Readers seek great books, not big publishers: Bibliocrunch CEO Miral Sattar

Indie authors can’t do it alone. Believe me, I’ve tried. What I’ve learned over the course of writing, self-publishing and marketing three novels is that it pays to get help.

Over the last year, I’ve featured several tech companies and indie book promotion websites that aim to put indie authors on a level playing field with the traditionally published. These include Reedsy, The Fussy Librarian, NoiseTrade and Story Cartel.

Miral Sattar, Bibliocrunch CEO

Today I’d like to feature Bibliocrunch, a company that’s actually been in the indie publishing game since 2011. The service connects authors to freelancers for editing, marketing, graphic design and much more. The site also hosts book giveaways and provides useful advice about indie publishing. Check out my profile on Bibliocrunch as an example.

I spoke with founder and CEO Miral Sattar about what Bibliocrunch hopes to accomplish and where she sees the publishing industry headed. Miral leads a team of seven based in New York City.

Adam: What problem is Bibliocrunch trying to solve?

Miral: Giving authors access to tools resources to publish the best book possible. We have a vetted marketplace that connects authors and publishers with vetted publishing professionals. But we also have our series which is growing very popular.

Adam: Today’s authors can self-publish a book all by themselves if they want to. Why is it important that authors pay for freelance help, and how big of an investment does that need to be?

Miral: If someone is paying for your book, then you need to make sure that it is in the best state possible. You need an eye-catching cover, a well-edited book that’s error-free, and readable on all devices and formats.

The investment varies. You can publish a quality book on a budget or pay what a typical publisher would pay for one of their authors. I have written articles on both. It’s different for each book.

Read Miral's articles on this subject!
How to Self-Publish Your Book on a Budget
The Real Costs of Self-Publishing a Book

Adam: The publishing industry is in a state of flux right now. Where do you think it’s going, and how well will self-published authors fare against industry published authors?

Miral: I don’t think this is a relevant question. I think it’s more important that traditional publishers start offering more to their authors. Right now, 40% of the books on Amazon’s best-seller list are self-published. People usually don’t care whether a book is self-published. They want a great read. If they love the book, they will recommend it to their friends.

Adam: What was your background before starting this company, and what led you from there to here?

Miral: I’m an engineer and writer by background. I went to both graduate (NYU) and undergrad (Columbia) in the city. I had been working at TIME Magazine for several years, leading a lot of the editorial product development. I was also finishing up my Masters at NYU at the same time.

In 2011, I noticed that people were publishing books based on breaking news events and selling tons of books. The people who were publishing were not professionals, and they were doing it through Amazon. So I went back to the higher-ups at TIME and pitched my project: publish books based on breaking news events. We had the best writers from all over the world between TIME, Fortune, People, etc. But like any big corporation, they were slow to approve and execute.

I ended up leaving and starting my own company, Bibliocrunch, several months later. We launched as a tools platforms where authors and publishers could write and convert their books in the cloud. However, we kept getting requests from authors asking if our platform could convert PDF files into eBooks, or design covers. We referred so many people that we made a marketplace out of it.

Adam: How many customers do you have?

Miral: We have about 20,000 authors and 1,500 vetted freelancers who provide services to authors and publishers.

Adam: What is the most popular service authors seek freelance help with?

Miral: I’d say editing and then cover design.

Bibliocrunch offers a variety of paid VIP services to authors.
Bibliocrunch offers a variety of paid VIP services to authors.

Adam:  Do you typically get authors who are looking to self-publish, or are they polishing things up with the intention of querying a big publisher?

Miral: We get all types of authors, though the majority of our authors are self-published. We also have publishers who have hired freelancers because they don’t have the budgets to keep qualified folks in-house. Each author is different, so we tell them the first thing they should do is define their goals.

Adam: Do you have minimum qualifications for the freelancers? Must they have professional experience in the publishing industry?

Miral: Absolutely. We check to see if they already are a member of a pre-existing organization, their LinkedIn profiles, their testimonials,  works samples, and website.

Adam: Have you had any major success stories so far?

Miral: We’ve had a few authors hit the top 10 on Amazon. Most recently, Howard Kaplan, author of The Damascus Cover, bumped James Paterson and Patricia Cornwell one week.

Bibliocrunch offers a free 4-book box set of books to help indie authors. Click the image for more details.

Adam: What do you believe is your competitive advantage to other companies offering similar services?

Miral: I think we’ll see the rise of marketplaces in 2016. Almost everyone has one now which is great! Blurb, Publishers Weekly, Publishers Lunch, just to name a few.

We have a VIP Service that guides authors through the self-publishing process with a real person on the phone. We also have our author training courses, which come with tools, templates, blog posts and guides. Our most popular course is our marketing intensive.

Adam: What’s coming next for Bibliocrunch? What can you tell me about any plans to further expand or enhance your services?

Miral: We’re expanding our series to include children’s books and also launching a few children’s book initiatives later this year.

Adam: Besides Bibliocrunch, what other innovative companies helping indie authors do you like?

Miral: I love Wattpad and BookBub and recommend both to all our authors. Wattpad is great if you’re good at social media and have a fantasy type novel. BookBub is a great way to kickstart sales if you get accepted.

Thanks so much to Miral Sattar for the Interview! Miral also contributed a new year’s prediction for my article on indie publishing in 2016! For more on innovative indie publishing companies, check out my interviews with ReedsyStory Cartel, NoiseTrade and The Fussy Librarian.

Want to be featured or suggest an innovative indie publishing company? Contact me.

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