Brandi LarsenWhen it comes to online workshopping for authors, Book Country has redrawn the map. Today, the two-year-old virtual writing community from Penguin Random House re-launches with expanded coverage of literary fields, known as its “genre map.” Writers of almost any type of book can now participate in Book Country’s popular online workshops, including nonfiction and young adult as well as such popular categories as psychological thriller, paranormal mystery, and contemporary romance.

“Book Country originally was a place for genre writers to connect and workshop with each other. We knew that writers in genre – specifically, romance and science fiction – were out on the Internet, and felt comfortable workshopping their books with strangers,” explains Brandi Larsen, Book Country director, who joined Penguin Random House in January 2013 from the Chicago Tribune. “Today, we’re launching into 60 different literary categories. We’re really excited that we’re going to be able to connect writers, whether they’re literary fiction writers or YA dystopian writers, with other writers who are just like them so that they can create better books.”

Book Country LogoBook Country also offers a range of self-publishing services and an online bookstore, but workshopping remains the main attraction. Writing is typically a solitary activity, and though rivalries thrive, many authors find great value in collegial critiques.  From their home offices or on their laptops, writers may join the conversation from Pittsburgh to Pakistan.

“Members are workshopping and getting reviews from about six different pieces, on average,” according to Larsen. “They’re listening to each other, they’re refining their work, and then they’re re-uploading their book and saying, ‘What do you think now?’”

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