, and that review was done by an author friend of mine from XN.  There are many contributing factors to the dismal amount of reads, or the lack thereof, that seems to plague the site. First, your place on the theme pages has nothing to do with your ratings. New stories are posted on top of the old ones, so as new stories are posted, your story steadily moves down the page until it is completely buried. And since most readers seldom get past page 1 when scrolling for something interesting, your chances of getting read decrease with every single story that gets posted. Second, since this place attracts writers and not readers, no one is really reading anything. They come to the site to showcase their work, not read other people’s stories and novels.

2. Too many rules to name. Aside from having to wait 72 hours after creating an account to actually use the account, you are not allowed to post stories to the forum. You may not include links to any content outside of FictionPress so you cannot promote your own website or any other site that hosts your content, not even your own personal blog. This no link rule applies to your forum posts, to personal messages sent to other members, in the community posts, nor embedded in your stories or other content. In addition, you cannot mention another site or link to another site in PMs, the forum, or your story posts.

3. That private message? Guess what, it isn’t really ‘private.’  All private messages not only go to the intended recipients’ mailboxes, but also the site mailbox, so the administrators and moderators can read the entire conversation.

4. Limited content rating. In addition to all the rules, you cannot post any content that is considered to be rated above an MA rating, which means it cannot contain graphic violence or sexual content, illegal actions, or any situations or scenes that would not be suitable for anyone under the age of 18.

5. Teenage safe haven. Like 99% of the ‘writing’ forums out there, this one is also a home to a very large amount of first-time writing teenagers. As I have pointed out, if you want actual readers and not a lot of teenage writers reading and reviewing your creations, then FP is NOT the place to be posting.

All in all, I would have to rate this site at the low-end of the heap as well. There are too many rules, too many hoops to jump through, no rating system or way to get noticed, too many writers and no actual readers, no traffic, and way too many inexperienced teenage writers to appeal to the more mature, more experienced writers out there. The community and forums are a joke at best, with no real feel of ‘community’ that you would expect in a circle of writers. My rating? Two giant ‘thumbs down’ and stay clear of this place if you want to actually get your creations read.

Writing Sites in Review: My Shit List

Writing Sites in Review:

My Shit List


In the eight plus years I have been searching for, examining, exploring, and posting to writing sites, there are only three that make my shit-list. Okay, so that’s not exactly true. There are actually closer to a dozen that have been on this list at one point or another, but for the most part they were such small-timers that they do not warrant a mention simply because they did not have the membership and numbers that would draw enough writers and readers to them that I would feel the urge to warn people to stay away from them. The problem with the three I am about to list is that I do not know which one I loathe the most. Two of them I still have a few articles posted to and the other one I will NEVER go back to even if they were to invite me back. With this in mind, I will start with the one that I no longer have a membership with.

Lushstories. If you value your talent as an independently thinking author and do not want to fall prey to moderators who abuse their power, then avoid this site at all costs.

1. Content guidelines. These rules are so draconian that it makes it next to impossible to actual have anything aside from the most vanilla and benign stories accepted on the site. You cannot have characters under the age of 18 regardless of content, your stories cannot contain sex between humans and non-human entities, even if those entities do not exist in real life, which means that you cannot write about vampires, werewolves, ghosts, goblins, fairies, zombies, or any other fictional, non-existence entity.  Likewise, your stories cannot contain graphic violence, so you cannot have sword fights, gun fights, street fights, or mention the shed of blood or violence in any form. The really moronic part of this rule is that the site actually has a BDSM theme section. Do I even need to spell out what the people are that not only run it but moderate it? The last time I checked, BDSM involved violence, however mild, and none of it is allowed, even using fuzzy handcuffs and blindfolds.

                In addition to the content guidelines, there is the problem with the stories being cleared for posting and then having the moderators come back and remove the story because a friend of theirs wanted it gone from the site because your story is getting more views than theirs.

