PLEASE READ: Let me know your thoughts on Episode’s actions

So recently Episode published a post on their Episode creator’s account about hiring new commissioned authors. Personally, I believe this is a fabulous idea. It gives more individuals the ability to create stories and simultaneously get paid to do so. However, my concern comes when you look at the criteria.

  • Criteria 1: Episode creator’s claims you need to have a large following on social media.
    This is understandable to some degree, but also not completely. It’s understandable in the sense that people with a high Instagram follower count can share the post/information of their Episode commissioned story with more people. This will promote the app better and allow for more reads on said commissioned story. I can understand that.
    However, at the same time, Episode promotes the story themselves and most people that are on the Episode side of Instagram will follow the Episode Instagram account. This allows Episode to share the story information themselves. So in this case, why is it important for the creator to have a bunch of followers? When famous authors start off writing, they don’t start with thousands of readers. Maybe a couple hundred, yes, but not tens of thousands. Looking deeper at it, it seems like a tactic by which episode can use to promote large authors over small authors and depreciate the voice of small authors instead of supporting them.

  • Criteria 2: Episode asks for top 10 treading authors to apply for the rolls of commissioned Episode creators.
    This concept is incredibly similar to the Instagram one. I can understand it, but again it seems as though Episode is depreciating the voices of small authors.
    There are so many talented authors out there that haven’t been sought out yet because getting a lot of reads and trending is incredibly difficult. And, not only that, but looking at the trending stories the same authors take up the top 10 spots. This yet again highlights the concept that episode is overlooking the talented smaller authors for those that simply have more followers.
    Another critique of this (although it could be seen as a completely different argument) is that some of these top 10 authors writes stories that promote… questionable material. The amount of toxicity in these stories is astronomical. So is Episode promoting toxic concepts for the sake of popularity over wholesome content by lesser known individuals? I suppose that’s yore you to decide.

My next Episode topic is about the contests.
I’ve spoken to many authors about this, and I know for certain that I’m not the only one noticing these trends.
When episode first established creator’s writing contests, it was centered around authors being able to gain a platform with more readers. This in it of itself promoted stories written by small authors. But over time I’ve noticed that the basis of these contests has shifted a bit.
The authors winning these contests have absolutely amazing stories that should be read, but many of the winners are well known authors. I’m not trying to say that bug authors shouldn’t win contests, not’s not at all what I’m saying. I’m just wondering whether the same authors should be winning every contest over smaller authors. Let’s be real, people in the Episode community will read what Episode promotes. If a story makes a shelf, that’s how you get the most reads. So why not focus a little more on the content of the stories in contests rather than whomever gets the most reads on their stories? Again, this may not be the case at all and might just be me viewing it from a certain angle. What do you think?

Personally, as an author that has been in this community for close to two years, I’ve come to see changes in Episode. And changes that I’m not entirely happy to see.

  1. Promoting violence and toxic actions make by characters in stories written by large authors, for the sake of increasing readers in the community.
  2. Claiming a story doesn’t fit the LGBTQ+ shelf because the central focus of the story isn’t about a character coming out. (That’s a huge moment for members of this community, but it’s not always what defines them)
    And many more, but I can’t talk about everything.

I would just love to know what you guys think about how Episode has handles things / changed over the past couple of years. Do you agree with me or view their actions differently?
There will be no arguing in these comments, as everyone deserves to speak their minds and share what they feel!

7 Likes

popularity, fans read them.
I dont read most featureed stories because I dont care for the author, and I know its expensive, but I read behind the mask because I really love the author. had it been by another author I wouldnt

6 Likes

I hadn’t thought about that! Thank you so much!
Because Episode wants well known authors that people know because people know their writing style and like it!

1 Like

To me, this makes perfect sense when you consider it from a profit driven point of view. Episode wants to make as much money as possible, they are a company after all. This leads to them putting an obscene number of gem choices in their official stories. The more gems bought/spent, the more money they make. But most of those official stories are the same 4 or 5 stories retold over and over again, just with different titles and characters. Judging from discussions I’ve seen, most people ignore these stories in favor of community stories because there’s more variety and you typically don’t have to spend gems to read the whole story. This presents Episode with a problem. How do they make money when people would rather not spend it on their official content? The answer is within their list of what “successes” previous commissioned authors have had:

  • earned high Gem Bonus Payments,
  • written stories with high gems / read ratios
  • developed large followings on Instagram.

They’re specifically looking for authors who have readers spending lots of gems on their stories, and people with large followings. The likely tactic, is to commission authors with large followings to write stories that those followers will then spend lots of gems on, making Episode more money. If I had to guess, I’d say these authors are probably paid a single amount for a story, rather than an amount per read. Meaning Episode could theoretically make more money by paying them less overall than they would have if the author wrote the same story and put it out themselves while in the author payment program. But that’s just a guess, and I could easily be wrong.

Frankly, to me this is just par for the course for Episode. They’ve shown time and again that maximizing profits is their primary concern. Which, again, makes perfect sense. They are a company after all. It’s why they let stories with problematic themes and content run rampant on the app. Like it or not, lots of people read those stories, which makes Episode more money than purely wholesome content.

6 Likes

This gets long and kind of ranty so I apologize for that.

