A new type of slush pile

Watch out publishing world, there’s a new slush pile in town. Okay, inkpop’s not exactly new – it’s about a year-and-a-half old. But it’s coming of age this year.

The second writer off inkpop to be published by HC has just been announced – my wonderful friend, and fellow YAtopian, Wendy Higgins with her novel Sweet Evil. I’ve been fortunate enough to read an ARC of the first novel off Inkpop being published Carrier of the Mark by another fantastic writing pal and YAtopian, Leigh Fallon.

I’m hanging out like crazy to see these books hit the shelves as I think it will herald in a new age in publishing as it is putting the readers in the drivers seat.

For those of you who don’t know how inkpop works it goes a bit like this:

  1.  Post your YA work (yep it’s a YA friendly site).
  2. Members read your work and comment on it. If they really like it they’ll “pick it”.
  3. The most popular pieces of work at the end of each month make the “top five”.
  4. “Top 5” projects are read by a HC editor and they give you feedback.
  5. If the editor falls in love with your story, they’ll publish it.

Now there’s been more than 50 projects make “Top 5” status and only two projects have been announced so far as getting the publishing tick.

Even work that doesn’t make “Top 5” status still benefit from the community. The site was abuzz when it came out that Jeyn Roberts. was being published with Dark Inside. Jeyn only had her project up briefly as it was so good she got snavelled up quickly be an agent and a publisher before it could make the “Top 5”. But members know Jeyn from the site and are excited as to read her book. It provides an additional following for members who are getting published.

When my novel Mishca made the “Top 5”, it did so out of more than 25,000 pieces of work on the site – a fact I’m pretty proud of. While Mishca wasn’t ready for publication at the time, the HC editor review gave me a great start on revisions. It’s also the most successful piece of work on the site by an Australian writer. Personally I see that as a great marketing pitch. I know not all agents feel that way, but I wonder if attitudes will start to change once Sweet Evil and Carrier of the Mark rock the YA lit world (and having read the latter, I am sure they will!)

Similar communities are springing up with Figment and Book Country (Penguin). Figment has a specific category for authors to allow them to connect with their fans on the site. It’s also great for connecting with other writers and getting feedback. The community created at Book Country is just amazing. I’ve gotten some of my most constructive feedback from people there. Though it is aimed at genre writers and you must be 18+ to be on the site.

While agents won’t necessarily have the time to dredge through these sites looking for a diamond in the rough, I wonder how long it will take before it’s universally deemed a positive thing to put inkpop success in a query letter?

I’ve had a positive response in Australia to my inkpop success so far, and I really hope something more eventuates from it. I think it is a great thing that the readers get the opportunity to have a say on what gets published before it hits the bookshelves. Sites like inkpop are great market research, and when Carrier of the Mark hits the shelves, we’ll be able to see just how successful sites like this can be.

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