Which brings me to another fault of the site:

2.  I am Moderator, You are Scum.  The moderators of the site blatantly abuse their power for not only their own gain, but will abuse it to make certain their forum friends get ahead as well. They will pull your story if it has been flagged by anyone (usually an author friend … is that the green-eyed monster I see?) and states you broke a rule that is not even posted on the site or they will claim you broke an actual rule that you did not actually break. In other words, they can interpret the rules however they see fit and remove any story at any time without actual proof and no one can do a thing about it. So if you are not in their little click of authors and your stories are doing well, they will be pulled. And when you complain to the owners of the site, the owners will revoke your account. So you simply cannot win.

3. No traffic. Unlike XN, this website does not see 1/100th of the hits that XN stories see in any given month. In addition, there is really no rating system and no way to find good stories. The new ones are placed on the top of the page and roll down the older ones, so your stories will eventually roll down to the point where they disappear from the reading radar. Unless you are constantly posting, your stories will end up buried far down into the abyss where no readers ever venture.

Number two on my shit-list is just simply ‘Writing.’ While there are a significant amount of people on this site,  usually a few thousand on any given day, the place was geared more towards writers, so who you get reading, and ultimately reviewing your work, are writers. If you are a newbie who thinks you actually need a bunch of teenage wannabe writers telling you how you can follow some used-up hack author’s 100 Ways to Become a Better Writer along with their own ideas of what makes a good story good, then by all means, hop on board this teenage train wreck to nowhere.

Why you shouldn’t join this site:

1. Free isn’t really free. They only allow you to upload 10 items into your portfolio for free. After that, if you want more space, you either delete stuff out of your portfolio or you pay for more space, which can cost you between $10/month for the basic of memberships to $140/month for their most expensive package. I ‘m afraid I’ll have to call bullshit on this one. There are far too many sites out there that have a thousand times more readers and members that will not charge you a single dime to upload as much of your work as you want. If you insist upon wasting money each month on your work, you would come out much better to put that money into a publishing package and try selling your own work instead of helping to line the pockets of people who are only there to take advantage of the writing community.

2. Writers aren’t critics, and they shouldn’t be critiquing your work. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Writers can help you out if you are a complete newbie that has absolutely no idea on where to begin. Unless you have absolutely no grasp of the English language and only rudimentary understanding of grammar, writers really can’t help do much of anything but confuse you and make you think you can’t write.

                If you take 500 writers and ask them for an opinion, about the only thing they are going to agree on is that you should watch your grammar and spelling. Everything else is just opinion, and every one of them is going to have a different opinion on exactly what will make you a better writer and what you should have done differently.  Every one of them will point out different things you need to change about the characters, the storyline, the storyline progression, the action sequence, the romance scenes, so on and so forth. Trying to nail down exactly what you should be changing to make things better becomes too much. In the end, you would be rewriting the entire thing. But if you take 500 readers and 100 of them are pointing out the same problem that they are having with the storyline, progression, characterization, etc., then knowing what parts to rewrite becomes much easier. As a writer, you want to go where the readers are, not necessarily where a bunch of writers are. And if you are looking for real readers and real critiques that might help you hone your skills, you definitely will not want to waste your time, and heaven forbid any money, by visiting this site.

3.  Congratulations, you’ve been spammed …. with useless newsletters and articles.  When joining this site, you can expect to receive roughly 7 emails into your private email box all from the admins of the site with newsletters and random articles.  They are mostly newsletters filled with promotions for the sites and riddled throughout with ways to ‘get yourself noticed’ on the site by uploading more stuff to your portfolio (by purchasing a membership) or articles written by the owners of the site or their friends that will tell you all about how to write a review (see #2 on why writers should not be writing ‘reviews’ in the first place), promoting contests etc.  It’s basically a giant promo flyer for the site, the owners, and a select group of writers. Thankfully you can go in and get yourself removed from the spam newsletters, but if you write a blog, they give you endless ideas on blog articles that revolve around ‘what not to do when you own a writers’ writing site.’

