Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Literrater--What is it?

In mid-July, I saw a post on one of the excellent Google Plus writing communities I frequent (Writer's Discussion Group) from a website called Literrater, who described themselves as a social reading and writing platform. It sounded interesting (among other things), so I decided to investigate.

Initially, it reminded me of Wattpad, because of this quote from the Literrater page: "We’re improving writing by letting readers edit and provide feedback as the story is being written, this helps writers knows what they need to change to make their stories successful." Literrater allows readers to "rate characteristics like romance, action, mystery, sex, language etc. instead of a 5 star rating which is often nearly meaningless." However, Literrater claims to be more than just a public showcase and sounding board for your work.

Conceptually, the premise sounds like it may have merit, although getting readers to provide feedback has so far proven problematic for many indie writers. Literrater entices readers to rate and review books by rewarding them with free books and a weekly giveaway (a $10 book of your choice). Literrater also lets authors reward their favorite contributors by sharing book proceeds (should they so generously desire).

Literrater includes a unique book search engine. Their search function offers readers the ability to look for books (within their library) based on setting characteristic sliders. Looking for a high-action, PG-13, horror novel? Move those sliders all the way up, and leave the humor and romance settings at zero. Your recommended books will change as you adjust the various sliders up and down. Click here to see what I mean.

I did notice there was no slider for a book's genre. This may not be a drawback, but it struck me as somewhat odd that this was not included. I think the option to look for speculative fiction (for example) may be a useful tool. There is the option to use tags, and this seems to work similar to a built-in filter. For example, typing in 'fantasy' for a tag brought up books by Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Lindsay Buroker, and other speculative fiction authors (once I manipulated the sliders).

For writers, Literrater provides a platform to present your work-in-progress to the public, get feedback on your writing, build a fan-base, and even solicit crowd-source funding. I could find only one existing work-in-progress project, and did encounter some dead links, so Literrater is still developing features and options, while trying to build a pool of writers and readers.

Literrater lists a variety of perks for authors, such as helping find editing and cover design services as you write. Literrater boasts that if you write a significant part of your book on their website, they will pay for a cover design and have a professional editor do a developmental and proofreading pass on your book. This link shows you an example book detail page on Literrater, which does not sell books directly, rather, links to the author's Amazon page.

I signed up for Literrater using my Facebook account and intend to provide updates as the service grows and expands. I'm considering starting a project on their page, but am not pulling the trigger yet. But if I do decide to start a project there, you'll be the first to know.

As I see it, the viability of Literrater not only depends on a sustainable business model, but maintaining a deep and varied pool of authors who are read and reviewed by an even larger community of readers. The concept shows potential, and I can think of a variety of compatible tools and services that could be added to the framework to cast a wider net. I wish the folks at Literrater the best of luck, and hope to see more from them in the future.

Author Update: I've chosen an editor for Mirrors & Mist, but since it's the second book of a trilogy (and I had a different editor for book one, over a decade ago), I decided to have my new editor start with Crimson & Cream, which has turned out to be a good decision. In addition to releasing Mirrors & Mist in late 2013, I'm also planning on releasing a second edition of Crimson & Cream, which will feature the newly-edited and revised text, along with some other perks like maps and a glossary.

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