#269 – Cross Promotions with Evan Gow from StoryOrigin

Founder and developer of StoryOrigin Evan Gow joins us on the podcast this week. Evan tells us the how authors can utilize cross promotions such as newsletter swaps and group promotions, build their mailing list, distribute review copies, and even track their writing goals on StoryOrigin, and he gives us his predictions for the future of indie publishing and how he sees his site fitting into that future.

Founder and developer of StoryOrigin Evan Gow joins us on the podcast this week. Evan tells us the how authors can utilize cross promotions, including newsletter swaps and group promotions, build their mailing list, distribute review copies, and even track their writing goals on StoryOrigin, and he gives us his predictions for the future of indie publishing and how he sees his site fitting into that future.  

  • Evan explains how an interest in writing and entrepreneurship, and conversations with indie authors led to the creation of StoryOrigin 
  • He tells us about the features available on StoryOrigin, including cross promotions, universal links, review copies, and writing goal tracking 
  • Evan talks about the various cross promotional opportunities available on StoryOrigin, how the site works to connect authors with one another, and he explains why cross promotions are such popular and effective marketing tools for new and veteran authors alike 
  • He discusses the review copy feature on StoryOrigin, and what the process is like for authors and readers, and StoryOrigin has now launched a beta reader feedback feature which you can learn about here
  • Evan discusses the author community on StoryOrigin and how he utilizes author feedback to improve existing features and to help him decide what to work on next 
  • He gives us his predictions for the future of indie publishing and how he sees StoryOrigin fitting into that future, and he tells us what authors can expect next from the StoryOrigin platform 

Useful Links 

StoryOrigin’s New Beta Reader Feature 
Split the Party 
Sword Art Online 
Ender’s Game 

Evan Gow is the indie developer of StoryOrigin, a marketing tool and community of authors that work together to build their mailing lists, increase sales, find reviewers, and stay on top of deadlines.

Episode Transcript

Transcription provided by Speechpad

Joni: Hey, writers. You’re listening to the “Kobo Writing Life” podcast, where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We’re you’re hosts. I’m Joni, Author Engagement Specialist at “Kobo Writing Life.”

Rachel: And I’m Rachel, Author Engagement Coordinator at “Kobo Writing Life.” On this week’s episode of the podcast, we spoke to Evan Gow. Evan is the indie developer of Story Origin, a marketing tool and community of authors that work together to build their mailing lists, increase sales, find reviews and stay on top of deadlines.

Joni: It was a really interesting interview. Story Origin is actually a very cool platform. We chatted to Evan about all of the different services that they offer. We talked about how to find reviewers, like, building your mailing lists, doing cross-promotions with other authors which is a big part of what they help facilitate. And we also talked about making review copies available to beta readers and getting beta reviews. And something new that they’ve launched since we interviewed them is there’s now a way for authors to get feedback from those beta readers. So, we will share the link to the article that explains this new feature and we’re excited to share this with you.

Rachel: We are joined today by Evan Gow, the indie developer of Story Origin. Evan, thank you so much for joining us today.

Evan: Thanks for having me on.

Rachel: Can you start off by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself and about Story Origin?

Evan: Yeah, sure. So, I’m the indie developer and founder of Story Origin which is a marketing tool/community for authors to help them build their mailing lists, increase their sales, find reviewers and manage their deadlines.

Joni: I wanted to ask how…are you an author yourself?

Evan: I did some writing back in high school. I used to write short stories. So that was sort of my initial interest in writing and I always wanted to write a book. And then I later got interested in technology and entrepreneurship and then there was a point where I thought to myself, “Okay, now’s the time if I wanna ever start my own thing, now’s the time to do it.” And so, I wanted to go back to combining those passions so I went and I talked to some authors and learned about some of their marketing problems and that’s where I landed on building Story Origin.

Joni: Right. So that’s how you identified that there was space in the market for something like this. And what was it, like, from talking to all these authors…like, what was it that made you think that a platform like this was necessary? Because there’s a lot of different platforms doing different things, right.

Evan: That’s actually exactly why I decided to build Story Origin, right, was that when I talked to authors and I…and basically what I heard was, “Okay, so I use this to build my mailing list. I use this other thing to find reviewers. I use this other thing to find newsletter swaps and, like, I manage this all through, like, Facebook groups or Google forms and, like distributing my audiobook codes. I keep that in Excel. And then tracking my wordcount.” And so, you have, like, eight different spreadsheets and logins and handling a bunch of stuff over email and I thought, “There’s gotta be a simpler way to do this.” And so, I decided to build Story Origin as sort of a one stop shop to manage all of those different processes in one place.

