A new online community has launched recently which aims to give people the chance to showcase their literary and visual work.
The website, called Writers and Illustrators, was officially launched on January 18 and as well as giving people a place where they can promote their work the site allows contributors to gain feedback and to have their content rated.
Anyone who wants to just read and browse doesn't need to sign up. Registered users will be able to post work, comment and rate content.
Any work that has been posted or archived on the site it also date stamped enabling its users to protect the copyright of their work.
Owner of the website is Kwene H. Low from Mission, British Columbia, Canada, and he told me more about the idea behind Writers and Illustrators:
"The idea first came about in 2008. I had attended writing classes, workshops and writing groups. I saw many unknown writers and illustrators whose talents just fizzle away. They eventually settle for occupations that are not related to their true talent and passion. Writing groups are often too polite to provide really constructive feedback. Besides, not many established authors attend writing groups so many of these groups are tantamount to people leading each other in complete darkness without any light. There is comfort but progress may be slow and questionable."
"I also see illustrators showing their work to people at these writing groups; hoping to create some kind of referral network to sell their work."
Kwene tells me that he has many goals for the website. As well as providing a space where people can discover the talents of aspiring writers and illustrators Kwene says that, "It is meant to bridge the gap between great work by unknown writers and illustrators with the publishers and agencies. The genres are extensive to encourage a truly inclusive community to develop."
Kwene told me that the site will "allow writers and illustrators to receive honest feedback from the masses so that they are able to refine their craft. Of course, for this to work, the website will need to have enough content to attract visitors. I have heard too many stories of people who self-published only to end up with store rooms full of unsold books. Meantime, the vanity press industry is thriving to the detriments of many aspiring authors whose work were simply not ready for publication."
And the site will provide, "A permanent place for stories told verbally, perhaps passed down through the generations. Many people I know tell of stories they heard when they were young but were almost forgotten. These can be posted, published or archived."
Longer term Kwene says that he hopes that the site will become the main supplier of materials for books, e-books, movies, music. Kwene also says that he'd like the site "to enable collaboration between writing, illustration and animation. I believe that e-books of the future will combine all three (or more) elements. For example, would it not be fantastic if a group of people produce a video clip (eg YouTube) that is specific to some content they read on Writers and Illustrators? Then link up the video clips directly to the written content? Perhaps add an audio element for those learning a new language?"
Kwene also hopes that the site will help to reduce the number of "starving artists" and that it will assist publishing houses in finding quality manuscripts.
And Kwene has plans to build on the community side of the website: He told me, "I am hoping to fill up the categories in the Notice Board: submissions wanted, meetings, etc. Get the site to become a real community where people and businesses interact."
Kwene is also looking for sponsors for writing and illustration competitions. Kwene explains:
"I will be the platform for these writing and illustration contests. So, people get to post their contest entries on the website. The idea is to get people to read one another’s work – more interactive. Also, I hope to be the central location for future writing and illustration contests. Sponsors can post their contests and rules for free on the website."
"The idea with this format is to make the contests as interactive as possible, while encouraging people to write, read and browse creative work of others. It may not be as exciting or instantly-gratifying as what you get on YouTube, but it brings the focus back to using the minds to create imageries and emotions."
I asked Kwene about the feedback he has has received so far. He said:
"The feedback from people who had visited the site has been very good. I was surprised at how excited some people were. I just need to get more people to become aware of this website. I have also received good feedback from writing and illustration organizations that I had written to. They will be mentioning this website in their upcoming newsletters. I also need to remind all who posted work to use the social network buttons to share their work."
Plans for new features and improvements to the site are already being drawn up.
Kwene says, "I want the site to be so popular that publishers and other agencies have no option but to pay attention to well produced work."
A sign up form is available here and you can find out more about the site here.