Crowdsourcing the Novel

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In a web 2.0 world, there’s apparently no need to labor alone on that unfinished masterpiece. Launched in April, 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.

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