The Modern Book Publisher Without (Acquisition) Editors

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Inkitt Is Your Data-Driven Agent and Publisher

History of Decision Making in Publishing
For many centuries the entire publishing industry has relied upon the subjective and emotional opinions of its decision makers. Someone would read your book and tell you based on their “experience” and their gut feeling if they thought your book had a chance in the market. If they believed enough in that gut feeling – they would publish you. You can probably imagine how those “decisions” turned out. Maybe flipping a coin would have been more efficient. I’m just joking… or maybe I’m not?

Let me give you a short recap: Harry Potter was rejected by 13 publishers, Twilight by 14, Carrie by Stephen King was refused by 30 publishers. This is just the tip of the iceberg of thousands of more unfair rejections. I guess those publishers now wish they had flipped a coin rather than going with their gut. The list of their mistakes is huge. If you’re interested you can find a long list of unfairly rejected books here. Unfair decisions such as those caused publishers to miss out on great opportunities and made thousands of talented authors feel hopeless.

The Future: Fair publishing based on objective decisions
We created Inkitt with the mission to make publishing fair and objective. Who are we or any editor in the world to judge whether your book is worth publishing? We don’t think that we or any so-called “expert” is in a position to judge your work. Authors should not have to convince anyone but their readers. You write your book FOR your readers and the most important factor is whether you readers like it. That’s what we measure at Inkitt.

Inkitt makes objective data-driven decisions
At Inkitt we are building artificially intelligent algorithms that analyze reading pattern data and reader engagement levels. This enables us to make objective and data-driven decisions on whether a story has the potential to become a bestseller. This is all based on the behaviour of your readership – even if you only have a few readers in the beginning. No subjective expert opinion involved. Our long-term goal is to be able to predict bestsellers with a 99,99% statistical significance based on reading data.

How to get published with Inkitt?
All you have to do is to write and post your story on Inkitt. If your story performs well and your readers love it, we can detect it even with a small readership. We will then publish your eBook, promote it, and get a deal with an A-list publisher for your print version. Find more details here: Get Published with Inkitt.

Sky Riders Series by Erin Swan
During our Hidden Gems writing contest we discovered the novels The Rising Sun and Bright Star by Erin Swan. It is a high-action young adult fantasy series filled with dragons, friendship, love, and war. Our algorithm was reporting phenomenal metrics. We quickly got in contact with Erin and had a deal signed within 24 hours. We’re now preparing her spotlight. You’ll hear more about it soon.

UPDATE 5/27/2017:
Since this blog post was published we’ve decided to publish most of our books in-house. This allows for more flexibility, and we have found it to be a more successful method for us and our authors. Here is a post about how we publish our books.

Regarding Erin Swan’s Bright Star: we’ve successfully signed a co-publishing deal with Tor Books (MacMillan) and based on latest news from Tor, the book is launching Summer/Fall 2018.

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  1. I’ve been interested in your system for some time, though I can’t seem to figure out how it works exactly. It seems there are writers (not me, admittedly) who have well over a dozen reviews, always hit high on popularity in contests and are consistently in the top 15 in votes, and yet never win. So there is obviously another X factor that determines a work’s success, which is intriguing. For example, I never even saw Erin Swan’s stories since she didn’t place very high in the contest, nor was at the top of the ‘Most Popular’ list (I think she was even beneath me, and I was a bit down the list). Is there another way to let us know how well we’re doing in ‘real world’ ratings? And if this is true, could that be a way of calculating your position in the contest, rather than votes, which don’t seem to matter all that much? Thanks for sharing this article.

    • Joshua, thanks for your comment. There are a lot of different factors in the ReadRank and we’re constantly working on improvements. Regarding votes vs. ReadRank for the ranking in the contests: we might actually launch a contest and test that out.

  2. This article is very helpful. I was absolutely blown away when I saw this. If publishing companies saw this…they would be quite angry with this. Most likely, a few publishing companies have seen this already…everything online travels pretty quickly. Actually, Joshua Grasso raised a point very similar to this actually, in a post.
    I see your true motive now. I completely support Inkitt as I agree with you after reading the section about the History about Decision making. Now I understand what Joshua was trying to tell me in a post. He said something about J.K.Rowling becoming a nobody when she submitted her work under another name. I too have been curious about your system, like Joshua said, another X factor, possibly. Now…I taking Computer Science classes and know very well that there are possibly some people with an abnormal amount of votes from the same IP address. Hackers. So I’m guessing you check the IP address variety of the readers to see if the story is good or not, right?
    However… I receive emails from Inkitt to promote my own story by using FB, twitter, and/or Reddit. It says spread the word to your friends. So I did. That’s where most of my votes come from. My friends do this at school. I have to admit that it’s not very honest of me when they tell me…”Oh, it’s a good story,”
    My reviewers say I have a lot of work to do! Because of that, that’s why it’s…not very honest right?
    That brings me to the suspicion that you guys might look at IP addresses to see if a story is good or not. The variety of the places where the reviews come from?
    My friends say I definitely know how to speculate. But it’s not about them.

    WAIT… Algorithm? Joshua, if you don’t understand what that means, then I can see why you think about an X factor.

