For those of you who have no idea what Inkpop was, here's a brief explanation: it was a writing site.
Even longer explanation: It was a writing site aimed at teenagers and young adults where you could post your work, get feedback, and talk about writing or whatever.
And a detailed explanation: In 2009 HarperCollins, a big publishing house, started a writing site for young adults. Technically, anyone over 13 could join, but most of the people on there was in their teens or in their twenties. On Inkpop you could submit books, short stories, and poetry in a variety of genres. These projects could be read and critiqued by other members. You could not copy and paste the stories and you could write as long critiques as you liked. If you really enjoyed a project, or if you were one of those people who picked a project because someone told you to or because you were in a pick swap, you could pick a project. That project would then rise in the ranks. Depending on your trendsetting rank (if you picked projects that were popular, your rank would increase) that book would get so many points. If you got a lot of picks, you could eventually get into the Top 5.
Once in the Top 5, your project had to stay there for a month. After a month, HC (as HarperCollins will be referred to from now on in this post) would have one of their profession editors look over your project and critique it. You even had a chance to get published. But over the course of two-three years, HC only published two books out of tens of thousands projects. The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon and Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgens.
Back in 2010, HC started telling Inkies (or Inkpoppers. Whichever term you prefer using for a member of Inkpop) that they'd be changing the site. But they ended up pushing the date back further and further. Eventually, they shut down Inkpop in June of 2011 for three days to make changes. Now there was three categories for the Top 5 (poetry, short stories, and books). Instead of the calming green and gray, the color scheme changed to bright orange and blue. And there was many other changes that I didn't like and some I did. Some people really didn't like these changes and either quit or just slowly became inactive.
The Selling of Inkpop...
Then six months later, HC decided that their "online experiment" wasn't worth it anymore. All those changes made, all the projects, and everything else in the site just wasn't worth the trouble anymore. Whatever their reasons for selling isn't clear, but one of the major reasons is money.
HarperCollins officially launched in January
2010(It was actually 2009), saying it “represents the next step in the company’s overall digital strategy designed to build and expand its direct-to-consumer business. Inkpop will be the anchor of HarperCollins’s ongoing teen strategy.”
Now, HarperCollins Children’s publisher Susan Katz tells the WSJ that strategy hasn’t worked as planned: “Initially we thought, writers are great readers, so we’ll help people with their writing and benefit from that community. But we’re really a business focused on readers, and there are many more readers out there than there are writers.”According to one of the articles I posted earlier this week about it, HC apparently doesn't think that writers are important enough. Yes, its the readers that make them money, but who writes the books that HC makes money off of? Oh I don't know...writers maybe? Without writers there would be no books, without books there would be no HC. Simple, no? But apparently having a writing community wasn't doing whatever HC expected it to do.
I wasn't one of the people who saw the shutdown coming. According to other Inkies, a month ago the sign up button disappeared and the reviews from the editors had been coming in late. So when we all found out about it Sunday, I was shocked. At first I thought it was just someone trying to get attention, but when it kept getting replies, I decided to check it out. And true enough, it was real.
Us Inkies actually found out about it from the news. Yes, HC didn't even bother telling us until Monday. And then they basically said, "guys, this has been nice, but we're selling the site. Oh and by the way, you have three days before the site shutdowns."
Yeah. Three days.
Starting Sunday, everyone freaked out. Projects and profiles were deleted, people collected ways to keep in contact and many fled to other sites where they could wait with grief. It was chaos. A Facebook group was started, Inkies on Goodreads banded together, two independent sites were made, and over 100 Inkies fled to Wattpad.
People were, to say the least, were shocked and pissed. Many sent out angry emails (although some were well thought out) and maybe reason that's why HC waited so long to tell us. In return, Inkies received generic copy and paste emails. We obviously weren't getting any help from HC.
