This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection, the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.
Here's an email I received a couple of weeks ago from Inkitt.
I'm Marvin, Head of Growth at Inkitt and I wanted to reach out to you personally. It seems that you have not entered our new novel contest yet, is there a specific reason for that?
It's now or never - the contest will end in two weeks and all you have to do is gather 100 readers for "Loving the Terrorist" to be considered for publication!
I'd love to shift your story into the contest. What do you think?
Head of Growth | Inkitt.com
I thought you might find my response and the subsequent reply from Inkitt's founder and CEO, Ali Albazaz interesting. First a bit of background.
In the past few months I've written two articles about Inkitt and the concept which you can find in my blog archives.
Briefly, Inkitt is a site where you can upload your stories for free. Besides the opportunity for crowd critiquing, Inkitt claims to have created an algorithm that identifies best sellers (sic). If your story is chosen by this "objective", computer generated program Inkitt will either set you up with an established, traditional publisher or publish it themselves.
Here's my response.
Just how do you guys make your money? Certainly not as a publishing company with eighty-five percent going to the author though there's a little bit of word play involved - is it net earnings or a royalty on the price of the book? There could be quite a difference.
I see you've changed the criteria of your contests - it's not longer the top few who get the nod, but everyone who exceeds one hundred reads - that would be downloads.
I imagine somewhere in the process the hopeful author will run into additional fees - maybe paying for those cool covers you design. No? Good for you.
So maybe you make it with print on demand. Just how many books have to be ordered to start showing a profit? Can it be made up with sales from the family and friends of all those really bad authors you're publishing?
But that's not what I find disturbing about sites like Inkitt , Kindle Scout and HarperCollins' now defunct authonomy. It's that they encourage bad writing - or put another way, they don't encourage new writers to improve their craft.
The peer critiquing system is like , "you vote for mine and I'll vote for yours" regardless of whether the writing is good or not. It's a mutual admiration society and a phony one at that.
But who I am to be critical - a nobody with the sales to prove it.
So, for me is there a downside to having you "shift" Loving the Terrorist into to the Story Peak Novel Contest?
I'm still trying to figure that out, but until I do why don't you go ahead and put it in.
Marvin forwarded your email to me and it makes me very sad to hear this from you.
Me and my co-founder, Linda, started Inkitt because we want to make publishing more fair, transparent and objective. We had seen from the outside how unfair and subjective publishers can be. Linda and I are both coming from a technical / IT startup background. Three years ago I had the idea that we could track people's reading behaviour, and analyze it to find consistent patterns. This way it would be possible to predict bestsellers. Long story short: we built it. We then found investors who believe in our idea to democratize publishing, and raised over a million dollars to make this dream come true. Now we are a team of 17 people working day and night to make the publishing process fair and objective.
Since we launched Inkitt to the public around 1.5 years ago we had a rocket speed growth. Over 20.000 writers have uploaded their works (from short stories, poems to novels) on Inkitt and we've just started publishing them. The first book our algorithm picked is getting published by Tor / MacMillan (see links below). The second book: we're publishing with the Inkitt imprint and it's doing great (links below). Since this month, we started publishing 1-2 new books every month, and have plans to grow that number by 4 times each year. Every book gets a professional cover, editing, a dedicated online marketing team with a minimum of 6,000 dollars in marketing budget. With clear guidelines in place for budget increases based on performance.
In cases where Inkitt publishes a book we receive 50% of the net revenues (50% royalties for the author) and in cases where we re-sell the rights to another publisher on behalf of the author, we receive 15% agents-fee. Authors do not pay anything for our services - we are their publisher and it's our duty to take care of all costs.
We want to give the spotlight to the authors because they deserve it. I don't want to see the next J. K. Rowling receiving a rejection from an old-school publisher and give up her writing dreams. Me and the entire team, we're all in this game because we want to build the fairest publishing house in the world.
Founder & CEO | Inkitt.com
Mobile: +49 170 8647236
PS It appears Inkitt has indeed shifted my novel Loving the Terrorist into the competition. It needs one hundred readers to be considered for publication. So far it has zero.
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.