Rules and Overview

Welcome to Inkshares

Inkshares is a reader-driven publisher and producer based in Oakland, California. Our books are selected not by a group of editors, but by readers worldwide.

Previously unknown authors have received starred reviews and been featured on the front page of The New York Times. Their books are on the front tables of Barnes & Noble and hundreds of independents nationwide. They’ve been licensed by publishers in other major markets alongside six-figure advances. And they’re being adapted by Oscar-winning screenwriters at the biggest studios and networks.

Inkshares & Horror

Inkshares has published heavily in horror since its inception in 2014. Gary Whitta’s debut novel Abomination received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and a Goodreads Award in horror. Patrick Sheane Duncan’s Dracula v. Hitler received a starred review in Library Journal and The New York Review of Books called it “the true sequel to Dracula.” J.F. Dubeau’s A God in the Shed received the highest accolades including a five-star review from HorrorTalk and is in development for TV at Skydance with Academy Award-winner Akiva Goldsman producing. J. Danielle’s Dorn forthcoming western-horror Devil’s Call has already received a starred review in Library Journal, and we will be publishing Scott Thomas’ Kill Creek this October 31st.

Why a Contest for Horror?

A sad fact is that horror is the red-haired stepchild of traditional publishing. Setting aside the Kings, Straubs, Barkers, and a select few others like Koontz and Cook—each championed by rare agents and editors—horror has always been treated as “dirty,” absent the flagship imprints we see in other genres. Only now, with the ascendancy of horror film franchises, runaway successes of self-published horror, and demonstrably large online horror communities are publishers waking up.

But the unfortunate result of this lack of respect for horror has been a lack of opportunity for talented aspirants and an according oligarchy of the uber talent. The Inkshares 2017 Horror Contest is about creating opportunities—about surfacing the next big voices in horror.

Co-Sponsors & Guest Judges!

We have an amazing array of co-sponsors in this contest, including:

The Bloodlist

Founded in 2009, The Blood List is a platform for discovering new, amazing talent within horror via an annual list and popular website highlighting the most liked screenplays, pilots, books and shorts in the horror, thriller, and sci-fi genres.

Dread Central

Founded in 2006, Dread Central Media is one of the most well respected horror news sites on the Web and offers the most up-to-date information on the latest horror projects, including trailers, stills, video interviews, and audio podcasts.


Founded in 2002, and with a worldwide staff of reviewers, is truly a global website dedicated to bringing you all things horror, from movies to books, comics to music, festivals to conventions, and everything in between.

& The Horror Writers Association of America

The Horror Writers Association is a nonprofit organization of writers and publishing professionals around the world, dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it.

And our guest judges include some of the most influential people in horror, across books, TV, and film:

James Demonaco — Writer & Director of The Purge series

Shane Keene — HorrorTalk

Brad Hodson — Horror Writer’s Association of America

Kailey Marsh — The Bloodlist

Debi Moore — Dread Central

Alex Neal — Weed Road Productions

Jerry Smith — Icons of Fright

Brooklyn Weaver — Energy Entertainment

Sam Reader — Barnes and Noble

The Rules

The rules will be the same as previous contests. We’re looking for the top three horror books on Inkshares in terms of unique reader pre-order counts for pre-orders placed between August 15, 2017, and October 31, 2017 (12:00 pm PST). The judges may also select additional books based on their own criteria.

All three (or more) books will be published by Inkshares even if they haven’t reached their pre-order goal. There may be opportunities for the winners to develop their work into other media such as movies, television, and digital productions.


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

How do you define "horror"? One of our esteemed partners for the contest, The Horror Writers Association of America, explores this question in a spectacular post, "What is Horror Fiction?" The bottom line: use your best judgment here, but a good rule of thumb is that the body of work should aim to illicit fear, dread, dismay, or an unsettling feeling in the reader.

How does the contest work? Any writer can create a draft project and begin building a following on Inkshares anytime by clicking “submit” above or creating a new project. The contest officially begins on August 15, 2017, and only projects that begin selling pre-orders on or after that date are eligible for the contest. The contest closes on Halloween, October 31st, 2017. The top three winners will be based on a combination of unique pre-orders and the judges' selections. All three projects 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.

What happens to the pre-orders if I don't win the contest or hit my pre-order goal? Backers are immediately refunded for any project that doesn’t hit its goal. 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 hashtag should I use if I want to promote my project on social media and/or find other projects within the contest? Please use the hashtag #inkhorror17 to share and promote your horror project, or other horror projects you support during the contest.

What if I’ve already published elsewhere but I want to participate? We recommend investigating the kinds of rights you have wherever you’ve published. If you own the rights or they’re non-exclusive, then you can participate. You can read our full publishing contract here.

What if my book isn’t finished? While we’ve found that more content helps a book receive more pre-orders, the book doesn’t have to be complete for you to participate. You simply need to build your project page and upload a few chapters to get started.

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 books 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 on 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.