Scribd: THE Literary Social Site To Be, For Writers

(Yamina’s note: Well, friends, a few weeks ago I promised I would find an author who is familiar with Scribd, the social and document sharing site that now gets 75 million-visitors a month!! (Yes, you heard that right). And sure enough, New York Times reporter and author Laura Novak has come aboard to share some of her personal experiences with us about this fast growing, bustling “hang out” for writers. Thank you, Laura! Enjoy).

Scribd alumna, Laura Novak

 “…Nearly two years later, I have 130,000 reads of my work (on Scribd) with more than 45,000 followers.” – Laura Novak, author of “Finding Clarity – A Mom, A Dwarf And A Posh Private School in the People’s Republic of Berkeley”

Scribd calls itself the place where the world comes to read. I call it the place that changed my life.

In November 2009, I went to a roundtable panel, as part of LitQuake, on how to get your first novel published. A young woman from Scribd, which I had only vaguely heard of, told the audience that as writers, we had to “get vertical.”

I had no idea what she meant, but I had a novel I was working on, so I knew I had to do something in terms of social media long before I was ready to publish.

The next day I got on Facebook for the first time and was thrilled when I pushed the right button to upload a photo. That’s how much of a Luddite I was. The day after, I set up an account on Scribd. At first, the profile page was overwhelming. I didn’t have a website and I had no idea how to navigate such a vast and dynamic portal.

But I did have years of articles I had reported for The New York Times. So, I uploaded those, with brief descriptions of each. While I waited for my work to fill my Profile Page, I followed Scribd’s Home Page seeing writers talking to one another, interacting, sharing, and offering feedback.

I jumped in for the first time thoroughly afraid I might fall of a metaphorical cliff. But by observing others, I found how easy it could be to communicate with other writers, and how gratifying it would all soon become.

Every day, I made it a point to follow five new writers. They followed me back. I began to fall in love with poets’ poetry and the short stories of people who have now become my best writer friends.

The first time my stats showed 200 “reads” of my work, I was floored. Nearly two years later, I have 130,000 reads of my work with more than 45,000 followers.

Hard to imagine? Not if you take it one small step at a time. Find people whose work you admire. Comment, engage, interact. Upload your work with colorful photos and ask for feedback.

The strength of Scribd is the phenomenal community and how vastly it has grown. What once seemed like a sleepy little village is now a bustling metropolis.

Scribd truly is the Youtube of the print world: Publishers, periodicals and even politicians have pages. And with its robust algorithms, Google catches even your smallest comments on Scribd so the search engine really gets to know your name.

Not only is your work highly visible on Scribd, but tech support is strong and the Scribd team is expanding their online reach and presence. Through Float, its new application for iPhone, you can follow your Facebook and Twitter feeds at the same time. You can read your favorite Scribd writers on your phone, and they can follow your work just as easily.

I have sold work on Scribd. But more importantly, I learned what it means to be “vertical” as a writer. My New York Times’ stories, novel chapters, and essays have gone viral in a way I would never have imagined.

Scribd is where the world comes to read. And it really is where every writer should be.


leave a comment


Ingrid says: October 04, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Great interview!! I love Scribd and I LOVE Laura Novak’s writing. And for those of you looking for a funny, clever, entertaining book, Finding Clarity is a MUST!!

Suzanne says: October 04, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Laura Novak Rules!

Jess Haight says: October 08, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I have not checked out Scribd- but I just put it on my Must Do ASAP list! I really appreciate the advice in this posting. Thanks so much!