Penbound - Be a literary sensation

Hello friends, WFG-ites, countrymen/women,

We are a small and growing community with the aim to encourage writers.

We recognize the challenges faced by writers all around the globe- to showcase your talent to the world, to get a publisher or even peers to take you seriously, to create a fan base and the financial implications of it all. Penbound aims to make the process simple for writers.

We are inviting you all to apply as Masters for the Penbound Masterclass. Penbound is a pyramid at the top of which are Masters who are, as the name suggests, masters of the art. Their books (complete/incomplete) are put up as paid reads. All others can post their material for free and have to achieve the Master level by getting good rating and reviews as well as going through an "editor pick" round.

Our beta version of the app is up on the Google Play Store and we are inviting Masters, such as yourself onboard. If this interests you, you can register at {{spam link removed}}

If this doesn't interest you or you would like to offer a suggestion, provide feedback , level an accusation or disparage us - please write to us at {{spam email removed}} or in the comments below. Your opinion is of utmost importance to us - the writer is the blood of the community - we need it flowing.


Please proofread your spam when you stand before us writing masters.

Penbound, do you happen to be a Nigerian prince in some legal trouble? I think you emailed me before.

@Tartra, sorry to have bothered you. Our intention was not to spam.

@Blaise No, we are in no legal trouble. We have not emailed you before. Best, Team Penbound

Do check out the website - {{spam link removed}}

A scheme with a pyramid? Why, that's very disarming and can't possibly go wrong!

Hey Penbound,

Just to give you a little context for the response you're getting here, most of the writers in this community have been approached many many times with offers like this, via email and these forums (the more successful of us dozens of times, the most successful serialists probably hundreds). At a certain point, it's much easier to respond with snark or not at all than to ask the same questions and make the same points we've made over and over and over again. If I'm being honest, the only reason I'm typing this out is so I have something to copy and paste the next time this happens. I know this comes off incredibly harsh when, from your perspective, all you're trying to do is get your business off the ground, but hopefully you'll find it helpful for next time.

Here are some of the red flags you've tripped, which is why most of the writers here won't take this seriously:

Again, I get that this seems like a rather disproportionate response to a pitch, but I'm hoping the disproportionate response will help you in the long run. One of the most important parts of building a brand is doing your research, and that counts double when trying to obtain your working assets.

Yet another one of these? Oh dear.

Maddi said it pretty darn well - I used to be the one to jump in and try to convey why this sort of thing doesn't work, but I've been getting 50+ of these offers at a time and I'm a little burned out on it. It comes in waves of 10-25 every April or December when the business/entrepreneur graduates finish their studies and jump onto their pet projects, look at infographics to see that online writing is an untapped well of potential, and make their pitch.

At the end of the day, this sort of thing doesn't work because it needs to hit a critical mass before it becomes a success - at least for the writer. The app/aggregate site/startup (hereafter referred to as the startup) offers audience and exposure in exchange for the work, the financial side of things often comes across as either 'author gets nothing' or 'startup won't be able to pay the bills for three months if it tries to do everything it promises'. I've seen so many of these ideas and there's so many similar ideas, and the startup never has anything that helps it stand out from the others. A cute logo or graphic, a catchy name, spam the various writing sites, offer the money and exposure all authors want. Have very little substance behind that.

The reality is that the startup needs people to draw people in, and I don't think I've seen an offer from one startup that had hit that critical mass.

Jumping on board would be hitching oneself to a ship that's slated to sink, if not pre-emptively sinking.

Lol, u guys remember nunkstop?

Anyway, here's a thread I hope you find useful, Penbound:

I just deleted the duplicate message. We don't need two discussions about this.

What all these start-ups don't seem to understand is that it's much, much more important to have a large readership than to attract writers. If you have a readership, the writers will follow.

I imagine they hope the writers will bring in the audience...

That's the problem. If the writers are providing both the supply and the demand, exactly what is the start-up providing? Presumably, the writers already have an interface that gained them their readers.

I figure they just don't understand how this culture, at all. "Look at all these little plebs with their little stories. I can make money off of this with my shiny new MBA, right?"


I'm often amazed at how little time people apparently spend doing research on what's worked so far and what hasn't.

For example, in the realm of webcomics, Joe Manley attempted a paywall. Basically, the idea was that the most recent few strips were available, but the entire archive was not. It was, of course, the "good" web comics that were sequestered that way.

The result for the creators was yes, some money because people had to pay to see the archives. Unfortunately, the archives are what gets people into the story. Thus, for many, the result was that once they got into Modern Tales, they got new fans more slowly than before. Similarly, once they got out, they got fans more quickly, ultimately earning more money.

Ah so this is yet another innovative writing community that's likely going to find it's way to the writing community graveyard.

