Looking to workshop a manuscript for a romance or mystery novel that you have written? Penguin has a new site called Book Country which is aimed at helping aspiring writers. Authors can use the site to share their work and get some help polishing it off. The social site’s users includes an array of authors, editors and agents to help guide writers from rough draft to published work.
Community members can read manuscripts and vote on them, giving constructive criticism on the work. In order to keep it fair, reviewers who review a lot of works will have the most powerful say. Molly Barton, Director of Business Development at Penguin Group USA, explained that this is to keep things honest. She said that this prevents an author’s friend who has never used the site from spiking the results with five stars on a work. A reader who is active in the community will have a stronger say in the rating. (Penguin also keeps close tabs on the site to prevent inappropriate comments).
The site, which had a soft launch this spring, already has more than 2,500 and 300 titles in the works. Readers can set their preferences for which genre they would like to read in and Penguin’s algorithm will recommend titles appropriately. The chart to the left shows how books are graded as they blend across genres. Readers can also follow super readers to get tipped off to good books.
The site is also a place to get discovered. Barton said that Penguin editors are reading material on the site and looking for potential acquisitions. This summer, Penguin will introduce a new self-publishing feature on the site as well. This feature will let authors publish their edited pieces in ePub format.