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From the Tech Desk
Reedsy Expands to Offer Book Discovery Platform
In October 2017, From the Tech Desk put the spotlight on Reedsy, a London-based startup company that was trying to reinvent the way that authors self-published their books. Rather than existing as a self-publishing platform that sells publishing “packages” to aspiring authors, Reedsy is a marketplace or network of publishing and publishing-adjacent professionals. Whether you are looking for a ghostwriter to help you write your book, an editor to help you shape it, a designer to help you make it look professional, or a publicist to promote it, you can find and connect with the talent you need on Reedsy. The company was and is one of the more interesting disrupters to impact the publishing industry in the last 10 years.
Now, Reedsy is aiming to take that disruption to the next level. At the beginning of the month, the company launched a brand-new platform called Reedsy Discovery. As the name implies, this platform is geared toward helping readers find new and exciting things to read. The twist, of course, is that Reedsy Discovery will focus solely on undiscovered independent books and authors. “Get early access to fresh indie books and help decide on the bestselling stories of tomorrow,” reads the homepage for the new platform.
So how does it work exactly? Essentially, readers who are interested in indie-centric, under-the-radar book recommendations need only sign up for Reedsy Discovery. From there, the platform will serve up recommendations in a variety of different formats. There will be a weekly newsletter highlighting top-rated books in numerous genres, as well as “curated bookshelves” full of titles that Reedsy Discovery’s book reviewers want to share. There will also be a leaderboard, where readers can get in on the action and vote to help promote their favorite titles.
Readers can choose to explore recommended titles based on wherever their tastes or whims currently lie. It’s easy to browse reviews spanning all genres, or to break things down into individual categories such as fantasy, historical fiction, young adult, or science fiction. There is also a keyword search function, so that readers can find well-reviewed titles about or concerning specific topics.
The platform offers perks for both readers and authors. On the reader side, those interested in becoming reviewers with the platform are welcome to apply directly via the website. From the looks of things, Reedsy is mostly targeting book bloggers or other “experts” with some experience reviewing or writing about books. However, anyone can apply and build a profile on the site. If accepted, reviewers will be able to access and read hundreds of books that authors have submitted to the Discovery platform. Ideally, the platform will help lend visibility to book bloggers and may even allow them monetize some of their work. Reedsy Discovery includes a tip-like feature, where readers can “thank” a reviewer for his or her recommendation by sending small $1, $3, or $5 rewards.
Just as any reviewer is welcome to apply for Reedsy Discovery, any author is also welcome to submit his or her work. Independent authors interested in having their books reviewed on Discovery can submit their titles for $50 each. The idea is to match each book with a potential reviewer whose interests align with the book’s genre, plot, style, or audience, though the reviewers ultimately get to decide which books to review or recommend. The books that do receive glowing reviews end up in the Discovery newsletter, on the curated bookshelves, and on the leaderboard. Even books that don’t get reviews are still featured on the Discovery feed, though, where readers can search, find, preview, and purchase titles that appeal to them. Every book submitted to Reedsy Discovery also receives its own landing page, where readers can check out a one-chapter preview, browse reviews of the book, upvote the title for purposes of the leaderboard, or purchase the entire manuscript.
As with any platform of this ilk, the question with Reedsy Discovery is whether it will be able to attract a large enough userbase to be useful or fun for readers, or to be worth the $50 investment for authors. There is certainly plenty to be intrigued about with the service, though. The way Discovery blends expert reviews with the crowd-sourced element is cool, and the elements of gamification at play with the leaderboard have the potential to build some genuine viral traction around popular books and authors. The site also just looks great, with everything from the Discovery feed to the landing pages carrying the kind of professional sheen you’d expect from a respected online book marketplace.
At this point, self-publishing is a breeze. The biggest hurdle—and an obstacle that is only becoming larger as more and more people put their work out into the world—is finding readers. Reedsy Discover is the latest attempt at solving this pain point, and one of the most intriguing to boot. It will be interesting to see whether the platform finds an audience or gets lost in the shuffle like too many of today’s self-published books.
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Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for IndependentPublisher.com, 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 manningcr953 (at) gmail.com.