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Thursday, June 23, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: Book Country


Writing is a solitary practice, but revision requires feedback. Most aspiring authors send their manuscript to friends and family, others meet with a critique group, and some enroll in an MFA program.

In April 2011, Penguin Group USA launched Book Country, a website dedicated to genre fiction readers and writers. Focused on romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery and thriller, Book Country helps new authors hone their craft as part of a genre fiction community.

Users upload their novels (or a portion of their novels) for peer review. Book Country’s unique genre map helps writers categorize their novels, and lets readers find books similar to ones they love, which they then read and provide detailed critiques. Book Country brings the peer feedback and community feel of a critique group, online.

Another key feature is discoverability. If you’re working on a novel, publishing professionals won’t see it until you begin sending out query letters. Book Country gives agents and editors a place to discover new talent; for this reason, many publishing professionals have already signed up. Book Country also allows avid readers and bloggers to discover budding talent and use their reading experience to offer helpful feedback.

As the world continues to shift online, Book Country creates a community that was once only available in metropolitan areas. Now, genre fiction authors all over the world can come together online to exchange feedback, engage in discussions, and have their work discovered.

For more information regarding Book Country, please view the Video Tutorial below or read the Official Press Release and FAQ:


OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:

On April 26, 2011, Book Country, LLC announced the public beta of a supportive genre fiction community that serves writers, readers and publishing professionals.

Focused on romance, fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, and mystery fiction purchases—which account for 58% of fiction purchases—Book Country is designed to help new authors hone their craft and get useful feedback on works in progress from avid readers and other writers. Book Country also offers publishing professionals such as agents and publishers a place to discover new voices.

Discoverability is a key component of the Book Country experience. Through great search and browse tools, including the groundbreaking Genre Map, visitors and members can find the books the books they love to read, from Police Procedurals to Medical Thrillers to Paranormal Romance, to Urban Fantasy or Steampunk.

Book Country is focused on building a community that is—and will remain—a free, creative supportive venue where writers and readers can give and receive constructive criticism, discover new and entertaining books, discuss and share tips and experiences, and learn about the publishing industry. Badges will be awarded to members to recognize a variety of achievements including most-improved books, top-rated peer reviewers, and most-active discussion contributors.

“We created Book Country because while writing and publishing sites have proliferated in recent years, none were designed by publishing experts to create a more valuable pathway forward for new writers,” explained Book Country President Molly Barton. “Book Country is egalitarian and merit-based, while fostering an atmosphere of encouragement and creativity.”

Members can upload a work in progress, explore and provide feedback on books already posted, participate in discussions about the business and craft of writing, or learn more on the industry blog. A writer new to the site can upload their work immediately, but because Book Country was designed with genuine reciprocity in mind, before that work becomes visible on the site, she or he must review three other people's work.

Book Country is a subsidiary of Penguin Group USA, a Pearson company. Though owned by Penguin Group USA, Book Country is a separate entity, both legally and practically with fulltime Book Country staff members. Books from all publishing houses will be mentioned on the site, and staff members from all publishers are welcome to participate. Book Country is focused on the success, education and enjoyment of its members.

BOOK COUNTRY FAQ:

What is Book Country?
Book Country is creative, supportive online community where readers and writers of genre fiction can come together read works in progress, post original fiction, comment on the work of their peers, participate in online discussions and increase their name recognition.

What defines “genre fiction”?
“Genre fiction” describes the way novels or short story collections with similar themes, settings, tropes, and character types are categorized. Book Country focuses on romance, mystery, thriller, science fiction, and fantasy.

Will you be adding additional genres? What about Young Adult?
Book Country is focused on specific genres, and is not designed to be all things to all writers. Over time, we may add additional genres and literary forms based on feedback from the community. Young Adult fiction that falls into one of our focus genres is welcome at Book Country.

Will Book Country offer self-publishing services? When?
Right now, Book Country is focused on building the community. Later this year, we will be adding self-publishing services. We are not outsourcing these services.

Will editors and agents read Book Country manuscripts?
Many editors and agents are members of Book Country and read the uploaded content. It is not, however, an outlet for submission to agencies and publishing houses.

What steps has Book Country taken to prevent plagiarism?
Protecting the uploaded work is of the utmost importance, and Book Country has taken numerous steps to make it very difficult for someone to copy or distribute writers’ material, including disabling “copy and paste” and “print” functionality within the reader.

Do you allow books with explicit material?
Yes, of course. We respect writers’ creative choices when it comes to their posted manuscripts and books. We do, however, request that they tag their work accordingly and we have some suggestions in our terms of use and community guidelines sections. In addition, we have a way for members to report inappropriate content throughout the site.

What is Book Country’s relationship to Penguin?
Book Country, LLC is a subsidiary of Penguin Group USA, a Pearson company. Book Country is a separate legal entity with full-time Book Country staff.

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