Monday, December 1, 2014

WriteOn by Kindle

WriteOn is Amazon's answer to Wattpad and other writer communities. It's a writer's community program that is currently in semi-public beta. You will have to ask for an access key to sign up, but it only took a day or two to get my key after requesting one. Once you are able to get in, you can request extra beta keys to get some of your friends in. I have requested a few keys, so I will probably have a couple soon. If you would like one, and you haven't requested one yet then you can message me on one of the various social media outlets. I will hook you up if I can! For now, let's take a look at what's under the hood and what the possibilities are with this program. Let's keep in mind that this is still in beta, so there are more features and content to come in the future. If you want to check it out the link is at the bottom of this blog post.

Features

  • Browsing - Browsing for stories is as good as you would expect for something presented by Amazon. The main page features the top trending stories, authors that are looking for feedback, and new stories. The categories available are listed at the bottom. You can search for what's new, old, trending, popular, or you can search for tags that authors attach to their stories. You can also search for specific story titles or authors. As with most community sites there are reader comments that can be posted on each chapter to give you an idea of what people are saying about it.
  • Weekend Write-In - This is a writing prompt that is featured in the main graphic at the top of the main page as if it is a special event. I don't know if this is a weekly feature to try to build more content, but that's what it looks like to me. If you click on the link in the main graphic then it takes you to the create story page rather than a page explaining the event. Tricked you! It does look like people are participating. If you search for write-in on the site you'll get several stories. The most recent ones will be based off the most recent writing prompt.
  • Create - The editor for this is quite nice, and it contains many of the same features you would expect from any social writing website. One thing jumps out at me right away that I like more than the other sites I have tried. This won't apply to most of you, but I do all of my blogging and writing from my Android tablet. Most websites try to display a mobile version of their website or a dumbed down Android tablet version no matter what my settings are. This appears to be a version that retains all of it's features. Also a lot of the formatting buttons lead me to believe that it is primed for Kindle integration. I like the wordcount generator which works on Android. The feature is not available on Wattpad's editor if you are using an Android device.
  • Your Stuff and Profile - The profile is pretty standard stuff at this point. Your stuff is formatted nicely with your most recent story comments in the right margin. A list of your stories gets center stage with all of the stats on reads, comments, and likes. You can follow a story, the author, or both and those show up here also. One glaring omission is the lack of private messaging on your profile or on the forums. This is something that needs to be addressed, and I have to believe they will at some point. Most people are using the comment box on stories to pass on messages directly to the author for now.
  • The Community and Messageboards - There are quite a few writers on this site, but not a lot of readers. This is leading some authors to want to leave the site. Hold on there Tonto! You have to remember that the site is still in Beta. Once the site goes live there will be plenty of readers available to fight over. The community as of now seems to be pretty helpful. Everything is new and shiny and full of bugs. Don't worry, the exterminators are coming. I haven't noticed any significant bugs thus far, but I've only been on the site for a few days.

The Future

This is all my personal speculation, so don't look too far into this. Some of the things on this list look like the obvious next step for this project. If any of these have been announced, I am not currently aware of it. I haven't read through all of the news posts on the forums.
  • Kindle Integration - This is a no brainer for Amazon. It's obvious that is one of their goals. A community like this needs a mobile app of some sort. I would prefer a seperate app that allows many of the sharing and commenting features that are available on the Wattpad app. The Wattpad app has made many great strides in the past year that need to be integrated into the Kindle app.
  • Readers will flood in once it's made public - If this community goes public to every Kindle and Kindle app around the world then the readers will flock to it. I'm not sure if this is such a good thing. This could be a mixed bag because many of the works on the site aren't finished. Several of the stories are first drafts or in the process of being edited. The site will end up becoming more of a popularity contest instead of what I believe is the current intended focus of the site. I'll get into that later in my final thoughts.
  • Amazon Ebook publishing integration - If Amazon's intentions are where I think they are with this community then this would be one of the logical next steps. Looking at all the formatting options in their text editor, they are helping to create a clean text file with all of the HTMl tags needed. Normally you would only then need to run it through Callibre to finalize the ebook file and create the Table of Contents, but why would you do that if all you need to do is click one button on the WriteOn website?

Final Thoughts

This could end up being a launching pad for aspiring professional authors. I believe that Amazon intends this to be exactly what it looks like, a writer's community where authors can polish their works with the intention of publishing them for sale on Amazon. With the power of Amazon behind it and Kindle integration, it will be tough for other communities to compete for serious writers. Wattpad and other writing communities will still have their place for casual writing and fan fiction. I just wonder how they will be able to compete with WriteOn for serious authors/readers once Amazon catches up with the feature sets of these other established writer communities.

I encourage you all to check out Grim. It's a serial story about a grim-reaper that is caught in the middle of a game between an angel and a demon who are fighting over the reaper's soul. The final chapter of Season 1 will be posted later today December 1, 2014. You can read it here: http://www.wattpad.com/story/15571872-grim
The WriteOn community link is here: https://writeon.amazon.com/

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