Rachel: Would you be able to give us kind of a quick rundown of all of the features that are available on Story Origin?

Evan: Yeah, absolutely. So, in terms of…there are two types of cross-promotions that you can run on Story Origin. So, you can do newsletter swaps which are direct one to one cross-promotion where you’ve got a mailing list of 1,000 people, I’ve got a mailing list of 1,000 people. I’ll agree to promote your book in one of my newsletters, you promote one of my books in your newsletters. The other type of cross-promotion is a group promotion where you, me and, let’s say, 20 other authors all agree to put our books on a single landing page and then we all drive our own audiences to that single landing page so everyone that’s participating in that group promotion benefits. So those are the two different types of cross-promotions but then those cross-promotions can be for any number of different goals. So, if you’re looking to build your mailing list, you would be promoting your reader magnets which you can create and host on Story Origin. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with the term reader magnet, that’s usually a story that you give away for free to your audience when they join your mailing list.

You can also set up universal links on Story Origin so that you can promote all the retailers where your books are available and Story Origin helps automatically localize those links so that your reader finds it in the correct storefront and they can set their own preferred retailer so that it’s just one click for them to go to the correct retailer for that link for that book. And then you can also set up review copies on Story Origin where you can give out a free book with the expectation that someone’s gonna leave a review. And then Story Origin sort of automatically helps handle tracking whether or not they’ve left that review and following up to remind them if they haven’t completed their review copy process yet. And then some of those features for…are both for eBooks and audiobooks.

Joni: That’s awesome. It really is a one stop shop. And do you have access to…do you have a group of readers as well? Do you work with readers directly?

Evan: So, Story Origin doesn’t maintain its own mailing list of readers. It’s mostly about authors cross-promoting each other through those newsletter swaps and those group promos. So yeah, but even if you’re not participating in cross-promotions on Story Origin like those landing page assets that you can build on Story Origin and process automation for, like, the universal links and review copies and reader magnets can all still be super helpful to you.

Joni: I know that cross-promotion is a really big part of a lot of our authors’ general, like promotional strategies. For anyone that hasn’t tried this yet, could you maybe give us a bit of a rundown into why this is such a good marketing strategy?

Evan: Yeah. So, if you look at advertising across the landscape right now, if you look at, you know, like, Amazon or Facebook advertising, generally, the bids on advertising are going up with time as more authors enter the scene and just as more people advertising on those platforms come on board. The rates just increase. So, it’s becoming more and more expensive. And then also, you know, it’s kind of challenging to figure out how those things work. With each new platform, you have to sort of learn a bunch of different things. So cross-promotion’s really popular because it’s free, it’s easy and it’s targeted by genre. So free. When you and I agree to set up a cross-promotion, like, I’m agreeing to promote your book in my newsletter, you promote mine in yours, that’s free. Like, we don’t need to pay each other anything to do that. It’s easy, right. I don’t need to learn, like, you know, a whole dashboard and everything like this in order for us to make that agreement. All I need to do is drop the link in one of my newsletters, right. And then it’s targeted by genre, right. So, you know, if I’m a romance author, I would agree to set up that, you know, newsletter swap or set up a group promotion with other romance authors so that I know that my books are going to be seen by the correct audience.

Rachel: And how does Story Origin work to connect authors with one another to do these cross-promotions?

Evan: Yeah. So, on Story Origin, like, with the group promotions, you can just see a list of upcoming group promotions and authors can create their…authors create their own group promotions. So, you know, let’s say I wanna run like an October, Halloween themed group promotion. I would just create that on Story Origin and then other authors can see that and apply with their own books. And then if I’m organizing the group promotion, I get to choose which books are included in that group promotion, right. And then for newsletter swaps, you can see other authors. So, if you wanna set up newsletter swaps in Story Origin, you can basically post your mailing list and then say what dates that you are planning on sending newsletters out and what books you’re looking to promote in return for promoting other authors’ books.

