This Startup Aims To Take The Pain Out Of DIY Publishing – Forbes
Writing self-published books can be a messy and disorganized process. Reedsy, a startup based in the U.K., aims to change that.
Reedsy, a marketplace for hiring freelance publishing pros, has been picking up traction rapidly since its launch two years ago. It has attracted about 20,000 authors and about 500 professionals to serve them since it was started, with the largest group of users in the U.S., says Emmanuel Nataf, a co-founder. Reedsy is also working with traditional publishing firms and lined up 45 meetings at the Frankfurt Book Fair last month, according to Nataf.
Authors can hire ghostwriters, editors, designers and marketers through Reedsy, which Nataf says vets them extensively. Following a model similar to Airbnb, Reedsy takes a 10% cut in each project from both the customer—the author—and the creative professionals who serve them. The 10-person virtual company, which has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding, is bringing in six-figure revenues each month, according to Nataf. So far, about 1,000 book projects have been completed, he says.
“It’s not always easy to define exactly who our target market is,” says Nataf. “Generally, they are people looking for high-quality books who want to be proud of what they are publishing and want to create a beautiful product with a beautiful cover.”
Reedsy faces considerable competition. There are plenty of marketplaces where self-published authors can find professionals to help them, among them giant freelancing sites like Upwork. However, Reedsy’s specialization in book publishing may be a competitive advantage. Beyond the fast-growing self-publishing field, many traditional publishers are now involved in self-publishing operations and are looking for ways to run them more efficiently. International Standard Book Number (ISBN) registrations for self-published print and eBooks have grown 375% since 2010 and hit 727,125 according to information released by Bowker, the US agency that administrates ISBN, in September.
One big draw to Reedsy’s community is a free Book Editor tool that allows authors to write and export a professionally typeset book and will soon allow them to use the platform to collaborate. The U.K. trade magazine The Bookseller named Reedsy the “Book Tech Company of 2015.”
“You have a nice environment to write in,” says Nataf. “Whenever your book is ready, you get your eBook file.”
The site also offers a new educational component called Reedsy Learning. It has created free short courses on topics such as Facebook ads, how to turn a cookbook idea into reality and how to stop talking about writing a book and actually do it.
Most of Reedsy’s users are based in the U.S., with some in the U.K., Canada, Israel and Australia, says Nataf. Authors who are self-publishing can seek bids from the creative professionals on the site, which has set up technology to make it easy to compare them.
Nataf dropped out of Rouen Business School to start Reedsy in 2014 with co-founders Matt Cobb, Ricardo Fayet, and Vincent Durand— and got backing from Seedcamp, a U.K.-based fund that invests in pre-seed and seed-stage startups.
“We had zero money when we started,” says Nataf. “Just before we finished our studies, Seedcamp called. It was interested in what we were building. One of the investors was writing a book. He was our first customer and beta tester.”
So far, more than 3,000 books have been formatted in Reedsy’s Book Publisher tool, says Nataf. It creates files publishable through Smashwords, IngramSpark, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Apple iBooks and Kobo Writing Life.
Like many startups, Reedsy is still a work in progress. As different types of authors have used the tool, the founders have realized the need to adapt it to varying formats and plan to offer options for academic content and poetry. Reedsy’s founders are also working on making dealmaking easier for authors and their collaborators and soon plan to introduce automatic contracts—replacing the hassle-filled process of generating contracts on one’s own. The task that make DIY publishing inconvenient for authors are fuel for this startup, and if it can keep offering simpler alternatives, it is likely to see fast growth in the future.