An algorithm that can pick a best-seller – go figure

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I recently discovered Inkitt. Actually, they discovered me through a website link on Goodreads(?).

Here’s the email I received from Mihaly Borbely:

“I was looking for romance authors on Goodreads, and found your contact through a website link. Here is something you might be interested in:

Inkitt is using data analysis to determine and predict the success of a novel. We are also working together with some of the world’s biggest publishing houses to publish any potential best-sellers we find. We are just about to sign a massive deal for a fantasy book series.

We are now looking for our next novel to publish – this time from the romance genre.

In partnership with the Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency, tomorrow Inkitt is launching a brand new romance writing contest. With a publishing deal and a $500USD prize on the line for the contest winner, this is a huge opportunity for romance authors. The judging panel is made up of bestselling authors Laurelin Page and Melody Grace, as well as literary agent Rebecca Friedman herself.

Here is the contest link:

http://www.inkitt.com/swoon

 

So what is Inkitt?

Inkitt is a company based in Germany that is reaching out to new authors or writers with works in progress to upload stories to their website and have it read and peer-edited (reviewed) by other writers.

They also claim to have developed an algorithm that examines reading patterns of stories at the site to determine very early if a story will become a best-seller.

Unlike editors who according to Inkitt, are biased and make decisions on gut feelings, their data is unbiased and objective.

To support their theory they point to the twelve publishers who turned down Harry Potter and the fourteen who rejected Twilight.

I really find these “exceptions that prove the rule” arguments specious, as if there are thousands of masterpieces (likely one of yours, right?) that editors are indiscriminately tossing in the recycling bin.

Putting aside the claim Inkitt actually has technology that can pick a best-seller from among the many submissions they’re receiving, what they’re really offering is the same as Watt Pad, Kindle Scout, and the  defunct Authonomy. Writers post their work and it’s “crowd critiqued”. The owners of the site then have the option to take the most popular stories  (those with the most votes, most comments, most promising algorithm, etc.) further – or not.

Inkitt says there’s an additional the benefit of being peer edited (you read and comment on mine and I’ll return the favour) however this feature can be accessed on most online critique sites like Scribophile.

I thought I’d  test out Inkitt and so submitted my novel Loving the Terrorist – Beyond Eagleridge Bluffs to their Swoon Romance Novel Contest. Check it out at http://www.inkitt.com/stories/58597

Then I checked out some of the stories posted to assess the quality of submissions. Most are in the fantasy genre and the work amateurs. Hey, just saying. Most are incomplete and the “peer editing” comments, though warm and fuzzy, are not very constructive.

Suffice to say I don’t see many masterpieces coming from this digital slush pile, but you can decide for yourself.

I plan to keep my work on Inkitt at least until the contest ends on February 23 or they contact me and say Loving the Terrorist has tested positive for a best-seller and provide me with a list of publishers bidding on it.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

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Rod Raglin on BloggerRod Raglin on GoogleRod Raglin on Twitter
Rod Raglin
I am a author, creative writing coach, journalist, photographer and avid environmentalist living on the west coast of Canada
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