Story Machine and the First Selection for Blink

(I’m going to start cross-posting things I write for the Inkshares blog here.)

Dear Inkshares Community,

We wrote you yesterday regarding publishing dates on Inkshares. We write you today to discuss not pub dates, but the future form and function of the engine via which manuscripts are selected to be published on Inkshares.

To date, manuscripts have been “green-lit” for publishing by Inkshares solely on the basis of pre-order numbers. This has been immensely successful, with those titles earning starred reviews, selling tens of thousands of copies, and being adapted for television and film by the world’s biggest producers and studios. Pre-order dynamics will remain a mainstay at Inkshares. But we believe that in order to maximally leverage the platform of authors and readers to bubble up the largest number of meaningful stories, it’s important to look beyond just pre-orders. As relevant to this, in a recent forum post, we introduced Blink, a soon-to-be-created imprint focused on selecting manuscripts based on meaningful indicators other than just pre-orders. We are announcing the first — of many — selections for publishing via Blink today.

Before we announce the selection, we want to discuss two points. First, we want to again emphasize that this is not, as some might fear, Inkshares morphing into a traditional publisher. It is the same goal of democratized publishing, simply with an expansion of the indicators beyond pre-orders. After two years, we know 1) that people don’t pre-order every book they like and 2) that we can effectively measure indicators other than pre-orders to determine reader interest. Accordingly, the system is more actively monitoring things like reads, likes, follows, shares, and interest from producers on the Properties side.

Second, this will shape the product beyond ad-hoc selection for a single Collection. This January we will launch the first version of Story Machine. Story Machine is both a front-end and back-end feature. On the front end, it will allow you to more efficiently sort through and indicate your interest in content. You’ll be able read, follow, and share projects more easily than ever before.

Here’s an early version of Story Machine.

Future iterations will allow you to tell us not only whether you like it, but why you like it and what other books you think it is similar to. On the back end, it analyzes these interactions to determine reader interest and surface stories based on that interest — both on the front end of Story Machine so more readers see it and also on the Properties side where Inkshares can work to create deals including audio, foreign, TV and film. We are confident that Story Machine will result in more books being published and more deals on the rights side.

A pregnant witch in the Old West hunts down the possessed man who killed her husband.

We are extremely proud to announce that the first selection into Blink will be Jamie Dorn’s Devil’s Call. Written in epistolary format to her unborn child, it follows Li Lian Callahan, a pregnant witch who in 1859 hunts down the possessed man who killed her husband. The book garnered many nominations in the run up for The List contest and has received a tremendous amount of interest on the Properties side — something with respect to which we hope to report on soon.

We recognize that at least for now, this is a less transparent process than selection based on pre-orders, though that process will, of course, continue to operate in parallel. As we roll out Story Machine, we look forward to explaining more of the dynamics at work. For now, we hope you’ll all congratulate Jamie as the first of many authors we hope to bubble up via Story Machine into Blink.



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