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Thread: [Display site/query service] WEbook / AgentInbox

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW NemoBook's Avatar
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    [Display site/query service] WEbook / AgentInbox

    Hey,

    Wanted to pass this along. I've been alpha testing for a new website called WeBook for the past few months, and they're currently looking for a ton of new writers/beta-testers.
    It's been a cool opportunity to write, edit, see my work published, and make some extra money, so I wanted to share the love.

    WeBook is a collaborative writing community, where they enlist a bunch of writers to formulate a synopsis and then have everyone write pages for novels (pretty wide variety of genres; I worked on a sort of action/adventure thriller and am now working on Literary Fiction; there's also sci-fi, childrens, story anthologies, and a bunch of other ones I can't remember). The writing process is fairly structured, so you don't get random "exquisite-corpse" stories with wildly divergent plotlines.

    They publish the finished book and offer percentages to those with pages chosen. They're also working out a new incentive plan where they give up-front prizes for having your work selected. Don't know what these prizes will be, but a friend of mine had his synopsis chosen and won $500. I get a little bonus every time they select one of my pages.

    Mainly, I've been using it as a sort of low-stress "throat-clearing" exercise every few days, writing 500-1000 words before buckling down to work on my own projects. And it's been awesome in that capacity. But it's also a good way to get feedback and write in a collaborative environment. Worth checking out. If you're interested, you can register here.

    -A

  2. #2

    Question

    Did you read this part in the Terms and Conditions?

    "You grant WeBook for a period of three (3) years, which may be extended by WeBook for an additional two (2) years (the “Option Period”) a worldwide, exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable option (the “Option”) to be the sole owner of all Intellectual Property Rights in connection with such User Submissions." (italics mine).

    I did not read the Terms really carefully, but I saw nothing about pay. They want all rights but...where's the money?

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW NemoBook's Avatar
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    Good call. I'll admit I never actually read their "Terms of Use" statement, which I probably should've done.

    As far as payment, I just know I've been getting my checks and cashing them, so maybe they just haven't gotten around to formalizing their payment language in the terms of use. I know they're still figuring out how to deal with the new incentive program. But you're right, it should be in writing. I'll send them an email and see what they say.

    As far as the rights, I was worried about that too in the beginning, but I haven't seen it as a problem. I emailed them with my concerns about that a while ago, and it seemed much more laid-back than the terms of use makes it sound. Plus, the pages I've been writing are for specific projects -- ie., I was writing based on certain plot and character summaries given to me -- so I never felt like I was "giving away" pages that I'd otherwise want to use for my own WIPs.

    Anyway, that's my $.02, but I'll email someone over there and mention the Terms of Use payment issue and see what they say...

  4. #4
    Just Hanging Around Ali B's Avatar
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    "You agree that You will not be paid for submitting the User Submission to the Site and You will not be paid if and when Your User Submission is published on the Site or via a published paper book or otherwise." From the site's TOU.
    How do you get paid, then? Could you give us some examples of how it works?

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW NemoBook's Avatar
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    Like I said, I think they're revamping things right now (my understanding is that they're trying to pick up more writers and offer MORE payment incentives, but I guess you never know), so I wouldn't take the current Terms of Use as gospel. I'll find out more from them, but in any case, here's how payment incentives have worked for me thus far:

    WeBook starts with a very loose idea for a new book (f'rinstance, "a novel about the wife of Socrates"). They ask writers to submit general synopses for the novel. If they select your synopsis, they pay you something (a friend of mine had his selected and was paid $500).

    There's another payment round (not sure how much; several hundred dollars, I think) for whoever writes the detailed synopsis for the same project.

    Then, all writers start submitting pages based on the detailed synopsis (the process is well structured so that only about 5 writers are submitting for a given page). Those pages are rated and reviewed (by other writers; there's a chance to revise work based on feedback). The "winning" page gets paid (I was paid $25/page, and I think they're talking about increasing that to $50/page). I had a bunch of pages selected and was sent a check each month based on how many.

    They're starting to do other projects, like children's books and story anthologies, and I believe payment will be slightly different for each type of project, but in the same ballpark.

    Also, I think they're going to start offering percentages of royalties, based on how many pages you have in the published book. For me, it's all about the advance payments, but those royalty payments might end up adding up to a nice amount too.

    Does this answer your question or was there something more specific you were wondering about?

