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Gavin Chait for Qwyre

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Qwyre launches its first web-monetized African speculative fiction short-story competition

African speculative fiction is finally achieving recognition. Nnedi Okorafor and Tade Thompson have won all the awards. All of them. And amazing anthologies like Dominion edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Zelda Knight have introduced some amazing authors, like Dilman Dila and Mame Bougouma Diene, to a wider audience.

We can do more.

Qwyre.com is live and we want to showcase awesome writers while also promoting web monetization for authors.

Qwyre.com landing page and navigation bar

We are offering $50 to each of the ten best African speculative fiction short-stories published on Qwyre.com by 30 April 2022.

The rules are simple:

  • 5,000 words, but if your story works longer or shorter, do that. Don't let a word count get in the way of a good story.
  • Competition only open to African speculative fiction.
  • Multiple submissions are fine, but you can only win for one.
  • Original is preferred but – if you have rights to republish – a second publication is ok. This is especially welcomed if you've self-published elsewhere.
  • Abide by Qwyre's rules.

Most fiction competitions end there, with the prize. But Qwyre can offer everyone - including those who aren't amongst the ten - the opportunity to earn direct from readers from the moment they're published.

Web monetized work earns about 36 cents per hour, or 0.6 cents per minute. For every minute someone reads your work on Qwyre, you get paid.

To put this in perspective, streaming music services pay about 0.003 to 0.12 cents per 5-minute song. A 5,000 word short-story would take about 12 minutes to read and earn 7.2 cents. You need to be read 700 times to earn $50.

Qwyre authors share in this income directly and in real time.

If you've self-published on Amazon, you know how their approach works. They take all the money and, some interminable time later, they pay you your share. Web monetization means you get paid in real time. Instead of us taking the money, calculating shares, and sending to different people, we divert payments to parties as people read.

If you agree to pay an editor 15%, and 85% for yourself, then there is a three-way split: 12:73:15 (this ratio takes into account Qwyre's 15% share). Web monetization is per-second payments, and we push payments to each party in this agreed ratio. Everyone gets paid right away.

Which means - just like other publishing platforms - you need to create an account so you can be paid.

Here's how all this works ...

Publishing your work on Qwyre.com

First things first. Open your veins and bleed. Write something. Once you have something written, proceed.

Prepare your work for publication

There are plenty of ways independent authors can self-publish. That lack of any friction between the author and the reader is one reason so much is produced, and with such low quality. Commercially-published work benefits from the simple barrier of being edited. Just that surfaces poor prose and obscure, or irrational, storytelling.

Qwyre is about collaborative publication, so here's the workflow:

1. Start at your new creator's workshop

Creator's workshop page

Here you'll find links to the docx convertor, as well as panels to review your works in progress, and offers for editors.

2. Convert your Word document docx to an epub, in a three step process where you'll describe your work (title, author, publishing date, keywords, that sort of thing ...), upload the document and cover, and then build the standards-compliant epub. This allows Qwyre to stream your work to readers.

Describe your work so we know what it is

3. Import your epub, either during the docx conversion process or, if you've produced your epub in some other way, direct into the platform:

Import an epub, either from a link or a local file

This is intended to be as easy as possible. If you've got an external link or a local file, either can be imported.

4. Review your work and check that metadata (your descriptions and keywords), the contents and sample text are presented as expected:

Review panel drawn direct from the epub

The metadata and text are derived entirely from the epub you uploaded. If anything is incorrect it may be because of non-conformance to the epub standard, or because the text is wrong in the source. Correct that, upload a new epub, and ensure you're happy.

4. Prepare a contract with your revenue share between yourself and prospective editors. This is what will be shared between the author and editor during monetization.

Attempting to claim ownership of 'The Magician' by W. Somerset Maugham

Anyone can be an editor and I encourage writers to offer to edit other writers work. Not only does this help you improve as a writer, but you also have the opportunity to share in the revenue of a greater diversity of work. Editors are paid too!

5. Offline collaboration for publication is an important part of the creative process.

The contract and publication review panel

The review and collaboration process is initiated via email. Sharing the editor's email address with the author only when offered, and then getting out of their way once they finalise their contract. Qwyre is not going to own the editorial process and the parties to the creative work should edit and review as they prefer.

Only once both parties have agreed the contract, and agreed the work is ready for publication, can the creator release the work onto the platform.

6. Set up your payment pointer

You can't use your credit card and need a dedicated payment pointer to start receiving streaming payments. This is straightforward and well-described here Digital Wallet and Payment Pointers for each of the current wallet providers:

Once you have your pointer, simply save it to your personal profile.

You're ready to be read!

7. Readers can search for published works and start streaming

Mobile-friendly epub streaming

There is as little friction between reader and reading as possible. You don't need to login to start reading a work. You don't even need to pay for the initial pages. The app works for free, giving a reader the opportunity to anonymously try out the app, and your creative work.

A call to readers and writers

So ... there it is. I created Qwyre in part because of my frustration with app-based self-publishing services and my desire to read more African speculative fiction.

I you can write, please write. If you can edit, please edit. And if you can't do either, help me get this message out!

If you have any questions or concerns email me, or drop a comment in the chat. I would love your help in spreading the word and helping to draw out writers to Qwyre and web monetization. And I hope, soon, to be reading your work.

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