Becca and I are passionate about helping writers, no secret there. Two years ago this passion sent us “down the rabbit hole” to create a writing web app with Lee Powell of Scrivener. Some have wondered, Why do this when your writing books already sell well? but the answer is simple: deep down, we’re innovators. If you know our books, you know we approach common writing struggles in unique ways. A site would allow us to explore ideas for tools and resources that work better on the web, helping writers leap forward in a new way.
Building One Stop for Writers was fun, intimidating, and challenging (and still is as Becca & I continue to evolve the site). Understanding the hard work and vision it takes to realize a dream has really made me interested in how other writing sites came to be.
Today I have one of the masterminds behind Prose, a social & writing platform built to share stories, get feedback, and gain visibility. He’s sharing his road to creation, and I hope you enjoy it. After you’re had a read, swing by Prose–you might find a new home for your writing spirit to flourish and gain some new writing friends along the way.
I’m about to tell you several stories within a story.
It’s March 10, 2014, Austin, Texas, SXSW (a technology and music festival of sorts), and I’m Airbnbing for the first time with a guy I barely know. His name is Jeff Stewart and he’s a professional writer. Arms entirely inked, avid dog-and-metal aficionado, amazingly talented author, the guy’s aura radiates pure passionate artistry. He’s attending SXSW to promote a new book, I’m there to promote a new app. We drive to the convention center and make our way into throngs of technothusiasts. I’m sufficiently prepared, with a technology to demo and some cards to share. Jeff, meanwhile, is hauling a sack of book copies. We start networking, and I get lost in the crowd. Then, a few minutes later, he finds me.
“Let’s have a drink, man. Stop what you’re doing. I just had an idea I know you’ll love.”
I’m down. “All right. Let’s do this.” We exit the building. “So what’s your idea?”
“The entire social media experience – but the media content isn’t focused on updates, or on messages, or on images, or on videos, or on songs…”
“…then on what?”
“Writing. The entire spectrum of writing. All kinds, all sizes, all skills.”
“That sounds cool, but why would anyone care?”
He grins. “Because unless you’re a mega-successful writer, getting visibility and feedback is too strenuous. You alone must market yourself and ensure the work you submit is fully edited, developed, legit. I’m seeing a way to empower writers everywhere like never before.”
Next thing I know we are sitting in the Omni, sipping whiskey coke and eating chicken wings, talking about what Jeff is now calling “Prose.”
I get back to Seattle from Austin and share Jeff’s idea of Prose with the board of my company, Arc Reactor, and we decide to collaborate with Jeff and build Prose. We also decide to make Prose look and feel like a game, in subtle ways, through writing challenges and author leader-boards and the like, encouraging writers to push themselves and get their words down with a goal to chase, mimicking the incumbent literary ecosystem. Our hope is that this will help writers grow more accustomed to, and comfortable with, the publishing industry’s intense threshold of creative competition.
We launch our iOS app in September of 2014, and then our web app in January. We decide to experiment with a “$100 Challenge of the Week” later that year. The experiment proves to be a success, and we see how making writing more gamelike and rewarding pushes people to work harder on honing and perfecting their craft. So we introduce Books, Coins, and Juice to let writers make money from their craft via purchases and donations for any kind or size of writing, from a haiku to a chapter to a saga.
Now it’s February of 2017, and we’re working to make Prose better and better. If you love to write, Prose might be the right home for you, especially if you have been looking to share your writing, learn & grow with other writers, and have a surprising amount of fun along the way.
Our mission is to help humanity live its intellectual and creative potential by constantly making the written word experience more social, fun, and rewarding. We are focused on sharing Prose with existing groups of writers who will appreciate having their own community to network and improve as well as their own platform to augment visibility and feedback.
Thank you for reading and sharing this story. I hope to read and share yours on Prose!
Prose, founded in 2014 and headquartered in Seattle, is a social writing platform dedicated to empowering writers worldwide by improving both feedback and visibility. Visit our web app, or mobile app.
