This is a fact: you can write a book in few hours. And how you do that? By crowdwriting.

When I launched my company, the first online self-publishing company in Indonesia, back in 2010, I thought people would write a book in ‘traditional’ way as I knew it. As a writer, it will take me at least 2 months from getting an idea, writing the outline and finish writing it into a book. Yet now, with social media sites especially twitter, we found out that writers can finish a book in a week, even in a few hours.

How does crowdwriting work?

With crowdwriting, an idea owner posts a hashtag on twitter with a specific writing topic they want to tackle during a specific time period. For example, if the book is about youth empowerment, then the hashtag can be #youthpower. And people who decide to participate will update their writing progress through the hashtag. After the writing period’s over, contributors send the writing over to the curator, who will act as an editor and pick the best 10-15 short stories/essays to be included in the book. And that’s it. A new book is born.

From my observation, I have found a few key factors help contributors get motivated to collaborate and eventually increase their productivity:

What’s the purpose (of the book). You have to explain your vision and what you want to achieve with the book to attract the best contributors.

Challenge your community. Time limitation is exciting. When we challenge people to write a short story in 2 hours, they will get busy and buzzing on their timeline, sharing the creative process.

Make it fun. One time, we invited writers to do a duet short story – writing a short story with a partner. It gave them a fun and refreshing challenge, to create the concept and writing it with another person.

The ‘x factor’ rewards. We offer enticing rewards that can’t be valued with money. Like launching the book in a big popular shopping mall in Jakarta, using the book royalties for charity, and even a chance to write with their favorite author.

Hundreds and thousands of short stories can be collected in a short amount of time. With that crowdwritten book, users have a sense of accomplishment and self confidence in finishing a book. And usually they will come back to write and self-publish more books with us. Talk about building loyal evangelists!