Inkshares is a small online publishing company whose name is slowly beginning to branch out to the world. It is a company where writers have a chance to publish works they have been longing to share with the help of readers and it is a wonderful community for writers to talk with one another and to help each other out. One such source to help share the Inkshares name is the WriteBrain podcast hosted by two pioneer Inkshares writers: JF Dubeau and Paul Inman.
Dubeau and Inman were a part of the Sword & Laser Collection Contest, the first contest Inkshares ever offered in 2015, and were two of the six winners for the contest. Dubeau won with his science fiction story The Life Engineered, recently published this past March, and is close to reaching his preorder goal to publish his fantasy horror novel A God in the Shed. Inman won with his science fiction story Ageless which will be hitting bookshelves by early May. The end of the contest not only made these two captivating writers published authors, but it also introduced the podcast that would be known as WriteBrain.
The writers for the first contest were isolated from each other and Dubeau said that the writers saw one another as enemies and that there was not much sense of community. Towards the end of the contest; however, the writers finally lowered their guards and began to communicate. “We were discussing different ways Inkshares could help the community and help authors,” Dubeau said. “Someone floated the idea that Inkshares themselves should do a podcast. [Inkshares was really busy and couldn’t do one], but someone who knew I was already doing another podcast, I think Paul, said, ‘You should do one.’ And I think I answered, ‘You should do it with me,’ because during the second contest, Paul had been going through all the participants and recording very good voice narratives of each of everybody’s prologue or first chapter. Paul was one of the spearheads of the community.”
Inman said that Dubeau had come to him and both decided to give the trial podcast a shot for they had done a test run prior to see if they would be compatible hosting together. “We sent [the podcast] over to Jeremey Thomas [the CEO of Inkshares] and said, ‘Hey, give this a listen and see if you think that this is something that would be cool for us to do.’ And the next thing we knew, he was sharing it on Twitter,” Inman said. “We were like, ‘Ah, that was a dry run. We weren’t really doing it.’ But then we said, ‘Guess we better have an episode for next week.’” Dubeau said, “In the end, we were forced from prototype to production model pretty quickly.”
The WriteBrain podcast is, theoretically, a weekly podcast, but with Dubeau just coming off a campaign for his debut while also funding a new book and Inman just beginning his campaign for his debut, it has been difficult. Their listeners do not mind, though, and are pleasantly surprised when a new episode is live and these two writers are worth waiting for. They agree to disagree a majority of the time and their back and forth banter provides great entertainment for their listeners.
The overarching theme for their podcast is each of their own personal histories in the publishing world. “We’re both going through these steps for the first time and, if one of us isn’t going through anything, the other is definitely going through some kind of publishing-related life event, so we always have something to talk about. Even now, now that some of the books are hitting shelves, we have the opportunity to talk to some of the Inkshares authors as their books are getting published, give them a bit of visibility, but also learn from what their experiences have been,” Dubeau said. “We’ve talked to Jim McDoniel who did An Unattractive Vampire. We talked to the glorious Derek Adams who did Asteroid Made of Dragons. I think we’re planning on keeping that trend going where we’re going to invite authors who have upcoming books that are soon to be published. We also talked a bit about having some authors who are trying to promote their books to try to give them a hand. The only thing we kind of try to shy away from to not show any preferential treatment is whenever there’s a contest, we steer clear of any of the participants and their books. We try not to promote anyone above someone else.”
Inman was in agreement with Dubeau. They agreed to promote the contests themselves, but do not wish to play favorites. “We want to see everybody succeed if they can. That’s what we push towards and that’s why we stay out of these contests. We know from experience that they can get kind of cutthroat,” Inman said. “We have a three segment format where we have banter about what is going on with us specifically and where we are in the publishing process. Then we usually pick a few books each week from the many books that are on Inkshares and we talk them up, spend a few minutes talking about why we like them, what the pros and even the cons are to their campaign page, etc. [These cover the first two segments.] The final segment is usually where JF and I have a topic of the week and, depending on what is going on with our own journey, is kind of where we chose our topics from. They can range from how to get your campaign page to look good, what to do to have a successful campaign, how to [reach out to] get more backers, etc.”
With what both Dubeau and Inman have encountered on their publishing journeys thus far, they understand the stress writers, especially Inkshares writers who are part of a crowd-funding community, have while trying to promote their books. Writers are very humble people and Dubeau and Inman are no different. When it came to promoting themselves, it was difficult for neither one likes being the center of attention. “I remember when I was funding, I actually printed out a bunch of email sheets, I got a clipboard, and I went out to the local mall and walked around for an hour and talked to one person because I just couldn’t do it,” Inman said. “I’m standing there [telling myself], ‘Look, you’re doing this for you, man,’ trying to build myself up, ‘You can do this! You can do it!’ Then somebody would walk by me and I would turn around.” Writers on Inkshares are very thankful to the people who support their campaigns, but it is much easier to promote another writer’s work than one’s own and Dubeau and Inman can vouch for that. “I could not walk around a mall, talk to strangers about my book, and try to sell it. Give me that clipboard and ask me to sell Paul’s book? No problem,” Dubeau said. Inman said, “I feel that way too. In my life, I’ve done sales, so I know how to sell something, but when you’re sitting there and it’s your thing you’re selling, it just becomes this whole different monster. It’s difficult, but that’s kind of, at least from my perspective, why this podcast is a good thing because there are plenty of people who are probably in a really similar situation.”
The WriteBrain podcast has over 100 subscribers already! Both Dubeau and Inman have split their responsibilities very well when it comes to running their podcast, Dubeau hosting the actual podcasts on his website and controlling the updates while Inman handles the more technical aspects such as editing the episodes. “When we first started out doing this, I never expected we would have 150 listeners and the good thing about our show is that every time you come, you’re going to, at the very least, hear something new that we are completely just struggling with and you’ll also hear about some books too. We try to mix it up and we do as many different kinds of books as we can,” Inman said.
Dubeau and Inman don’t like to call Inkshares a crowd-funded publisher, but rather a hybrid publisher because they wish to change how publishing is done and both writers wish to share the experience writers will have with Inkshares through their podcast. “I think if I could say anything, our podcast is meant to be for and about the community. It’s meant to grow the Inkshares platform and we are trying to speak to writers getting on the platform, but also to people who are just curious about the process,” Dubeau said. “So anybody who is listening to our podcast, I would love it if you guys would find other people who might be interested and just tell them about it. Not because we want to increase our listenership to get sponsors, but mostly because I see the growth of the podcast as being one of many tools to help grow the Inkshares community. Growing the Inkshares community is key to being able to turn Inkshares into a marketplace and that is where it is really going to reach its full potential.”
“I agree and that it’s a symbiotic relationship: as Inkshares grows, I would think that we will grow and vice versa,” Inman said. “We want to see the marketplace and I can’t put it any better than Jeremey has put it before. He compares it to being a fruit stand: he wants the authors to bring their fruits and he wants everybody to come and shop around and you shouldn’t have to chase people down with your apples and say, ‘Here, buy my apple, it’s awesome!’ He wants the market to be sustainable on its own without being a crowd-funding kind of platform because it is different.” As a hybrid publisher, Inkshares holds so much potential for future writers who wish to be published. With the readers choosing the books to be published, Inkshares will back whatever books the readers will back and will put the writers as well as their manuscripts through a publishing process that will promise the best version of the book possible come its actual publication. The word about Inkshares is spreading and the WriteBrain podcast is a must for interested readers and writers alike.