The Eff Ay Kyew
Your Rights & Common Concerns
How does posting at Scribophile affect my rights to my work?
You keep all rights to the work you post at Scribophile. The short version is that by posting on Scribophile, you grant us the non-exclusive right to display your work (we have to display it, otherwise nobody could critique it!), and that’s it. We’re here to help you improve, not to cruelly steal your rights while twiddling our moustaches and cackling madly. You can read more about how you keep the rights to your work by visiting the Terms of Service (look under the “Use Of Content By Users” section).
Many of our members have gone on to publish the work they workshopped at Scribophile in professional markets. That’s exactly what we’re here to help you do!
Does posting to Scribophile use up my “first publishing” rights?
Protecting your so-called “first publishing rights” when posting your work online was a concern many years ago, when publishers were wary and skittish about this new-fangled thing called “the internet”. Since then, the general consensus seems to be that posting to a members-only critique site like Scribophile does not use up your first publishing rights.
In addition to Scribophile being a members-only site that requires a login to access, you also have full control over your work at any time. If you’re still nervous about your first publishing rights, you could simply post your work under a different title, then delete it from the site when you’re ready to shop it around. But again, that’s generally not necessary.
If you don’t think a particular publication agrees with that view, you can always email them to ask what their stance is. There’s no harm in asking.
Many of our members go on to successfully take their work from Scribophile to a publisher—check out our publication showcase to see!
What about plagiarism?
A big concern for writers is plagiarism. There’s a lot of people on the internet, and in theory plagiarising someone’s work is as simple as copying-and-pasting from a browser.
There’s nothing we—or anyone—can do about the ability to copy and paste. That’s just the nature of computers and the internet. Anybody who posts anything anywhere online—not just at Scribophile—takes the small risk of someone doing a copy-and-paste. No website is immune.
The good news is that plagiarism is extremely rare online, and has never once happened at Scribophile. Only other logged-in members can view your writing and you have full control over who sees your writing, so you can even limit it to a small list of members you pick. As far as the internet goes, that’s pretty good protection already.
Regardless of that, Scribophile members are all writers committed to their own writing, and who understand the importance of intellectual property. Everyone is in the same boat, and we want to help each other succeed—not steal success from others.
If that sounds a little too warm-and-fuzzy for you to believe, sign up and get a feeling for the community yourself. We think that after seeing our members in action, you’ll agree.
In the end, it’s up to you to weigh the infinitesimally small risk of plagiarism against the benefits that a busy and talented writing community and workshop can bring to your own writing. Remember that every writer eventually has to trust someone to review and edit their work!
Posting & Spotlights
How do I post my work?
To post your work on Scribophile, open up your Account menu (in the upper-right of the site). Then click Post a work for critique on the menu that pops up.
You’ll find that you need to have enough karma points before you can post a work. There are lots of ways to get more karma points—you can read about them here. Every time you post a work, you use up some of your karma points. This system helps ensure that everyone gets useful critiques and keeps the comments and critiques flowing!
Once you have enough karma points to post, you can type your work directly into the Scribophile editor, or you can type it up in a program like Word and then paste it in. Follow the prompts and voila! You’ve just posted your first work!
How do the spotlights work?
Check out our handy spotlight FAQ to learn all about how the spotlights work.
Which one of the spotlights should I post my work to?
Each of the spotlights has its pros and cons, and is tuned to help you achieve a different result.
Post to the Main spotlight if you want a guaranteed number of critiques from the general Scribophile public. This is the spotlight most members use.
Work exposure: Wide.
Pros: Timely, guaranteed feedback; no networking necessary; get new fans and readers by exposing your work to the Scribophile public.
Cons: Possibility of a wait in line if there are many of the same kinds of work posted; there can only one of your works at a time in the Main spotlight (but you can have any number in line).
