Sunday, December 31, 2006

Welcome to Writing.Com

Welcome to Writing.Com!
Nick's Newbie GuideLet me be the first to welcome you to this wonderful, supportive family of writers and readers! I have only been a member for a short time but have found a home here.Writing.Com is home to many people interested in writing and is the only site I've found which offers so much for so little. We'll discuss account types and features later. First, let's get familiar with how to set up your existing account, create your first item, and find some constructive and honest feedback.We're going to start with from the perspective of a brand new, first-time, just-registered user. The first thing you want to do is read the "About Writing.Com" [E] page. This will offer a lot of information about what Writing.Com offers and what they are all about, provided by the Writing.Com staff.You will also want to check out the "Gift Points Info" [E] page. Gift points are the Writing.Com currency. There are several ways to acquire and spend gift points. We'll discuss those later but you should be familiar with the concept before going any further.One final note before we get started. On WDC, there are certain commands to link your work into contests, forums, and other commands to add color and emphasis to your text. A wonderful place to learn to do this is the " Weekly NEWBIE Challenge" [E]. All entrants have the chance to win prizes and receive a review of one item!Account Setup Once you've finished there, it's time to set up a bio block. This is an optional but highly recommended step. It not only offers you a place to describe yourself and your writing style/history, but it's usually the first thing potential long-term readers will see. To create your bio, simply click on the "My Account" link in the top left corner of the page and select "Edit Account Text & Special Items." This page allows you to add your bio and, once you've read some interesting works, to highlight up to 3 items in your public portfolio. Be sure to submit your changes using the button at the bottom of the page!Congrats! People can read a little about you while browsing your brilliant portfolio!First Item Now let's get down to business and create or add your first item to share with the world. Writing.Com makes this very easy, and depending on your membership you can even upload Word documents and PDFs.There are several types of things you can create. To see them all, click on the "Writing" link at the top of the page. Each item has a brief description and the membership required to create them. In this guide, we're going to concentrate on static items. Before we get started though, you need to take some time to become familiar with the "Writing.Com Content Rating System (CRS)" [13+]. It is very important to rate your items accurately and appropriately as this is a community of all ages. This may be overwhelming and confusing at first but becomes easier to remember the more you use it. There are links to review the CRS on the item creation pages so you can check it if you need to.Now that you're an expert on how to rate your masterpiece, let's add it to your portfolio!Most of this process is well explained on the item creation page. You will need a title and a brief description of your writing. You will also need to categorize and rate these pieces of information. This rating is separate from the rating applied to your actual poem, story, etc. This rating only applies to your title and description.Now you must rate your work and set an access restriction. Access falls into 3 basic levels: Everyone in the world; Registered members; Only you. I normally allow everyone to view my finished work but keep my works in progress private. You can control access to your items any way you want.Moving along, this is my most challenging part of creating a new item - the genre(s). You're allowed to choose up to three and there are several to choose from. This is another thing to choose accurately. The more closely the genres match your item, the more people will be able to find your work. You can change these at any time and if another member notices a genre that might fit better, they'll let you know.You also want to associate as many relevant keywords as possible. This makes it easier to search for your item.Now we're getting down to business - the body of your item. This is where you enter the finely crafted words your brain has arranged to conjure the emotions and images which inspired you. Write on!Once you're finished, you'll want to either allow or disallow ratings from other members. I would highly recommend allowing ratings. This is the very reason to share your work. You want feedback and reviews.You may also assign gift points to be automatically given to reviewers. See the "Auto-Reward Documentation" [ASR] for more information.Make sure you read the "Writing.Com Copyright Policy" [E] and user agreement then click "Save Item." Congrats! You've just added your first item to your portfolio.Visibility and Finding Reviews There are several ways to promote your work and receive ratings/reviews. These include sponsoring your own work, finding a review forum, and joining a group.The Review PageThe easiest place to start is "The Review Request Page" [E]. Simply click on the link, scroll to the bottom, and enter the item ID which you would like reviewed. You can find the item ID to the left of your item listed in your portfolio. Enter a small description and click "Add..."There are some simple rules to follow while using this