From the moment I learned about the existence of Kindle Write On, I felt this was a fantastic idea. Here was a place for aspiring writers to put their efforts under the eyes of a supportive community. Last February I opened an account, screwed up my courage and posted two of my stories there. I expected all sorts of negative comments and hoped for a few positive, constructive comments. You can read the whole story here but I was greatly disappointed in how few reads I got and how little I got in the way of comments.
I was unhappy when I realized how the game was played. I wanted a free lunch. Instead, if I wanted feedback, I would have to read other people’s work and participate in the forums. Otherwise I was just one of hundreds of other authors clamoring for attention. Really, why would I expect someone to waste their valuable time reading a story from an unknown author, much less give feedback. Altruism may not be dead but it’s certainly in short supply. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the system was fair but I wasn’t willing to make the effort.
A year later, I have two novel sized stories. Between Scrivener and the Red Sneaker writing series, my writing has gotten much better. I was almost ready to put my hat in hand and go back to Kindle Write On and then I was notified that it would be closing on March 22.
Why? Nobody in the forums seems to know. Amazon was offering this as a free service but the cost of maintaining it could not be that high. As many of the On-Line games have found, there are always community members willing to moderate the forums. All you really need is someone to moderate the moderators.
I can speculate that the problems were legal. Ninety five percent of the community probably followed all the rules and were intent on improving their writing. There’s always that five percent though. How much literary license do you give someone before you judge their works to be racially biased, inflammatory, pornography or other forms of rubbish?
How do you know when a writer is plagiarizing another writer’s work? Just because your writing couldn’t convince a squirrel to eat another acorn doesn’t mean you don’t have a new, original plot idea. How do you police theft of plots? I already know people aren’t shy about ripping off your content and taking full credit for it.
With a strong active community, policing most of this is possible but what do you do when people subpoena your records to show who read what? As Google can tell you, that gets expensive and if you acquiesce, it gives you a black eye with your users.
Knowing all that, I will still miss Kindle Write On. I was willing to take on the onerous task of being active in the community (for me that’s a commitment, I don’t even have a Facebook account). I was ready to read pages and pages of pure tripe in search of a few gems. I would give meaningful criticism to any story I read.
And then I got my notification, Kindle Write On will be closing on March 22.
It wasn’t intentional, but this was the same same night my wife and I watched Eddie the Eagle. Watching the movie made me feel like a wimp for fearing a few harsh words or criticism. His message was clear, you may never be the best at what you do but you owe it to yourself to try.
I don’t know why Amazon is closing Kindle Write On but I do know that I and several hundred other amateur writers will miss it. Why should you care? Take a look at a few of the new writers coming out. Some of them are very good but there’s no denying that many of them greatly need the experience and perspective that Kindle Write On could have given them.
Rest in peace, Kindle Write On. All of us are lessened by your demise.
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