Like how this article that I quoted eailer states:
On Inkpop’s forums, users expressed concern about the sale. In a thread with 405 comments, one user wrote, “What’s stupid is that HC and Inkpop didn’t deem it worthy to tell US first and not the stupid Web . . . THANKS SO MUCH HAPERCOLLINS.” Another wrote, “HC, you have hosted the future of writing on Inkpop. The NYT best-sellers and the next Tolkiens and J.K. Rowlings, and you have let them down.”Or this one where the author takes comments off of the forum (and by the way the title made me laugh. He is wrong though. There were guys on Inkpop even though 95% of the people on the site were girls.),
Starting my ban on all HarperCollins books today. Not because you are selling inkpop BUT because you didn’t have the decency to give the users notice. 3 days? Really? Lucky I logged in. I can go for quite a while without logging in. I won’t be going to Figment. I don’t think many people will. What an awful investment for Figment. Sincerely hope you are happy.
I cried over the closing of a website today. Let me repeat myself. I CRIED MY EYES OUT BECAUSE INKPOP IS SHUTTING DOWN! My own family can’t deal with me right now because I’m an emotional mess.
You guys couldn’t have told us in advance, not 2 frigging days before this?!
What about those of us who are supposed to get HarperCollins reviews? I heard that the December projects haven’t even gotten theirs. And will Figment be adding a copy/paste disabler? Because I removed my work from their website for a reason.Yeah, there were some pissed of people.
How Figment ties into all this.
Inkpop, which apparently had over 95,000 members compared to Figment's 100,000+ members (although I suspect most of those 95k only went on a couple of times or weren't very active), merged with Figment on 3/1/2012. Our accounts and everything was saved (without our knowledge as I found out Thursday after I thought I deleted everything) and if we wanted to see our profiles we had to active them.
Figment will “go out of our way to welcome everyone and message them appropriately.”Initially, Figment has seemed very welcoming of us. Even offering to put a copy and paste lock onto their site so we wouldn't have to worry about anyone coping our work. But some Figgies (Figment members) have been very unkind to us. (Not all mind you, but there seems to have been much complaining). Apparently there has been a history of trolling between Inkpop and Figment and some Figgies had the idea that we were stuck up (which isn't true). They complained that we were complaining too much (I think its justified, after all, we were the ones who just got kicked off our site without so much of a sorry), that our usernames were weird because most of us didn't use our real names (does it really matter that much?), and and various other things. To me, Figment has this weird Christmas vibe to it, reminded me too much of snowflakes and peppermint.
It wasn't just a site...
I was upset when it finally closed. Actually, I was really upset about it Sunday and Monday and Wednesday when I was reading over the goodbye threads. But most of the time, I was just livid.
You may be wondering why I was so livid and upset over it. Well it wasn't just a site to me and lots of other members. We were a community. We weren't just writers trying to better our work, we were friends.
Anyways, I actually joined Inkpop back in August 2010 on impulse. My pen pal has suggested that I join Teenink with her, but I missed read it wrong and joined Inkpop instead. Back then, I only had one project The High Prince (now The Prophecy) which I had been working on for several years. I thought it was amazing. But then, eventually I learned it wasn't.
Anyways, not only did my writing improve tons but I learned many other things. I learned about the publishing industry, I learned about blogs (I had never really read one before I joined), and I learned about music, books, authors, and tons of other stuff. Before Inkpop I didn't know that you were suppose to end dialogue with a comma unless you weren't tagging it or were putting a exclamation point or question mark.
In fact, I eventually was introduced into the blogging-sphere enough that I decided to start my own. Yes I remember asking other Inkies what to name this blog. The title, Birds of a Writer, was suggested and I went with it.
Most importantly, I learned that there was actually people out there who are just as passionate about writing as I am. Finally, I found people who I could ramble onto about writing and they would know what I was talking about. They would give me honest feedback. But not only that, these were people I became friends with. Sure, I don't know any of them in real life, but I can be internet friends with people (granted, I try give away as little personal info as possible).
I have friends in real life (you know who you are) who I can talk to for hours, but before I've never met so many people I could talk to for hours at once. When I couldn't find anyone to talk to or I was bored, I went online and talked. These people listened to my rants, understood what I was trying to say, and actually liked me. They gave me a place to vent and get advice. There were people on there who thought I had good ideas and enjoyed talking to me.
