A few weeks ago I was cold-emailed by a charming chap called Rob Tucker who wanted me to check out his website for writers. He’d been reading my blog, he said, and had enjoyed it. My writing might be a good fit for ReadWave. I very nearly put it in the ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ pile, I get these emails from time to time. Don’t we all? But something about his tone made me read it again; it actually sounded as though it came from a real person. He wrote, ‘ReadWave is a place where you can write about anything – an idea, a life experience, a travel adventure or a moment of inspiration – as long as it’s under 800 words.’
Well Rob couldn’t have known but the 800 word thing hooked me in. Before blogging was invented (and before I knew whether I was a writer or not) I used to pretend that I had a humour column in some fancy newspaper or other and I’d write regular snippets about things that amused me. Back then I’d given myself an arbitrary length of 800 words, just for the sake of self-discipline. The pieces had never seen the light of day, apart from the occasional guest blog, and I wondered if this could finally be somewhere to give them an airing. So I checked out the website.
On first impression, ReadWave came over as a sort of cross between Wattpad and Pinterest, both sites that I’ve dabbled and given up with. Life’s too short, I have abandoned Linked-in, Shelfari et al and am close to leaving Goodreads, I just don’t have the time to invest in the level of interaction any of them require. But, surprisingly, I have fallen in love with ReadWave.
The site has approximately 20,000 subscribers. People upload all manner of stories…personal experience, flash fiction, memories, poetry, and opinion. They only ask that each is no more than the magic 800 words, a three minute read. You can follow and be followed, make and respond to comments and ‘like’ stories. You can also put a blog or website address into your bio or at the end of a story. What makes this site stand out from the crowd for me, is the enthusiastic little team of staff editors who keep an eye on what’s popular, select their favourites, spot trends and set up weekly challenges.
Oh, and it’s visually appealing too. Contributors are encouraged to add a pic to their stories, it’s not compulsory but, as the FAQ states, people like images. So, browsing the various pages feels more like picking from a nice box of chocs than examining an index.
I popped my toe in the water with a piece of nonsense about Thanksgiving. I got some likes and some friendly comments, so I added another. More people commented and those comments were knowledgeable, friendly and constructive. Before I knew it I was looking for more stuff to post because I liked making my followers happy. Then instead of trawling my old files for existing stuff, I actually—gasp—wrote something for a weekly challenge.
Having dabbled, I now know that you get friendly little emails telling you how your story is doing. You’ll be notified if it’s trending (and that can be from 25-30 views), if it reaches little milestones, such as 50 views, and if you have been tagged in a comment. I’m still sufficiently insecure as a writer to enjoy that sort of thing, it’s like your story brought home a gold star from school.
I asked Rob, one of the site’s co-founders, a few questions. I mostly wanted to know how many of the subscribers were writers, we all know the echo chamber pointlessness of only ever communicating with other authors. I also asked how long the site had been going and what his original vision had been. He told me about half the subscribers (10,000) wrote regularly, the rest were readers. The site has been three years in development, the founders want to give it a real sense of community where stories are appreciated and shared and people are encouraged to keep writing.
Rob wrote about the how and why of ReadWave’s inception. It’s well worth a read, if only to encourage you that people still love the written word. Take a look at ReadWave’s homepage, where you can browse the editors’ recent choices. My page is here, with a few early offerings. If you join up, let me know, I’ll follow you.