And so, you just set up your dates and then other authors can apply like, “Hey, I saw you’ve got a, you know, a newsletter going out in a couple of weeks. Can you put my book XYZ into it? And I’ll promote your book ABC in my newsletter going out in one week or three weeks or what have you.” Story Origin sort of has a list of just, like, upcoming potential cross-promotions both on the group promo side and the newsletter swap side. And then Story Origin also provides people in those cross-promotions with tracking links so that you actually know how many clicks each person sent to any particular cross-promotion. And then that is all made transparent on Story Origin. So, before you agree to swap with someone, you can actually see, “Okay, when they agreed to promote other people’s books or group promos, did they actually follow through on that and how many clicks did they send?” All that’s sort of transparent. So, Story Origin also helps build trust in the community which is a much more difficult thing when you’re just sort of, like, messaging people over Facebook or email and sort of just hoping that they’re actually upholding their end of the deal.

Joni: If you are a new author and you’re just starting to build your mailing lists and you maybe don’t have one yet…so you might not be a compelling partner to swap with. What’s the best approach.

Evan: So, the best approach there is…so first you wanna upload your reader magnet to Story Origin. That’s the thing we mentioned. You know, you upload a reader magnet. That’s a story you give away for free when someone joins your mailing list. And then you wanna join group promotions. So, giveaway group promotions are the type where other authors in that group promotion, they’re all also giving away their reader magnets. And so, everyone’s sort of building their mailing lists. And so, a lot of organizers will accept authors into those group promotions even if their mailing list is at zero because a lot of them, they were probably in your position two or three months ago and now they’ve got a list of a few hundred subscribers and it’s not hard for them to look back and say, “That was me two or three months ago. I’d be happy to accept you because I know exactly where you’re coming from.”

The other thing that you can do is you can also just organize your own group promotion, right. And then you can automatically accept your own books into your own group promotion. And then you can get other authors to join your group promotion. And so that’s one other way to do it is if you’re just starting out with zero and you wanna…your sort of contribution to the group promotion is the fact that, like, you’ll create, like, a little banner image for it. So, it’s, like, nice that people can include that little image in their newsletters when they’re promoting it. And then, you know, you’re sort of also handling just setting up the details and deciding on which authors are going to be able to join and stuff like that. So that takes a little bit of time and that’s sort of your contribution to the group promo.

Joni: I love that this is basically a win-win situation, I think, with cross-promotional stuff because the kind of readers that you’re working with typically read a lot and they want to read a lot and they want to read books in their genre. And as far as the authors are concerned, like, it’s not really a competition. Like, there is so much space for books. Do you find…is there an author community aspect to Story Origin?

Evan: So, there is a Story Origin authors’ Facebook group which is where most of sort of the community lives, like, outside of just the setting up cross-promotions. So, the Facebook group…you know, authors will share advice or case studies about what they’ve done on Story Origin in terms of, like, how they timed, like, group promos or newsletter swaps with, like, discounts or other promotions that they were running on retailers and stuff like that or just, like, how they built their mailing lists starting from scratch. So yeah. All that takes place mostly in the Facebook group.

Joni: That’s really cool. Just building a community of authors. Essentially supporting one another through cross-promotions. Authors can also reach readers with review copies on Story Origin. Can you kind of explain how that works?

Evan: Yeah. So, the way that the review copy system works on Story Origin is that you’d set up a review copy on Story Origin and then readers can come to that landing page and they can request that review copy and they can say what retailers or platforms they plan to leave a review on after they read the book. And so, they would make the requests for the review copy and they can read a sample version of that book prior to making that request. And so, if they read the sample, they like it, they request a full version. You as the author then get to choose whether or not you accept each individual application for a review copy. And Story Origin will give you…if they, you know, say that they’re going to leave a review on Goodreads, Story Origin will also ask them for the link to their Goodreads profile. So, you can then see…okay. Let’s say I write steamy romance and this person…I go and I look at their Goodreads reviewer profile and I see that the only thing they’ve ever reviewed is cozy romance. I might decline their application for a review copy just because they might be expecting they’re going to be getting something that they’re not and I don’t want them to feel…like, there’s no obligation. They don’t…aren’t required to leave a review but I don’t want them to feel like they should if it’s gonna be a book that I don’t think that they’re going to enjoy, right.