We had laughs together. I've had nights on there where I've couldn't stop laughing. I've had heartfelt conversations with some people, conversations and messages that have lasted for weeks, and times spent rambling on about something for long periods of time (once on the Inosamic threads, we talked for a long time about toothpaste and cough-drops).
I remember last year during February there was a day where there was this HUGE glitch. Every time you clicked on something you would get switched to a different person. It was chaos, and people were panicking. Some people were afraid that people would mess with their projects and managed to warn people about it. In the end of the Great Glitch, HC had to shutdown the site to figure it out. And when Inkpop came online, nine people found out their projects were missing. I was one of them, all three of mine disappearing. We were able to restore some of them. But mine and a couple other people's weren't. So we banded together and helped each other out. When I posted my projects again, people picked them so that they rose back in the ranks to where they had been before. It was so nice to see each other helping out another Inkie.
When Inkpop announced that we were shutting down, it wasn't just the critiques I was worried about, but it was the people. I was worried that I'd never be able to talk to any of these fantastic people again. So I'm happy I joined Wattpad with the others who did. I surprised myself actually, I never thought that I could care so much about a site and people I've never met in real life.
Inkpop in a way, changed me. I feel more knowledge about then before, I feel like I've changed since the naive little girl I was two years ago. I will never forget Inkpop and the people I've met on there. I love everything that came with the site. We've argued, we've fought, and we've debated. But in the end, we came out stronger. Our community still held even though the site shut down. Sure some I'm sure dropped off, and others joined other sites and places, but for the most part, we stuck together.
So now what?
Will I be joining Figment like HC wanted us to? No, I already decided that. I requested to have my profile deleted for good this time. One of the reasons that I won't is because there's no copy/paste lock. Maybe when they put one up, I might consider, but until then, I won't even consider it. Besides that, I don't like the overall feel of the site. There's something about it that screams childish to me.
So I've joined Wattpad. Wattpad has many new features. Besides having over 100k members and that its not aimed at teens, it has a copy/paste lock, a bunch of forums and threads, an instant chat, a messaging thing where if you hit the reply button it actually works, and you can customize your profile. One of the things that I don't like is that the site has word count limits on pretty much every thing. And not a lot of people give good critiques or appreciate it when you critique their work (like actually do it. Not just "oh this is good" but you nit-pick it apart). But that's okay, I can deal with that.
I haven't met many Wattpaders yet and I haven't posted any projects up yet. I might post some when I get a better feel of the place. But I'm still adjusting. I've started exploring projects and how the critiquing works. Its confusing but cool.
Will this blog change at all. No of course not. What happens on my online writing sites does not affect this blog (well this week I was all confused and angry so I didn't post much. But I'll post more next week.).
One final thing.
I'm proud to say that I was a member of Inkpop. Not because of anything that HC did, but because of the people on it. It was the people that made the site great and without them it wouldn't have been so good. I will always consider myself an Inkie in terms of writing sites. Even though I've joined Wattpad, I'm still an Inkie at heart. I still stand up for what the site stood for (in my mind) great writing, improving your writing, having fun, and building a community of great writers and friends.
One day I will be published and one day lots of these Inkies will be published too. I expect them too. I expect to see their books on the shelves and buy them. These writers aren't just writers, we're the future of the publishing world. And HC lost the respect of many of these future published writers. Many of them have already vowed that if they can, do never be published by HC or but their books again (a little extreme, but what can you say?)
I will miss Inkpop, but as another Inkie pointed out- we're writers. We take change and we thrive because of it. Writers continue writing in the good and bad times. And often, its the stuff that hurts that often shows us what we're made of. This is a road-bump, but a road-bump that will cause us to stumble, not fall. We will get back up and continue, thriving and writing. Writing because it is who we are, because it is a part of us, and because its our one great love.
And in the end, I am most proud to be a writer. And one who has been privileged to meet many other fantastic writers. And not only writers, but readers as well. People who love books just as much as I do. And its books and writing that I love the most.