Thursday, May 14, 2020

Beta-Testing StoryOrigin App for Delivering Advance Reading Copies

I hope everyone is staying safe and keeping well. My thoughts go out to all those on the front lines (and their loved ones) putting themselves at risk of infection to help others, and also to anyone who has been affected first hand by the virus.

Image by Ryan Richie, via Flickr

For some, staying safe at home has meant hitting pause on many of their usual day-to-day activities, and I know that some of my own friends have had to come up with novel ways to keep busy (i.e., entertain themselves) without leaving the house. But, for me, the past few months have passed in a blur as I have raced against the clock to publish my latest book, The Convoluted Key - while at the same time (like many other parents during this Covid-19 pandemic) finding myself unexpectedly and unpreparedly pitched into the role of homeschooling mother and children's personal assistant (and trying to avoid allowing my children's daily dose of screen time to increase by too much).

Request an advance reading copy of The Convoluted Key

Amidst all the chaos, and only after I'd finished setting up a way for reviewers to request advance reading copies of The Convoluted Key from the homepage of my website, I happened upon a platform still in beta called StoryOrigin App. From an initial play-around on the site, StoryOrigin appears to be a cross between NetGalley and NaNoWriMo. It's intended to serve as an interface between reviewers and authors, providing authors with a fairly straightforward way to screen potential reviewers and then deliver the ARC files. And it also offers authors a way to cross-promote with others writing in the same genre by offering giveaways and newsletter swaps. From the writing goals and motivation side of things, StoryOrigin provides a tracking feature where you can set your deadlines and keep track of your word count and other goals. It also calculates how many words you need to write or edit per day to hit your deadline.

I haven't yet had a chance to trial the goal tracker, but I'm already seeing the potential advantages of using an external delivery system like this for ARCs. Firstly, uploading my book's files to StoryOrigin was a breeze - compared to my own website which threw a security hissy fit over files with .epub and .mobi extensions. Secondly, on my own site I'm having to trawl through all the "requests" filled in by passing spambots, which are still coming even after I got around to installing ReCaptcha. I have to check every single one, in case it is genuine. On StoryOrigin, however, reviewers have to create an account first, which provides an extra layer of spam filtering. Thirdly, with StoryOrigin I don't need to make contact with the reviewer and send files or links using my own email or Messenger account. All I have to do is approve the reviewer and the platform does the rest. I will definitely be closing the request option on my own website on May 15, as I'd originally planned, but now I think I will continue to allow review requests via StoryOrigin until my book is published.

On top of that, the StoryOrigin interface is really simple and easy to use, and includes videos, tutorials, and examples if you do get stuck. And it's free while it's in beta, so that makes it a worthwhile option for an author hitting the last few pennies of her budget right about now.

While investigating StoryOrigin, I also came across these pay-to-play platforms that are generating some attention from authors and readers/reviewers: BookFunnel, Prolific Works (which used to be "InstaFreebie"), and Hidden Gems. And, of course, there's NetGalley and the giveaway option on GoodReads. If you have the budget, you might be interested in cross testing all the options. Please let us know in the comments if you already have a preference for one over the other, or if you know of other platforms for getting ARCs into the hand of reviewers. We'd love to hear about your experiences and opinions.

And if middle-grade fantasy is a good fit for you and you'd like to try out the reviewers' side of StoryOrigin, you're welcome to request an ARC of The Convoluted Key.

Elle Carter Neal is the author of the upcoming middle grade fantasy The Convoluted Key (first in the Draconian Rules series), the picture book I Own All the Blue, and teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin. She is based in Melbourne, Australia. Find her at ElleCarterNeal.com or HearWriteNow.com.

Photo by Amanda Meryle Photography

5 comments :

  1. Getting books into the hands of reviewers seems to be a problem for traditionally published as well as self-published works these days. Thanks for all this great information, Elle.

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  2. Thanks so much for this helpful post, Elle. I'd heard about StoryOrigin, but had not checked it out. Perhaps I should. :-)

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  3. Great information, Elle. Thank you for sharing. Love your photo. :-)

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  4. Sounds like a great tool. I see a lot of questions on writers forums about how to get ARCs in the right hands. Will share the info.

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  5. I'm hopeless when it comes to any way to get my work into the hands of readers. If I had it to do all over again, I'd be a much better self-promoter. As it is, I'm terrible. The best way in the beginning was BookBub, but that is out of reach now that bigger writers have latched on and can afford to use them. Thanks for the info, Elle. I might just study it and move forward with my soon-to-be-released novel.

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