07. 01. 2008
WEbook: Collaborative book writing, publishing and social networking
WEbook (pronounced "we-book"), a collaborative book writing website that launched this past spring, puts to the test several premises about writing and publishing, the first being that every person has at least one book - or one story - in them worth telling (or some variation of that idea). The second premise is their tagline, "Writing loves company," which is already proven, in part, by the fact that hordes of people participate in writing workshops every year to have their writing critiqued and to critique the writing of others. The third premise may or may not flow naturally from the first two: that aspiring writers, if given the opportunity and the right tools, would be drawn to collaborate on writing books with other writers with like interests. And the hope is that this kind of online collaborative environment for writers will produce books that are worthy of being published, and that people will buy and read.
Users can sign up to review other peoples' writing, to open up a writing project for a select group of their insiders to contribute to or comment on, or start a project and invite others in the community to participate in writing it. So, the system is somewhat flexible to suit your interests and level of desired collaboration.
At the other end of the cycle, when books are completed, the best are selected for publication as hard print books, eBooks, and downloads, and revenue is shared with the writers. The first book published by WEbook, Pandora, is now available for purchase for $13.99. This first "community-sourced novel," described as "an edge-of-your seat thriller about the forces of good and evil, love and hate, yoga and Jambalaya," was written by 34 writers using WEbook's platform. You can read the first eight chapters for free on WEbook and judge for yourself whether this method works for fiction.
I'm inclined to think that this collaborative writing technique is naturally better suited to non-fiction books of the self-help, how-to, or inspirational/personal essay genres, where a mosaic of different voices may be very appealing. Take a look, for instance, at these on-going projects: 101+ Things Every Woman Should Know How To Do, and 101+ Things Every Man Should Know How To Do.
Whatever your first impression of the WEbook concept, you have to admire its ultimate mission to break down the elitist barriers of traditional publishing.