A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to sit down with a couple of entrepreneurs (who are also lawyers) and discuss a website they are launching. This site is meant to get writers/authors in front of potential readers. For a $12 annual fee, you can post a couple of pieces of your work (and for more dollars, more work) so readers (and as the business owners said enthusiastically, editors and agents) will discover you.
I have a lot of issues with this venture. I can't get over the idea that the writers have to pay, but the readers can read for free. I don't mind the idea of free readers, but I'm uncomfortable with the idea of having to pay someone to read my work.
But an even bigger issue is the owners of the site duping writers into believing that posting there will get them discovered. That getting published is as simple as writing to an editor and saying, "See, 1000 people came to read my work and half of them liked it. You should publish me!" (Seriously, that's one the one guy said would happen.)
While I understand that writers get discovered in all sorts of ways and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if someone did get "found" there and I could see a website like this acting as a marketing tool for an already published piece, the men I spoke with had little understanding of the publishing business as a whole. The idea came to them because of complaints from people they know and/or work with about how their books weren't selling or getting noticed. A great idea doesn't necessarily translate into great writing. And great writing is subjective.
Most interestingly, the person doing most of the talking kept referring to publishing being an insider business, that publishing is all based on who you know, but his examples were scriptwriting. I'm not a scriptwriter, but from what I understand, that is a business where contacts can be very important. In regular publishing? Not so much so.
Writing is a lot of hard work. Just because one writes doesn't mean his/her work deserves to be published. The forementioned gentlemen disagreed with me.
What do you think? Would you pay to post your work just to get it out to the masses or in hopes of getting discovered?