If you’ve done even a cursory search on Inkitt, you’ll get some of the most widely disparate viewpoints for a new publisher you can find. There are tech articles that seem impressed with their future-forward approach to predict bestsellers through data analytics. There are writers on the web who have very good reasons why their business model sucks. Me? I dug the idea so I tried it. This is the first of a two part look at Inkitt, with this one focusing on the things I think they did right, as well as an interview with Egan Brass, an author who found success on Inkitt’s platform. I urge anyone who’s considering or recommending Inkitt to look at both parts (part 2 will post in a few days). Let’s get started.
When Inkitt first started out, apparently they were spammy as hell. Many authors and bloggers have reported this. Personally, I didn’t notice this and I think perhaps that was due to my lack of a well developed social media presence until recently. When I came to Inkitt in October, I had to find them. And I’ve personally seen their business model evolve even after I joined in October 2017, so for those interested in Inkitt and you’re doing research, know that the further back in time you go the less relevant it may be to how Inkitt is today.
I also have to confess that I really dug the writer interface. It was extremely easy to upload my work, format it in ebook format and post it. I think that first day getting started it maybe took an hour to take it from a Word doc to fully available on their site. They also provide charts and graphs measuring your metrics and it gives you a pretty solid view of who’s currently reading your work, how many chapter reads you’ve got under your belt, and how much overall data’s been collected. Also, and I mean this whole-heartedly, their customer service is top flight.
That said, Inkitt wasn’t for me. But that doesn’t quite give folks looking for a full scope view a whole heaping lot to go on in terms of the bright side. So I decided to reach out to Egan Brass and interview someone who actually earned a deal for a book series through Inkitt. Egan Brass (aka Ryan Attard) is the author of the Esper Files, the Legacy series, and the Pandora Chronicles. Hailing from a faraway island, it wasn’t long until he began creating his own imaginary friends and writing down their adventures. As Egan Brass, he writes the Esper Files — a tale of super-powered individuals set in a steampunk universe. He also dons a cape and a mask, and spends his free time learning Victorian insults in order to both confuse and enthrall his foes. He’s also one to write his bios in the third person.
The Esper Files is the series in which Egan found success through Inkitt and three of the books are available now at Amazon. I asked him several questions about Inkitt and I invite you to check out the interview below.
Me: The Inkitt staff seems really helpful and friendly. Were they fun to work with?
Egan: The folks over at Inkitt are amazing. I mean, I guess you can expect that when you put a bunch of really dedicated people in an environment of hard work but also passion. Having worked with a (now failed) small press, I can tell you that Inkitt people actually care. Heck, they periodically ask me if there’s anything they can do to help – whilst demanding a sequel of course, ha ha!
Me: How much input did you have in selection of cover art?
Egan: They actually consulted me from the get-go. The thing with any business is that you have to present your attitude up front. When we had our first meeting, I told them that writing is my full time job and had been running my own self-publishing business for 4 years (now close to 6). Essentially they knew that I had a plan, from story to marketing, and as such they consulted me because of it. So yes, today every move done on Esper Files is a team effort.
Me: Did they provide an editor to suggest changes once your novel was selected, or was it a more of a print “as-is” type of affair? If they did assign an editor, were they willing to bend to suggestions based on your input?
Egan: Again, they offered to assign me an editor but I was professional enough to have my editor friend look it over before submitting it to the contest, as well as edit it myself (I have qualifications in that sort of thing). Bear in mind that when I came on board, I was the second or third author they got — Inkitt has come a long way since then. So they presented me with my choice of editors, as well as letting me bring my own people if I thought I worked better with my team.
Me: When you say they offered an editor but you declined, you’re saying that in your case you could waive editorial review and they were fine with that? The reason I ask is because most venues I’ve worked with, excluding the ones that are looking for “print as is” quality stories, generally require editorial review, even if it’s simply a matter of grammar or word choice changes. I’ve never seen a venue that has editors on deck but will defer to the author’s decision to employ the editor. If nothing else, it definitely seems that they give the writers in their stable the royal treatment which is pretty cool.
Egan: Their practice is to assign an editor – so every book needs to be professionally edited no matter what. In my case, I already had someone I worked with for years, and asked them to use her instead of their own editors.
Me: It looks like you took 1st place in the Skybound contest (congrats btw!). How long did it take from the time you initially uploaded your novel to the time you were determined winner?
Egan: Uploading the manuscript was sure easy. Even back then, the interface was basically copy, paste, save. (Now it’s even fancier but having used it again earlier this year, I can tell you I have no trouble figuring it out). As for the selection… Well, in between the drinking, and praying, and thinking I suck, and then reading the reviews I got so many times I can quote some by heart, I say it took about 3 weeks. It also helped that I already had a mailing list of fans who helped up-vote the book.
Me: I’m assuming once you won, subsequent novels in The Esper Files series are automatically selected to be published by Inkitt. Is that right?
Egan: Yes, my contract says that Inkitt gets “dibs” (for lack of a better term) on any Esper Files book. Which is great for me and them, since the whole thing is 9 books long. (plus short stories and extra content for mailing list sign ups)
Me: Now that you’re an Inkitt novelist, are there any deadlines you have to meet?
Egan: Inkitt is pretty lax with deadlines with me, since I present them with a book a year. Heck, after I gave them book 1, we released book 2 three months later. So, I can say that at least with me, they never pressured me for a manuscript. Then again, I write like my life depends on it, so they have nothing to worry about on that end.
Me: How many chapter reads did it take for your Collected Data bar to fill for The Esper Files?
Egan: Oh God, I have no idea. As I said, the technology went through various iterations and personally, I had no idea how to read it back then. But I can say that since Inkitt is a data-driven enterprise, they put data collection quite high on the list. But don’t ask me how they collect it – my answer is either fairies or goblins.
Me: Do they help in any way with your social media presence (tips on blogging, setting up interviews on podcasts, setting up GoodReads Giveaways, etc.?)
Egan: I know for a fact they do help other authors, especially if they are new to the scene. For example, you can go on their Facebook page and see Emma (one of the aforementioned magical creatures) talk about new releases on videos. As usual, I am a bit of an exception. I had everything in place already, so they basically just got out of my way, or egged me on with my shenanigans. Like when I do Q&As for my book releases. (There’s swearing, alcohol and loads of geeking out involved)
Me: Overall, would you recommend Inkitt to fledgling writers? Any tips for those newly approaching the site?
Egan: I would recommend it but please bear in mind this is not a magic button. Once you upload, you need to hustle to get yourself promoted. Or if you get chosen via Inkitt’s own system, then you still have to hustle and work on marketing with the team once the book is out. You don’t get to write the book, send it over, and bury your head in the sand. Inkitt is a great place for those that have the right attitude. (I swear they are not paying me to say this but I’m sending them a copy of this interview and demanding something!)
Me: When you say once you upload you need to hustle to get yourself promoted, can you provide examples of that? Did you pay for any advertisement? And how many copies did you move, ball park, in the course of the endeavor to win the contest?
Egan: No, not paid advertisement. At that stage it won’t be worthwhile. I basically hit my followers and posted on social media to drive people to the competition and vote for my title. No idea about the actual numbers since I did not check.
That’s the interview, and my first one at that, so my apologies if I didn’t think to ask a question one of you folks reading may have been curious about. I may do better next time if there is one. Meanwhile, feel free to find out more about Egan Brass, you can check out his website here and check out more about the Esper Files, an adventurous superhero filled steampunk series here.