Nothing, not love, not greed, not passion or hatred, is stronger than a writer’s need to change another writer’s copy.
– Arthur Evans
A few days ago I ran across a writer’s blog whose address I have lost and therefore can’t link you back to it, that was in essence an ad for one of those web sites that solicits articles from writers desperate to get published in the hope of building a clip file, for little or no money. The site the author was talking about was Helium, which purports to be some kind of knowledge base.
Now, one of the things the author of the blog was pointing out was that this was a good place to go and get your writing critiqued, ostensibly by other writers like yourself who may have no publishing credits… So I have to ask, who are these people? I’ve also never been a fan of critique groups (and even less of a fan of calling them “crits”. For chrissakes, we’re writers. If we can’t even spell out the word “critique” maybe we shouldn’t be writing). I’ve edited other people’s marketing materials, and people get very touchy when you start pointing out all their grammatical errors, without even getting into the content.
So I’m not sure I see the point of this site, from that angle. Would you take writing advice from someone who is unpublished, except on a web site like this?
My second problem is with the site itself. This strikes me as one of those sites that solicits content by enticing writers desperate to get published, in any way, shape or form, to provide content for them, for little or no money. They claim there is some pay to be had, but by whom, and what the criteria are, are not at once obvious. Here’s my guess: They manage to hook a decent writer who actually knows what he/she is talking about, and the articles provided (basically gratis in the beginning) start getting hits and start to generate some revenue for these folks when people click the ads associated with them. They do this a few times, and finally the owners may actually pony up and pay this writer to stick around. In the meantime, all the others who are busy filling this site with all sorts of articles are getting nothing, or peanuts, for their trouble. Personally I think this is crap. They’re making money off you, while you get nothing (or next to nothing).
And as a corollary to that, would you take advice from an article on a site like this? It seems to me if someone is truly an expert in their field, they would be able to get published in an established, paying format, and not need to scrounge to get published on a site like this. Why is this better than simply posting the same content to your own blog? A few more hits?