UPDATE 6.25: We've hit our goal! Each additional dollar we get goes to improving the app and creating a better experience for you. To show our appreciation we're offering a new reward for all donors, past and future: complimentary editing services for one short story of yours!
In the 1800s, there were serial novels and Dickens reigned supreme.
In the 1900s, magazines were the purveyors of taste when it came to short fiction.
Now in the 2000s, we, as avid readers and writers, face a problem: there are too many short stories to sort through on free publishing platforms, and too many talented writers who give up on having their stories noticed since the number of high-circulation literary magazines and other short fiction publishers is dwindling. Where can we go for an easy, adaptive, and curated experience, tailored to our tastes and delivered to the palm of our hands?
We created Connu, the new hub for contemporary short fiction. We feature one short story a day, five days a week. These aren't just any stories. They are brand-new, original, never-before-published works by the writers you know and love, and the talents they know, love, and recommend to us—all for you.
Read the story of the day, or tap into our library to choose one by mood or activity. Save the stories you love, share the stories you know someone else will love, too. Integrate the current literary scene into your life through our immersive app. Listen to the writers reading their own words. Make notes, share quotes. Let the stories we find, edit, and curate transform and transport you.
Read new. Read better. Connu.
Susannah Luthi has worked as a reporter, editor, freelance writer, and communications guru for arts nonprofits. She was director of communications at San Francisco Performances, publications and marketing manager for the Aspen Music Festival and School, and editor-in-chief of the Southern California Review.
Niree Perian's editorial experience spans writing freelance for regional magazines, serving as senior editor of the Southern California Review, and working as assistant to the publisher at Angel City Press, where she edits manuscripts, among other things. For the past two years, she has also hosted an emerging-writer reading series across Los Angeles.
Kai Chan is a growth hacker at Kicksend. He has worked as an analyst for financial groups and private equity funds in Singapore, including Citibank and Bloomberg, as well as served as CFO for a startup.
We met at the Master of Professional Writing program at the University of Southern California and decided we wanted to create something special. As writers, we know both the publishing space and the voices that need to be heard. We want to bring them to you. Connu won the 2013 CRUNCH Innovation Challenge at USC, and is now the start-up-in-residence at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. We've collaborated with Propelland to create a beautiful, intuitive, and immersive app experience that appeals to the senses. (Fun fact: Susannah's synesthetic friend dreamt the word "connu," which means "known" in French.)
Our recommending writers include: Aimee Bender, Ron Carlson, Lydia Davis, Janet Fitch, Jonathan Lethem, Sam Lipsyte, Ben Marcus, Joyce Carol Oates, Ben Percy, Mark Richard, Mary Robison, David Sedaris, Susan Straight, Nami Mun, Wells Tower, and many more.
These writers have recommended writers they've mentored whose voices they believe in, and whose stories are important.
"I can't wait for my daily jolt of Connu with my morning coffee. The time has come—so much good writing out there. Hook me up!" - Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint it Black.
"Connu represents the smart, cutting edge of literary publishing. It will be a beacon for the continued importance and vitality of storytelling in this new digital age." - Richard Rayner, author of A Bright & Guilty Place and Los Angeles Without a Map.
On our advisory board, we have New York Times best-selling novelist Lauren Groff; noted author, journalist, and judge of this year's National Book Award MG Lord; technological whiz man and entrepreneur DC Palter; and author and chief book critic of the Los Angeles Times David Ulin.
We have today’s talents and we have their stories. We have the experience, dedication, and passion to complete our project. Now all we need is your help to finish building it for you.
Funds raised during this campaign will go to development costs which cover back-end development, including the creation of our unique algorithm; iOS + Android programming; and a solid infrastructure on which to eventually expand our reading experience. (Hint hint: future features will bring readers even closer to writers.) You will also be patrons of the arts by helping pay the writers.
A note on subscriptions: Connu will be available in a variety of subscription levels, from free to premium with audio, to fit how you like to read. We have worked hard to make sure everyone can experience today's best stories.
Video thanks to UNMRKD.ent:
- Producer/Director: Conrad T. Curtis
- Director of Photography: Aaron Shapiro
- Sound Recording: Cameron Kush
- Animation: Crystal Miri Kim
Risks and challenges
We are risking a great deal, and we are facing plenty of challenges. Connu is a publishing venture, which means we rely on all of you, our potential readers, to propel our launch. Curating content takes long hours of reading, editing, and thoughtful work with the authors. Our solicitation process is careful. And, on the development side, since we are building a custom system that will do something different in the space, we are running countless tests. For you. We are working hard with a team of talented designers and developers. In the past year, we have jumped many hurdles, and we have finally reached this point. We are just about ready to open up this new reading community. With your help.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Susannah's friend Elizabeth Sloane is a French speaker with synesthesia (a sensory super-power Nabokov also possessed, in which the senses tangle together and colors can become associated with words, letters, and sounds). "Every time you talk about this, I see this word. And I see colors," Elizabeth said, when the project was in its formative stages. The word was connu, which means "known" in French. Since the goal is to spread great writing, and make it known, we stuck with it. Plus it looks pretty on the page.
While our back-end supports both iOS and Android, we are building for iPhone & iPad first, then following as quickly as possible with an Android launch. Additional funding we raise here will go to developing for Android, so spread the word!
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