QualiFiction helps more SciFi authors to get published

The Interview

In this interview, Joe talks to Gesa Schöning, Managing Director (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gesa-sch%C3%B6ning/) of this year’s winner of the CONTENTshift (https://www.contentshift.de/en/) accelerator QualiFiction (https://www.qualifiction.info/eng/).  Learn more here: https://www.contentshift.de/en/contentshift/news/congratulations-to-qualifiction/.

Within just 60 seconds, the software analyzes hundreds of pages and exposes the results.

Background

Publishers receive more than 4 million book proposals for SciFi novels each year, in the German-speaking area alone. Now QualiFiction wants to help here so more texts can be evaluated by the publishers. The startup has an AI, which can – within 60 seconds – evaluate a SciFi text. So, they avoid publishers sending back unread proposals to the aspiring authors, due to a lack of readers for evaluation. They also generate the metadata (e.g. genre) for the text.

With a hit rate of 78%, the software recognizes bestsellers from a mass of submitted texts.

QualiFiction is also looking for publishers who give them masses of texts in different languages so they can extend their offering to other languages, besides German.

CONTENTshift

This interview is in association with CONTENTshift, the accelerator program of the Association of the German Book Publishers & Booksellers. You can learn more here https://www.contentshift.de/en/. The winners are announced on a live ceremony at the Frankfurt Book Fair each year https://www.buchmesse.de/en. The accelerator program aims to push the boundaries of publishing. We will bring you this year’s winner of CONTENTshift at Thanksgiving (Nov 28th).

 

History

Every year the Frankfurt book fair is also the place where Startuprad.io interviews the finalists and eventual winners of the program. We did this already in the past. Have a look at our interviews from 2018 on our playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUbiCAQc22WsdxEzE7iASbXD4_rAAVQbx

 

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Affiliated Links

Scifi Books Joe likes (AL)

Peter F Hamilton: The Armageddon Series https://amzn.to/2rolpu9

Craig Alanson: Expeditionary Force Series: https://amzn.to/2QTNm7H

Arthur C. Clarke – Collected Stories: https://amzn.to/2Oo5HrT
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Transcript

Introduction: Welcome to startuprad.io, your podcast and YouTube blog covering the German startup scene with news interviews and live events.

Joe: Welcome everybody. This is Joe from startuprad.io, your startup podcast and YouTube blog from Germany. I’m right now here in Frankfurt fair with the second interview of our tour at the Frankfurt book fair. I do have Gesa here with me. Hello. Welcome.

Gesa Schöning: Hello. Thank you for being here.

Joe: It’s completely my pleasure. You are here because you are part of a startup that is in the content shift.

Gesa: Absolutely. We’re happy to be announced to be one of the finalists at a content shift accelerator and our startup is called Qualifiction. As you could imagine, we are qualifying fiction with an AI software.

Joe: Okay. Admittedly, I’m a really big science fiction fan, so let’s talk first a little bit about content shift and then we get into science fiction. Okay?

Gesa: Perfect.

Joe: What did content shift bring you? Why did you apply? How was your expectations fulfilled?

Gesa: Well we applied because content shift is in the branch of literature, one of the biggest player to get in contact with great participants of the brand, to get a bigger network and also to get to know the players of today inside. So we had also look at the jury members for example, and there are some guys from bookstores, from publishing houses and many more, which are very interesting for us because as a software startup we can always get more knowledge from people who are joining the branch longer than we are of course. Our expectations were absolutely fulfilled. We had a very interesting situation for a couple of days with the jewelry members and we were allowed to ask questions and we learned what their main problems are actually and we were able to use these view of things to get a smarter view to our software.

Joe: Now we are at the right point, the software, what does the software do?

