Are you made of the write stuff?


Regular visitors to this Blog will know that I indulge from time to time in creative writing and will have found evidence of this in the form of poetry, an unfinished novel and a short story for children.

Putting something like that on your Blog is usually the closest one gets to actually publishing one’s work – but of course the readership is somewhat limited. It seems out of kilter to the actual effort of writing the piece to find that a mere hardy half dozen of your closest Blog groupies are following your work.

Which is why I got quite excited recently to discover that websites exist that encourage new writers to publish their work online, electronically and even enable them to receive payment for their work for next to no effort on their part.

Upon finding that such cyberplaces exist I immediately repaired to one that is quite local to me here in Worthing (although these sites are of course location-free zones) called www.meeqi.com and its sister site www.sixtyminutestory.com

The former is a veritable treasure trove of books available in a variety of electronic formats such as e-pub, Kindle, PDF – in fact anything that can be read on a variety of compact electronic devices such as the i-Phone, Blackberry, i-Touch, e-readers and mobile computers and phones.

You don't mean to say that you read novels on paper, do you?!

The site conveniently does all the electronic conversion for you – so if you have your book in rich text format or even Word it will convert your project into any of the formats necessary for the stressed young executive to download as they enjoy a nano second of downtime on the Tube.

Then it gets interesting because you have to create an Author’s profile on the site along with a photograph of yourself looking earnest and bookish – fortunately my son Callum had taken such a shot of me in the recent past and then the uploading process can commence. It helps if you have an attractive front cover for your book which can be uploaded at the same time – although the helpful site administrators will do this for you if you are stuck – but a Word format version of your masterwork may not meet the necessary aesthetic standard that you will undoubtedly set.

You can at that stage also set a price level for downloading your book – or give it away for nothing, if you don’t feel sufficiently worthy yet!

The MeeQi.com site points you in the direction of the sixtyminutestory.com site which daringly asserts that it is launching a brand new literary format – the SMS (sixty minute story) – a book of less than 15,000 words designed to read in under an hour. This format is the perfect length for the harassed modern traveller and office worker looking for an oasis of literary relief in the middle of their working deserts. Sixty minutes to start, immerse yourself in and complete a novel is a sign of the times that some may find a little sad, but does have a certain swashbuckling appeal for those of us who don’t have time to read 800 page novels outside of our two week annual holiday.

The site allows you to upload your SMS (via MeeQi) so long as it meets the ten standards of SMS  one of which is that the cover must be square – a little like CD box faces.

You can also find on the MeeQi site a range of out of copyright novels – including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – which was written in 1921 by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

However, the beauty of the site is its simplicity and accessibility – both for writers and readers. They promise to upload a new novel every day starting any day now and the idea of getting your daily hour long shot of literature by downloading a small electronic file is quite attractive. 

It means that students, novice writers, enthusiastic amateurs like myself and even established writers writing under a nom de plume to experiment in different styles, can easily upload their material and wait for the public to score it and award stars of merit.

The site even provides a link to a useful web tool which calculates your reading speed. At the average reading speed of 250 words per minute reading an SMS will take less than an hour. And, they argue persuasively, whilst it takes the average reader an hour to complete an SMS, you can always aim to improve your reading speed so you can fit even more in. If you want to check your reading speed, the site is myreadspeed.com 

If you are experienced and technically proficient, there are many tools which you can use to produce your e-book in the new SMS formats; plain text, epub and pdf. If you are less experienced and prefer doing it the smart way, you can upload your book (at no cost, mind) to MeeQi.com where your book will be converted to all three SMS book formats. MeeQi even provides you with free tools to publish and sell your book online.

So the days of  hawking your literary masterpiece as a bundle of manuscript around publishers’ offices are gone. No more nervous waiting for rejection slips. Now you can write your book at the keyboard, upload it and start to receive royalties without moving from your keyboard. Sounds like a novel plotline. Mine’s up – is yours?

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