As the Founder of theNextBigWriter, I was content to sit this one out. That is, until I read the latest posts, which are potentially illegal if not morally offensive. So here's a different perspective on all of this. Thank you Elizabeth Raye btw for one informed opinion.
theNextBigWriter lists its benefits and fees for all to see. There is no gimmick, no surprises (In fact, I ran the idea by Victoria Strauss before the site was even launched and she had no objections). We have many paying members (many of whom have come from free sites) who enjoy the mix of services that the site provides.
In return for $39.95 for a yearly membership or $4.95 for a monthly membership you receive:
Unlimited posting of your poems, short stories, and novels
A site rank which provides one data point on how your work compares to your peers
Access to several competitions including one that provides short story and poetry writers with an opportunity to be published (we just published our first round of stories last week). The top novel on June 7 also receives $5,000. Now, you can argue with the methodology, but it's consistent for all writers.
The potential of receiving reviews from Star Reviewers, including Pulitzer nominated reviewers, award winning poets, and other successful professionals (Star Reviewers are given to the top writers but we are expanding them to others shortly).
Access to a friendly, helpful community.
Is the site perfect, no. But we're only three months old and getting better every day.In addition, you do retain all rights to your work and our membership policy is the best on the web at ensuring this.
Some of the free forums mentioned above do not even have a policy that spells out how the rights to your work are protected. I checked out the free services, have nothing against them and have used other free sites before, but they just don't offer the same level of benefits and service. In fact, two of the free services posted above are limited to 25 members. So how does that help anyone?
I also wanted to make it clear that we are not a showcase site. If editors or agents want to come and pay a visit, fine. But that is not the goal of the site and nowhere on theNextBigWriter will you see the word agent or editor mentioned in that context. Which is why Jo Bourne's comments were so off-the-mark.
Nevermind that without permission she took it upon herself to lift an excerpt from two novels-in-progress and publicly critique them totally out of context (an argument can be made that her actions were a breach of the fair use doctrine of copyright law). Both stories (in my humble opinion) happen to be excellent work but both are still, as she would have known if she had spent any time on the site, works in progress.
Using feedback from the site, the authors alone will determine when they are ready to be sent out, not Jo Bourne. After all, theNextBigWriter is a tool to help writers achieve their potential. It doesn't promise perfection in the work posted. So Jo, if you truly want to be helpful, why don't you join the site as a free reviewer, actually read the stories, and then provide some real feedback.
Lastly, I want to talk about the oft quoted line that "money should flow towards the writer." This is a true if a writer is giving up the rights to their finished work. It is valid because someone expects to make money off the writer's work But it is perfectly acceptable to offer writers the choice to purchase services that will advance their writing career. MFA programs, writing schools, writing software, Blog subscriptions, writing magazines all charge writers. theNextBigWriter provides another choice for writers. Whether you decide to exercise that choice is totally up to you.
Regards, Sol Nasisi
Founder and Director
So, it's morally offensive to critique work thats posted on the web?
Is it morally offensive to critique Miss Snark's comments trail?
If it is, Miss Snark joins the offensive line. You post stuff on the web in a public space, don't bellyache to me if you don't like what people say about it. You want limited access, make it members only.
Suck it up fella.