Writer's Bloq, an innovative platform to help writers get noticed, is going global, y'all. (Well, kind of global---they are East Coastin' it!) Writer's Bloq is only a few thousand dollars short on their kickstarter goal so if you can, try to help them come to your city!
TellTell Poetry had the pleasure to speak with Nayia Moysidis, the founder of Writer's Bloq.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself & how you came up with the idea for Writer's Bloq.
My name is Nayia. I was in Columbia's creative writing program and I had heard hundreds of times the struggles of being published and I knew I had to be prepared for anything and so I really didn't expect to be picked up by a publisher. But I did think that fighting back or hustling would make it work. I started composing these query letters, and one of the things that was really frustrating is that I spent the time finding the right people who I thought would be really interested in my book, and I spent a lot of time making my letters quirky and what ended up happening is not only that I didn't receive any personalized rejections but I received 4 uniform rejections. I knew for a fact that no one had opened the manuscript and that's where the breaking point happened. I am perfectly happy understanding that it takes a lot of time... but what I couldn’t understand was the fact that I hadn't even been rejected—I had been ignored. It really meant that I had spent about a year writing a manuscript and about a month personalizing letters and no one even read it…..
What I started thinking was (I was very angry at that point with the publishing industry in genera and I thought they must be doing something wrong, I'm happy to say that that alternated with self doubt) that I had to go to work in the publishing industry. So I was an editorial intern and I have to say, that was probably the best thing I could have done. I had no idea how the industry worked before then. I immediately realized how much respect I had for those guys; they were really bright people, I couldn't be angry with them because I saw the massive amount of manuscripts that had been submitted. There were 10,000 manuscripts that had been submitted and you're thinking, "How could they spend the time reading these?" first of all I thought, "Hey, you can't be upset because 9,999 other people were ignored." But then my second thought was, "That is not comforting because what is our actual chance of getting our stuff out there."
I don't think the publishers are to blame, I think self-publication is a very viable option but I wanted editing. I wanted real feedback. Not just copy editing,I wanted to feel confident in my text. I wanted marketing. Wanted to know that people were actually hearing about it. I didn't want to publish and have only my family buy it, and I wanted to know that there was some kind of community backing me. It was those 3 main things that I wanted and I knew that I couldn't get them through self publications and through large publication houses. and I said you know what, "Step one of this process has to be a platform where people can come together and get to know one another and read each other's writing" and that's how that started.
We built Writer's Bloq and a lot of things started happening that defined that direction it took.
We had an event in May and we started seeing that Writer's on the Bloq was really supportive and we initially started with a group of peers---students at Columbia started sending it to their friends, and after a while we realized we had a group from Columbia, Iowa, Brown, and The New School. So we started there. When we saw that people were supporting the writers that they thought were most compelling we thought it would be great to have an event for the writers and we started an event called "Unsolicited." We invited the top 8 writers, who were decided by the community, to come and read. It was really interesting because we didn't expect that it would be packed.
We started getting a sense that readers, writers, and industry professionals were interesting in coming together. After the reading, 4 of the 8 writers who read were contacted by industry professionals.
We didn't want to create any tension and we didn't want any pressure so we didn't really tell anyone who was there. After the event one of the writers whose piece had created a lot of buzz said you know, "I have this manuscript, and it's not really getting looked at much, but it's in between genres," and interestingly, that's the problem that I had faced. I had created a fictional memoir and so I knew exactly what she was talking about and she said ,"I'd be really interested in publishing it through Writer's Bloq."
So that's when we started publishing.
We decided to let the writers maintain the rights to the writing. So you have those rights. We will enable writers to edit each other's work. Writer's Bloq will help with the marketing and so we thought you know what, we want to go to kickstarter and we want to tell the world that we should bring these events to these East Coast. Just drive through 25 cities and set up shop and have events across the nation and we still wanna do that. We thought, okay, we will start with the east coast but our real vision is to spread across the country. Let's get all of these writers, who right now are either sharing their work in workshop or maybe they have a tumblr but none of those platforms are for narrative writing to be discovered.
We want readers to digest as much writing as they can. As writers, we get it in our heads that we have to be involved on the internet but it's also really important for us to meet in person. It's always going to be a personal industry. I would love to sit at a table with Murakami. We wanted to create that personal element that was lacking from a digital site. and we copied Kerouac, and we thought On the Road would be fun!
Are you getting a big bus? A bus would be a totally good idea. We are also going to be carrying art pieces. A couple of the writers were reading some of the work on the site and they wanted a visual interpretation. So we did a call for submissions and all of these artists said they would love to create a visual interpretation of the writing. So a bus would help us out!
What year did you start it?
My manuscript was rejected in 2010, so the problems and solutions started forming then. In the spring of 2011, I started speaking to writers, peers, and friends of friends because I wanted to get a sense of how everyone viewed the industry, so I spoke about 500 writers. So I guess it really started the summer of 2011.
Do you consider Writer's Bloq to be a publishing house? How would you describe it? Writer's Bloq is a blend. Our goal is never to be a publishing house. We are more of a discovery platform than a publishing house. A publishing house has all these different sections. It's just..when you're thinking about it…these people are coming in with really strong skill sets but they are splitting up. We want to help the writers get their work and their writing recognized.
Do you have poetry on the site? Yes and most of the things people read are poems and short shorts. We developed a function for “read later” so we thought that will help with the longer content.
How many writers are on the site? We were private until a month and a half ago so we have about 1,000 writers and now we are opening up and welcoming the community.
How do you pick the staff picks for the site?
We were taking all the pieces that created the most views and then what happened was that there were so many pieces coming in so quickly and it was so hard to put all the pieces together. It became too crazy. So literally, every person on the team is picking their favorite piece for that week. We are hoping to create a model where you can see the pieces rising and you can see it before it gets solidified.
Do you put your own writing on the site? Absolutely. I didn't put the manuscript up there for the simple reason that I didn't want it to be a vanity project. That's not the focus at all. So I thought, you know what, I'll release the manuscript later.
Do you make an income, or do you have another job?
No. I just worked and I saved up in college and when graduation came around I said I have an option to take a job that might be really educational. Or, I can live off my savings for a while and being really happy for a while. I haven't regretted it. Life's too short. Anything that we do that will create revenue has to be in line with every writer on the site so until we figure out when that is, we are going to hold off. Definitely eventually we were thinking, how can we really find something that works for our writers? And if it helps even in the smallest way then we will be successful. Now we are going to start to think about how to make the site stand on its own.
When we were doing the Kickstarter we didn't focus on the actual business or the trip. What we plan on doing is that, in each city we visit, we are going to have one writer from the Bloq read and each city we are inviting one writer from every city read!
Okay guys--you heard her! Support writer's bloq if you are able to! Also keep an eye out because Writer's Bloq might come through your town.