Rules and Overview

Welcome to the Inkshares 2018 Horror Contest

When we started Inkshares a few years ago, we talked about what we were going to do. We were going to build a literary platform that would surface the next generation of storytellers. We were going to publish novels to popular and critical acclaim. We were going to see those novels translated into film and television.

A few years later, we’re able to tell aspiring authors not just about what we were going to do but what we’ve actually done. And as this October kicks off our new horror novel contest, it’s particularly exciting to be able to share just a couple of the successes we’ve had in that genre over the past year.

A God in the Shed

Though we had already published Patrick Sheane Duncan’s Dracula v. Hitler in November of 2016, it was 2017 that really marked Inkshares’ first concerted effort in the horror genre. That effort kicked off with J-F. Dubeau’s A God in the Shed, which we published that June.

Set in a small Quebec town with an abnormally large cemetery, the novel follows multiple generations as they come to grips with the unfortunate results of a Faustian bargain with a supernatural entity.

A God in the Shed earned five stars from HorrorTalk and Jerry Smith of Fangoria called it “one of the most enthralling novels of the last ten years.”

The novel was a horror pick of the year by Barnes and Noble and was a Goodreads semifinalist. As reported, we are producing it for television with Oscar-winner Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road Productions (much credit due to Brooklyn Weaver of Energy Entertainment with whom we are also producing it). We are currently heading into our third printing while gearing up for the sequel, Song of the Sandman.

Kill Creek

A few months later — nearly one year ago — we published Scott Thomas’ debut novel, Kill Creek. The novel follows four of the world’s biggest horror novelists after they are invited by an eccentric media mogul to spend the night at a haunted house.

We didn’t just want to create something scary. We wanted to create something that deserved to be mentioned in the literary lineage of The Haunting of Hill House and The Shining—to give us a sense of what it would be like to go to a haunted house with literary legends like Jackson and King.

Scott received a starred review from Booklist and Barnes & Noble lauded Kill Creek as “the horror debut of 2017.”

The novel was shortlisted for a Bram Stoker Award and was selected by the American Library Association as the horror novel of the year (the second-place selection was J-F. Dubeau’s A God in the Shed). Joyce Carol Oates praised it as “intensely realized and beautifully orchestrated Gothic horror.”

Kill Creek is being translated into multiple foreign languages by publishers including Rizzoli in Italy and Heyne Verlag in Germany (Stephen King’s publisher). And, as reported, Kill Creek is also in development for TV at Showtime.

Is your novel next?

A year ago, we would have concluded this post by asking prospective horror novelists whether they wanted to be the next Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, or Anne Rice. (And, to be clear, if that is your goal, then you absolutely, one-hundred-percent should enter this contest.) But we are proud, one year late, to conclude this post by asking you instead whether you’d like to follow in the footsteps of J-F. Dubeau, J. Danielle Dorn, or Scott Thomas.

The contest begins today, October 8th, and runs through Friday the 14th of December (sorry—there wasn’t a Friday the 13th in December). Selections will be made both by the crowd and by our judges, so no need to crowdfund if that's not your thing.



Horror Contest FAQ

(For frequently asked questions about Inkshares, please refer to the Inkshares FAQ)

What is the purpose of this contest?

To publish and represent at least three novelists in the horror space. We’re modeling this contest after one we did in collaboration with the Horror Writers Association of America last October, which bubbled up some incredible debut authors that we are currently in the midst of publishing.

How do I enter the contest?

Any writer with a manuscript (partial or finished) that falls under the horror genre can enter the contest by first creating a draft project on Inkshares, which includes your pitch, logline, working title, and genre. If you aren’t familiar with any of these requested elements, the website will walk you through the process. Once you click the “Submit Your Story” button, it will be live and shareable on From that point you can easily upload chapters for potential readers, as well as craft an “About” page where you can introduce yourself and your project. When you’re ready, you can hit the “Start Selling Pre-Orders” button at the top right of your project page, which will automatically enter you into the contest—just make sure that you’ve selected “horror” as the genre of your project. You can begin interacting with the community and building a following on Inkshares.