4. Want traffic and lots of reads? Forget it, because no one is reading on this site. And the ones who are reading appear to be making their entire writing career revolve around dishing out reviews when they are supposed to be writing stories, novels, and poetry. In other words, since it is so full of writers, you will only get a few dozen reads a week, and you may or may not get a review. In fact, the only thing I have gotten any type of review on are my writing articles. And while I have had a lot of young writers and even seasoned writers tell me they wish they had some of my advice back when they first started writing, I still can’t see posting any more on the site simply because I actually get more exposure on this blog than I do over on that site.

What this site has going for it:

In all honesty, I can’t name you a single thing about this site that I actually liked. It’s a giant promotional flyer trying to get you to spend money on the website. The interface is not user-friendly, moving around and finding all the things the site provides is difficult, and more than 80% of what the site offers is only accessible with a paid membership. The read count is incredibly low, the reviews on actual stories and novels are virtually nonexistence, and the admins and moderators abuse their power. I had articles that had sat on that site for weeks but once they began getting reviews, every one of the ratings on them was quickly changed. And while I have no problem with that, it just proved that if you piss off the wrong people, you could very well have your membership revoked. Now imagine what could happen if you had actually paid for that membership.

And finally, the last site on my short shit-list is the WritersCafe

Why you should stay away.

1.  Overrun by teenage wannabe writers who think that because they jotted down some poetry in a notebook while listening to My Chemical Romance they are suddenly the know-it-all when it comes to writing.  If you don’t mind having your work critiqued by a bunch of teenagers, then this is the place to be. Otherwise, avoid this one as well.

2.  Lots of potential, but no one is minding the store. The really sad part of this site is that it has so much potential. In addition to being able to post your work, there is a forum, you can write and post writing courses, create and maintain groups. The problem is that the owners of the site put it together and then abandoned it years back.

The forum:  The forum is pretty much dead except for the occasional newbie who comes along and starts posting, quickly realizing that no one is actually visiting the forum.

The writing articles: This one makes me cringe every time I think about it. Since the place is mostly home to the 13 to 15-year-old class, 90% of the articles are a bunch of BS vomit that teenagers have slapped together by rewording advice they read in ‘How To’ books and articles on what makes you a better writer. What makes me sick to my stomach is the amount of little 13-year-old followers that some of these teenagers can amass who not only follow these kids around on that site, but actually think the hacks are helping them become a better writer. The funny part was these same kids did not actually write stories or poetry or anything other than the articles. And this is a good rule to remember if you find yourself reading a bunch of ‘how to’ articles. If the author has not written anything but the ‘how to’ articles, you might not want to listen to them. Unless you are writing fiction and novels and stories, you can’t very well know how to write them. It’s like writing a book on how to perform heart surgery when you have not actually performed it. When I was a teenager, I would have never asked my fellow writing peers what they thought of my work. There is no point in asking someone with less experience than you, or the same amount of experience as you, how to write. If you are not actively seeking out input and direction from those who have actually written and been in this line of work longer than you, then what is the point? They can’t help you, time to move on.

The social groups ….. and the enormous amount of underhanded writing ‘gimmicks’ that went along with the entire site. Since there are not any moderators or administrators on the site, you can create as many accounts as you want. What I have seen is numerous people create literally dozens upon dozens of accounts in order to ‘review’ the primary account’s stories. This bulks up their rank and will eventually get them the automated ‘badges’ that were implemented in the site back when it was first created. I have also seen these people use their accounts to create countless social groups, create writing contests, and then use all the spare accounts to ‘vote’ on their own writing so they will win more badges for winning contests that they rigged. And last, but certainly not least on that site, they will use the accounts to create tons of writing articles so they will win yet more ‘badges’ for having the most articles written and badges for having the most reviews and comments on those articles.

In summary, there is nothing good about WritersCafe.org anymore. If there were moderators taking care of the site and cleaning out the troublemakers, those abusing the system, and those who were not writing quality articles or using social groups to further their own agendas, then the place might be pretty decent. They would also have to address the very serious issue of all the teenagers on there who harass other authors and run them from the site because they only want their own little clique of friends on there. Until there are moderators placed in charge of the store,  you will not get any true writing help, reviews, critiques, or any real reads of your work on this site.

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.