For wordsmiths the world over, a rejection notice is the common denominator shared by the entire literary community whether you are the next Hemingway or a weekend poet. However unwelcoming, those "we regret to inform you" letters have become a right of passage for writers. On the flip side, all an author really wants to see is his or her words in print. To that end Fictionaut, an online social network for fiction writers addresses that need.
In 2008, Carson Baker and Jürgen Fauth launched the literary startup Fictionaut, a bee-hive of a Jürgen Fauthcommunity for writers, editors, agents and publishers. Fauth who has worked as a translator, proof reader, voice-over artist and multilingual content manager describes the goal of Fictionaut as an online community for anyone with an "interest in fiction," and specifically for writers "who want to reach a large audience an obtain immediate feedback."
"For established authors, they are welcomed to post excerpts from their books or previously published stories that might be hard to find and get attention for their current projects," notes Fauth. "Readers can easily find popular stories or follow writers they like and get stories in a variety of formats."
Fictionaut is currently in private beta, where 1500 members have joined via their easy invite system. Since the site is dedicated to literary fiction, writers aren't bound by a specific genre -- and according to the founders they purposefully left that definition as open-ended as possible so they could obtain a variety of styles.
"One form that seems to do particularly well is flash fiction -- very short stories -- that can be read in minutes." This type of byte-size-quick-read is perfect for mobile phones and Fauth indicates that one of his goals is to make the 2,500+ stories on the site available in epub, Kindle and print on demand formats very soon. And while a Fictionaut app doesn't exist just yet, Fauth notes that his Web site "looks great on the iPhone."
When asked about success stories, Fauth is aware that agents, editors, and publishers are scouting the site regularly, and several stories have debuted on Fictionaut and been picked up by literary journals -- "Ethan Rohan's 'Gold' and P.H. Madore's 'Bandits in the Afternoon Rain' come to mind."
Bandits in the Afternoon Rain
As far as graphic novels, Fauth says, "at the moment, Fictionaut is
text-only," so a graphic novel like "Crude Behavior" would have to wait
until they add images, sound, and video, all of which they're
On the publishing side, the Group page on the Web site lists a good number of literary journals and small presses that maintain a presence on the site -- Featherproof, Keyhole, Replacement Press, Matchbook, Barrelhouse, Prairie Schooner, Wigleaf, Monkeybicycle, and Everyday Genius are just a few that were started by their respective editors and publishers.
Literary Journals & Small Presses
"Fictionaut is a pragmatic, grass-roots attempt at building something from the ground up," notes Fauth. Its a space where any member can publish and use social media tools to communicate with fellow members in a community that allows young writers to spread their wings and explore new ways to grow and expand.
Fauth and Baker are also looking at models that would allow the site to share revenue with their writers, which would turn Fictionaut into a sustainable social publishing platform, a true alternative for doing business as a writer.
If you'd like to join Fictionaut, you can request an invite and you can also follow Fictionaut on Twitter (@fictionaut). As difficult as things are in the publishing field these days, writers are very fortunate to have a respite like Fictionaut to hang out their shingle.