Fictorio.us originally launched in 2013 as a tumblr blog on a 100% selfish whim. I was tired of reading books that I felt I could have written better, but having no motivation to actually write the stories. This led me to want to crowd source the creation of stories that I wanted to read.
I will take you on a journey through time outlining all of the major pivots and near-death experiences of Fictorio.us.
What is in a name?
As the name eludes, “fictorious” is a play on fiction and victorious.
It started life as a weekly writing competition site in 2013. Each week I would post a new prompt, and email the prompt out to the 6 people who were subscribed. The only problem is there were not enough people submitting stories, so it floundered and died within a few months.
Then I had a eureka moment (probably in the shower). The reason it didn’t work is because who wants to spend time writing a story and compete for bragging rights only!? It made so much sense. So from then on (late 2013), I added cash prizes to the prompts. $5, $10, and $15 prizes. I just knew the submissions would begin rolling in.
Well, they didn’t. On top of that, the 10 people I now had in my email list had started unsubscribing. Once again, fictorio.us was circling the toilet bowl.
Not learning anything, I though it had to be the cash prizes weren’t high enough. So I upped the prizes to $10, $15, and $25 respectively, and then more over, I reached out to a few of the tumblr blogs I followed that wrote about writing.
So, instant success?
A big, fat nopers.
My life was starting to get busy, and I let the blog die. On occasion I would receive a message from someone wanting to submit a story, but they weren’t interested unless the competition was running.
In early 2016, I tried to rehash the idea as a social site that allowed people to create and run their own writing competitions. It ran on Stripe, you would create a competition set the prizes, then fund it. But working full time left me no time to finish the project and it never launched.
In late 2016, I was working with an editor on a fantasy novella I wrote (still not finished), when it came to me, just pay ghostwriters to pen stories for you. I researched ghostwriters, and found I couldn’t afford any of them, but I pinned this idea on my Trello ideas board, and went on with life.
A few months later, probably May or June of 2017, I was talking with an old client about his blog and how he has time to update it daily, and he let me in on a little secret – freelance writers. He showed me Upwork (which of course, as a developer, I knew of) and how to find writers to write anything you want, and the beauty is they pen stories for 90% less than the big ghostwriting firms I had found searching Google. It still isn’t cheap, but it is a lot more doable than $0.20-$0.50/word unedited.
So I started hiring ghostwriters on Upwork, Freelancer, and even Craigslist. Quality wasn’t what I was hoping early on, and I was spending 3-4 hours editing these stories, but after dozens of attempts, I finally started finding authors who took pride in delivering amazing work, and I hired an editor to polish up each story.
So in this final iteration of fictorio.us (I hope), I am finally getting the stories I want, for way more than a book costs, but they are mine!
Why open it up?
In a comment on Hacker News, I mentioned to a people that I was doing this, and they seemed very interested, so I figured once I had a few more stories in the library, I would start publishing them to Amazon Kindle or something like that. But until the library is big enough to warrant something like that, I will just publish them here as they come in and get edited.