Have you visited Prose before? Have any questions you’d like to ask? Let us know in the comments!
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Jack T. says
Good afternoon, Hlore, and I hope it finds you well. All these sites are different, and which one is the “best” depends on which one offers you personally the most. WdC is old and somewhat clunky (until you get used to it), but being old and clunky myself, I appreciate that. How often (I ran into it again with Facebook just a few days ago) have you seen a perfectly good website change everything for no other reason than they want to change everything? WdC doesn’t do that; they change something when it NEEDS it, and not just for the sake of change. In the case of a writing site, that means not very often.
WdC is the best FOR ME, and I hope you find the best for you, no matter what it turns out to be. I have an open forum at WdC that you’re welcome to stop in at with comments, questions, or just to chat. Be ready to meet lots of new people. Folks are very friendly over there…
Christa Allan says
How does one upload a book to the bookstore on Prose?
Jack T. says
Good morning, Angela. I have read your description of Prose, and visited and perused the site, and I have but one simple question. I have considered just putting it aside and moving on, but like a good story, it clamors too loudly to be ignored. So here it is:
How does Prose differ in any way but its physical appearance from writing.com, currently celebrating its 17th year of existence?
My apologies. I can’t even spin this to myself in a way that doesn’t sound confrontational, but it needs to be asked. Millions of writers at every level are aware of writing.com. If Prose brings something extra to offer, it needs to be emphasized and discussed for its own benefit, and that of the writers who will be evaluating it for possible use. Thanks for fielding this awkward question; writers everywhere need to know.
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
I see you are a user of Writing.com. Unfortunately I don’t know your site well, so can’t really offer ideas on comparison, but I am sure Prose will be happy to better outline the scope of their site so you better understand it and can see how it works in comparison to the site you use.
The great thing about the writing community is that support can be found in many different places. The best sites are those that put encouraging and supporting writers first and foremost. There’s room for everyone in the pool. 🙂
Jack T. says
Ah, Angela, thank you first of all for your courage in answering a question that could have turned ugly very easily. And you hit the point that eluded me quite accurately: There IS room for everyone, and anything that helps writers is good. This is where a less disciplined writer would launch into a six-page ad for WdC, attempting to explain every way in which it is superior. I’m not that guy, nor do I have any financial or professional interest in WdC, but allow me to offer a suggestion (if, indeed, you are an admin over there).
When I visited the site, I was taken to a page where a list of stories simply started without comment. There are tabs at the top allowing one to search by author, genre, and a few other ways. That’s nice, but I would recommend an “about” tab where the site’s focus and features are outlined for the prospective joiner. What I saw was a list of stories with no explanation of why they were there, what benefits an author might gain from posting a work there, etc. Market this just like you would a book; if you’re offering great benefits here, put them on display!
Okay, I’ve asked my question, I’ve offered my suggestion; I’m going to go away and stop bothering you now. I may come off like a heckler, but I know when to quit. Best of luck with Prose, and all that you put your hand to. Read well, and write better!
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
Thank you for your response–the feedback you’re offering is something I am sure Prose will appreciate (I am not involved in Prose myself) and is also a great example of what I passionately believe in: that writers are some of the most helpful people out there. Whatever our role is within the writing industry, be it authors, site owners, etc., we succeed better together, and the supportive spirit I see everyday in our community makes me proud to be part of it. Happy writing!
to Jack T. I know this thread is 2 years old but I came across it and thought a reply couldn’t hurt. It seems to me that Prose is primarily focused on the writing style prose and allows for “Stream of Consciousness” as a genre. When signing up for Writing.com I see that those two things (Prose and Stream of Consciousness) are not options. Also, Prose looks and feels like a modern day app, whereas writing.com feels a bit – clunky. I am very excited to explore writing.com as I have only used Prose up to this point and wouldn’t have known about Writing.com as a community if I hadn’t stumbled upon your comment. I am certainly excited to use both and see how that goes.