And then Story Origin also gives you stats about how many review copy processes they’ve completed in the past. So, if they’ve said that they’re going to leave a review for your book on Goodreads and Story Origin…you know, you can see the statistics for how many review copies they’ve been approved for and where they said they were gonna leave Goodreads reviews. So, you can see, like…let’s say they left 2 out of 10 on Goodreads. Well, I might decline that person’s request for a review copy because the probability that they’re actually going to follow through on that is fairly low.

And so yeah. The reader’s not obligated to leave a review but I can have some amount of certainty about what the probability is that they’re going to leave a review.

Rachel: And how do you track whether or not the reviews have been completed? Is it the author will then follow up and be like, “Oh, this person said they were gonna leave a review and they didn’t,” and then they add that on Story Origin or is it trackable?

Evan: It’s on the reader’s side. So, the reader, once they’ve been approved for the review copy, they basically have a three-step process, right. So, the first step is they can download the book and then read it. The second step is they would leave the review of the book on Story Origin so that if your review copy is pre-publication…let’s say it’s not gonna be published for another four weeks but they’ve already read the book. You want their review to be fresh in their mind, right. So, they can leave that review on Story Origin and that way when it comes publication day, they can just go ahead and copy their review there and then post it to wherever they said they would post it when it becomes available on various retailers, right.

And then the third step is once they’ve left those reviews on whatever platforms or retailers they said that they would, they’ll just either…they’ll leave the link to the review on Story Origin so that the author can then go check it there.

Joni: I’m curious about the demographic that you have now. Do you find that most of the authors who are working with you are publishing widely across all retailers or is it a mix?

Evan: So, it’s actually a…it’s almost like a third, a third, a third kind of. I recently…so I just did this because one of the huge things I heard from a lot of authors was, “Hey, I’m a wide author but it’s kind of difficult to find other wide authors to swap with because, like, I have to go and I have to, like, check their profiles out on, like, distributors and see are their books wide or are they not.” And so now on Story Origin, when you post your mailing list there, you can also post what your distribution strategy is. So, are you wide, are you Amazon only, are you mix? And so yeah. So, I just released an update where you can now specify what your distribution strategy is. And I would say…yeah, about a third of authors are between those three categories.

Joni: Well, that’s cool that you can share that though because that’s important when you’re looking at different audiences. But I imagine that that’s one of the…like, it’s a great service if you are moving from, for example, a KU situation to coming wide and you need to find readers that are outside of that little Amazon or the big Amazon bubble. I can see that being a really useful way to find those new readers.

Evan: Right, for sure. Especially as you wanna try and start to diversify your income and be less reliant, right. You wanna have, you know, multiple income streams from multiple retailers. That’s really helpful.

Joni: How big is your team at Story Origin?

Evan: So, I am the indie developer of Story Origin. So, anything that comes down to Story Origin, comes back to me. So, I am the engineering department, I am the customer service department, I am the marketing department. It’s all me. So, if you ever have an issue or run into a problem, you can also just shoot me an email. And it’s actually been, you know…you would think, “Okay, that would be a little difficult. Wouldn’t it, Evan?” But actually, you know, because I do everything, if there’s something that I’m getting a lot of email issues about, I personally don’t wanna answer a ton of emails. So, I am also the engineering department so I’ll just go and I’ll change the way something works so I get less emails about it, right.

Joni: I love that.

Evan: And so, Story Origin is, like, very user…the user interface and everything is very intuitive because I wanna decrease the number of emails that I have to answer. So, you’ll find, like, tutorials and guides and, like…it’s everything. It’s, like, three clicks away at most. Yeah.

Joni: Yeah, so, like, I assume that you base what you’re doing a lot on user feedback.

Evan: Oh, yeah, for sure.

Joni: That’s awesome. And you’re part of the Facebook group?

Evan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah. I’m the admin of the Facebook group as well. So, you’ll definitely see me, like, answering a bunch of comments and questions in various posts as well.

Joni: Okay. Rachel and I are definitely two parts of a pretty tiny team so yeah. We feel you on trying to reduce the emails by making the UX better for sure.

Evan: Yeah. For sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Joni: And what has been the most valuable thing that you learned, like, either from user feedback or just in general along this journey?

Evan: I guess…useful how? Useful to me or useful to authors?

Joni: I guess useful to the business.