We've already gotten some witty quips and some solid advice, so I don't see the reason in me being nice with this.

Penbound (whoever on your team was kind enough to stop by), you seem to have gotten scrambled on something rather important between your second all-organic, vegan-friendly foam, $14 latte and blowing the last bits of your student start-up grant on those awesome, eye-piercing, oh-so-original, vector graphics all over your site. Here is what you got messed up on...

You think that authors are writers, that writers are people that can type shit, and that anyone who can type shit in this day and age are a dime a dozen. Whereas semi-affluent trust-fund kiddies who just got their MBAs from a business college with an idea of tapping people for a get-rich-quick online pyramid scheme are super-rare diamonds.

You have it ass-backwards, broseph.

Authors are people who work their asses off each and every day, often miserably, more often thanklessly. They are creative people who harness the written word to create living personas, deep and rich worlds, to push the boundaries of human creativity, and to inspire others to dream. They are people who pull things from out of nothing and anchor them into people's minds with such force that they can change lives or even society itself. A person who hammers words on a screen is a writer, like every jackhole on buzzfeed. Authors are an entirely different animal.

College-kiddies with MBAs are the ones who are a dime a dozen. Every entrepreneur with a scheme exists out there somewhere, and honestly people like Steve Jobs are assholes. Business hurts art. It never helps it. So, all I can see are two outcomes for your little project here.

Option 1) You re-assess the scarcity versus demand model of your project. Realize you aren't the one who is scarce and in demand. What is in demand are good authors and a bunch of unpaid business school interns getting them lattes and kissing their feet to earn a place as their eventual publishing team.

Option 2) You decide to pay off your student loan, or your hipster loft apartment bills by getting a real job and putting in a real 8-12 hour day like real people. You know, instead of being a parasite and trying to make other people do work for you and further diminish the importance of the written word/creativity in this hell-hole of a world that you and your effluent ilk have made thus far. Flip a damn burger, earn a real paycheque, and leave the starving artists alone.

We -- authors -- already get screwed in the ass enough by your talent-less, creative-less, type. Every outlet we try to get our stuff out to an audience, one of you is sitting there with another pyramid scheme to milk us dry. From Amazon, to Wattpad; from FanStory to Smashwords; from Jukepop to Radish; Inkitt to... Hell even Patreon does it. It's been done to death. Let's try something new. Let's try helping the authors rather than exploiting them. You know, something that has never been done before!

Until then, all I can say is... You know where to shove your pyramid scheme. Wide point first and remember to clench hard, you'll enjoy it more that way.

I'm afraid our friendly neighbourhood spammer won't be continuing in this conversation. I have banned him.

Well darn, everyone else got their knocks in before I showed up, and now the person can't respond anyway.

I don't know about Sovereign, but I'm certainly a hack. I mean, I'm miserable and don't get thanked, but I'm not that good. I don't even get all these spam offers the others keep talking about. Well, if you put me on Reddit, I'm a fucking Greek hermaphrodite Muse writing upon the skin of a titan I slew with nothing but a pen forged from the bones of Saturn. But Reddit's a low standard.

Still, I don't really like things where someone has to pay to read my stuff online. Admittedly, this helps people to understand why I'm not rich. I really don't care to try and read things where I have to pay to read them unless I have no choice. I also really dislike all these apps. I'm not anti-app, but I'm anti-app-exclusivity. Which is why I'm now offering the ability for people to read my comments on this forum, but only if they sign up for the Psycho Gecko Forum app. It only works if you're in a place that can maintain an internet connection, so if you want to download things to read later, then fuck you.

In a slightly more serious sense, you may have gathered that your choice to use the word "pyramid," was a bad one. Please reflect on this while enjoying some calm, soothing music:

Congratulations on graduating. I don't know what goes into an MBA, though I have a natural dislike of people who have them. I don't know if you actually have one, but I understand you're likely strapped for cash. Good luck. You're not going to find much messing around with us. Web fiction doesn't really have that scarce of a product unless you really prefer one person's take on it. Compare to, say, a play. Hamilton can be such a money maker because it is, by nature of its performance, limited in the number of people who can enjoy it. You just don't see that with web serials, nor would artificially creating it work. Books are also limited in that you can't read one unless you own a copy. Except this is the internet, and we've already posted copies. We aren't restricting our audience just to whoever buys a copy.

It's a horrible business model, I know. That's part of why I didn't want to do it originally. It isn't helped when someone doesn't even bother to capitalize on it, true, but that's on the author.

Anyway, good luck in the economy, and perhaps give some of us around here a read. I know that's asking a bit, because you're no-doubt overwhelmed by the warm welcome you received, but you might find something to entertain yourself.

And stop trying to tempt an audience from Wildbow. That's my schtick. Hands off. I don't like other people touching my schtick.