Yesterday I reviewed the leading social network for book readers, Goodreads. In the second post in my Social Books series, I'm checking out a brand new social network for book writers. Called Writer's Bloq, it was founded by a young wannabe writer from New York named Nayia Moysidis. In a phone interview, I discovered that Moysidis, a graduate of Columbia University's creative writing program, started Writer's Bloq because of the frustrations she encountered trying to get her first novel noticed by publishers. She'd sent 93 individualized letters to publishing houses, but only received a few generic rejection letters in response.
Like many entrepreneurs, Moysidis is a very determined person. After being largely ignored by publishers, her next step was to take an intern job at Simon & Schuster. There she was dismayed to find her very own novel - submitted under a pen name - in the slush pile! On the plus side, Moysidis saw first hand that it was impossible for a publishing house like Simon & Schuster to pick up every book sent to them. They simply receive too many manuscripts.
After seeing the writer submission process from the other side, Moysidis concluded that publishers are so overwhelmed that they aren't discovering enough new talent. She felt that writers needed a better way to try and get noticed, which ultimately would help publishers too. So she created Writer's Bloq, a wonderfully named social network where writers can post snippets of their work and network with others in the industry.
The first thing that struck me about Writer's Bloq when I signed up for a nosey, was the crisp and clean design. Goodreads could learn a thing or two from that.
Writer's Bloq has two main sections: a writing section and a reading section. As with any social network, it's advisable to have a look around first before posting your own content. There are many ways you can discover the writing of others - by genre, format, status (published or unpublished), or tags.
You can choose to read a piece immediately, or save it for later. You can also send it to your Kindle. The staples of social networks are all there: comments, likes, sharing via Facebook and Twitter, the option to subscribe to the author.
What's In It For Writers
Writer's Bloq is clearly very early in its evolution - there isn't a huge amount of activity on the site right now. That is of course the problem every new social network has. Goodreads is at the opposite end of the social network spectrum. It's a mature social network that reached its tipping point a few years ago and is now in the midst of mainstreaming (10 million users and counting!).
So the challenge for Writer's Bloq is to get its core user base - budding writers and people in the publishing industry - to sign up. I asked Nayia Moysidis why new writers should post their work on Writer's Bloq. Why not just self-publish, if they aren't able to land a traditional publisher? She replied that when writers submit a manuscript to a publisher, essentially they are after the following three things:
- Editing and serious feedback on their work.
Writers can't get those things by self-publishing, said Moysidis. The aim of Writer's Bloq is to give writers a better opportunity to attract publishers. They can promote their work on Writer's Bloq and get feedback from peers - and perhaps even from publishers sniffing around the site. The community helps self-select the best writing, through ratings and comments.
Not a Novel Idea
There are many other social networks for writers on the Web. So getting new users is going to be nearly as much of a challenge for Moysidis as getting a publisher to notice her debut novel.
But according to Moysidis, most of the existing social networks for authors are geared towards helping writers self-publish. Writer's Bloq is all about helping new writers get the attention of publishing houses. Which begs the question: how will Writer's Bloq attract publishing industry people to the network?
Moysidis replied that Writer's Bloq is starting out with a focus on writers, but it intends to open up to publishers officially at a later date. In the meantime, she said that industry professionals are already registering... as writers. Many in the industry are budding writers themselves.
Like any new social network, Writer's Bloq has a very tough road ahead of it. The key is to get network effects going, in other words get more and more writers - and ideally publishing industry people too - signed up and using the site regularly. Easier said than done. But Writer's Bloq has a great design, enthusiastic early users and a Kickstarter project (see video below) to raise money for offline meetups - cleverly called "bloqparties."
Perhaps most importantly, Writer's Bloq has a passionate, focused founder in Nayia Moysidis. Whose ultimate goal, by the way, is still to get her first novel published.