Post to a Personal spotlight if you’ve been using Scribophile for a while, and you’ve joined helpful groups and formed a wide network of fans and critiquing partners that you want to have following your work on a more consistent basis. Since only your fans and groupmates get full karma for critiques, it’s your job to contact your groups and fans and get them to critique your work.
Work exposure: Limited to your fans and groupmates.
Pros: No wait in line; more critiques than the Main spotlight, but for the same karma cost; easier for your groupmates and long-term fans and readers to follow an entire longer work, like a novel; can use Restricted visibility to limit who reads your work; an unlimited number of your works can be in a Personal spotlight at once.
Cons: Reduced visibility in site listings means it’s your job to get your fans and groupmates to read and critique your work; only fans and groupmates get full karma points for critiques, so critiques from strangers are unlikely.
Post to the Beta Read spotlight if you have a complete novel ready to be beta read, and you already have critiquing partners arranged and willing to do an entire beta read for no karma points.
Work exposure: Extremely limited—just the handful of individuals you personally contact.
Pros: No wait in line; no karma cost to post means you can post an entire novel without spending karma points; work stays in the spotlight until you remove it.
Cons: Critiques earn no karma points at all, so you must find individuals willing to critique your novel for no karma points; no visibility in site listings means you must share links to your chapters on an individual basis in order to make readers aware of your posts; extremely unlikely your work will be critiqued by a member you haven’t personally contacted and arranged a swap with.
Make sure to check out our spotlight FAQ for a more detailed description of how the spotlights work.
My work has been waiting to get in the spotlight for a while. How long does it take usually?
Read more about spotlight wait times at our spotlight FAQ.
My work left a spotlight, but it got less than 3 critiques!
The system starts counting long critiques from the point when your work enters the line for a spotlight—that is, after you first post it, or manually put it back in line later. So if your work enters a line, gets 2 long critiques, then enters a spotlight, it’ll stay in the spotlight until it receives 1 more long critique, for a total of 3.
If your work gets 3 long critiques before it even reaches the spotlight, then it’ll skip the spotlight entirely.
The spotlights guarantee a certain number of critiques, so the time at which you receive those critiques doesn’t matter so much. Most members who get 10+ critiques in one round get them from fans, followers, or people they’ve critiqued in the past. If you want to get more than the minimum, then it’s all about networking—start critiquing and get your name out there!
You can also slake your thirst for spotlight-related knowledge at our handy spotlight FAQ.
Why do some works in a spotlight have more than 3 critiques?
Authors who want more than 3 critiques for their work can put their work back in line for a spotlight by spending more karma points. If you see a work in a spotlight with 10 or even 20 critiques, it’s because the author has spent a lot of karma points repeatedly unlocking the work.
You can read more about the life cycle of a work here.
Can I post work with erotic or other adult material?
Yes! There’s no limit to what you can post to Scribophile. But some people like a warning before reading work with excessive violence or sexuality. If you want to post an adult work, just check the ‘adult’ checkbox during the posting process to let people know that they’re about to read something for grownups.
When should I use the “adult” checkbox when posting a work?
Different people are sensitive to different kinds of material, so it’s tough to define exactly what “adult” means to everyone. If your work is relatively mild—for example it just has a handful of obscenities—then you probably don’t have to use the “adult” checkbox. If your work is more graphic—like for example containing graphic sex scenes, extreme violence, or the like—then the “adult” checkbox would be appropriate.
The rule of thumb to use is: if you can picture your grandma being OK with reading it, then you probably don’t need to check the box. Use it as a polite warning to other members that lets them know there’s material that might offend some people.
I don’t see my genre, trans-slipstream-meta-bizarro-post-modern-humanist-paranormal-romance, listed. Can you add more possible genres?
We keep the types and genres you can categorize your work in broad on purpose. The more detailed and obscure genres we add, the harder a time people will have not only categorizing their own work, but searching and finding work they’d like to read.
Your work doesn’t have to fit perfectly in the genres we offer—nobody’s does. Just pick one or two categories that your work could be said to broadly fit under. People will find your work—we promise!