Gesa: We give insights into fiction text. We are an AI software which is cloud based and publishing houses our are able to upload a text document and within 60 seconds you get a whole insight of the manuscript, starting from the topic, the genre, whether it is a very innovative topic, whether the sentiment is very dark or very happy in light. If the main figures are central of one main character and which are the characters for example, and also for stylistic ways. So we give insights to that and at the end we also give feedback to the writers or the publishing houses and also predict what read up potential might be in this text. So if you are an author, you can upload a manuscript and you will learn whether it fits to a big bunch of readers or whether you’re more fulfilled like a niche with your topics, for example.

Joe: That is very fancy. Actually at first I thought, “Oh, that’s a great idea.” And then thought, “Oh, it’s a bad idea” because my fear is I liked the little bit more happy, more funny science fiction like Greg Allenson. Would you give him a good grading or do you just work on mainstreaming science fiction? That will be my fear associated with the idea?

Gesa: Well, I think the branch, the literature wouldn’t work if you just had main stuff. If you would just be able to reach the people that read everything the same. So we also give feedback, for example, whether it’s a very innovative style, we are not just looking for the same stuff. So it’s not following a special way which we tell the writer he should write. We try to give him feedback whether he can optimize on a certain point to get even more readers. But it’s absolutely fine to also write for a niche. So if it’s funny science fiction, it is a great niche and if you fulfill this as a writer, then you have a great document and that is absolutely our point. We want to make the branch even more fancy and even more wide and we think that is a good idea to give feedback and say, okay, well the author has much potential because he has got the talent for example, and he knows how to tell. And that is something that you can find within texts, which are, for example, absolutely innovative as well. In main texts when they are not told very smart, you wouldn’t find readers for that.

Joe: I see. And from my understanding, basically you help publishing houses to evaluate text or writings faster?

Gesa: Yeah, you can say so because there’s a big problem. The publishing houses gets so many texts that’s millions a year just in Germany.

Joe: Do you have any clue how much it is globally?

Gesa: Well, I know that it’s about four millions in Germany each year and you can imagine that it’s quite hard to read all that stuff. So there’s much that goes unread back to the houses with a “no, we won’t publish that.” But it’s a problem on both sides. The publishing house doesn’t know whether they give back the next Harry Potter and as a writer, he doesn’t know whether he wrote the next Harry Potter, which is a bad situation for both. So we actually address both, but we also try to give the publishing house a tool to handle a big mass of texts. We also generate meter data as we learn from the content shift, for example, that is main problem for the publishing houses as well. It’s not just diving for the pearls, but as it’s getting this big bunch of texts done somehow. What is it about? What genre is that? Is it for this peer group or another? That is a big problem as well and that is what we are also doing.

Joe: Another thought that hit me was, do you also offer self-publishing authors the possibility to evaluate their own work with this software for a few bucks?

Gesa: Yeah. So for writer, it costs per analyze at around 49Euros to upload a manuscript and to get the whole feedback and whole analyze transparency back within.

Joe: That’s 55USD for the Americans.

Gesa: But at the moment just for German techs so that’s a pity for now, but we may also scale on that direction. We know that there are more English writers than German, but it was a nice theme for us because we are Germans, we are well known in the industry in Germany now. The next step could be to make it also for English texts as well.

Joe: For our audience there, which is approximately 70% English speaking countries you’ve got to forecast like they should check back in a year?

Gesa: Well, what we developed is a huge thing. It’s unique in the world at the moment. Even in English speaking countries, the publishing houses come back to us and ask whether we can do that and if we find a publishing house who say, ‘okay, here is a mass of text and you can use it as training data’, for example. Then we could develop that within some months, I would say. It depends when you know an English publisher or has got big problems and would like to join us for development we can think about that even earlier. But at the moment I would say, yeah, come back in a year.

Joe: Okay, great. So everybody who would like to learn more about Qualifiction and you go, down here in the show notes, there’s linked to content shift to your LinkedIn profile as well as to the company website. Thank you. It was a pleasure having you here.

Gesa: It was a pleasure being here. Thank you so much.

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