Evan: Useful to the business. I mean, that’s hard to say. I mean, I think a lot of it is about building a community and sharing success stories and strategies so that authors know how to make the most out of Story Origin, right, is because Story Origin offers so much that you can use. It’s really easy to just, like, you know, tuck yourself in a corner and just sort of use one part of it. But sharing success stories about like, “Oh, this is how one author got, you know, 50 reviews on their new release and here’s what they did.” So that those authors who aren’t taking advantage of, like, the review copy’s functionality might start to use it, right, or, you know, “This is how I set up, like, newsletter swaps for my discount periods so that I would boost my sales for it. And, like, also hopefully increase my readthrough in the book too.” So, like, sharing those strategies about how they, you know, set up newsletter swaps or group promos, doing, like, discount periods or promo periods are really helpful to authors and to the business, right, because it means that authors are getting more value out of Story Origin and then Story Origin just, you know, becomes more useful to them.

Joni: Yeah, definitely. It’s cool to be working on something that’s so dynamic and that you’re changing all the time and improving all the time. And I know you’re gonna say everyone. So, it sounds like there are a lot of features that would be useful to any indie author but is there anyone in particular that you think is…like, would find this service super useful? Like, we talked about coming from exclusive to wide for example or maybe if you’re a newer author. What if you’re a really established author?

Evan: So, in terms of, like, the lifecycle of an author, Story Origin can sort of be there whether you’re just starting out or if you’ve, like, scaled up and you’re really…you know, you’ve got really high sales. Story Origin can be really helpful to you sort of anywhere along that spectrum. Some of the features will be more or less useful depending on various factors, right, like maybe you’re in a genre that’s, like, really niche and you don’t find any other authors that are cross-promoting books in that, like, subgenre on Story Origin. Well, you might not find the cross-promotion features useful but the, like, the universal links and the reader magnets and the review copies, all those landing pages, so all of the infrastructure that Story Origin provides you with managing those processes and landing pages and assets can still be incredibly useful to you even if you’re not necessarily participating in the cross-promotional sides of Story Origin.

So, I would say in terms of, like…yeah. Author scale, it’s all over the place, right. You can be just starting out or huge. I would say where I see the most differentiation in terms of who it will be most useful to…sort of more depends on genre.

Rachel: And just in terms of practicalities, like, how does it work? Is it a yearly subscription and what…how does…how do authors sign up for it?

Evan: So, Story Origin, there is a free tier which you can use. I think that that free tier is only really helpful if you already bring your own audience to the table and you’re not really looking to build your audience. And then the paid tier is $10 per month and that includes, like, the reader magnets and the review copies and the audiobook promo code distribution features. So that is either $10 a month or $100 per year.

Rachel: That’s a good deal for what you’re getting.

Evan: Yeah, no, for sure. I mean, if you looked at trying to replicate what Story Origin does, you’d have to be signed up to several other platforms and you’d probably be paying that amount or more just for each one of those individual things and Story Origin does it all for you for just the price of one. Yeah.

Joni: Yeah, and I think with indie authors…are often so, so busy already and dividing their time into so many different tasks that being able to have one place where you can keep everything is super valuable. So that is cool. Are you working on any upcoming features or anything that you’d like to add or that is requested a lot?

Evan: I’m always working on features because that’s the majority of where I spend my time is programing and building new stuff. And so, I’m excited about that. I like to play the upcoming stuff a little bit close to the vest just because I don’t necessarily know what timeline I’m gonna be able to release it on. But one feature that I did just release is I added the ability to distribute Kobo audiobook promo codes through Story Origin. So, Story Origin, like we talked about with the review copies where you get to see a reviewer’s history and see the reviewer profiles and stuff before agreeing to give them a copy of your book, you can do the same thing with the promo codes that you receive for your audiobooks from various retailers or distributors. And so, I just added the option to distribute Kobo promo codes for your audiobooks. And Story Origin is, I think, the only platform that I know of where you can distribute those codes and you also get the sort of, like, reviewer stats and you’re put in the driver’s seat of who you approve for those codes. And it’s really valuable because you…generally, you only get a certain limited number of those codes. And so, each person that you give those out to, you really wanna make sure that they’re actually going to redeem the code and that they’re actually going to listen to the book and hopefully, leave a review. And so having these stats about, you know, like, what their completion process is for reviews and all of that stuff is incredibly helpful.

Joni: Yeah, that’s super valuable.