My work is over 3,000 words. Do I have to split it? I really don’t want to!
Our maximum suggested post length is 3,000 words. That means that posts longer than about 3,000 words should be posted in parts. We know writing is an imprecise craft, so there’s a little leeway: if you have 3,001 words, that’s OK to post in one part. But 3,500 words is too long: the maximum is 3,000 words. If your work is longer than the maximum, please post it in two parts of 1,500 or more words.
(These guidelines don't apply to the Beta Read spotlight, since posting to that spotlight means you’ve arranged a critique exchange in advance and your critique partner is aware of the length of your work. Work posted to the Beta Read spotlight can be of any length, though you must still post chapter-by-chapter.)
After many years we’ve found 3,000 words to be the longest amount of writing the average person can critique in detail and in one sitting. Any longer and it’ll take too long to critique in detail, less people will read your work, and the quality of critiques you receive will go down.
We know your work is special and that it just wouldn’t be the same if broken into parts. Everyone’s work is like that! But think of this rule as being like a speed limit on a freeway. Everyone drives at different speeds, but not past the speed limit, and everyone’s getting along until there’s that one jerk who burns ahead of everyone at 100 miles an hour, mangling traffic and upsetting everyone who played by the rules and followed the limit. Don’t be that jerk: if your work is longer than 3,000 words, post it in parts like everyone else.
Why do some works say that they aren’t accepting critiques or comments?
After a work leaves a spotlight, it can be critiqued or commented on for 30 more days. After 30 days, the work is locked. This means that you’ll still be able to read the work and any critiques and comments it has received, but you won’t be able to critique it.
Locking older works encourage authors to spend time critiquing newer material and leaves a more focused selection of works to review.
You can always unlock a work that has been locked. Unlocking a work gives it another round in the Main spotlight and lets it stick around for 30 more days after that. To unlock a locked work, open your Account menu (in the upper-right of the site), then click “Your posted writing” link. From that page, click the “unlock” option next to the work you want to unlock.
How do I include images in my posted work?
If you’re a Premium member, you can include images in the work you post. To do that, follow these steps:
Upload your image to a free 3rd-party image host, like Imgur.
Once your image is uploaded, you’ll get a URL link to your image. It might be called a “direct link”, “direct URL”, or something else. Highlight that link and copy it to your computer’s clipboard with ctrl + c.
On Scribophile, continue editing your work. In the toolbar for the editor textbox, press the “image” button. (The button looks like a landscape with a mountain and sun.) Place your cursor in the “Image URL” field, then press ctrl + v to paste the URL that you copied to your clipboard in step 2.
Press the “Insert” button. Your image should be immediately visible!
I’m having trouble using the critique/work editor.
Check out our comprehensive editor troubleshooting page for help.
How do I post novel chapters?
(Thanks to Lee Jackson for these steps.) There’s an extra step you need to take when posting a novel with multiple chapters. When you click on the “Post a work for critique” button in your Account menu, you’ll see the “Post a Work” page. Below the box at the top that explains spotlights and chapter lengths, you’ll see a checkbox under “Novel Options” that says, “This work is a chapter of a novel.” Check that box and you’ll get a pull-down that asks if you want to add your work to a new novel, or add your work to an existing novel. It’s the latter that you want if you’ve already posted your chapter one.
I’ve never written a critique before, help!
Don’t worry, critiquing is easy! Just write what you as a reader thought of the work. How do you think you would make it better?
There are lots of places where you can learn how to write more in-depth critiques. Here are just a few:
How to Write a Great Critique, by Daniel Rodrigues-Martin
But I Don’t Know How to Critique!, by V. Anne Arden
How to Write a Great Critique, by us here at Scribophile
The Diplomatic Critiquer, by Andrew Burt
How to Write a Poetry Critique, by eHow
How to Critique Fiction, by Victory Crayne
Why do I have to quote from a work when writing a critique? How do I do it?
