In September 2016, I began an experiment to crowdsource fiction and create an interactive reader experience. My idea came from the “Choose Your Own Adventure” game books I read as a kid where readers could make choices about the direction of the plot and follow divergent pathways leading to different conclusions. Since this seemed too involved (write many different stories), I decided to engage readers on their ideas for plot and character development. Instead of producing a finished novel and then trying to get an audience, what if I allowed the audience to be part of my creative process in a fun, choose your own adventure sort of way?
I began looking into crowdsourcing as a method to see if other authors have had similar ideas. I found a few notable examples.
- In 2015, Eric Mack began crowdsourcing an entire science fiction novel, which was finished last Spring. He served as the lead writer, developed the story concept and acted as admin on an open Google Doc where anyone could provide input into the draft.
- Hugh Howey, bestselling author of the Wool Trilogy Series, also has used crowdsourcing to get ideas for his novels.
- I also discovered that Andy Weir, author of The Martian, crowdsourced aspects of his bestselling novel (which is now a movie starring Matt Damon).
Despite these prominent examples, I did not find any online courses on “How to Crowdsource a Novel” or links to many writers engaging in this practice. So I developed my own approach. I developed the overall book concept, created the main characters and began writing the first scene of Bionic Bug.
At the end of my first scene of Bionic Bug, I offered readers 2-3 options to choose from. Once the votes came in, I went with the option receiving the most votes and then wrote the next scene. I published early scenes of Bionic Bug on my website and Wattpad.
In April 2017, I finished a decent draft of the book and decided to launch a Lara Kingsley Series, continuing to engage in an interactive reader experience. I currently have a group of fans who are helping me brainstorm ideas for Project Gecko, the second book in the series.
Each mystery novel is set in Washington, D.C. ten years from today and uniquely blends elements of mystery, techno-thriller, and speculative fiction. Lara, her brilliant side-kick, Vik Abhay, and a vibrant cast of supporting characters are thrust into a new technological world to solve crimes involving drones, biotechnology, gene editing, robotics, microelectronics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, cyberspace, and 3D printing.
WARNING: This is not your grandmother’s mystery novel.