Episode Explained: Story Purchasing

Hello Episodians,

In this installment of Episode Explained we’re going to answer common questions about what Episode currently looks for when purchasing stories for possible featuring on the app. These are stories that typically start their life on Episode as Community stories.

What does becoming a Featured Story mean?
A Featured Story is different from stories that appear on a weekly themed shelf, Editor’s Picks, or a Contest Winner’s Shelf.

A Featured Story is one that has been worked on by the Episode Team, contains gem choices, often grants a gem for reading a chapter, and is owned by Episode.

What is the process for Episode purchasing a story?
Right now, we have a multipart process for picking stories that involve both a quantitative and qualitative review.

The first step is quantitative review. This means we look at story performance metrics in the app. First, we look at what players already think of the story. We do this by looking at how many people who see the story decide to read it which we call adoption (the number of readers who start your story compared to all other community stories over the same timer period). Then how many players keep reading the story, retention (a measure of how many chapters someone reads in your story once they start it) Together, these numbers give us a sense of which stories are doing a really good job of both drawing readers in and then keeping them enthralled. Additionally, we often use story script keywords to refine the list of stories. We end up with a list of a couple of dozen stories.

The next step is the qualitative review, which means we take a closer look at the content of the story. Using a grading rubric similar to the one we use to pick shelf stories and contest winners, our Story Team reads the first few chapters of each of the selected stories and assesses the story/plot, characters, opportunities for gem choices, and the style/tone/voice.

Recently we’ve added a couple of new steps to our process. We have our Support Teams take a look to see if there are issues with the story or authors that may violate our community standards. Our Review team also reads the story to identify any content guidelines issues. If a story makes it through all of the above steps, it’s sent over to our business team, who reaches out to the authors and starts the process of purchasing a story.

What does Episode look for in stories they purchase?
Generally, Episode is looking for stories we believe will resonate with the broader Episode audience. These are stories that generally have aspirational and/or relatable main characters, and feature love interests who are likable, swoon-worthy, and ultimately good people, even if it takes changing and growing during the course of the story for their goodness to shine through.

We’re not looking for any one type of story in particular, but a set of stories across a number of categories that appeal across Episode’s audience: stories that explore new areas, whether that be genres we haven’t done a lot of, or main characters who feel unique, or elements of diversity or representation that are underrepresented among our existing catalog of stories.

What can I do to give my story a better chance of being purchased?
Some of the things we love to see in stories at this time, but which are not required are:

  • Main characters and love interests who have diverse backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, etc.
    • We like stories that already have or can support story branches for multiple gendered love interests
  • Stories that have at least 8 chapters and approximately 1500 lines per chapter.
  • Stories that offer character customization.
  • Stories which have meaningful choices or which have branching choices
  • Stories that include an accurate story summary and relevant search keywords. This helps your readers and the Episode Story Team locate your story. You can read more about Search Keywords here.

What are some reasons Episode might decide not to purchase a story?
We might decide not to purchase a story for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons might include:

  • A story that doesn’t have any choices or which doesn’t lend itself well to adding gem choices.
  • It contains content or guidelines issues that would be too difficult or costly to fix or which would substantially alter the plot of the story.
  • Its themes or tone are too dark, mature or it might only appeal to a small or niche audience.
  • The story would require too much editing, usually structural things around plot, pacing or goals for the characters.
  • The story does not have enough chapters for us to release it or it technically has enough chapters but the chapters are too short or don’t contain enough content or plot.