  6. #6
    Just Hanging Around Ali B's Avatar
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    That was great! Thanks!

  7. #7
    Well, anytime I see "By clicking on 'I accept' you agree to our Terms and Conditions" I consider it gospel, as if it will profit them to sue you on the basis of terms listed, they will surely do it. I think I will wait until they get their act together and then sign up.

    Thanks for your information.
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  8. #8
    Moderator In Name Only AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    Where and how are these books sold? I don't see anything about that on the website. Presumably, selling the books finances the whole operation, doesn't it?
    --Roger J. Carlson

  9. #9
    Just Hanging Around Ali B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowdymama View Post
    Well, anytime I see "By clicking on 'I accept' you agree to our Terms and Conditions" I consider it gospel, as if it will profit them to sue you on the basis of terms listed, they will surely do it. I think I will wait until they get their act together and then sign up.

    Thanks for your information.
    Yah, that's what I've decided. I want them to say in writing that I will get paid on the site.

  10. #10
    Is me. Monkey's Avatar
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    So they're paying $500 for a synopsis, then $200+ for the detailed synopsis, then $25-$50 per page? Why wouldn't they just take submissions? I mean, a thousand-dollar advance with royalties to follow would pull in some pretty good authors. Part of what is enjoyable about a book is the author's VOICE, which can't possibly stay consistent in this sort of thing. I don't see what they stand to gain with this business model.

    If it is as you say, then I'd love to contribute, but right now, I'm marking it as "too good to be true." Keep us updated!

  11. #11
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Where's the money coming from?

  12. #12
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Hi Nemobook.

    If something's too good to be true - it usually is. Be sure you are not the bait, although it doesn't make sense to me so far. It's just like a giant slush pile mixer. I guess you don't pay a subscription of any sort?

    Maybe there are real nutcases out there willing to pay for a complete novel they think they can sell!!! Via PA, perhaps? The mind boggles.
    Last edited by Bufty; 09-25-2007 at 08:01 PM.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW NemoBook's Avatar
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    Okay, so I just got an email back from the people at WeBook, and this should answer a bunch of questions. Their new Terms of Use agreement was also apparently posted a few days ago (they were waiting on the lawyer) so those who mentioned the old TOU might want to take another look...

    Quote Originally Posted by Monkey View Post
    If it is as you say, then I'd love to contribute, but right now, I'm marking it as "too good to be true." Keep us updated!
    So, it kinda IS too good to be true, in the sense that they're not going to be offering these payment incentives forever. Their goal is to eventually become a self-sustaining collaborative site, where writers contribute without promise of financial compensation, mainly for the opportunity to work and publish collaboratively. It's a new community-based approach to publishing. Who knows if it'll work, but as long as I keep getting paid the advances, I don't much care.

    The payment they're offering is basically for alpha and beta testers, which is why I wanted to share the lead sooner rather than later. They're making this move to try and entice as many people as possible to start using the site. So, it may be too good to be true forever, but for the next few months, might as well get some money while the getting's good.

    More to come...

    -A

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW NemoBook's Avatar
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    wqa

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson View Post
    Where and how are these books sold? I don't see anything about that on the website. Presumably, selling the books finances the whole operation, doesn't it?
    They're going to be selling the books at first on their website and Amazon, with the goal of being able to eventually get books into the bookstores. They're hoping this new publishing model takes off, and if people like having their name on a book and/or reading good work by a variety of authors, the interest may grow.

    Again, who knows what'll happen. But for the time being, these advances I've been paid are more immediate and guaranteed than the promise of back-end royalties, and that's why I'm gonna keep doing it.

  15. #15
    Just Hanging Around Ali B's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update!!

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW NemoBook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    Where's the money coming from?
    For now, I think the money is coming from venture capital. Aside from the publishing model, I have a feeling they're also hoping to create a networking-type site for writers, something more literary and goal-oriented than MySpace or Facebook. Considering the success of those sites, there's lots of investment money floating around for stuff like that these days.

    So, as far as I've seen, it's a good time to get involved while the money is still there. As far as being "bait," I haven't paid them a dime, and haven't given up any rights to my written work that wasn't written specifically for their projects -- certainly nothing I'd want to try and publish on its own -- so right now I don't feel any risk on my part. As long as they keep sending me checks, I'm a happy camper.

    That's my two cents. Wanted to share the info, but by all means, check out the new Terms of Use (which explains the payment details) and make your own informed decision rather than taking my word for it.