Evan: Yeah. And it saves a lot of authors time just like…because before Story Origin, most authors were handling this via, like, an Excel sheet, an email and then, like, trying to follow up with all these people that they distributed codes to at varying times. And so, it’s like, “I can’t just send an email blast out. I have to reach out to them, like, two weeks after I gave each person a code and those are all, like, all different days.” And so, keeping track of all this stuff is really difficult and Story Origin sort of automates all of that for you.

Rachel: Just speaking of time and time management, you are doing a lot. Do you have plans to kind of expand and bring anybody else into the Story Origin fold or do you enjoy kind of having your hands in everything?

Evan: I would definitely like to expand Story Origin in terms of the team and I’m not quite there yet but yeah. I mean, that’s definitely something that I would like to do soon.

Joni: And we like to ask people…this is a hard question but do you have any predictions or ideas about the next 5 to 10 years of publishing or specifically indie publishing?

Evan: You know, I just…I think that everything is always sort of disentangling the traditional publishing, right, where, you know, you essentially wrote a book and then you’d give it to a publishing house and then they would just do everything for you, right. So now it’s all about sort of taking all those different arms that they would handle for you, right, whether that’s the marketing, getting the reviews, you know. All that stuff. And being able to manage it yourself as an author. And so, Story Origin is sort of helping to basically take that marketing arm that they would do all that stuff for you at a traditional publisher and being able to allow you to do it yourself. And I think it’s just…over time is more…that we’ll see is will be…we’ll just see those various parts of what traditional publishers did for you becoming easier and easier over time.

Rachel: And what do you think the best thing that you’ve done personally for your business has been?

Evan: Making money. So, Story Origin was in a free and open beta for a very, very long time as I was building out features and making it an incredibly robust system that could do more than anything else really. And so, I just…you know, wasn’t too long ago that I initially launched the paid plans and so yeah. I think with that, I’ll be able to do so much more with Story Origin and really be able to double down on stuff.

Joni: I think that’s really important because when, like, indie authors take on so much on their own…but there’s still stuff that some authors can’t do like you’re gonna pay to get your book edited, for the cover design and to have one place to keep everything, marketing organized. I think that’s incredibly valuable.

Evan: Yeah, yeah. For sure. And I guess one thing that we didn’t talk about as well but is at least, like, an interesting thing is Story Origin, you can also track your writing goals. So, you can set, like, goals for when you want to have a book done and what your wordcount is and then you can track that wordcount on Story Origin. And you can…you’ll get, like, updates of what your daily wordcount goal needs to be in order to, like, hit your completion deadline. So, if you wanna write 50,000 words in 2 months, like, Story Origin will tell you, “You need to write X number of words per day.” And then each day you can go in and you can log those words and all of that stuff. And so, one thing that I found really interesting is, like, this was a feature no one expected from Story Origin. Like, Story Origin’s all about, like, this marketing aspect side of things and then I released it and people were like, “Why did you do this, Evan? This doesn’t fit.” And then people started using it and then they were like, “Actually, this has really changed the game for me in terms of, like, how on top of I am with my writing and my release schedule.” So, this is actually incredibly helpful to me and even though it’s this, like, thing that sort of you don’t necessarily associate with Story Origin, it’s…yeah. It’s sort of been a gamechanger for a lot of people. So yeah. That’s the one other thing I like to mention.

Rachel: That’s interesting. I think it’s smart because authors can’t really separate the marketing part from the craft part. Like, you’ve gotta do the writing to market it. And so, treating them like they’re completely separate entities really doesn’t make that much sense. It’s kind of cool to have it integrated because it is integrated. Do they write, like, in the platform itself or is more, like, you type in, like, how many words you’ve done?

Evan: You just enter the number of words that you’ve done on Story Origin and then Story Origin will create graphs and stuff for you. So, it doesn’t matter if you write in Word or Google Docs or Scrivener, whatever you want. You just enter your wordcount on Story Origin and it gives you, like, your graphs and what your target is and all of that stuff.

Rachel: Would you ever consider doing, like, a kind of Scrivener, Vellum, like, type platform within it or is that just too far from the marketing aspect?

Evan: That’s something that I’ve thought about and it’s not something that I’ve ever pursued just because there are already so many versions of that that I’m not sure that I can build something on Story Origin that would differentiate it enough that it would really be extremely valuable to authors. And so yeah. I mean, it’s something I’ve certainly thought about. I’m just not sure that I can offer something that’s really that amazing there.

