Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news, and commentary. Writer Beware® is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

September 24, 2010

YouWriteOn Redux

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

A while back, I wrote a couple of posts about an ill-advised POD publishing venture launched by peer critique website and writers' community YouWriteOn. YWO promised to publish a maximum of 5,000 writers for free (or, if they wanted an ISBN number, for £39.99) by Christmas 2008 if they could get their manuscripts in by the end of October of that year. Not surprisingly, YWO wasn't able to deliver on that ambitious promise; ultimately, only a few hundred books were released, and some writers experienced significant problems.

YWO has since parted ways with its original partner in the venture, Legend Press (which now runs its own POD publishing service, New Generation Publishing). However, it continues to publish books. Interestingly, although the details of the publishing packages it offered with Legend Press can still be found in a Google search, they are no longer accessible from the YWO website, which now merely advertises the publishing service, and invites writers to email for information. According to Amazon UK, YWO has issued 508 books to date. The actual total is probably higher, since Amazon lists only the authors who have bought ISBNs, but it's still far short of the original 5,000-book goal.

Now YWO appears to be gearing up for another big push (I say "appears to be" because this email solicitation, posted in a writers' forum, is the only mention of it I've found.) This time, it's wisely setting a lower goal, by extending its publishing "invitation" only to "up to 200 authors," as long as they contact it by September 27, and submit their manuscripts by October 18.

The most telling sentence of the solicitation: "So we may prepare, the amount of author discount copies you may wish to order of your book?" Shades of Black Rose Writing! Will authors find their response written into their contract? Also interesting: the "distribution fee" (actually, an ISBN) is £49.99, £10 more than the fee listed on YWO's website.

Assuming it gets the volume of submissions it's looking for, will YWO be able to avoid the logistical logjams of last time? Hopefully it has learned something from prior experience (though its cover templates haven't improved). However, authors who are thinking of sending in their details should check the links above, and read through the (very lengthy) YouWriteOne thread at Absolute Write.


Mad Scientist Matt said...

I just checked out their gallery of cover templates. Were they deliberately trying to make PublishAmerica's cover art department look talented for some reason?

Mac said...

Thanks for posting about this. I've had a couple of email inquiries, asking about YouWriteOn, so I'm glad to have a link to send in response.

P.N. Elrod said...

(Insert critical, but hilariously spot-on snark about the cover templates here.)

How many copies do I expect to buy?

Exactly NONE. You're a waste of a writer's time YWO.

Anonymous said...

Assuming it gets the volume of submissions it's looking for...

Sadly, they'll find plenty victims whose literary grapes are still achingly green and who are looking for a shortcut. What they'll learn all too quickly is that there are no shortcuts in publishing. Only badly written books.

Anonymous said...

I joined youwriteon for the peer review side under the glittering promises of a free critique from Random House or Orion who participate on the site, and the sometime success stories mentioned on their home page. I think for printing books it’s a different matter, I saw a forum post where Ted admitted he and Legend Press took on too much back in 2008, and that though difficult at the time he acknowledged critics like at Absolute Write had a useful purpose to serve in the community. I think he mentioned you and another blogger from there by name as your byline rings a bell. Hopefully as a result they’ve learned their lesson looking at the (better) feedback from recently published authors on the ‘email submission’ link in your piece above, and judging from the many members who contribute to the site and the lesser numbers being accepted in the 2010 publishing round. I think if so it was right that he acknowledged the good role you and others had to make in learning that lesson.


Nancy Beck said...

P.N. Elrod has it right.

Those cover templates are butt ugly.

Design by The Blog Decorator