An interesting new startup coming out of Denmark is Movellas, a new but familiar platform to create, discover, and develop stories and writing talent. Movellas is essentially a writing community to make it easy to self publish and read new stories. So far they’ve only officially launched in Denmark but they also have a working English version of the site.
CEO Per Larsen tells us that currently they’re targeting a younger audience of authors and readers, and that most of their writers are in the 14-18 age group. But within that younger crowd they’re seeing a hotbed of activity, with users who are engaged with reading and writing a large number of stories, as well as using the social features to comment and share.
A “Movella” isn’t limited to a certain style or length, but generally they’re short fiction stories, published one chapter at a time on an ongoing basis. It feels obvious to say so, but a lot of the stories move with the trends of what’s big in these young people’s lives. Vampire fiction is a major genre, and Larsen told me that after Justin Beiber came to Scandinavia, there was a huge influx of Justin Bieber love stories on the site. But there are many stories are about family problems – written as fiction – but obviously with some personal experience behind it.
When first observing this chapter-based publishing trend mixed with the immediate feedback readers are providing, Larsen chalked it up to the new era of socially shared content. But it turns out there’s a deep history in this style of writing.
“An English teacher I was talking to reminded me that this is not a new way of writing stories. In the 19th century, Dickens and other authors published a lot of their work by writing one chapter, going to a public reading, getting feedback, and then writing another chapter. And that’s the way a big part of our audience is behaving. They like the feedback and they like reading the short snappy stories.”
“These authors are very very focused on what their readers like. And they really care about the feedback they get with their fans (you can ‘fan’ an author), and they do a lot to promote their stories on other social media.”
The individual stories witness a good engagement across the board. Larsen tells me that he expected a long tail of unread stories, but claims the majority of the stories have at least four reads. Some writers are already exceptionally popular, with 10-15 thousand reads every time a new piece of content is published. That’s a pretty decent number for any author, and it’s pretty amazing for short stories written in Danish by a 17 year old.
In the coming months they’ll be putting in new features for the site, but about 50% of the features will be helping enable users to do the things they’re already doing. An example of this is a “mood status” some users are already adding to the top of their story, which will soon become a native feature. A mobile app is also in the works.
I asked Larsen for a few good examples of how the site is being used, and below is a cross section. For something more on-par with the ArcticStartup audience, he recommends a story by Kate Russel from BBC click about a failing comedian.
Erica Bluewater: The Saga: New Found Freedom
Kayleigh: I am just different
Jenn: My Life My Death
LizzieMitchell: Phoenix Fire
Josie: MY first love
Aditiboo: My Little Black Book
Cutemute147: The Mystery