    Algorithms are basically sets of rules in Computer Science. The story Rising Sun followed your rules! I’m guessing the set of rules are probably a variety of places in the world, high amounts of reads…whatever that anticipates future sales to see if they are good or not.

    Okay, that’s over with. This article was very interesting and it’s also interesting how you use algorithms to determine the winning story. I have to say it’s a very clever idea you guys used. ☺

    I also like the E-book idea, being environmental friendly.

    SO…this article was completely worth sharing!

    • Thank you for educating me, Jacky, but I know what an algorithm is. My point was that there’s obviously something that determines winners other than votes + reads + reviews, which is what I thought the voting process was primarily based on. Obviously there’s an algorithm beneath this, but I wonder at what point the selection process defaults to a “gut” decision. I just don’t understand why the site spends so much time allowing us to track votes and reads when these things aren’t the deciding factors. I would like the site to be more transparent since a story that is in the “most read” category with 15 or 16 votes should be a top contender, at least more so than a story that has almost no reviews and is much lower in the “most read” category. This is why I questioned the X factor, which I suspect might not be completely numbers-based, but based more on whether or not the editors liked a particular story (in which case, we’re back to the very system we’re trying to get away from).

    • I see what you mean. I have a second thought…maybe it’s the quality of the reviews a person gets? Not necessarily the popularity or the votes?

  3. Reading this has been so encouraging, and confirms a lot of what I suspected about Inkitt’s system when choosing their potential best sellers! This seems to be the path publishing is headed online. An author I know, Alys Arden, champions this sort of system since she built her fan base by sharing her work online first, and got herself a publisher that way. It’s wonderful that Inkitt has streamlined what that kind of indie publishing started. ^^

    Looking for to more on Sky Riders! Already enjoying The Rising Sun quite a bit.

  4. Hey,

    I have a few questions, if you don’t mind taking the time to answer, in regards to your use of ‘editor’ and your publishing process.

    First off: “The Modern Book Publisher Without Editors”

    Bold statement, and I think there’s been some confusion, because I believe you refer to a specific type of editor, being the ‘Acquisition Editor’ (also known as Commissioning Editor) than the regular run of the mill revision, or line-by-line, editor.

    It’s the Acquisition Editor’s (AE) job to find manuscript gems in the slush pile (often filtered by their interns)– but the journey doesn’t stop there. For they must then pitch this book to all the departments at the publishing house before receiving a set amount of money to make an offer to the author. It’s at this point that a book they personally could love, can be shut down. Most traditional publishing houses have strict quotas of new novels they can publish a year (already flooded with returning authors) so it is high competition.

    Your algorithm essentially replaces this job.

    All very well, but my concern comes from the middle step between you detecting a potential successful novel, and you publishing it as an eBook.

    Will there be a traditional editor involved?

    Most books posted on writing sites are first drafts. This means they are yet to go through extensive revisions of the plot, let alone a scrubbing of general mistakes. As I assume you will be selling the eBooks, will you be hiring an editor to at least clean up the drafts before putting them on the market? Because I’d highly advise a third party be involved at this point.

    Secondly– what is your relationship with what you call ‘A-list’ publishers?

    From what I’ve summarized from your team, there doesn’t seem to be a strong relationship here with none of you publicized to have a background in the publishing world, something you will undoubtedly need for this plan to work.

    A lot of traditional publishing houses also don’t acquire pre-published works by third parties, and as far as I am aware, there is still a tense relationship between writing sites and traditional houses.

    I’m not sure if you have worked out some kind of deal, but right now it seems you are attempting to achieve something similar to Swoon Romance without the experience of the powerhouse creator Georgia McBride. Or the backing of a publisher, such as Harper Collins (HarperImpulse).

    So what is stopping prolific authors from Inkitt skipping you– as the middleman– when it comes to the crunch time?

    You’ve also noted your use of third party agents, which again, makes you redundant for all purposes.

    So with all that, we end up at my final question:

    Thirdly, and lastly, what is your cut?

    How do you plan on making money from all of this? Because while good intentions are nice and all, and advertisement always has its place, you will need something substantial to keep this afloat.

    Are you taking royalties from the eBooks? A percentage of the publisher advance (most likely already diminished from the agent’s commission)?

    You need to be upfront about all this, because right now it doesn’t seem like you’ve figured it all out, which very may be the truth.

    So, sorry for the gruelling, but to be honest, I would love to find a new writing site to call home after the Inkpop fiasco. And you guys seem to have the right idea, but are destroying your credibility with poor marketing (your spamming tactics, and grammar mistakes aren’t doing you any favours and are creating a cloud of distrust around your site on the internet), along with general vagueness which I guess comes back to marketing again.

    Even if you don’t respond to this, I hope it brings to light some issues you may need to tackle to make this site the best it can be; and a success.

    All the best,
    Em.

    • Hi Em,

      Thanks a lot for your comment and sorry for the late reply. Re editing: of course we need help from editors to fix mistakes. You’re totally right – with “Editors” I meant “Acquisition Editors”. Regarding the rest of your email about our track record: there will be a few very exciting announcements soon. Stay tuned!

      You can always contact me at ali@inkitt.com if there is anything I can help with!

      Best,
      Ali