Comma Press, the Manchester-based independent publisher, has launched MacGuffin, a self-publishing platform with an emphasis on short stories and poetry.
MacGuffin hosts content in text and audio form. Authors upload the text of their story along with a reading, so end-users can read the text or stream the audio.
The audio doesn’t have to be professionally recorded, and in fact, many poems and stories on MacGuffin have a homemade feel – recorded on a smartphone, with birdsong in the background, or a dog barking somewhere.
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MacGuffin uses tags to help readers themselves curate content. Anyone can add tags to anyone else’s story, to describe it or add it to a reading list. You can search for content with tags (e.g. search the tags ‘shortstories’ and ’15minutelisten’, to select short stories that are 15 minutes long, or the tag ‘nature’ to find stories and poems about nature).
Tags also mean you can make a playlist, rather like how people used to make mix-tapes for friends; just tag several stories or poems with a unique tag to create a list.
MacGuffin also has open analytics, so writers and readers can see anonymised data about where in the world stories are being read (‘fuzified’, for privacy), reader completion-rates for stories, and even drop-out graphs, showing where readers quit a story before finishing it (which Comma hope will be a useful self editing tool).