If you would like to enter a project that already exists on the site, you can do so by going to your project page, clicking Edit Page in the top right corner, then using the dropdown menu under the description to choose 2018 Horror Contest.

The contest officially starts on October 8, 2018, and only projects that begin selling pre-orders on or after that date within the horror genre will be eligible for the contest.

How are the winners of the contest determined?

Projects will be selected on both the basis of unique pre-orders and by independent evaluation by Inkshares. The contest will come to a close at 12:00 p.m. PST on December 14, 2018. At that time, the top three projects as determined by the highest unique reader pre-order counts (as long as they have a minimum of 250 unique readers) will remain on the contest leaderboard in first, second, and third place. Inkshares will evaluate all submissions for publishing and representation, even if they haven’t sold any pre-orders.

Each selection will receive the same editorial, production, distribution, and marketing support as any Inkshares project, including distribution into independent bookstores as well as Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. Each project will also receive representation in foreign rights as well as film and television.

What is a unique reader?

A unique reader is any individual who pre-orders at least one copy of your book on during the contest. This differs from total pre-order count, which is determined by the total number of pre-orders across all individuals who pre-order your book.

What’s the best way to increase my unique reader count?

We have a crowdfunding guide that may help. Your friends, family, and the broader horror reader and writer community can be instrumental in helping you reach success by engaging with and referring your work. Lastly, check out advice from previous contest winners or ask the broader Inkshares community on our forum.

What will you do in case of a tie in unique readers?

If two winning projects have the same number of unique readers, we will break the tie by selecting the project with the highest pre-order count.

What happens to the pre-orders if I don't win the contest or hit my pre-order goal?

For a book project that doesn’t win the contest, but the campaign still has time allotted to it, pre-orders will carry through until the end of the campaign, so you will still have a chance to earn a publishing deal. If a campaign ends and the book hasn’t reached a pre-order goal, backers are immediately refunded. Anyone who pre-ordered will also remain a follower of your project, allowing you to continue updating them on the progress of your book even after your funding period is over.

What if I’ve already published elsewhere but I want to participate?

If your book has been published elsewhere and you don’t retain the rights required to be granted under our Publishing Terms, you are not eligible for the contest.

What if my book isn’t finished?

While we’ve found that more content helps a book receive more attention, the book doesn’t have to be complete for you to participate. You simply need to build your project page and upload a chapter or a few to get started.

What if I see a book in the contest that is not a horror novel?

The intent of our platform is to democratize the process by which books get traditionally published. We trust our community to back the horror books they want published. If a title appears to be abusing the democratic spirit of this contest or may raise legal and copyright questions, don’t hesitate to let us know by emailing

Should I have my friends and family use multiple accounts, place multiple orders, or trade pre-orders to help me out?

No. As detailed in our Terms of Service: “The purpose of Inkshares is to highlight broad reader interest in specific works. Accordingly, please do not ‘game’ the system. As an author, don’t pre-order your own book or encourage others to order copies of your book through multiple accounts. As a reader or purchaser, don’t create multiple accounts so as to order more copies of any title. Do not engage in any scheme or exchange of promises that would lead to the ordering of a book in a manner not reflective of genuine interest in the writing.”

We understand that these campaigns can be stressful and everyone wants to do their part to help. In order for Inkshares to stay true to its mission of publishing stories that readers truly want, the best way to help is to get out there and tell readers why a book is worth supporting.

I’ve participated in previous contests, either as an author or reader. I’d like to know: how can I help with this one?

We’re delighted you asked! First, there’s a wonderful forum on Inkshares that offers a place to collaborate. The best thing you can do, though, is to explore new projects throughout the length of the contest, offer feedback and reviews on projects that catch your eye, and pre-order and refer the books you love. While many authors won’t hit their goal, there’s still tremendous value in building up a readership and community on Inkshares. You can be an integral part of that.

Can I submit a book project with multiple authors to the contest?

While we love collaboration between authors, books with more than two authors are not eligible for submission. If you have questions about whether your project is eligible, please email