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Laurie Anthony

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Is Author's Den For You?
By Laurie Anthony   

Last edited: Thursday, November 13, 2003
Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2003

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So many websites about Writing ... Is Author's Den for You?


Is Authorís Den the place for you?

I began my visit at Authorís Den in a very much ignorant state of mind. I had just self-published my first book, and I was in a whirlwind because of my marketing endeavors.   I donít remember how I came upon Authorís Den, but for whatever reason, I just went ahead and signed up. Authorís Den sounded like a way that might  help me market my book.

I belonged to Authorís Den for a year, and when I got my renewal notice, I wondered why I had joined this group. Did I want to renew my membership? Had Authorís Den helped me?

I emailed Matt, the website owner, and asked for advice. He suggested that I get more involved, by reviewing othersí works, posting on the roundtable, and posting more of my writing. This was hard for me because when I finally decide to share my writing, I have labored over many, many drafts. But I wanted to find out if Authorís Den had something for me.  I renewed my membership, and decided that I really needed to take time to explore Authorís Den.

Here is what I have found.
∑ Authorís Den is definitely a very supportive environment for writers. Reviews are always positive, but there is a lack of dialogue about oneís writing, other than the reviews. Now, maybe there are personal emails taking place, but I have only experienced one personís email to me, where he wanted to exchange books and write reviews to submit to amazon. com and barnesandnoble.com. I thought this was a great idea, since I had read his book and was pleased to write a review on it.
∑ Authorís Den is not a place to get a critique of oneís writing.  I have taken writing courses online, and have found that the painfully honest reviews I received at times made it a struggle for me to continue writing that particular piece.

I wish Authorís Den offered that. We become better writers by receiving other writersí comments, suggestions, questions, and concerns. Although itís great to receive several reviews, like, ďGreat write,í or ďYou capture that feeling so well,Ē we all know that we need more than those put-ups to become better at our writing.

I have found, after taking the time to explore Authorís Den, is that the key to success at Authorís Den is to sign in each day and get involved. No one is going to go to your page unless you show interest in his or hers. So if you review someone elseís poetry or articles, they will respond in appreciation and maybe visit your site and comment on your writing.  I have found that some authors seem to always comment on certain authors, the ones that they track.

I have read pieces that are so amazing and so talented, that I wonder if others are noticing them.  I have also read authorsí writing that receives numerous positive reviews, yet I feel that although they need encouragement, they also need constructive criticism.

I have received positives about my writing at Authorís Den, but not any constructive criticisms.  This bothers me. My greatest moments in my writing occurred because someone was brutally honest with me.  I posted a short story on Authorís Den that means a lot to me, and I have received only a few reviews. I would like for someone to tell me what they think. How can I ever improve upon my story if no one wants to make any suggestions?

Thereís something, however, about getting so many positive reviews and encouragement from fellow writers, that maybe I wouldnít receive somewhere else.  I have the opportunity now to read many kinds of writing, genres that I might not have read in the past. Iím reading works of writers who may or may not be published, and that adds to my feeling of security. It doesnít matter if I have been published or not. All that matters is that I write.

If a topic isnít one of great interest, i.e.homelesness, one may not receive many visitors. Yet perseverance is importance, and I am continuously amazed at the people who take time to visit my writing. 

I love receiving reviews of my writing.  I also love to read what others have written and follow along with their successes. But what is missing in Authorís Den is the constructive criticism. I donít want to hear that you loved it, that it was beautifully written. I want to know is how it affected you, what you were thinking, what isnít clear, and what questions you want to ask me.  I guess that if that isnít going to happen on Authorís Den, then I need to find another site that will help me improve my writing.

Hereís what I have learned about Authorís Den.
∑ Sign on a regular basis, daily, if possible. Check out what has been newly posted and take the time to read the writings.  I read the poetry postings easily because they are shorter to read, but I find that I respond less frequently to the articles I read. I print out articles that are of interest to me, and the same with the short stories. I just need a hard copy to digest what I am reading.
∑ Read and post reviews for writers that donít have many reviews. They are just starting, and need the most encouragement. When I see someone who has over 2000 reviews, I am amazed. I canít even imagine how that has ever happened, unless that person has posted constantly for the past several years. But what I notice is that it is not the number of writings posted, but itís the support one has from fellow writers.  So it is important to try to get a following, and I am still stumped how to do this!
∑ Go to the Active Gold Members and see what is new each day.


∑ Lastly, but not least, by any stretch of the imagination, is that Authorís Den is a vehicle for writers to take that chance, that risk to share their thoughts. Iím sure Iím not alone in reserving that chance to share with immense caution ĖI have shared my poetry with only two people Iíve been close to over the years, poetry that I wrote over 20 years ago. Itís such a risk to expose my personal thoughts and feelings. What if someone doesnít understand what Iím saying, or what if they do understand, but they donít know how to respond to it? Authorís Den provides that safety net; if someone doesnít like your writing, they just donít review it.

Another website might be more beneficial for someone who wants constructive criticism with the goal to improve oneís writing.  But Authorís Den is a place where you can post your writing, even your rough drafts, and get encouragement, so much encouragement, that it keeps one wanting to write. And thatís what it is all about!

