Julie Bosman’s recent NY Times article, “Aspiring Authors Get Help Online” announces Penguin Group’s newest endeavor: Book Country, a website that allows writers to post their fiction writing online for other members.
The site functions like Facebook for avid writers. Viewers must sign up to be a member of the community in order to read other members’ uploaded books or writing samples. People can then post comments and feedback on others’ work. Penguin Group’s intention behind the site was to create a platform to connect aspiring writers not only to each other but also to potential publishers, all while giving members an opportunity to constantly improve their work.
Since Book Country is still starting up, few books have been reviewed by more than 4-5 members, but the site gives members a set of categories to address (such as dialogue, continuity, and character development) in order to promote relevant and constructive criticism. Then, as with most online shopping sites, members can also rate the helpfulness or merit of the feedback.
While this initiative allows writers to read feedback from people who they might have otherwise not come in contact with, it also raises the debate about who should offer feedback and what feedback is rooted in relevant knowledge or experience. For example, though reviewers may be well-intentioned, their feedback on a specific piece of writing may disregard the conventions of the genre in which the writer is working.
Nevertheless, the emergence of such sites promotes a perspective on writing in which the UCWbL roots its mission — that writing can be a social activity and benefit from discussion and collaboration.
To join the conversation and post your own work, check out Book Country!