As a long-time member of You Write On I somehow missed its latest initiative until Jane Smith’s blog entry came to my notice. Basically, YWO is offering a Publish On Demand deal to the first 5000 writers to sign up by 31st October. I’ve now checked out the YWO site myself (the offer is on the Home Page but not on the ‘My Writer page’ where I log in or, surprisingly, in any of the news panels) and also the Writer Beware blog where Victoria Strauss goes into the matter in further detail, and I must admit it all seems rather odd. Despite having limited success on YWO and having suffered the usual frustrations of being a reviewer, I’ve always felt it was well managed and had the right approach. Members’ work is reviewed and rated with the top submissions in each month being awarded a professional critique. Reviews will be subjective, but I can live with that. After all, writing for publication is a competitive activity. Members are also encouraged to edit and resubmit in the light of feedback. What surprises me is that the new deal is offered without any qualification – first come first served. It’s decidedly reminiscent of the Amazon Breakthrough Novelfiasco, where all 500 ‘winners’ of round one were invited to publish using Booksurge, whose emails I’m still receiving (and ignoring!) I don’t see this is any different to the POD set-up we could do off our own bat if we so wished. Amazon I leave aside, but after all, YWO is sponsored by the Arts Council. Would they sanction what is basically vanity publishing?
Then comes the next surprise. Victoria has discovered that despite the claims of YWO, Arts Council involvement is minimal. Maybe I’ve been naive, I do feel distinctly cheated on that point, and however worthy their efforts, I think its time that YWO told us what’s going on.
I’ve now posted a message on one of the YWO forums asking what the rationale for this new ‘offer’ might be. Maybe I’m naive to expect an answer, but if one arrives, I’ll let you know.