It’s extremely important to quote correctly when writing freeform and template critiques. You’re required to offset quotations from the work you’re critiquing by using the “quote” button in the critique editor, or by highlighting whatever you’re quoting and pressing ctrl + shift + q.
How many karma points you earn for a critique depends on how many words are in your critique. When you quote correctly, the system ignores words within the quotation when calculating the karma you earn.
If you forget to quote, then you’ll be unfairly awarded extra karma, because the system will think that the words you pasted in from the work are in fact your critique. That’s not fair to you or to the work author.
If you’re having trouble quoting, read the critique and work editor FAQ for help.
How do I use all the fancy inline critique features like strikethrough and highlights?
Writing inline critiques is easy!
Click anywhere in the work to add a new inline box. Type your thoughts into the box, or leave it empty to delete it.
Highlight any text in the work and press backspace or delete or d on your keyboard to mark it for deletion. Highlight and press again to undo.
Highlight any text in the work and press h or m on your keyboard to highlight (or mark) it. Highlight and press again to undo.
Inline critiquing on tablets
Tap anywhere on the work to add a new inline box.
To mark text as highlighted or deleted:
Make sure your on-screen keyboard is hidden. (You can hide it using a special button in the lower corner of your keyboard.)
Tap and hold on a word to highlight it.
Once the highlight mark appears, you can drag the left and right sliders to grow or shrink your highlight.
When you’re happy with your highlight, press the Highlight or Strikethrough button in the popup menu to mark the text.
What are karma points? How do I earn them?
Karma is how Scribophile ensures that everyone who posts a work gets great feedback. Your karma point amount is a reflection of how many works you’ve posted versus how you’ve contributed to the Scribophile community. Posting a work on Scribophile uses a certain amount of karma points from your total—you can’t post until you have enough karma points!
You earn karma points whenever you do one of the following:
Critique other works. The longer your critique is, the more points you earn. You earn much more karma for critiquing works in a spotlight. You can still critique works that aren’t in a spotlight, but you’ll earn less karma for those critiques. There’s no maximum to how much karma you can earn for a critique.
Having members like and react to your critiques. When other members react to your critiques by clicking the buttons labeled “thorough,”, “constructive,” “like” and so on, that means that your critique was a good one, and deserving of some extra karma. You’re rewarded accordingly!
You earn the most karma points by writing long critiques for long works—these take the most effort. You earn the least karma points by reacting to critiques.
Both Basic and Premium members spend karma points to post their writing
What are the adjectives at the bottom of a critique?
Those adjectives—“thorough,” “enlightening,” “encouraging,” “constructive” and (not an adjective) “like”—are called “reactions.” They’re a way of letting someone know they’ve written a good critique. Click on any of them (or all of them!) to increase the number and let the critiquer know they’ve done a good job. The critiquer will earn 0.01 karma points extra karma points each time you click on one of the reactions. They’ll also get a note in their info feed letting them know that you’ve liked their critique.
You can also react to critiques written for work that’s not yours… so if you’re reading a great critique of someone else’s work, click on the reactions to keep encouraging the critiquer!
You can see a summary of how many reactions a member has received by visiting their personal profile page.
Where do I find my scratchpad? How do I write on someone else’s?
You can find your scratchpad in the left-hand column of your personal profile. It’s a little below your profile image.
People can leave you short public messages on your scratchpad, and you can reply by writing on their scratchpads in return—theirs are in the same spot in their own profile page. You can’t write on your own scratchpad though!
What are reputation points, and what do they mean?
Reputation points measure your reputation around the site. It’s a way to keep track of where you stand in the Scribophile community. You start out at 0, and as people like and react to your critiques and forum posts, your reputation goes up.
What are Scribophile gifts?
Scribophile gifts are virtual gifts that you can send to any other Scribophile member. You can purchase gifts with your karma points. You can send them privately, anonymously, or with a personal message. Give them to say “thanks” for a helpful review, to let a member know that you’re thinking of them, to a favorite author of yours, or to a supportive fan.