page. They are listed at the top of the page. Be sure to read these! You may have two different items posted on this page at any given time. To post more, you have to wait until your other items fall off the end of the page. This happens as more people post their work to be reviewed and you usually don't have to wait more than 3-4 days to post new items.The Plug Page"The Shameless "Plug" Page" [E] is similar to The Review Request Page except it allows up to three works to be posted at a time. Adding an item to this page is exactly like the review page. Be sure to read the rules at the top!Review ForumsOne of the best ways to receive honest feedback and get involved in the community is to join a review forum. These forums allow you to post your work and receive a review. Some require a payment of gift points (GP) while others want an honest review of their work in return. You review, they review; give, receive. It's great! Now go make some friends ;) "Find A Review Forum!" [ASR]GroupsAnother great way to make some new friends, learn, and receive comments is to join a group. There are many, many groups. Each one geared toward providing a circle of friends to collaborate, learn/teach, share, chat, and even provide upgraded memberships to less fortunate members. Some are genre based while others are strictly for poets, novel writers, etc.To find a group, select "My Groups" from the "My Places" drop-down box in the upper left corner under "Site Navigation." Click the "Group Listings" link and find a group which suits you!Reading and Reviewing While you're waiting for your work(s) to be read and reviewed, this would be a good time to visit other members' portfolios and the various pages to read, rate, and review their works. Please be honest with your ratings and try to be positive. There will be things you read which inspire you but there may also be something you read which needs some work. While easy to review something great, it requires a bit more thought to critique an item in need of some TLC. However, we all began writing sometime and we all had to flush the "bad" to begin pouring out the "good". The point is to offer your opinion and some advice so they can improve. Also, remember that one person may find beauty in something you think ugly.Now then, the absolute best way to gain visibility for your portfolio is to read and offer friendly, constructive feedback to your fellow writers. There are a few basic guidelines here. If you receive a review, reply and thank them, then go read and review one of their items. If you receive a thoughtful, encouraging review or a comment which puts a smile on your face, let them know and send them some gift points. This is a share-alike community and you will receive the most benefit by sharing as much as you possibly can.See "How Should I Rate Items on Writing.Com?" [E] and "Comment-In-A-Box" [E] for more info on rating.Gift Points Gift points are the Writing.Com currency. They provide a means to show your appreciation for a thoughtful review, congratulate an author on a job well done, and even pay for an upgraded membership!The "Gift Points Info" [E] page explains, in detail, everything you can do with gift points. Here we'll only discuss how you receive them through auto-rewards and how to spend them to sponsor an item.Auto-RewardsAuto-rewards are a way to say, "I really want you to review my item and in return I'll automatically give you this many points for a review of 250 characters or more."They are a great way to get others to review your work since there's a mutual benefit. It's also a terrific way to receive points.To add an auto-reward to one of your items, enter the amount to be given in the box provided directly under the body section on the item creation screen. Be sure to read the rules!To find authors offering auto-rewards, click on the auto-rewards link at the top of the page. This will list all members offering points for reviews sorted by amount. The largest reward will be first. Provide a well-written review and receive your points immediately!BidClick - Sponsoring an ItemBidClick is a system which uses gift points to sponsor an item in a specific area. This is similar to advertising. You select the item you want to sponsor and where you want it to appear, then you set an amount of points you're willing to pay back to Writing.Com for each user who clicks on your item. The more points you pay, the higher your work will be on the list. You can sponsor your own work or do a good deed and showcase someone else's item.To sponsor an item, select "BidClick Advertising" from the "Gift Point Tools" dropdown box in the upper left corner under "Site Navigation."MembershipsWhen you begin your membership and register for the first time, you start with the free membership. This offers limited functionality, a maximum of five portfolio items, and lots of ads. It would be in your best interest to purchase an upgraded membership. These allow for larger portfolios, new item types, and less ads. They are affordable and can be paid for with cash or gift points!To find out more, check out the Writing.Com store by clicking on the "Our Store" link at the top of the page.For more information and other Newbie resources, check out "The New Members Directory" [E]For more advanced information, please see "Nick's Newbie Guide 2" [ASR]I hope you find this guide useful. If you have any questions or comments, please email me and I will respond soon.Once again, welcome!Thanks!Nick

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