Saturday, January 29, 2011

InkPop's First Big Break

©2011 Leigh Fallon/HarperCollins

A little over a year ago, HarperCollins launched inkpop, an online community/social network aimed at connecting "up-and-coming authors with talent spotters and publishing professionals in the teen market", as well as providing a forum for said up-and-coming authors to test out ideas and give/get feedback on each others' submissions. It's also been described as "interactive writing platform for teens," reportedly receiving a number of submissions from member-authors as young as 13. The site has grown pretty steadily since then, and now has yielded its first success story. Here's the press release I received earlier this week:
HarperCollins Publishing The Carrier of the Mark
HarperCollins Publishers announced today the first acquisition from inkpop The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon will be published by HarperTeen in September of this year!
"I was in the throes of those revisions when I got an email from Erica, an editor at HarperCollins," Leigh explained. "She wanted to work with me on revisions if I was interested." One month later HarperCollins made an offer to publish The Carrier of the Mark.

“For many people the rise to the Top Five on inkpop is a very long process, but for Leigh, The Carrier of the Mark shot to the top of the list. This was one of our first key indications that it was an outstanding project,” said Susan Katz, President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books. HarperCollins Children’s Books is thrilled about this acquisition and is looking forward to announcing more projects acquired from inkpop in the coming months. In the mean time, inkpop will take an in-depth look at the publishing process, following Leigh Fallon as The Carrier of the Mark goes from manuscript to the book stores. Through live chats, blog posts and more inkpop members will hear from the literary agent, editor and all the people who are helping to bring The Carrier of the Mark to a book store near you.
You can read the first draft here: The Carrier of the Mark
And be sure to check out Leigh Fallon's (the author's) personal blog.

This is a very interesting, and potentially quite significant, development - one that definitely warrants a further investigation and analysis. My initial impulse was to wonder about content ownership and whether or not the publisher has included a right of first refusal in its terms of service for the site. A cursory glance, however, indicates not - contributors retain ownership rights over their submissions, while the publisher claims they only want to find new talent and provide a space for this talent to develop (where they can see it). Which is, well, pretty awesome! On the other hand, HarperCollins also claims limited, non-exclusive rights to publish and display users' content, both on the inkpop site and third-party websites, which would make it decidedly more difficult for an inkpop author to get a publishing deal elsewhere. Which is - well, less awesome and a bit confusing. Does anyone know of any studies or research into this community, the business model its based on, authorship issues, the implications of these terms, etc.? I'm definitely interested in finding out more. Such a seemingly different case than the previous examples I've seen of the tightening (blurring?) relationships between publishers-authors-and-readers (such as Alloy Entertainment). Some good comparative critical analysis simply must be conducted!


inkpopBecki said...

Actually other publishers are fine with looking work that has been on inkpop. We have an inkpop member who is being published by Simon and Schuster in September.

inkpopBecki said...

Actually other publishers are happy to look at work coming from inkpop. We have an inkpop member who published her work on inkpop and now has a book deal with Simon and Schuster. We're actually doing a live chat with her soon.

Sara M. Grimes said...

Hey inkpopBecki - Thank you so much for the clarification!!! It's very much appreciated - and also quite wonderful to hear.