How do writer’s groups work on Scribophile?
Groups within Scribophile are made up of writers with similar interests. You can get a bunch of writers together, have lively discussions in the group forums, post your work to that group for review, and so on. Each group has its own forum and collection of work that its authors have submitted. Create or join one to start meeting other authors!
What’s expected of a group leader? How do I lead a successful group?
Group leaders are usually, but not always, the people who created a particular group. As the leader of that group, they’re responsible for making sure the people in the group are engaged, interested, and participating. That means moderating the group’s discussion forum to ensure members are active and participating in a friendly manner, encouraging member participation, and generally being responsible for the group’s success.
If you’ve just started a new group, a sure-fire way to see it fail is to simply do nothing and expect the group to succeed on its own. The most successful groups on Scribophile are the ones with active and engaged leaders who make an effort at fostering discussion and activities. That means starting new threads in the group forum, responding to discussion, and messaging members to remind them about group activities or participation. Just starting a group isn’t enough—how much effort the group leader puts into encouraging the group has a direct effect on the group’s success.
I’m not seeing certain events in my feeds, but I’m getting notification emails. What’s wrong?
Members have the ability to customize their privacy settings so that not everyone can see their activity. If you’re getting emails about messages or other events but don’t see those events in your feeds, it’s because the member has customized their privacy settings.
I’m not getting any email at all from Scribophile! What’s wrong?
Scribophile uses a third-party email delivery service to get email to your inbox. But if we get a bounced mail report from your account—say, your inbox was full, or you accidentally marked us as spam—the email delivery service automatically cancels delivery of all future email to you. That’s because 9 times out of 10, if a we get one bounced mail from an account, all future mail we send to that account will also bounce, and thus lower our reputation as a spam-free service.
If you aren’t receiving email from Scribophile and you’re sure it’s not in your spam folder, get in touch with us and we’ll sort things out for you.
Another member is really bugging me. What can I do?
If you and another member aren’t getting along, you can block them. When you block a member, they can no longer contact you or read/critique your work, and you no longer see their site activity.
You can block someone by visiting their personal profile page and clicking the button under their profile image.
If someone is being disrepectful, abusive, rude, or otherwise inappropriate, then that’s something we admins need to know about, so please drop us a line. Needless to say that kind of behavior isn’t what we want to see in our friendly community!
How do I get my writing contest listed in the Scribophile contests section?
Check out our requirements for getting listed and then get in touch.
I read that profile pictures must be “safe for work” (or “sfw”). Why is that and what does that mean?
Scribophile is used by a wide range of people, of a wide age range, from many different cultures and from all walks of life. It’s also used by people in many different settings, including offices, schools, cafes, libraries, and other public places where people might walk past and see what’s on their screen. Therefore, we require that the profile picture you select is “safe for work”—that is, that it’s a picture that would be appropriate on your screen in a formal public setting, and that would not offend or make uncomfortable the group of people around you in such a setting. For example, a SFW image would be an image that your coworkers would be OK with seeing as they walked by, if you printed it out and hung it on your cubicle door; or if your boss looked over your shoulder.
This is a requirement because unlike posted writing, which can be marked with the “adult” tag to alert people who may not want to open it, members have no choice when it comes to seeing your profile picture. They may open an innocuous public forums thread that you participated in like “Adverbs: yea or nay” to show a family member the dangers of adverbs, only to find that your profile picture of a naked woman is now on their screen, displayed to their family, without warning. Or replace “family” with “boss” and now they might be fired.
“Safe for work” in general means no extreme violence or gore, and no overtly sexual content, including nudity, even in an artistic context. An image does not necessarily have to contain nudity for it be overtly sexual and thus not safe for work; and an image may sometimes contain exposed skin but still be safe for work. The nature of this definition is inherently subjective—there is no way for us to make an ultimate rule that can be applied perfectly and robotically every time. Therefore we reserve the right to make case-by-case final judgments on what is or isn’t “safe for work.”
