Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Has anyone out there seen Frontlist ?

Posted on: May 22, 2008

After a chance encounter in the Apocalyptic wastelands of Golganooza, I went to the highly recommended ‘Frontlist.’

Now this is kosher- it even got a mention in the ‘Writers’ and artists’ yearbook.

You upload your synopsis and sample chapters. These are reviewed by others who have sent in their work.

In return, you have to review the contributions of five other writers. This involves commenting on aspects such as idea, characterisation and appeal. You then score them on each of the selected areas, and if you get above a certain mark your work is then passed on to a publisher. You get sent your result, and the only time you have to part with money (£10) is if you want to view your critiques.

The up side is that you get to see the work of other people who are trying to get their novels published, and they get to see and comment on yours.

The down side… is exactly the same as the up side.

I received one piece which I thought might have appeal. The other four were of very poor quality.

Nevertheless, I tried to empathise (after all, we all have the same dream,) and started, as you should, with picking out the positives. For one of them, all I managed was ‘I will never forget the scene where the main character sat, wearing a gas mask, enjoying the mass suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.’

I also gave some advice on which authors I thought might provide good models. Having done that I was disappointed to find that not all of the other reviewers had taken the same amount of trouble. Although I had made some naive mistakes (like submitting too short a synopsis and two chapters which were too far apart in the book to make sense in isolation) I did not think that my submission warranted the comment made by one ‘reviewer’ in the ‘appeal’ column, where he wrote ‘none at all.’ I consoled myself with the thought that he was the author of the dross to which I had given my lowest score.

I am not averse to criticism, but I did wonder if some of the writers hadn’t quite entered into the spirit of things, and just wanted to get their own reviews without contributing much to the Frontlist community.

Otherwise, I must admit, I sort of like the ‘Frontlist’ idea. That is why I rewrote my synopsis, and submitted it with the first two chapters. You don’t have to pay anything if you don’t want to, and I still like the idea of writers helping oneanother out by passing on advice from wherever they are in the learning curve.

But… whereas before I started to receive my pieces to review almost immediately, this time they didn’t arrive. I went back to the site, and found a note which said that due to a backlog of reviews they were not presently accepting any more submissions.

I gathered when I first used Frontlist that often reviews had to be chased up, so can’t help but wonder if the tardiness of contributors has caused the process to grind to a halt.
After my experiences with the Golganooza site I sincerely hope that this is just a blip, and not the beginning of the end of another worthy internet publishing experiment.

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