Support Write or Readís RocketHub Campaign
“Support Write or Read, and help us change publishing!”
That’s the headline for Write or Read’s campaign on the crowdfunding website RocketHub, and between now and the day before Thanksgiving, backers can pledge to help the publishing start-up to make its ambitious mission statement a reality.
According to Ricci, the RocketHub funding goal of $10,000 would help the website to morph into its fully-realized subscription basis.
Currently, as the site is in open beta, all writers can upload manuscripts to the database and all readers can access them. However, with a full launch, Write or Read would be able to restrict access to the site, put subscription processes in place, and even begin paying authors for pageviews or downloads of their manuscripts. Author pay would bring more writers flocking to the site, in turn expanding what Write or Read has to offer and hopefully catching greater attention from readers. With more subscribers, Write or Read would then be able to provide authors with better payments and more analytic data.
In addition to a full-scale launch, Ricci has outlined the additional features that Write or Read would like to add if it secured enough funding via the RocketHub campaign. From EPUB3 support to more powerful servers, the list is varied and interesting, positing Write or Read as a company with big ideas. View the full list of goals on Write or Read’s RocketHub page.
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From the Tech Desk
New Service Aims to Bring Authors and Readers Closer Together with Analytics Data
The digital revolution may have stoked the fires of accessibility for readers—as well as simplified the publication process for authors—but one of the problems with sending a book out into the great unknown internet is that no author can know for sure who is reading their work and with what level of interest they are consuming it. Online outlets like Amazon and Apple’s iBookstore may provide sales figures, but authors looking for a greater wealth of information about their digital publications have, until now, been largely out of luck.
Enter Write or Read, a new startup site designed to offer writers more workable data on how their eBooks are performing beyond simple purchase or download figures. Instead, Write or Read takes a page out of the playbook of the modern webmaster. Rather than relying on simple sales figures to judge book success, this new site goes one step further, offering authors detailed analytics data that they can use to track the performance of their books with readers. And since book performance can be judged in so many different ways in the digital age, the data that Write or Read can provide—from the optimal target age group for the book in question to the way that readers consume the work—is invaluable.
“Basically, [Write or Read] is a subscription site for eBooks, but we want to more directly connect readers and writers, and one way of doing this is through analytics,” said Sabrina Ricci, the young founder of the service. “So we want to be able to show authors a bunch of info about their books, like basic demographics of their readers, and what percentage of the book is actually read—like, are people reading the whole book, or are they stopping after the first chapter—and also just how much time people spend reading it. Are they so captivated that they read the whole book in one sitting, or do they read it in different chunks? Stuff like that.”
Ricci, an independent author herself, started making the rounds of the self-publishing industry during her time as a New York University graduate student. When she began seeing just how little help most online vendors give to authors as far as book data is concerned, she came up with the Write or Read analytics concept.
“I had put a couple books out, and I got kind of frustrated with the lack of data,” she explained. “You get sales numbers, but that’s about it. I wanted to know more: are people actually enjoying reading this? Do they like it? What can I do to make it better? Write or Read evolved from that point of view.”
The idea morphed into Ricci’s thesis project for her Master’s degree in publishing, then became a more full-time pursuit after graduation. Write or Read launched its alpha site last December and is currently in open beta, with features fully accessible to customers, but plenty of renovations and further additions are still to come.
In an industry where word of mouth is one of the most important routes to success, Write or Read has hit upon an interesting angle. With digital self-publishing, authors can no longer depend on simple sales figures to let them know what they need to know about their book, because in a lot of cases, the numbers just aren’t there yet. Indeed, many self-publishers are working toward landing literary agents or publishing deals, and while their sales numbers might not show the promise of their books, Ricci believes that the more detailed analytic data Write or Read provides could help independent authors catch an agent’s eye.
“We are also looking at helping writers who still want to go the traditional route,” Ricci said. “They could upload an unpublished manuscript, get the data on it, and then use that data to pitch their book to a literary agent and show why it would be marketable.”
In addition to helping writers build a better understanding of their audience from an analytical or mathematical point of view, Write or Read aims to double as a platform where authors and readers can actually interact with one another in a candid and mutually-beneficial manner. In essence, Write or Read is a subscription community where writers can share their work and readers can access it.
Writers get the most obvious perk of the service, in the form of the deep level analytics data it provides. Meanwhile, readers gain access to a library of undiscovered titles from independent authors, with the option to help in a crowd-sourced effort to make those titles better. Readers will be able to deliver feedback to authors directly, either through a private messaging feature, or through an in-book option that makes it possible for readers to fix typos or misspellings on the go. The author then gets the chance to approve or disapprove of each reader change, hopefully honing the polish of their manuscript with each new set of eyes. In other words, Write or Read is a service built to break down the final barriers between authors and readers.
“We want to help our authors as much as we can and bring people together that way,” Ricci said. “That’s the big picture goal.”
Interested in learning more about Write or Read? Click here to visit their website.
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Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for Independent Publisher, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for Rockfreaks.net and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.