What is Orton?
Orton is a writing platform and publishing firms which lets the readers decide who is published. Writers upload their work in chapters, receive feedback from other users, gain a following, and then we publish (in print and audiobook) the authors who readers love. Orton is passionate about giving writers a fairer and more accessible route to publishing, while empowering readers to choose who’s the next bestseller.
Orton’s Story (As told by founder Beth Cleavy)
As a writer myself, I’ve dealt with my fair share of rejection. Two years ago I was trying to make it as a playwright and was approached by an established producer who was interested in putting on the play. I worked with him for around 6 weeks, only to realise on one occasion that his intentions were not very honourable. I completely lost my confidence in both my writing and the industry I was trying to succeed in. At the beginning of 2016, I decided to pick myself up and do something productive that would help writers. It started with a group called Manchester Writers which I founded early that year and has since grown to over 800 members. We meet, read aloud our work, and share our frustrations. I was amazed at just how many writers from my group had faced rejection when sending their work off to publishers or publishing agents, and others had even found themselves in similar situations to me. The issue with rejection letters is that they very rarely expand on how an author can improve their work, meaning their writing never gets to the industry standard. This leaves authors in a limbo; wanting to get published but never understanding why they can’t. After further research I learned that 95% of writers around the globe receive rejection from publishers and even the most famous of writers have experienced this, such as J.K Rowling, Stephen King, George Orwell, and Beatrix Potter. In seeing how my group was helping writers receive constructive feedback and gain the confidence to write, I started to develop a much larger way to achieve the same principle, and so we developed Orton.
It’s known that publishers often stick to what sells, so if Young Adult Fantasy Fiction is doing well then they aren't going to take interest in your Adult Horror novel. To us, this seems outdated. Readers are expanding their horizons and enjoying content online more and more. They’ve even helped writers get published such as Andy Weir; the author of ‘The Martian’ who first found fame writing chapters of said novel on his website, after gaining a large following publishers finally took notice of Weir. The same can be said about E.L James’ ’50 Shades of Grey’ which started out as a piece of online fan fiction and after gaining a great following has now become one of the most bestselling book series of all time. To me, this is extremely exciting, because it shows readers choosing the type of stories they want to read and having the power to get them published just by following them. This is the foundation in which Orton is built upon. We want writers to upload their work in chapters/snippets receive feedback from other users, gain a following of readers, and then if they are popular Orton will publish them in print and audiobook. We are a publishing firm which gives the power to the readers. They choose who’s published, they choose who’s on their bookshelves. This makes the path to success for authors more fair, and creates a whole new and accessible route. Orton was named after the British playwright Joe Orton, who inspired me as a young writer because he dared to write things that would challenge audiences, and changed playwriting forever with his carefree, creative, and wild attitude. We want to capture the essence of Joe Orton by changing the publishing industry for the better and giving writers the freedom to write and be listened to. The platform is free to use, which is something I'm very passionate about, I’ve always said that for writers ‘If you have the paddle, and you have the boat, then you shouldn't be charged to use the lake’. Of course we have introduced purchasable features within the site, like Orton Editor; a professional editing service where writers can work directly with industry standard freelance editors for expert feedback on characterisation, story and grammatical errors, but the user’s experience won’t be hindered by not buying our perks.
Orton is a traditional publishing firm with a digital twist. It’s time to let the readers have their say.