Rachel: Fair enough. I think you’ve got a lot on your plate already.

Evan: This is true. Though I mean, I think, you know, authors are…you know, because I’m so interactive with authors and I talk with them so much, right, like, I send out a newsletter with sort of each feature update of what I’ve built on Story Origin or what I’m working on. And so, I…yeah, I mean, having that feedback with authors is something that I get a lot of but I don’t have many authors asking me to build the next writing platform for them.

Rachel: Got it. All right. Let’s finish off with some of our rapid-fire book questions, if that’s okay.

Evan: Yeah.

Rachel: Can you tell us what was the last book that you read and enjoyed?

Evan: So, I’m currently in the middle of reading “NPCs” which is a…well, actually I’m reading the follow-up book by Drew Hayes. It’s called “Split the Party.” It’s the sequel to “NPCs.” It’s a lit RPG book. I’m super into lit RPGs. So, I’m a programmer and I love the crunchy stats and I love hearing about people leveling up and that’s how I like to think about Story Origin as well as, like, you know, I’m adding all these various, you know, features and capabilities. It’s like, you know, I’ve got plus one now to my whatever, intelligence or something.

Joni: I love that so much.

Evan: Yeah.

Rachel: I’m gonna go off our list, just a little off book here. Do you have a favorite RPG just in any platform, whether book, video game, board game?

Evan: So, I would say I watched…so I got started with lit RPG sort of coming from anime. So, I watched a lot of lit RPG. I mean, it’s not called lit RPG when it’s anime but I watched quite a few animes that were sort of, like, you know…it’s called Isekai. So, it’s, like, typically, you know, you die and then you show up in this new world but, like, the new world is, like, very much like a video game where, like, you have levels and stats and stuff like this. And the first one of that genre that I…I’m not sure it’s necessarily the first one that I watched but it was called “Sword Art Online.” And that’s when I sort of realized that it was a genre that like, oh, this thing where, like, basically you drop someone into, like, a video game reality and, like, they live their life sort of in a video game was from “Sword Art Online.” And then that’s when I got into like…okay, how can I find more content that’s like this because I discovered like…oh, I like this and I wanna find more stuff like it.

Rachel: Sounds right up my alley. I’m going to be looking into this after this interview.

Evan: Yeah, yeah. You should. Let me know what you think. And if you want any more recommendations, I consumed probably more of this than I should, yeah.

Rachel: I will be taking you up on that.

Evan: Yeah.

Joni: All right. Our next more book related question. Is there a book that you recommend the most to people who ask?

Evan: No, there’s not a book that I recommend the most per se and it would depend on what I think that person’s interests are. So, I mean, I try to tailor my recommendations to, like, what I think your interests might be. One book that I found, like, really…”Ender’s Game” when I was a kid was just, like, “This is an amazing book.” And I got my whole family…I think I got my dad in. I think I got my brother to read it. I don’t know if I ever got my mom to read it. But yeah. I mean, “Ender’s Game” was, like, a very compelling book to me as a kid. And so, if I were to just, like, give a general recommendation to someone of a book to read, I would probably say “Ender’s Game.”

Joni: This is great. Well, we’ll link to those books in our show notes. And the website for Story Origin is storyoriginapp.com.

Evan: Yep. That’s right. And you’ll find if you just scroll to the bottom of the homepage or if you just hit the contact page, you will find my email address right there. And anyone can send me an email and I will respond.

Joni: You might even make the platform better to stop those emails.

Evan: Yeah. That’s right.

Joni: Awesome, I love that. Thank you so much. This has been great.

Evan: Yeah, thanks so much for having me on.

Rachel: Thank you for listening to the “Kobo Writing Life” podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about Story Origin, we will have links on the blog. And if you are enjoying this podcast, please be sure to rate, review and subscribe. And if you’re looking for more tips on growing your self-publishing business, you can find us at kobowritinglife.com and be sure to follow us on socials. We are @kobowritinglife on Facebook and Twitter and @kobo.writing.life on Instagram.

Joni: This episode was produced by Rachel Wharton and Joni Di Placido. Editing is by Kelly Robotham. Our theme music is provided by Tear Jerker and big thanks to Evan Gow of Story Origin for being our guest today. If you’re ready to start your self-publishing journey, sign up at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.