For the last six months we’ve been working on a new type of media publishing platform driven by a custom front-end editor. It works hand-in-hand with Aesop Story Engine, and now’s your chance to get it first.

Aesop Story Engine has gone through 20 update cycles since it was released over a year ago. We’ve crept past 22K downloads, and the use-cases that we see continue to amaze us. Over the course of these releases, we’ve improved not only the interface, but user experience. But in the end, there was still a challenge in visualizing what the components are doing, along with a disconnect between what you see and what you get.

To top it off, getting started with WordPress, a theme, and a plugin, isn’t exactly a quick and fun process; especially for writers, and folks who aren’t used to setting up WordPress.

So last year, we devised a pretty involved plan to change all of this. The result, was a two pronged approach: a hosted version of Aesop Story Engine, and a hand-rolled front-end editor.

Lasso – Front End Editor

To start, we needed to make Aesop Story Engine easier to use. The obvious choice was to take it to the front-end. Make the entire thing work on the front-end, adding components and all. We tested a lot of existing solutions, but none of them did what we envisioned. So, we hand-rolled our own, and we’re calling it Lasso.

Lasso is in beta, and is the result of well over 250 hours of development time. You can write, edit, and add Aesop Story Engine components, all on the front-end of your site. The story components can be moved freely throughout the story using drag-and-drop, and their settings are changed in real-time. The best part is, it works with 98% of WordPress themes, with any existing Aesop Story Engine components, using any existing story. Lasso is, what I would describe, “a super-lightweight editor overlay.”

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Create stories with drag and drop using Lasso front-end editor.

It can be used in a variety of applications. Custom fields? No problem. Post types? Yep. Lasso saves directly into the_content by default, or wherever you choose. The initial scope of the editor was to be used strictly with Aesop Story Engine. However as the development expanded, so did the scope of possibilities. You see, you can use Lasso without Aesop Story Engine. You can use custom components done just with HTML, or custom Aesop Story Engine components. All using the Settings API that we’ve built. All drag and drop. For developers, it’s incredibly extensive with loads of hooks and actions.

It’s a working beta, it’s absolutely incredible, and it’s super easy to use. I’ve been using it for months, and every time I go to write, it excites me just a little bit more.

So, we solved “making Aesop Story Engine easier to use” with Lasso, our new front-end editor. The next challenge was to reduce the friction and time spent between, “I want to publish (and maybe sell) stories,” and, “I need a website to do this on.”

Hosted Storytelling

The result is a specialty platform built just for writers. We’re calling it Story.AM. You won’t find any clutter, or anything distracting you from doing what you do best: writing. You can sign up and publish in minutes within your own private collection of stories.

Each story designs itself based on the content and imagery used. The Smart Layout algorithmically designs itself and responds to how many stories you have. It’s safe, and secure with all sites protected under SSL. You can follow other writers, and publish stories that are instantly broadcast to your subscribers. You can even sell story subscriptions (Elite Founders and Enterprise Level only).

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Create and sell longform stories on a hosted platform built for writers.

Story.AM is now open to 150 Founding Members. After 150 (first-come-first-serve) we’ll shut down registration and sit in Founder Mode for a couple months while Founders stress test, and provide feedback. We want the experience to be simply amazing before we launch publicly in the spring, so we’ll be taking this time to fix bugs, and improve the editor and the platform.

Story.AM utilizes Lasso as the front-end editor, so the story publishing experience has been built around this, taking place entirley on the front-end.

How do I get in?

Head over to https://Story.AM and become a Founding Member!

As a Founder you’ll not only get access to publish unlimited stories on Story.AM, but you’ll get to download Lasso for use in your own projects!

This is amazing because, at launch its limited to three stories for the same cost. Also, we’ll be pricing Lasso at around $200 – $250 at launch this Spring on it’s own, so getting in now at $144 is probably a good idea. The editor has automatic updates (no license key needed), and will continue to get updates for up to one year. After this, you’ll renew for a discounted rate through the Lasso website once this goes up.

Summary

Phew! Wow, so that’s a lot of awesome stuff right?! We’re amazingly excited about this! The feedback so far on the editor has just been amazing. We’re tired. But we’re excited. It’s been an amazing journey, and this step is a crucial step in growing our business, and taking things to the next level.

So stop what you’re doing and head on over and become a Founding Member! And don’t forget to tweet at us, or sound off in the comments below, and let us know what you think!

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