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Chapter 26: Publishing

§26.1. Finding a readership; §26.2. How a novel is published; §26.3. How interactive fiction is published; §26.4. The IF Archive; §26.5. A Website of Its Own; §26.6. IFDB: The Interactive Fiction Database; §26.7. Competitions; §26.8. The Gaming Avant-Garde; §26.9. The Digital Literature Community; §26.10. A short concluding homily

arrow-up-left.png Contents of Writing with Inform
arrow-left.png Chapter 25: Releasing
arrow-right.png Chapter 27: Extensions
arrow-down-right.png Indexes of the examples

§26.1. Finding a readership

So the new work of IF is written, and tested, and has all its bibliographic data and a fancy cover illustration lined up. What next?

There is a thriving community of readers and writers of interactive fiction, and it is sometimes supported by grants from arts foundations and other cultural bodies: there's increasing attention from the academic world, and a general consensus has gradually grown that interactive fiction is a "valid" artistic medium for expression. Like poetry, it is something that a few people like a lot, and which most people can see the point of, even if they don't read it themselves. Over the last thirty years, a few authors have established durable reputations: they give occasional newspaper interviews, and have a very low-key kind of fame. There are competitions, and annual awards ceremonies. Newcomers are always welcome.


With some important exceptions, most works of interactive fiction have never been "published" in the sense of being issued for sale by a for-profit company. For the most part, IF has not been commercially valuable since about 1987. Successful authors of IF generally take the view that while they could, perhaps, make a very modest amount of money from sales, it would be a nuisance to collect and make no meaningful difference to their incomes; it would cut the number of readers, whereas one wants the satisfaction of being read; and besides, the whole culture of IF has always been characterised by giving and sharing. (Inform itself is free.)

Inform has nevertheless been used to produce commercial works (generally add-ons or bonuses to other games), and users are very welcome to sell works created by Inform with no royalty or requirement for rights clearance. It's also widely used in education, and as a prototyping tool for other kinds of story.

arrow-up.png Start of Chapter 26: Publishing
arrow-left.png Back to Chapter 25: Releasing: §25.24. Rubrics
arrow-right.png Onward to §26.2. How a novel is published