Web Site: Another Way to Help the Homeless


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Reviewed by Tyler Wiseman 11/16/2003
Laurie,

The lack of constructive criticism is a constant test upon several authors patience. Interesting how Julie remarks upon the comments of unmitigated egotism in regard to giving critiques, since I have been unabashed in mine and recieved from that selfsame person innumerable jabs about being egotistical. I suppose she speaks from personal motivation.

Whatever the case, I find it unfortunate that you've not experienced any of my reviews, since to be recipient would mean there is at least one contructive voice amidst the folds of self assuered gratification.

I'll have a look at some of your poetry posthaste.

While I can agree with the majority of this article, the summation in the end I cannot completely condone. Good reviews are, in a mass community standard, completely devalued by the lack of constructive criticism. Frankly, one cannot tell the forest from the trees, in being inundated with a group of lackluster positivity without and correlative statements.

I did enjoy this, it was a fine presentation work.
Reviewed by aneeta sundararaj 11/15/2003
Dear Laurie,

You have answered my questions and doubts! Thank you very much!

Aneeta
Reviewed by Cynthia Borris 11/13/2003
Laurie,

Thank you for bringing up issues. For me, I don't see AuthorsDen as a place for critique. I'm looking to read and enjoy polished work, professional quality writing. There are wonderful opportunities on the web for learning the tools of the trade. Writers Village University for one.

Most importantly, I enjoy the fellowship of my peers and would like, as you, to see more interaction and support. I suggest you start visiting other writers' postings and leave comments. I know they'd appreciate the time.

To plant a garden you need to begin with a seed. One by one, you'll discover a bouquet of writers in the den but a garden does require tending - a daily sprinkling of kindness and encouragement.

Start today. Visit one of my postings. I'd love to have you stop by!

Cynthia
Reviewed by Paul Nipperess BMin 11/13/2003
Hi Laurie,

Just could not let your article slide on
by, without a response ..... :))

With the advent of online communications, writers
have been presented with a whole new set of
parameters to work within, today.

Slowly, the old regime of hard-print publishing
is being broken down ..... writers now have direct
access to their readers .....

..... and, they are saying that, it is the story
evolving from the words that is important, as a
whole, not the nit-picking trivialities that
sub-editors and reviewers have survived on,
in the past.

This is especially evident, in online forums,
where those writers of non-English speaking
backgrounds can tell THEIR story, with a
high degree of anonimity and without fear
of being pounced upon for simple mistakes
in spelling or grammar.

Many readers on AD understand this notion
and prefer to offer encouragement, rather
than critcical reviews.

Too many good stories have been lost in
the culling process of traditional hard-
copy publishers and their sub-editors.

Online, there seems to have been a huge
change in attitude towards writers, with
much greater empathy towards those that
would NEVER cut it by traditional
publishing standards.

-----

For the purists in the writing and publishing
game, the attitudes posted above are frowned
upon ..... but believe it, this phenomena has
only just begun !~!

Fortunately, there will always be a place
(and demand) for proper English, with its
complex structure, spelling and grammar
... but, probably not on many of the
online forums ... :))

have a great weekend all

yogi





Reviewed by Julie Donner Andersen 11/13/2003
Wow, lots of good points here, Laurie.

I joined AD to help market my book and post articles I had been working on, hoping for comment and/or critique. Like you, I was disappointed that no one posted a comment at first. I figured this was because A.) there is a preponderance of poets compared to story/article/book writers, and B.) poems are easier to read because they're not as long as articles. So, like the old saying goes, "If ya can't beat 'em, JOIN 'em!". I started writing poetry, reviewing others, and voila - people started tracking me. Now, no matter what I post, I can count on a handful of kind people to leave comments.

As for constructive reviews, you are right. Being an English minor in college, I tend to point out the misspellings and grammaticals only to those whom I know will accept my opinion in the spirit it is given. Otherwise, I'd probably get the s**t kicked outta me! LOL! AD members are like family - they don't like it when one of their own gets "picked on". Egos are very fragile here. To leave even the tiniest subtle critique opens one's self up to ridicule and accusations of egotism and an "Oh, so you think you're a better writer than me, hmm?" attitude. *insert eyeroll here*

I am a member of five other writers sites. Three of them offer constructive critique, but are done in professional manner so as not to sound insulting. Still, hearts get broken, egos get crushed, and tempers flare.

I am a professional book reviewer, and have done some AD authors books. I try to maintain balance, but no matter how gentle I am, some people just can't accept a minor criticism. I have learned to warn my authors that I will be gentle, but will not always fill a review with unadulterated praise. If I find the work to be a total piece of crap, I still find something good to say about it. After all, this person has worked hard, but may just need to brush up on some finer points of syntax or whatever.

I've learned the best way to get an unbiased comment on your own works is to contact someone whose work you admire, and ask them to review your work the way you'd like it to be critiqued...then be prepared to accept whatever they offer. If that person is me, I charge $50 per review...LOL! (kidding!).

Jules :)
Reviewed by Andrew Rafalski 11/13/2003
You bring up some interesting points and questions. In some other writing sites I have seen the angst and acrimony fly when someone makes constructive comments that are not glowing.
Reviewed by William Neven 11/12/2003
True, Laurie, some reviews are sugar-coated on this site but then again many offer words of desperately needed encouragement. There have also been articles which have noted misspellings and errors in grammar, however, as well. Besides, those who think that writing is simply picking up a pen and "going for it" soon find they could stand to take at least one writing course - usually after dealing with an editor. Oh, by the way - great article [minus the Sweet N Low.]

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