Account & Upgrades
What do I get for upgrading to Premium? How do I upgrade?
Premium members get a ton of great features to help get great feedback for their work. You can read about those features and upgrade directly right over here.
Can I upgrade another member as a gift?
You sure can! If you want to purchase a yearly Premium upgrade for another member, head on over here.
Monthly gift upgrades aren’t available at the moment.
Can I change my pen name?
We can change your pen name for you only if:
You have under 100 reputation points, and
Your new pen name sounds like a real name (though it doesn’t have to be your real name), and
You haven’t changed your pen name before in the past.
If you meet all three of those criteria, drop us a line.
We can’t change pen names otherwise; it’s very confusing for everyone else. There are absolutely no exceptions! Don’t email us asking for an exception, we’ll be sad when we have to turn you down.
I have a Premium upgrade and all of a sudden I’ve started seeing ads. What’s up?
Premium members are never shown ads on Scribophile. If you have a Premium upgrade and all of a sudden start seeing ads or random underlined words that link to what seems to be an ad, then you have adware, spyware, or malware installed in your browser or on your computer.
Adware is sneaky—you often install it accidentally along with a different program without even realizing it.
Check your browser’s list of installed addons or extensions to see if you have any installed that you don’t recognize. Common culprits are toolbar addons, or addons with the words “offer”, “savings”, “marketing”, or “affiliate” in their names. If you’re not sure which addon is injecting ads, try disabling them one by one until the problem is fixed.
If you’re certain your browser doesn’t have adware installed, it might be installed on your entire system. Open your computer’s “Add/Remove Programs” dialog and inspect the software installed on your computer to see if anything looks suspicious. You can also try finding an adware/spyware/malware scanner online.
If you still can’t get it solved, contact a computer repair professional to get them to clean your computer.
I just upgraded to Premium and it still says I need karma points to post. What gives?
Both Basic and Premium members need to earn karma points to post. One of the big differences between Basic and Premium is that Basic members are limited to having 2 works posted, while Premium members can have an unlimited number of works posted.
There are lots of other great features Premium members get; you can read about them here.
I’m currently a Premium Monthly member. How do I upgrade to Premium Yearly?
To change your Premium upgrade from monthly to yearly, first cancel your monthly upgrade subscription. You can do that by opening your Account menu (in the upper-right corner of the site) and clicking Settings.
After your upgrade subscription is canceled, your account will remain upgraded through your last paid term, after which it’ll be automatically downgraded. None of your posts or data will be lost. At that time you can re-upgrade to a yearly plan whenever you’re ready.
I’m currently a Premium Yearly member. How do I renew my Premium upgrade for next year?
Yearly membership upgrades don’t renew automatically, and currently you can’t pay for another year before your current year has completed.
Once your current upgrade completes, your account will be automatically downgraded. No information or posted work will be lost, though you’ll immediately be subject to Basic membership restrictions. You can then re-upgrade for another year at your convenience, and you’ll be able to pick up right from where you left off.
What happens to my account and posted work if I cancel my Premium subscription?
If you cancel your monthly upgrade subscription, your account will remain upgraded through your last paid term, after which it’ll be automatically downgraded.
No posted work or other data are deleted when your account is downgraded. Instead, you’ll be immediately subject to Basic membership limitations. So if you have 10 posted works when your account is downgraded, you won’t be able to post again until you delete enough of your writing to go below the Basic membership work limit. Likewise if you have 200 private messages, you won’t be able to send more until you delete enough threads to make room.
I forgot my password and I can’t log in. What do I do now?
If you’ve forgotten your password, you can reset it by visiting our password reset page.
You’ll have to enter the email address you signed up with on that page. If you’ve also forgotten your email address, or you can no longer access your email account, then unfortunately there’s not much else we can do for you, sorry.