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Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Shutdown of Inkpop

So, this one post will not be specifically about books.  What it will be about is the writing site Inkpop, run by HarperCollins, which I've been a member of for over a year and a half.  Inkpop, and its shutting down.

For those of you who don't know, a brief explanation: Inkpop was founded by HarperCollins in October of 2009.  It was intended as a site for Young Adult writers; while these writers could be of any age, the extreme majority were in their teens or twenties.  On inkpop, one could post projects, to be read and critiqued.  If someone really liked a project they read, they could "pick" it.  Based on the amount of picks and the Trendsetter rank of those who picked it, a story would rise in the rankings.  When it reached the Top 5, at the end of the month, it was reviewed by a HarperCollins editor.  And if they really, really liked it, they might consider it for publishing.

In the two and a half years of inkpop, out of the 200+ projects to reach the Top 5, two were published.  Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon, and Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins.

After a while, Inkpop began to speak of changes.  They said they had held onto the old format for too long, and that the new format would make everything easier, more fair.  They spoke of these changes for months, saying they'd come this month, then pushing them back, then this month, and so on.  But finally, come they did.  In June, Inkpop shed its lovely green and went orange.  There were suddenly three Top 5's (for novels, short stories, and poems) instead of one.  And many, many other changes.

A number of inkies were both alarmed by and displeased with the changes.  A number left, or simply grew very inactive.  There was still an abundance of active members, but not nearly as many as there had been before.  With the new picking system, one could rise to the top with exceptional speed; spammers rose in the ranks, and many projects made the Top 5 that certainly wouldn't have before.

Perhaps that's why HarperCollins chose to sell their site to Figment, a rival writing site.  Perhaps it was the decrease in quality; perhaps it was the disinterest of the members.  But, more likely?  It wasn't making enough money for them.  Their "online experiment," as they so tactfully labeled this community of 95,000 members, had not been successful.  They had not found their kind of books on this site they'd created.

Inkpoppers and Figmenters (alright, inkies and figgies) were informed of the sale only days ago.  And this morning, at eight am, Inkpop, the site that changed my life, shut down for good.

I sobbed. I sobbed many, many times.

For those of you who were not a part of it, you might be wondering why.  It's just a site, after all.  A good site, maybe, a fun site, but it's just a site.  There are other sites you can post your work on, other places you can meet fabulous writers.  And you're still in touch with everyone you cared about.

Why the tears, then?  Because Inkpop is the reason I am who I am today.  Because Inkpop was so, so much more than a site.

When I first joined Inkpop, I was an arrogant tween, fresh from the pits of TeenInk, convinced that my writing was the shit. Really, it was the shit. Clearly, I was going to finish this and get published at the very capable age of twelve.  Clearly, there was nothing I needed to improve.

Inkpop opened my eyes on that.  It opened my eyes on so, so many things.

Thanks to Inkpop, I am a better writer.  I can look at my work, read it over, and smile.  Because I know it's not perfect, and I know there is so much to fix, but I also know that it can get there. It can get there, if I try.

Thanks to Inkpop, I'm writing seriously.  Before writing sites, I would jot down the occasional story now and then, writing a page or two of my book a week, if I felt like it.  Then, when I joined TeenInk, I would post them.  But at that time, TeenInk had no novel feature; it had copy & paste; and you were lucky if you got a two-line review.  TeenInk was not the place for novels, but Inkpop was.

Thanks to Inkpop, I have finished two novels.  I won't ever kid myself that I'd have written them if it weren't for this site.  I wouldn't have gotten the ideas, the inspiration, or the motivation for such an undertaking if not for that website and the people on it.

Thanks to Inkpop, I learned about the worlds of blogging and Young Adult publishing.  Before I joined Inkpop, I had never read a blog; I also hadn't the faintest how one went about getting published. I suppose I figured that one just finished a book, and an instant later, there it was, paper and cover and all.  If not for Inkpop, I wouldn't know what Goodreads is, I wouldn't have found and be a part of the book blogaverse, I wouldn't have the slightest clue what an agent or a publicist was, and I wouldn't understand that publishing is a long, hard road, one I've barely set a foot upon.

