We chatted up the team at Fictuary as they expand Feed Me Fiction for iOS and Android. Read all about their publishing plans and what really makes them stand out from other short stories apps.
Tell us about your project: what’s it called, what’s it about, and where did the idea come from?
Our magazine is called Feed Me Fiction, and it’s all about connecting readers and writers through great new short stories. The whole idea came about from some late night talks about the changing landscape of the writing/publishing industry. We realized that, as a reader, it can be difficult to find good, fun, contemporary stories out there, and often we find ourselves spending more time searching for a good story than actually reading one. Then, Will, one of our co-founders and an author himself, told us how much of a challenge it is for new authors to make a name for themselves, and how so many new authors are under-appreciated. We decided to approach both sides of this problem, creating a collection of excellent stories from newer or lesser-known authors. Readers would have great stories at their fingertips, and we could speed along the discovery process by helping talented authors get their names and stories out to the world.
Who is your target audience for this publication?
Really, anyone who enjoys a good story. Feed Me Fiction will curate a diverse range of stories, and we don’t consider any genre off-limits. Our biggest concern with our collection is that all of our stories are exceptional. In addition, Feed Me Fiction can be a great tool for readers who enjoy discovering new authors and connecting with the authors they love. Readers will be able to identify and follow their favorite new authors via social media, and all of our top authors will have bio pages on our website, fictuary.com.
How did the idea for this magazine come about?
We were all dreamers, living and working in Shanghai as teachers at the time, and after a few adult beverages one night, we started to dream about creating something together. Will was the initial influence since he had a difficult time getting his first book published and gaining traction with readership, and we talked a lot about his experiences. The conversation then turned to the difficulty in finding new authors to read, and then to how we would love to have a resource where we could find great new short stories without having to sift through the mounds of fiction that appear in mass in places like Wattpad or East of the Web. Then we put it all together and realized there was nothing stopping us from helping authors reach readers and helping readers find interesting stories that they had never read.
Where do you see yourselves in relationship to the publishing industry?
We are not a publisher in the traditional sense. We want to provide entertaining stories, but we also hope to provide a platform for discovery. Everyone knows that self-publishing is exploding right now. And we think that’s a great thing, but the problem that arises is that, with this tremendous number of books being published, readers are facing the dilemma of having too many choices. Do you go with the tried and true mainstream author, or do you read dozens of reviews (if there even are reviews) trying to decide which new author might be right for you? With Feed Me Fiction, readers can read something from a new writer they think is great, that doesn’t take much time, and then they have the opportunity to connect with that writer or buy that writer’s book.
Where do you get your stories?
Our uniqueness originates
from one major source:
All stories in our monthly issues are published based on merit. We run contests and writers submit exclusively through our website, fictuary.com. Prizes range from money to author bio pages to having the story featured in Feed Me Fiction. Our first contest alone received more than a hundred submissions. From there, we decide on the winners, edit them to make sure they’re perfect, and put them in the magazine. There are a lot of writers creating quality work out there, and the stories we publish have all made us feel something deep down and transported us away from the real world, even if only for a brief moment. Sometimes that’s all it takes to turn your day around, and that is what we want to provide to our reader.
What has this process taught you about writers and readers of fiction?
Right now, we’re dealing with good problems. Specifically, we’re getting more and more submissions to our contests, and dealing with all these submissions is something of a challenge. Still, it is a welcome one. We are happy to say that we have some amazing authors submitting work to us. The process of sifting through those submissions has taught us that we need to continue to encourage authors to grow and get deeper into their stories. The stories we have liked the best have created meaningful connections in less than 4000 words, which takes 20 minutes or less to read. It is truly an amazing accomplishment to create something that just might change a person’s day with a few words.
What kind of model are you using for this publication: paid subscriptions, or free with sponsorships?
Currently we are using a model that combines single issue purchases with paid subscriptions. Readers can buy an issue for $1.99, 6 month subscriptions for $5.99, or 12 month subscriptions for $9.99. However, we’d love to be able to make Feed Me Fiction a free service if there’s a generous sponsor out there (we’re looking at you, Google).
Was there a particular feature or aspect of TypeEngine that helped you?
We were searching for an organization that would allows us to publish on multiple platforms and update our content as often as we needed, and that looked clean enough to allow for a pleasant reading experience. At the same time, we knew that keeping up with the near-constant software updates being pushed out on iOS and Android was not something that was possible for us to do on our own. Basically, we wanted to focus on curating a great collection of stories without getting too bogged down in the development side of things. TypeEngine fit this criteria.
How has your experience using TypeEngine been so far?
So far our experience has been great. The learning curve for TypeEngine’s console really was quite quick, and now that we’ve got it figured out it’s going to be smooth sailing in putting together future issues. Also, when we’ve needed help, TypeEngine has done a great job at answering our questions and helping us find solutions.
There are many reading apps out there already, how do you feel you are creating a unique product? What are some of the ways that you are differentiating yourself?
These questions are at the core of most of our conversations, and we think two main aspects work together to establish differentiation. First, our uniqueness originates from one major source: untapped talent. We want to showcase and present to the world the art that people create. Some writers are amazingly talented, but never feel like they have the ability to get started. We want to be that first step that eventually helps them reach their goals, whatever they may be. Second, we curate our collection. Other resources that offer new stories from new writers don’t filter out what comes in, and this creates a challenge for readers: once again, they have to search and search for quality stories, whereas we make sure that every story we offer is going to be worthwhile.
Which area of your business will benefit the most from growing your brand?
We want our brand to represent
the trust we look to establish:
trust from authors
that we truly are here for them,
and trust from readers
that we will consistently provide
In the short term, we see brand growth as being central to reaching writers that are looking to expand their hobby or gain more exposure. Essentially, we want our brand to represent the trust we look to establish: trust from authors that we truly are here for them, and trust from readers that we will consistently provide great content. In the long run, we hope that our brand will create loyalty, too. And as our brand and company grow, so will the benefits we can provide to our writers and readers. We have some great ideas about other offerings that flow from our original idea, many of which we’d like to incorporate and provide free of charge for subscribers, but for now we’ll keep that a secret and let you guess at the possibilities to come.
What does the future hold for your project? Anything fancy on the horizon?
Right now we are focusing on our short story contests and monthly publications, trying to get the best product out there that we can. We have some ideas for themed issues in the coming year, and even the possibility of serial novels, but we want to make sure we create a high quality experience for everyone involved rather than push out too many products at once.
What is your ultimate goal for this business?
Our goals are simple. First, the three of us like to take a break from life every once in a while and get transported into the hallowed realms of fiction. We want to give that to our readers. Second, we want to create a vibrant reading/writing community. Third, we want to create a platform from which authors can launch their careers. We would love to turn a profit and be able to do this full time, but, as is stated in our mission, satisfying the needs of writers and readers comes first and foremost. We feel that if we stay true to our mission of focusing on the art and the entertainment, and we are truly able to help authors and readers, then success will follow for everyone involved.
Definitely check out Feed Me Fiction today! On Android, get a monthly subscription for $1.99. On iOS, buy a single issue for $1.99 or subscribe for 6 or 12 months.