Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Website Review -

Fanstory is a site built on the concepts of contests and feedback.   $60 gets you a year's subscription, or you can subscribe monthly for $7.  On the surface, the site's mechanics are very simple.   Enter a contest, submit your work, get feedback.  Based on the number of contests, and opportunity to get reviews on your writing, I feel that the price of the site is justified.  However, I'd like to take the opportunity to fully describe what exactly it is you'll get.

CONTESTS-  There are two types, member created (non-cash) and site created (for the $).

Member created contests may be blind (author information hidden) or public.  They involve a writing prompt or challenge, and the entries are voted on by other site members.  Readers can share what they liked about the piece they voted for.  Entry into these contests generally requires member dollars and the prize is often member dollars as well.

5-6 site created contests are announced monthly, and can range from a specific type of poetry (haiku, tanka, nonet, sonnet, free verse, and acrostic seem to be favorites) to various prose contests.  They have contests where they provide the opening sentence, flash fiction contests, and non-fiction/essay contests.  The submissions are sent to judges and winners are announced generally 3-5 days after the contest closes.

FEEDBACK-   This is the bread and butter of the website.  Feedback is all peer review, and there are pros and cons with that.  There are two ways reviews are generated - motivated by member dollars or from your followers.  I've mentioned member dollars a few times now, so let's get into that a little bit.

Member dollars are the currency of fanstory. You need them to enter member contest, and you need them to promote your work.  You earn them by either winning a member created contest, or by reviewing other people's work.  It's a smart site design to make reviewing the primary mechanism by which you can promote your work.  It also has its drawbacks.  The main motivation to provide quality reviews is the monthly reviewing contest.  Majority of reviewers are just reviewing to earn member dollars.  (I started that way myself, but now have moved to more constructive reviews)

Without member dollars, your work will only get two pieces of feedback. You need member dollars to purchase tools that raise the publicity of your piece, or add more of a reward to those who read it.  You can become eligible for special accolades if you get a certain number of reviews.  These accolades boost your ranking as a writer on the website.

Every now and then, you will get quality feedback where someone actually calls out typos, identifies issues with the content of the piece as well as provide their emotional reaction.  Make sure you express your appreciation.

One important thing to note is that all reviews are public.

I also mentioned followers.   Fanstory members can follow writers they like.   They will be notified of any new piece you submit, and they are more likely to give you constructive reviews.

OTHER FEATURES -  The website also allows you the opportunity to submit your work to a critical panel which will assess the level of quality of any piece you write.  There are classes offered on a multitude of writing topics (for additional fee) and there's a discussion forum as well.

  • Offers several competitions for cash prizes every month
  • Guaranteed peer feedback on every piece
  • Offers tons of other non cash contests
  • Easy to access winning writers' stories via their profile
  • Opportunity to build a platform 
  • Have to constantly build up "member dollars" to promote your work
  • Peer reviews not always that good quality
  • Can only post 2 pieces a day

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