Inkshares, Nerdist, and Geek & Sundry release first contest in year-long series

Writers can submit works of science fiction until March 15th for possible publication in the Nerdist or Geek & Sundry collections on Inkshares [Photo Credit: Matt Kaye]

It has begun! The year of 2016 proves to be an exciting one as a collaboration effort is now underway between Inkshares, Nerdist, and Geek & Sundry! The online reader-driven publisher along with the two popular media companies owned by Legendary Digital Networks (LDN) have a lineup of six publishing contests for 2016 that will be targeting popular themes found in science fiction and fantasy. Each of the contests will be introduced to the public every two months and will each last six weeks. The three winners of each contest will be published through Inkshares and one or more of these same winners will be chosen by either Nerdist or Geek & Sundry to be a part of their collection on Inkshares.

Jeremy Thomas, CEO and Co-founder of Inkshares, said the idea for the publishing contest series resulted from a brainstorming session between LDN and Inkshares. “We [Inkshares] first had a “blue sky” meeting, then flew down to LA to talk with LDN about our ideas after they had expressed interest in continuing to work with us. Once we aligned strategically, our VP of Marketing, Matt Kaye, worked with Rachel Heine and Ryan Copple, [General Manager of Geek & Sundry] at LDN to define and schedule our contests,” Thomas said.

Kicking off the month of February and the first contest of the publishing contest series is the Nerdist: Space Opera Contest. For readers who have grown up and fallen in love with Bradbury, Asimov, Heinlein, and Wells; for viewers who have watched Star Wars, Star Trek, and Firefly countless times; for writers who dream of life beyond the stars and adventures to planets and galaxies unknown; now is the time to submit the work that will bring those dreams to life. Nearly 40 writers have submitted their works in just the first week of the contest and the community of writers and dreamers continues to expand with each passing day.

Rachel Heine, Editor-in-Chief of Nerdist, said that The Nerdist Collection Contest with Inkshares last year had a very broad theme of science fiction and fantasy and Nerdist wanted to find a specific theme that would excite writers for the Nerdist: Space Opera Contest. “These are all themes that speak to the audience across all our favorite mediums — not just books, but also film and TV, or comics and video games. Many of us write about the stories we want to read and watch ourselves. I know I do. So why not choose topics we know the audience is already interested in? Hopefully each theme will speak to our audience in a unique way and shed some light on new voices in the genre space,” Heine said.

Even with Nerdist hosting the first contest of the series, winners for this and the next five contests could be chosen to be a part of either the Nerdist or Geek & Sundry collection on Inkshares. “At the end of each contest, both Nerdist and Geek & Sundry will be looking at the winners to see which one would be a good fit for our collection. So theoretically, Nerdist could choose a book from a Geek & Sundry contest, or vice versa, or even both at the same time! It really depends on the individual story,” Heine said.

This is Inkshares and Geek & Sundry’s first collaboration together and both are excited to see what lies in store in the contests to come. “Geek & Sundry appeals to a slightly different crowd than Nerdist. And we’re excited to tap into subjects like LARPing and video games, with them,” Thomas said. Claudia Sanchez, Director of Brand Marketing for Geek & Sundry, said they were thrilled to be a part of this series with Inkshares and their friends at Nerdist. “We can’t wait to discover emerging talent and to share their work with our audience. Our community is so incredibly talented and they share their gifts with us often, so we are excited that they have a platform like Inkshares in which to express themselves!” Sanchez said.

With the Nerdist: Space Opera Contest being the first in a new publishing contest series, it could be considered the guinea pig contest to see how writers will take to the series. Inkshares, Nerdist, and Geek & Sundry have hopes that it will get writers excited for the future contests to come. Inkshares hopes to create a “frenzy of interest” to get both readers and writers engaged. “Our aim is to fill Inkshares with hundreds of thousands of engaged readers who eagerly look for the next great book to get behind,” Thomas said. “The goal of the first contest, then, is to create a frenzy of interest in a very specific sub-genre of sci-fi and fantasy. ‘Space Opera’ is the largest sub-genre of science fiction, and we hope to use this to perpetuate said ‘frenzy’ for later contests. The next contest will be a related sub-genre, which will then appeal to a large portion of the people who registered with us during the first, and so on.”

Heine is personally excited to see what writers believe “Space Opera” is to them. “Some of the reference points we gave were Dune and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Those two couldn’t be more different! There’s so much room to play with the theme, so many interesting characters and settings and adventures and conflicts to create, so I think it’s a very intriguing kick-off point,” Heine said. “We also, of course, want to raise more awareness for this year’s contests. If writers are not interested in this particular theme, there are still five more to choose from throughout the year.” As far as the next theme goes, intrigued writers will find out in two months when Geek & Sundry announces the theme for the contest they will be hosting. “We are excited to take on different genres and build our two libraries under both the Geek & Sundry and Nerdist brands in order to share a collection of amazing books that captivate our audiences’ imaginations,” Sanchez said.

The most difficult part for writers when it comes to submitting their work to a writing or publishing contest is actually submitting their work. It is incredibly intimidating for writers to put their work out in the world for others to read and critique, but as writers have mentioned from previous contests through Inkshares: do not be afraid. Inkshares, Nerdist, and Geek & Sundry along with the many readers and participating writers have formed a wonderful community where there is encouragement, helpful advice, and camaraderie.

Inkshares is always supportive of writers and they have ways to help nervous writers who are new to entering their stories. “Writing is very personal, and the notion of opening your work to the scrutiny of the internet is daunting indeed. But we’ve been fortunate to have a very supportive and helpful community of authors who have been through ‘the Inkshares system’ before. We encourage new authors to reach out to authors through [the welcome forum] on Inkshares with questions,” Thomas said. “Next, follow people on Inkshares, and leave feedback for other authors! There’s very much a ‘give and get’ theme to the way people interact with each other on Inkshares. Last, use the Reader Pipeline — a feature we built in Inkshares to help authors jumpstart their pre-order campaigns. Almost all of our successful authors have used it obsessively to manage outreach.” Nerdist and Geek & Sundry also want to encourage writers to put their work out there. Heine said, “If you’re on the fence about entering, just submit something! You can always flesh out your idea as the contest progresses, and you might find some inspiration from reader comments and feedback. You never know who might fall in love with your concept.” Sanchez said, “Sharing your creativity isn’t always easy, but the only bad idea is not putting it out there.”

With the kick-off of the Nerdist: Space Opera Contest, this is a time for fans of science fiction who have an idea and who love to write to submit their work for possible publication! It is an exciting start to a new series that promises so many opportunities for more writers in the upcoming months. The “Space Opera” campaign will go until March 15th and, with nearly 40 writers already sharing their ideas with readers everywhere, it is thrilling to wonder how many more writers will add their science fiction stories to the contest before its conclusion.

Originally published at www.examiner.com on February 6, 2016.

Reader, writer, reviewer, and future editor. Looking at life with hope and happiness, no matter what happens.

Reader, writer, reviewer, and future editor. Looking at life with hope and happiness, no matter what happens.