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It was the desire to a/b test our book that first sparked the idea for what would eventually become Hooked.We also started to see a massive opportunity in the business of storytelling.Teen readers are just as likely to read the story in the third-person past.And, we learned that readers are more engaged with a story if they understand the context.They could have used it to make the books more engaging.This was the first evidence we had that data-driven story development could work.Of all the stories we tested, in the very best cases only about a third of readers would make it all the way to the end. In other words, the majority of teen readers were not even completing the first five minutes of best-selling YA novels (when reading them on a phone). We thought that if we told more of the story through images, teens might find reading more engaging.We tested many iterations, but nothing moved the needle.

And this question about my unusual protagonist kept nagging at me. Once an app developer, always an app developer…We decided to a/b test it.

The completion rates on a 5-minute read varied, depending on the story we were testing. We asked ourselves: can we come up with a format innovation that makes reading fiction more engaging for teenagers?

In some cases, only 5% of people would read to the end of a 5-minute excerpt. But there seemed to be a ceiling in the completion rate. How can we get a majority of teens to give us their undivided attention…for five minutes…on their phones…to read…fiction? We started initially by testing comic-book inspired ideas.

But, perhaps most interesting of all, teen girls prefer stories with female protagonists.

Eventually, an interesting pattern emerged from our tests.

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