Utne Blogs > Literature

Crowdsourcing the Novel

by Rachel Levitt


Tags: books and publishers, literary news, online writing communities, crowdsourcing, user-generated content, WEbook.com, VentureBeat, Anthony Ha,

Is this the future of writing?In a web 2.0 world, there's apparently no need to labor alone on that unfinished masterpiece. Launched in April, WEbook.com is an online publishing company based entirely on user-generated content. Members can start new books or upload works in progress. Once a "project" is in the sytem, any registered user can add to or give feedback on it. The community even votes for its favorites to get published, which the website creators claim will do for the publishing industry “what American Idol did for music.”

The site has been successful enough to recently net 5 million dollars in venture funding, reports Anthony Ha for VentureBeat. Despite the site's popularity with budding authors, the self-described "wannabe fiction writer" scorns the idea of “crowdsourcing” the novel. “It literally embodies the clichéd insult of ‘art by committee,’ ” he writes. Ha has a point: When’s the last time we saw a bestselling book with more than one author? Then again, the group feedback system is employed in writing workshops across the nation as method for developing one's skills. Ha concedes nonfiction collaborations might be a different story, but will remain skeptical until he sees a WEBook project hit the big time.

Image by Jsome1, licensed under Creative Commons.

 

ayesha
10/2/2008 12:13:05 PM

I don't know if you could class it a bestseller, but the novel Q by four Italian authors calling themselves Luther Blissett received much critical acclaim, and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. I thought it was a fantastic book.


elizabeth ryan_2
9/19/2008 2:25:00 PM

Actually, there are best-selling books with more than one author on several of the New York Times best-seller lists right now. Granted there aren't any written by a gaggle of people, but more than one, yes.