I mean this first one is pretty evident. More of a social media presence is basically just free promotion. The difference between someone with 100 followers and 10k followers is huge, especially on an app like Instagram where engagement can already be an issue. If you’ve got someone pulling in thousands of likes per post that’s just that many more people potentially reading these stories.

I’d say this is the one thing I don’t necessarily agree with (even though I get why they’re doing it) and it honestly boils down to the fact trending is a bit of a mess. There’s always huge delays, sometime my stories won’t even show in specific spots because there’s such a delay between the portal and the app, and let’s be real here the gem situation (and I do benefit from this because I have great readers who are incredibly supportive and use gems on my stories) has made it into more of a popularity contest than anything else. You really have to know how to write trending stories, update timely, and create good gem choices people are willing to click on. It’s a completely different ballgame than what it was even just a year ago.

I mean this is where I have to pull this card:

Authors at all levels are doing this. Honestly this is a different argument but it really just boils down to the fact the rules aren’t always clear and I think half the time even support/people reviewing don’t know what they want.

I know you’re talking about contests but there has been an overwhelming majority of smaller authors winning contests and being shelved in general in the last year or so. I think a better discussion might be the fact Episode keeps shelving people that don’t continue stories or abandon projects constantly. That will always bug me more than a “big author” who wrote a great story winning a contest. Let’s be real here there’s only been like one contest in the last year that’s had an overwhelming majority of big authors.

At the end of the day I think a lot of what Episode is doing is 1. for the business and 2. what is easier for them. Let’s look at it this way:

One of the requirements is that you’ve unlocked payments, which I know is a sore point for people, but it proves a few things.

  1. That you’re willing to write consistently. I got into payments in 2020 by updating my story consistently. I didn’t get it by updating 4 times a year and abandoning projects (which I have done but that’s besides the point).
  2. That you probably understand how coding on episode works and how to do it well. It proves you know what you’re doing here irregardless of whether or not everyone likes the vampire story you wrote.

I definitely think there are positives and negatives with this, but I’m glad they explained why they’re doing it and how they do it. I do think supporting smaller authors is always good, but as someone who’s worked to improve her directing and storytelling on this platform I wish people spent half the time trying to improve their craft as they did complaining that episode isn’t doing enough for them. Most of the shelves lately feature smaller authors and stories, contest winners have been smaller authors (I was a small author who won a contest), and there’s only so much one app can do. At the end of the day it’s up to individual authors to improve and work towards what they want.

3 Likes

As a business, I believe commissioning stories vs buying community stories is a smart move on Episode’s behalf. It’s not a secret that when Episode bought and converted existing community stories, people would constantly comment on the release post that people should just support the author and read the community version. By commissioning original stories, the reads aren’t competing with the community version.

As far as the criteria to be selected for commissions, it’s to be expected.
They are looking for authors that they know can write and complete stories that appeal to a mass audience and bring in reads. By having a high gem ratio, it also proves that the author can write good gem choices that readers WILL buy.

It’s not about promoting big authors over smaller authors, it’s about economics and what is most profitable for Episode.
Episode has gone above and beyond to promote smaller authors. When I first joined the community 5 years ago, the weekly shelves were only top trending stories and there were several stories that were on four or more shelves in one year. This changed in early 2018 when Episode started taking community recommendations for weekly shelve stories. They didn’t use to do that.
Still, people were unhappy and kept complaining that Episode didn’t do enough for smaller authors.
Now, weekly shelves consistently consist of primarily stories that have less than 30K reads. In the past, most the stories on the shelves had more than 100k reads. There have been SEVERAL shelves lately where most of the stories on the shelf have less than 1k reads, something that would’ve been unheard of 5 years ago. It’s kind of funny that they still doing their “Hidden Gems” shelf, because that’s what the weekly shelves have become anyways.
It’s to the point that bigger authors, like myself, feel we’ll only get on a shelf if we win a contest… hence why bigger authors consistently enter contests.
Cause and effect.
As far as meeting the criteria…
Yeah, it’s not easy. It has taken me 5 years to meet all those criteria. Five years, 3.5 million reads across 10 stories with 2 contest wins. I didn’t achieve it overnight.
It took hours and hours of hard work, taking vacation from my professional career in order to publish enough Episodes within 60 days to hit writer payments, and many sleepless “nights”.

As far as promoting violence and toxic actions, I have two responses to that. Like @Baleigh_episode
said, there are a LOT of very inappropriate stories on the app that are far worse than anything in the trending section. They’re still on the platform because they haven’t been reported. The other aspect of that, if stories trend high, there’s a reason. It’s because that’s what readers want to read. They wouldn’t trend high otherwise. Episode is a business, so of course, they’re going to seek those who write stories that readers want to read.
The Instagram following number goes to this as well. Most Episode authors have a writing Instagram account and most of their followers read interactive stories. This means they have proven that people will read their existing stories and possibly any commissioned stories.
It sucks for smaller authors, especially those who have been writing for years, but you have to think of it from Episode’s standpoint and what’s most profitable for them. They give us a free outlet to express our creative mind and to open other opportunities.
Do I agree with all their decisions? Not by a long shot. But from a business standpoint, this is one move I agree with.

Sorry for the long-winded rant, but I had to get it off my chest.

4 Likes

All voices are welcome here! You never have to feel sorry to speaking your mind!
You’re opening my yes to a different perspective, and I truly am thankful for that! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

2 Likes