London Startup Uses Technology To Open Up The World Of Book Publishing – Forbes
Emmanuel Nataf has a simple mission: â€œI want more people to share their ideas with the world.â€
Thatâ€™s why three years ago, the Frenchman moved to London and co-foundedÂ Reedsy, a curated marketplace for authors to find publishing professionals to help bring their book to life.Â While Paris may have Station F now, Nataf saw opportunity in the British capital thanks to the concentration of publishers, writers, and investors.
â€œI wanted to see if we could take this world of publishing, which was happening primarily behind closed doors, and make it more transparent and accessible to everyone. Plus, as more and more people in the writing and editing profession are adopting freelance careers, it made sense to organize them,â€ he says, seated at the Monocle Cafe, home to one of Londonâ€™s iconic magazines.
This year, Reedsy is democratizing the publishing process even further with a new component to the company: Reedsy Learning.Â Launched in late 2016, the online courses help individuals figure out how to land publishing deals, what kind of support to hire (in terms of graphic designers, editors, ghostwriters), and how to navigate the complex world of Amazon, Facebook, and paid online advertising.
â€œBy enrolling in these free courses from some of the best publishing professionals in the world, anyone can now acquire the knowledge they need to publish a book and thrive in the modern market,â€ he says.
Book publishing is becoming ever more so fixated on celebrities, noted authors, and influencers. Those who cannot command an audience before the book is published, struggle to land a book deal, Nataf says. Hence, he wants to flip the equation: if authors are willing to self publish, or are serious about hiring professionals to help make their idea a reality, they can turn to Reedsy.
“After completing over 3,000 publishing projects, we realized how much help authors needed through the process of publishing a book. That’s why we decided to create the best possible content to answer their questions and make the journey a bit less daunting,â€ says Nataf.
As of this summer, Reedsy had registered 20,000 students for their online courses.Â While the company is not profitable yet, Nataf says, the focus is on increasing its reach and improving the technology.
â€œWe are not looking to be [profitable] for a while as we reinvest everything we make to grow faster,â€ he says. â€œReedsy’s success so far comes down to our technology and design in an industry that’s quite backwards and the curation and the quality of our community. You are a few clicks away from getting in touch with Stephen King’s designer or Neil Gaiman’s editor!â€
Funded by Seedcamp and a host of tech-oriented investors, the platform has helped produce more than 2,000 books in the past three years. Nataf says they are now helping negotiate the book deal of a successful entrepreneur and theÂ movie rights of another book. â€œThe platform has really evolved and weâ€™re looking at other opportunities related to books as well.â€
Reedsy itself is a product of the technology itâ€™s producing: with a staff of more than 10 dispersed around Europe and the world, the company relies on a remote team.
â€œYou’re a right fit for a remote company if you can learn by yourself, are autonomous in your work and have at least above average communication skills,â€ Nataf says. â€œIt’s a model that makes wonders for introverts, like me, who cannot work in open space. I used to have headaches every single day in that kind of environment. But it doesn’t work if you need handholding, which a lot of people, surprisingly, need.â€
Working remotely is in the DNA of the company: Nataf is one of four founders. â€œOne of our founders decided to stay in Paris when the rest of us moved to London, so we had our first remote member by default.â€
Financially, it also makes sense. â€œIn a city like London, a workspace can easily cost you 1,000 GBP a month.Â Imagine putting that money towards better staff, trainings, or other resources that can grow your company.â€
With the help of platforms like Basecamp, where employees can check-in daily and inform each other of what theyâ€™ve been up to that day, working remotely is working for this tech startup.Â â€œEveryone does it, including the founders.Â Weâ€™re all treated the same way,â€ says Nataf.
The open and free work culture is emblematic of what Nataf and his team are looking to build — a platform that opens up book publishing to everyone, not just the intellectual elite.
This year, the company introduced a charitable component to their concept.Â In a campaign that asked writers from around the world to answer the question, â€œWhy I write?â€ or #IWriteBecause, Reedsy offered to donate a fixed amount for each response it received to the question.Â Donations went to international non-profit, Room to Read, which delivers books and educational material to childrenÂ in Asia and Africa. Nataf says that they were able to reach over 6 million with this campaign.
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