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Story Cartel: Helping authors connect with readers

JoeBunting-author Joe Bunting is on a mission to bring readers and writers together. Joe recently asked me to do an interview about Scrivener, so I checked him out, and he has some interesting things going on. He’s the founder of a popular site for writers called The Write Practice, and a site that brings readers and writers together, called Story Cartel.

I was intrigued by the Story Cartel concept, so Joe agreed to answer some questions about it.

Q: Welcome, Joe! Can you explain what Story Cartel is?

We all want more readers for our books. Story Cartel helps authors connect with readers through the power of generosity. When an author gives their book away for free through Story Cartel, they create a new connection with a reader who could become a lifetime fan of the author's books. In return, the author gets the reader's email address and has the opportunity to cement that trust relationship over time.

We also ask readers to leave reviews in exchange for the free books. We've helped authors get hundreds of reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and book review blogs.

sc-round-logoQ: What prompted you to start Story Cartel?

Two years ago, I started a blog about writing as a way to build an online platform for my fiction. To my surprise, the site took off and became one of the most respected writing blogs online. However, while I love my blog, I've found that readers of my writing blog rarely become readers of my fiction. Jeff Goins and I started Story Cartel as a way to build a platform devoted specifically to readers, not writers.

So far we've helped New York Times and Amazon bestselling authors get reviews on their backlist; we've helped publishers run their book launches; and of course, we've helped independent authors begin to connect with a larger audience.

Q: How do you promote Story Cartel to readers and authors? That is, how are they finding the site?

That's a big question, but the short answer is that Jeff Goins and I are both using our platforms to help other authors build theirs.

Q: If an author is interested in being part of Story Cartel, what do they have to do?

Story Cartel is currently invite only, but authors can sign up here to be notified when we're open to new authors. Story Cartel is free to authors, so there is really no risk. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to build your audience.

Q: Why do you limit the number of authors who can be involved, and when will you open Story Cartel up to new authors?

We want to provide the best possible service to every author, but because of our small size, we can only do that to a few authors at a time, right now. In the next few months, though, we'll be inviting all authors to share their book on Story Cartel for free.

Q: Tell us more about your other site, The Write Practice.

The core idea behind The Write Practice is how do you deliberately practice the craft of writing? Since we began two years ago, hundreds of authors have participated in our daily, practical exercises. The Write Practice has twice been named a Top 10 blog for writers by Write to Done, but what really excites me are the amazing writers who show up to learn every day. It's such an honor to be part of such an exciting community.

Q: I understand you’re a Scrivener user. Windows or Mac? How long have you been using it?

I love Scrivener. I started using it while writing my second book, and it saved me so many hours of frustration that I'll never go back to Word.

Q: What do you write in Scrivener?

I write everything in Scrivener: non-fiction books, novels, short stories, magazine articles.

Q: What’s next for you?

We're currently creating a community for authors who want to both learn to write better and build their audience, something of a combination between Story Cartel and The Write Practice. It will be launching in March.

Q: Thanks so much for answering my questions today!

Thank you Gwen, and thanks for helping me get the most out of Scrivener. I've learned a lot from you.

Joe Bunting is the founder of Story Cartel, a website that helps authors build their audience and get reviews. He is also the creator of The Write Practice which was twice named a Top 10 Blog for Writers. He writes fiction and non-fiction.

Energizing the electric car

Want instant acceleration, a smooth ride, and plenty of zip in your car? Go electric.

Why don’t we hear that more?

Why don't car companies appeal to our patriotism by emphasizing the independence from foreign oil that comes with a plug?

Texas cut back drastically on littering with their “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign because it struck a chord with macho, patriotic young men. They used Dallas Cowboys football players to further the message, and basically made it cool to not litter.

Electric cars need a similar campaign.

I’m a bit of a tree hugger, so I don’t need you to sell me on a car’s powerful engine or superior handling, but I’m not the average American either. In general, we love speed, power, and style. Sure, Tesla’s cars have all of those in spades—plus an average run of almost 300 miles per charge!—but they also start in the mid-$50s, a bit out of most people’s price range.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Even the smaller cars like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV start at around $29K. And that puppy is small. I drove one over the weekend and was really impressed with its get-up-and-go, but not so much with its size or range. Good for a commuter car, not so much for a family car. And I say that as a mom who drives a small SUV instead of a minivan or large SUV.

So, come on, marketing people. Give me campaigns that emphasize the sexy, powerful, fun aspect of electric cars. Make them cool for macho young men and everyone else will follow. Make them a patriotic purchase that no red-blooded American can resist.

A Tesla Model S Signature and a Tesla Roadster

Designers, give us more cars like Tesla's, that marry style with function. Not everyone wants to drive an electric car—or hybrid for that matter, think Fisker Karma (drool)—that looks like an electric car. We just want cool cars that happen to be good for the Earth too.


All photos are my own work.