Thanks to Inkpop, I see the world around me.  Before, it's almost as if I had . . . blinders on.  As if I lived within my own little bubble, unaware of any issues or dealings that did not somehow involve me or those I care about. It's not like that, anymore.  There are so, so many things to know about, to care about, to talk about, to fight for, and I can see them.

Thanks to Inkpop, I have closer friends than I could ever have imagined.

In real life, I have friends.  There are people I talk to, laugh with, even hang out with on occasion.  But I have never had those people that I could talk to for hours, that connect with me on every level, that understand me and don't judge me; people that will listen to my complaints and dilemmas, however petty or crucial, and help me through them, whether that is through advice or simply giving me someone to talk to.  I've never had those people that I love with everything in me.

So Inkpop was never "just a site," and it never will be.  Inkpop has changed everything about me, and I will never, ever forget it.

I love every change it's wrought in me and I love every one of the fantastic people I met there.  Our site is gone, but we're still here.  We're still a community, we're still friends, and I hope we will be for many years to come.

Goodbye, Inkpop.  You were fantastic, absolutely fantastic.  And you know what? So was I.

14 comments:

Lithia

I didn't cry when Inkpop shut down, but this made me tear up. RIP Inkpop.

I hope we stay friends forever and ever.<3

Michelle

Lovely post. <3
Also makes me feel like we should be writing a letter to the principal keeping us in Saturday detention as "Don't You (Forget About Me)" plays in the background. :D

Meagan

This is a great post, Lexie. I'm so glad that inkpop did all that it did for all of us.

Lydia

Lexie, you have effectively put in words what I've been feeling about all of this.

(I think another problem was the 15 top slots. More work for editors. Time equals money. Did anyone notice a decline in the quality of the editor reviews?)

Sareh

Fantastic post! This just about sums up everything I want to say!

Sareh

Oh I've also tagged you. :D
http://birdsofawriter.blogspot.com/2012/03/ive-been-tagged.html

Lexie

Lithia: I hope so, too, darling. I hope so too. :)

Michelle: Ahaha. OH YES.

Meagan: So am I. It's crazy, thinking about how much it's changed me, and realize there are a lot of people it's changed even more. I'm just glad we got the chance to experience it.

Lydia: I didn't think of that, but you're quite right. While short stories and poems aren't much of a chore to review, I can certainly see where ten new projects every month would make things difficult.

Sareh: Thank you. :)

Morgan

It IS sad, isn't it??? It was a huge part of my life too... It connected me with all my very best writer friends... friends that I'll be connected with forever. It really was magic back then before all the big changes... And I'll always have fond memories too. Thanks for this tribute, Lexie. You were a well known inkie & so many people loved you!

Paige

Such a sad but oh so true post. I am going to miss it so much. Great post.

Megan

Love. ♥

Gigi

Okay. I only realised that Inkpop shut down a month ago. I guess I'm a tad late about finding the news but man, this is really depressing. I miss the forums, but I guess it's great since there's no more distraction. I merged to Figment but found that my book was had funny little codes. I only lasted a minute before I stopped looking at my book and logged out. Sigh.

Aeryn Wolfe

Love this post, really made me miss that grand ol' site, It has also made me a better writer and I'll always be thankful for that

Tauvi

I miss Inkpop a lot, especially since it have a chance to many stories. Inkpop was what helped me start writing. RIP Inkpop! I miss you!

Mina Rowen

I know, I was in the middle of exams when inkpop shut down, and I came back to the figment site. Definitely was more than disappointed. I spent a great deal of time trying to find a website that could somehow replace inkpop. Wattpad is a virtual slushpile. There are good books, but it's really hard to get noticed. And others are hopeless. Finally, I found Movellas. It has its fair share of problems, but the community is the closest to inkpop that I found, and that's why it's my new site.

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