Essay Non-Fiction posted August 3, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level
Follow up article to reviews for prose.

Let's Fix It: Attention Tom

by michaelcahill

The response to my recent article on problems with getting reviews and recognition for prose here was both surprising and exciting. Old and new members alike share a sense of frustration. Even more disturbing is a shared sense of resignation. It is the consensus that there is an inequity and many feel that nothing can be done about it. There were also innovative suggestions offered that I found intriguing.
It also came to my attention that there is little incentive or reward for the reviewer that makes the extra effort to provide true quality feedback and input. That is a consensus that applies to all reviewing whether it be prose or poetry.
Briefly, for those that may have missed the discussion, it is put forth that there is a lack of incentive to read and review prose on this site. The rewards for reading and reviewing a short poem are the same as the rewards for reading a two-thousand-word story. It is understood that some of us enjoy prose more than poetry and vice versa. That is not part of the issue. It is also a majority view that a writer can receive excellent feedback and improve skills here with the system that is already in place. We can conclude then that we are seeking to improve the system that is in place. A great many of the writers here write both poetry and prose. It would not be wise to create two different sites, one for prose and one for poetry.
Remember, there are many forms of feedback. As a poet, do I want to know if a novelist liked my poem and found it to be inspiring? Yes, I certainly do. As a novelist, am I interested to hear if the poets on site found my book to be a good read with interesting characters and a good story? Without a doubt, that is important feedback indeed. All reviews do not have to come from experts offering technical critiques. Most writers are interested to know if people liked their work. A bit off topic, yes, but, a fear of not being qualified to review comes up often.
There is another fact to face here as well. A story and a novel are two entirely different forms of prose. I was quite surprised at the response to the piece that proceeded this. I had thirty-three reviews BEFORE I promoted it to the first page. I also have a novel that I am writing and posting, until recently, a chapter every day. Gee, maybe the success of these articles can boost my novel! Well, no, there is not a chance that is going to take place. No amount of money can convince someone to read the previous thirty chapters of my novel.
I think our focus should be on stories, essays and other short pieces of prose. The novelists can take advantage of any improvements with their prologue and first chapter.
I also think that we have to be willing to offer something in return if the rewards are to be greater. These are some preliminary proposals. Read them over and consider them. A thread will be opened in the forum where we can debate the merits of them and offer improvements. Fanstory will be invited to participate. Let's remember that Fanstory is a business. Therefore, thinking that they make enough money and should just give it to us isn't going to get us anywhere. I have owned a business. It is no picnic and I was not anywhere near as rich as my family and friends believed me to be. I barely struggled just keeping it open.
There simply has to be a bigger payout for reviewing a story than there is for a poem. At the same time, there should be an increased cost as well for Fanstory to post it. The reviewing standards must also be higher. Isn't it a legitimate argument if a poet says, "Why should I pay the same amount to post a three line poem as someone else does to post a two thousand word story"?
The prose writer is going to expect more for their money. That is fair. There will have to be a higher standard for reviewing in conjunction with the higher payout. I would not mind seeing reviewing in general being held to a higher standard. These copy and paste reviews just don't cut it especially for large payouts. A review for prose would be, for instance, double what it is now. Ninety percent of the reviews I receive for prose already meet that standard. Most of us give a proper effort when we review. The ones that do not should be singled out and stopped.
To be specific: We currently buy a four-day certificate for $9.95. That pays the reviewer fifty-two cents. What if there was an additional certificate available for $16.95 that paid one dollar and four cents? That would alter what makes the front page somewhat. In the long run, it would simply drive the price for the top twelve up a bit. It might cost a dollar twenty to make the top twelve. Of course, a dollar twenty looks good to a reviewer. There could be larger member cent pumps for three ninety-five. The numbers would have to be worked out. This would mean more up-front money for Fanstory and more incentive to review for members.
Then there is the "Book Balloon". This is a good value, but it is daunting to consider reading an entire book for what the reward is. I would like to see a lump sum for reading a book and have the book available as it is in kindle. It is a pain to go from chapter to chapter. When the 'print book' option is selected, the entire book is available all at once in order. Perhaps some set reward to read a book that has reached twenty thousand words. (Maybe five-dollars) It could be posted for a week for Twenty-nine ninety-five. (Just a thought)
These are rough ideas based upon feedback I received as well as my own thoughts on the subject. I consider this simply an opening to a discussion. I have seen discussions in the forum have results more than once. Improvements can be made here. Don't assume that nothing can be done. Something can be done. We have to make it reasonable for all parties involved. That means that in the long run we will come up with something that is better. I think that is worth pursuing.
There has been discussion of a section of our site devoted to reviewing excellence just as it is to poetry, stories, novels and scripts. I think this is an excellent idea and I am not alone. The details would have to be worked out. Of course, we would not want it to be a source of embarrassment where one of my terrible spag laden chapters is displayed for all to see! Well, I wouldn't… unless there was fake money involved… hmmm. Okay, couldn't go forever on topic.
Details need hashing out and feedback from Fanstory will, of course, have a great impact.
Look for the thread in the forum and participate. This is our site and it is up to us to make our feelings known. The owners listen when we speak if they are aware that we are speaking.



I intended this to come sooner than this. I lost my internet access for the last ten days so I couldn't post or do much else. I have yet to respond to the excellent input I received to the initial article that recieved such a surprising response. This is part of the response, but I hope to begin responding personally now that my computer seems to be running again. Thanks for your patience and I hope you accept my apology. This is essentially the beginning of a discussion.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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