Amazon Kindle Writeon is a community where writers share their works in progress and solicit feedback from people on story direction, editing and fact checking. The service publicly launched at the beginning of March and was in beta for numerous months. How is Writeon doing? Sadly, its failing in the marketplace because its trying to compete against Wattpad and that’s where all of the readers are.
When Writeon was in beta last year, Amazon tried to kickstart the community by trying to leverage the Kindle forums to get the party started. The unilateral consensus amount the users was overwhelming negative. They saw Amazon as tried to get people to be unpaid editors for shabby indie e-books.
Kindle Writeon is a barren wasteland full of books with little to no comments or feedback. On the very frontpage the average title has six people actively participating in a conversation, most of them is from the author themselves.
Amazon originally launched Writeon to compete with Wattpad, who is the undisputed market leader. Readers spend 9 billion minutes on Wattpad every month and more than 500 writers have published pieces that have been read more than a million times. There are over 70 million stories, in 50 languages, on the site. They have offical apps for Android, iOS and any major internet browser. The Toronto-based company has received over $67 million in funding from Khosla Ventures, Union Square Ventures, OMERS Ventures, W Media Ventures, and Golden Venture Partners, and has attracted such famous authors as Margaret Atwood.
I think the big problem Amazon is facing is trying to compete against all of companies that they do not own and they are doing it poorly. An example of Amazons flawed attack strategy is summed up with Kindle Worlds. This was their attempt at sanctioned fan-fiction, that had publisher support and major intellectual properties attached, such as HASBRO and properties such as Pretty Little Liars. The problem is, hardly any books are being posted and not many users are buying in. FanFiction.net posts 100 new stories every hour across all categories. And Amazon? Its entire output for all 24 “Worlds” of content, which also includes franchises like Gossip Girland Vampire Diaries, was just 538 stories over the course of more than a year.
What other doomed service was Amazon Kindle Unlimited. No publisher in their right mind would throw their support behind Amazon, who they already view as too powerful. Instead, they are throwing down with Entitle, Oyster and Scribd. Not only can you borrow e-books, but in some cases you can borrow audiobooks. Amazon has not announced any specific figures, but they never hype the service to the media anymore or issue press releases. This is very telling because the Seattle company loves to be in the limelight with the most mundane of stories they try and feed journalists.
How can Writeon be saved? I have some ideas. Since most of the e-books that are featured on the site are in progress and not completed yet, they do not have an ASIN number, which is the equilivant of an ISBN. I would automatically have this number assigned to all books in progress and tie it into GoodReads. This way Amazon could leverage their large social book community to draw hype to these titles. You can get the buzz going and build synergy between Goodreads and Writeon. I would also make a dedicated Writeon app for Android and iOS in order to have the service to get featured on the App Store or Google Play. Just having the Writeon number interjected against the competition would give mobile users a chance to contribute on the go.
Sadly, I don’t think Amazon will do any of these things. I have heard from internal sources that Writeon does not have much support within the company and is treated like the runt of a puppy litter.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.