    Cheers,
    -A

    p.s. they got back to me fairly quickly so let me know if you have any other questions and i'll pass them along.

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Nemobook, it kind of seems like you could do a lot of writing and never once have your work selected. That means you could write a lot and never get paid. I know it's the same if you submitted your own stuff to a publisher, but the difference there is that it's your *own* stuff. You're not competing on every page with someone else--if I understand the process correctly. To be honest, their whole plan seems odd. I'm not giving up on it completely, just going to think about it for a bit...

  18. #18
    OK, so it's another one of those sites that wants writers to work for free - (eventually. My guess is, that will come to pass faster than they are letting on). What is it with these people, that they want writers to work without pay? Are they doing the same? The Net is full of places where you can place your work for free, and the sad thing is, many writers will send their stuff there. To me, that's an indication of how much they value their work. Admittedly, there are some excellent articles there, including one of mine which was stolen. That's just my opinion, you can of course do what you want.
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  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Rowdymama, I'm definitely with you--it seems like there's a trend where more and more employers want to spend less and less for services rendered. Maybe it's not a trend--but I do think it's never been this bad before. I'm not sure. To be sure, these days, for a job that not everyone can do, writing seems to be the least respected of any field. As though the system itself views us with jealousy and refuses to treat us fairly just because we have a job that is generally fulfilling. Hell, even when I'm writing stuff I can't stand it's still better for my soul than flipping burgers or answering phones.

    To get back on topic (sorry), I've decided to not go with these guys simply because I need something that's a little more definite. Nemobook has had luck and that's great, but it just seems a bit to easy to be taken advantage of in my mind.

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW NemoBook's Avatar
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    I agree that being a writer, from a financial perspective, is a lamentable situation these days. Don't know that it's so different from ever before, though. Sure, the age of blogs makes for more employers that want writers to work for free. But I think the number of new paying markets the internet has created vastly outweighs that. Fiction-writing never promised to pay a ton, but I'd hardly say it's the "least respected" of any field. When it comes to pay being disproportionate to talent/energy/time needed to do a good job, I think writers gotta stand in line with a few dozen other worthy occupations, and certainly every other artistic endeavor.

    As far as WeBook, I suppose you could do a lot of writing and never get paid. But on the average, when I was asked to write a given page I was only "competing" against 3 or 4 other writers, sometimes less. So I felt my chances to have my writing selected were pretty high (and that panned out rather well and I made several hundred dollars for comparatively little work; maybe that'll change when they hire more writers, I don't know), much better than submitting to a given lit mag. And if not, I only "wasted" about 30min.-1hr writing my given 500-1000 words. And I always considered the hour a "warm-up" for my own WIPs.

    The first project I worked on wasn't totally up my alley, but the new project,(about the wife of Socrates), is actually pretty interesting. So, regardless of the money, it's been a satisfying experience so far to work collaboratively with other solid writers on a single project (I'm much more used to being the only one who cares about what I'm working on). And I'm only working about a half-hour per day on average, so I haven't felt taken advantage of.

    Plus (junkie alert!), I can quit anytime I want...

  21. #21
    Hmmm. Well, I just went through this a year or so ago with WorthRemembering Publishing. They started up in April, but I didn't learn about it until the first of June. They were paying $50 for a one-page article and $100 for a two-pager. I made $1700 by the end of June then they cut it off. They were trying to join up with a national organization to distribute their books; when that failed they went belly-up. The promised assignments and money didn't pan out. If you want to make some extra money, as Nemo has apparently done, that's fine, but don't count on it lasting. We all know the fragility of these dot-com outfits. I prefer to work with established sites, that's all.
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  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW NemoBook's Avatar
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    So you never got paid the $1700? If not, that's inexcusable.

  23. #23
    Yes, Nemo, I did get paid. Every cent. And they were wonderful to work with, but I don't think they did a marketing study first, and eventually they found out there was no market. One of the owners "edited" the book and it turned out full of typos, spelling mistakes, etc. I am not proud of it, but the money was good while it lasted.
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  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW NemoBook's Avatar
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    Well, as long as the WeBook money lasts, I'm happy. But I'm digging the site in general so far, so I may stay on even after the money dries up...

  25. #25
    Angry Bunny Girl Stormhawk's Avatar
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    I signed up, figured it couldn't do any harm.

    An urban fantasy serial for geeks.

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