Thursday, 26 September 2013

Gay Authors - A Community to be Proud Of



Anyone who knows me knows I started my writing career by posting stories on an online writing site, Gay Authors and that I am not slow in praising this wonderful place. Gay Authors is much more than a place to post and read stories. It's a community.
I'm very proud of what is achieved there. The community is extremely welcoming, with a discrete section for teens where young people can explore their issues with support from their peers and advice from people who have gone through the same things. This section, as well as the rest of the forum, is extremely well moderated by a staff of dedicated volunteers.
The chat room is usually lively and equally well moderated. It's a place where people of all ages from all over the world can get to know each other in a safe environment. They can chat about their favourite writers, their own works and just about anything else. One of my favourite conversations was about chemistry/quantum physics, in which I participated with Google open at all times :)
Of course, you don't have to participate in the social aspect of the site. The main focus and purpose of the site is reading and writing. You can find dozens and dozens of stories, from the first tentative steps by new young writers, to the polished works of published authors. There is a writing support team to help you find beta readers and editors to polish your own work and find the confidence to post it.
That's not even scratching the surface of the wonderful place that is GA, from a gallery or original/fan art and photographs, to blogs, weekly updates, book club, competitions, prompts - you name it and if it's connected to writing you can probably find it here.
Today, I have the absolute honour to interview the god...erm... founder of GA, known only as Myr. The man is a genius. Not only has he built the best writing site on the internet, but he maintains it and is constantly pushing it forward. So let's meet the man behind the legend
I'm not going to ask too much about the man behind the avatar, but I would be interested in some background.
Do you have a background in computing, particularly in building websites, blogs etc.
Yes.  I had my own website as far back as 1995.  This was before well… most things.  It has always been a hobby for me as part of my general interest in computers and programming. 
What are your interests outside the computing world. For example, do you like sky diving? Crochet? Dog racing?
I love to read and write.  I love movies.  I love to take pictures too.  I love roller coasters and trains.  
What is your favourite holiday destination?
I’m presuming by holiday you mean vacation?  ;)  Holidays I go to my grandparents, typically.  Vacations?  Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL is a favorite.  I also really like Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH (America’s Roller Coast, as they call themselves)
Okay, lets get down to business - GA
What was the concept and intention behind GA, in other words, why did you do it?
My intention when I started GA was to have all my favorite Nifty authors in one place and form a little community that also liked those authors. 
 Has it fulfilled its potential?
More than I ever imagine.  We had over 90,000 unique visitors and 1.7 million hits in the last 30 days.  It makes for a very busy site for us.  Most of our visitors are just reading though.  The community, as extraordinary as it is, only accounts for about 1/3 of site traffic.
What are your plans for the future of GA
The Paradigm we started under has shifted.  When we first started the site, if you wanted to read gay stories of any quality, you had to find them yourselves.  When I started the site, I brought authors together.  A lot of other sites followed that did the same, giving homes to the writers.  But eBooks have come along and it is now exceedingly easy to not only post an eBook of your writing somewhere, but to sell it and make some money too!  Being a site that still offers only episodic stories would eventually leave us as a small niche place to read. 
So we are focusing on joining the new revolution of social media and eBook creating, and selling.  Technically speaking, we are already a publisher, as we can now provide ISBN and other eBook services.   We will be growing that over the next year or two. 
There is also a rather large software update coming from the company that provides our forum software.  We are going to take that opportunity to update our own Story software to add features and ease of use User Interface updates.  As we get closer to the time, we plan on working heavily with our site members to determine what they want most to make Gay Authors better for them.
What are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of our community.  It has stayed strong over the years and has grown every year.  I have made many great friendships here and I look forward to seeing where our community takes us next 
What's surprised you the most?
 I’ve been surprised that we have continued to adapt and grow.  I’ve watched a lot of sites come and go.  While it is quite true that some of the sites that started before us are still around, they are pretty stagnant in many ways.  Nifty, of course, is an institution.  But their target audience is different from ours as well. 
What have you found to be the most rewarding part of making and running GA?
 A handful of times over the years, I’ve gotten an email or message from a member thanking me for running the site saying that if it wasn’t for Gay Authors, they wouldn’t have found the friends or the support they needed and would have committed suicide.  On the toughest days for me to keep pushing forward, I remember those letters, and keep going with Gay Authors.
What does GA have to offer readers and writers?
Gay Authors offers a great place to read quality gay fiction.  For writers, it is a chance to post and have you control your work.  For everyone, it is a great place to interact.  Writers can get to know their audience and readers can get to know their entertainer, so to speak.  I think that interaction leads to better writing and reading experiences.
What does GA have that other online story sites don't have?
We keep moving forward.  We try to take advantage of new technology as it becomes mainstream to improve the experience of all our site members.  We don’t tend to stagnant.  Things change and get updated.
Thank you, Myr. I really enjoyed your interview that's thrown some light on the enigma behind the avatar.
GA members have begun to have commercial success and become published authors. A selection of ebooks and are available for sale on GA  

WARNING All of these stories have sexual content, some more than others, some more graphic than others. I've tried to give a selection. 
As well as purchasing published books you will be able to read an enormous range of free stories by vastly differing authors. Good and bad. I would particularly recommend
The Price of Honour by Cia
Second Shot by Andrew Q Gordon

Not only that but, once you've joined the site, you can post your own stories, find editors to enhance them, build a following, join a thriving community and chat to others just like you.

I hope I've given you enough to whet your appetite and to encourage you to dunk your toe into the vast, deep ocean that is GA 

WARNING This site his highly addictive and viewer discretion should be used with regard to the number of hours per day lost without realizing when reading, writing and communicating.