Originally a startup out of Germany, Inkitt styles itself “the Hipsters Book Club,” or “the Hipster’s Library,” and invites joiners to “read and fall in love with novels before they go mainstream.” Inkitt reportedly has over 500,000 users globally, and is now using predictive algorithms to identify which of the stories submitted to its open platform has bestseller potential.
“Inkitt wishes to create an environment of support and positivity,” the Inkitt guidelines state. “We are here together as a community of story lovers. We are home to stories of nearly all genres and nothing would please us more than to see our authors and readers broaden their horizons and look forth at a growing list of possibilities.”
The platform is open to all comers who want to write and put their work up, but is also, according to the Inkitt info, scrupulously curated, with stories checked over within 24 hours of submission. You can hear further details on UK BBC Radio 4’s Open Book program, where Inkitt co-founder and CEO Ali Albazaz gives information on its business.
Inkitt pleads its algorithm-driven approach as an antidote to traditional publishing’s reliance on fallible subjective decision-making. “The entire publishing industry has always relied upon the subjective and emotional opinions of their decision makers,” states Inkitt. “We created Inkitt with the mission to change this – to ensure fair publishing and objectivity for authors. 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. You write your book for your readers, and the most important factor is whether your readers like it or not. That is what we measure at Inkitt.”
Should authors be on Inkitt? Well, in terms of value add, Inkitt states that: “We publish your e-Book and run marketing campaigns to make it a bestseller. If we don’t sell more than 1,000 books within 12 months, you get all your rights back. You receive a 50 percent royalty.” In addition, Inkitt in agency mode will “pitch your book to A-list publishers (e.g. Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins and Hachette) and negotiate the best licensing terms for you. You receive an 85 percent royalty.”
So obviously there is at least some marketing support in there that authors don’t have to pay for – which makes a refreshing change from scam-driven platforms looking to gouge self-published hopefuls. Does Inkitt make sense when set against the more direct test of e-book popularity on Kindle? Good question. But if you want to be hip, you know where to go – with or without hipster facial decoration …