Friday, 7 December 2007


Interesting article in the bookseller. Worth checking out. Jewels of the Cyber-slush pile.

Sponsored by the Arts Council England , this project is designed to encourage and support unpublished authors as they develop and improve their work. The site, which is fully automated, asks writers to upload opening chapters of between 6,000 and 10,000 words, or short stories.

The authors then provide reviews of other site members’ work, in return for reviews of their own chapters; the writing is rated using a scoring system based on eight elements of a novel, such as storyline and characterisation. Each month the top five highest-scoring are given a free critique of their work from a professional agent, publisher or published author, and also enter YouWriteOn’s bestseller chart.

Note to self - open to voting rigging by writer's closest friends.

Each month, the Top 5 new writers receive a free critique from editors for leading literary agents and publishers, including Curtis Brown, Orion & Bloomsbury.

Four literary agencies will consider highly rated chapters on
The William Morris Agency, Bonomi Associates, Curtis Brown, The Christopher Little Agency as well as publishers Orion and Random House.

One such book, originally called The Emperor’s Elephant, by Doug Jackson, was critiqued then Jackson spent several months rewriting, and was taken on by literary agent Mark Stanton at Jenny Brown Associates in Scotland, who sold the work to Simon Thorogood at Transworld as part of a six-figure, two-book deal. The book is now called Caligula and is due out from Transworld next July.

Scott Pack at The Friday Project bought children’s book The Third Pig Detective Agency by Bob Burke after it was on YouWriteOn; two other writers from the site are being represented by agencies Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh; and manuscripts have been requested by Little, Brown, Orion and agency Christopher Little.

The publisher HarperCollins is now developing its own peer-review website for unpublished writers. Would-be authors will be asked to submit all, or at least 10,000 words, of their work so that it can be reviewed by other writers or those looking for talent. The site,, is provisionally scheduled to go live in February 2008.

Apart from being a good marketing exercise, this means the publisher doesn't have to work through an agent, usually more lucrative for the publisher.

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