Writers Are Struggling

Traditional books aren’t selling like they used to. Below are the bestsellers in each time period.
Bestselling books have been declining in each time period. Lord of the Rings (1950-1990), Harry Potter (1990-2000), The Da Vinci Code (2000-2010), The Girl on the Train (2010-Today)

One million books are self-published per year but only 40 of those writers are able to generate $1 million over 5 years. The top 0.004% of writers make the same as a mid-level silicon valley engineer?

Graph showing millions of writers but only 1 becomes a best-selling author.

Visual and interactive mediums are enjoying unstoppable growth. The creators of games own the top-grossing charts. Today, they contain very little storytelling, but that’s about to change.

Games such as Fortnite, Minecraft, Clash of Clans, Pokemon Go, Fruit Ninja, Subway Surfers, Candy Crash, and Angry Birds have been outselling books.

Storytelling needs to evolve

People still love storytelling (they are human after all), but the format and economics need to change. Tales makes fiction storytelling more compelling through these methods:

Mixed Media

Blurred lines

Text only days are vanishing quickly. Great storytellers are able to weave imagery, video, and audio into their storytelling.



Consumers are used to a world that responds to their voices, whether they're posting a Snapchat story, commenting on a friend's Tweet, or making choices in Black Mirror's Bandersnatch.


Engagement over time

Consumers expect regular drips of content from creators they love. They increasingly view media as a service, not a "buy-once and forget" product.


Discuss everything

Consumers love having communities where they can discuss their favorite television shows, movies, games, books, comics, and podcasts.


Fits into their schedule

Consumers are busy! They prefer products that work around their schedule, not the other way around. Must be easy to find, try, and understand!


Ownership is dead

The pay-upfront model is on its last legs. No matter what the medium, consumers are increasingly choosing subscription or freemium options for media.

Our Investors

The Venture Capitalists


Eric Paley

Managing Partner @ Founder Collective

Micah Rosenbloom

Managing Partner @ Founder Collective

David Frankel

Managing Partner @ Founder Collective

The Creators


John Riccitiello

CEO @ Unity

Scott Belsky

Chief Product Officer @ Adobe, Founder @ Behance

Chris Carvalho

Board Member @ Roblox, COO @ Kabam

The Influencers


Jake Paul

Partner @ Anti Fund, YouTube & Instagram Star, Fighter

Geoffrey Woo

Partner @ Anti Fund

The Amplifiers


Elizabeth Yin

General Partner @ Hustle Fund

Sam Parr

Founder @ The Hustle, Hustle Con

Joe Speiser

Founder @ Epic Advertising ($200M), Petflow ($70M), LittleThings ($60M)

Dave Lu

Managing Partner @ Hyphen Capital

The Hollywood Connectors


Patrick Lee

Founder @ Rotten Tomatoes

Baron Davis

NBA All Star, Founder @ Slic

Jason Lin

Managing Director @ Super Capital Group, AUM Group (Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forrest Whitaker)

The Dealmakers


Ed Lu

CFO @ Fandom, Machine Zone, Advisor @ Roblox

Yoshio Osaki

CEO @ IDG (Game research used by all top 10 game publishers)

Lili Wang

CIO @ OneWorld, Director @ Goldman Sachs

Larry Chu

Head of Tech M&A @ Goodwin

The Builders


Yun-Fan Juan

General Partner @ Brighter Capital, Founding Engineer @ FB Ads

Kari Lee

Director of Engineering @ Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Facebook

The Team

We recently raised capital and are hiring! 👉🏼 talescreator.com/careers


Alex Hall


* Netflix
* Microsoft
* Berkeley

Asian male wearing leather jacket. About: Thomas Wu

Thomas Wu


* Elevation Partners
* Morgan Stanley
* Berkeley


Sam Gutierrez

Art Director

* Electronic Arts
* Bigpoint
* 2K Games


Shawn Chiao

Full Stack Lead

* Nuna
* Elation
* Gummicube


Erin McFarlane

Editorial Lead

* Zazzle
* Stitch Fix
* RxWiki


Abhinay Reddy

Full Stack Developer

* Bolt
* Walmart Labs
* Waterloo


Brooke Wrisley


* MFA Sonoma State


Stephen Karpinskyj

Unity Developer

* Supersolid
* uGroop
* Scarlet City Studios


Siddh Dhuri

UI/UX Designer

* Havells
* Failbetter
* ISDI Parsons


Ryan LaPlante

Narrative Designer

* Wattpad
* Tap


Remington Chan

Unity Developer

* Haptiq
* Skillshot Labs

I'm the co-founder of Tales and this is my story

Final Fantasy Adventure: Amanda dies. Writers create unforgettable moments.

I met Amanda in 1991.

I took this photo of her the moment after she revealed she had just been fatally bitten by a medusa and will become one shortly. Before I ended her life, she begged me to take her dying tears to bring her brother back to life. Even though this was over 20 years ago, I remember this moment in Final Fantasy Adventure very clearly.

A decade ago I graduated from Berkeley, ranked 3rd in my engineering class and it occurred to me recently that I have forgotten how to do calculus. Why is it I am able to remember an obscure story from my childhood, but I can’t remember basic math that was the building block for my engineering education?

Humans are fundamentally WIRED for stories.

Creators have been drawing on cave walls for centuries.

Before we learned to write in 3200 B.C., we told stories to pass information down through each generation. Those of us who were able to absorb these stories survived and reproduced (the rest were probably consumed by lions). Stories have the ability to TEACH us, INSPIRE us, make us CRY, and make us LAUGH. At this moment in time, empathy is more important than ever. We can only live one life but stories let us visit the lives of others.

Great storytellers are important.

We all know the stereotype of the creative writer. Barista / Uber driver by day, working on scripts by night. Working for years in isolation with no feedback, networking to find agents/influencers, and praying that a publisher will find an audience for them in the rare case they get that one-shot.  

If J.K. Rowling can get rejected 13 times by publishing “experts” for Harry Potter, perhaps the distribution system should be rebuilt. Success shouldn’t be dictated by pure luck or who you know. Good stories should rise to the top through talented storytellers… coupled with user data, rapid iteration, modern formats, and effective monetization.

Tales allows writers to rapidly pilot visual, interactive, episodic stories and iterate off feedback/metrics to improve performance. When we succeed we build the next Netflix, powered by individual creators who found an audience by virtue of their talent and hustle, not their proximity to the right gatekeepers.

Thomas Wu