It may not feel like it, but spring is here! What are your plans?
Here’s what I’m up to. I’m writing a comedy screenplay about a spokesman for a dystopian government. I call it Utopia PR. I’ve got the plot outlined and have written about 35 pages. That means I’m about a third of the way through (think of each screenplay page like a minute of a movie). I’m hoping to finish the script over the next couple months and enter it into a contest or two. It’s been a lot of fun to let loose and have a laugh, especially given the current state of the world.
As for my third novel, The Wanderer and the New West, I’m afraid there’s not a lot new to say. The search for a literary agent continues. I’ve received definite interest but I’m waiting to hear more. I really can’t wait to get the book into your hands! I’m hoping to decide in the next few months whether to take matters into my own hands and self-publish, as I did with my previous novels.
Speaking of which, happy to report that sales have been up on We, The Watched and Divided We Fall, especially since the presidential election! Seems that ads about dystopian governments are getting clicks these days. You may have seen that sales of George Orwell’s 1984 are way up, too, so maybe my books are getting some kind of Orwellian bump. Thanks, George!
Over the past couple of months, my editor Rachel Gluckstern has been dishing out expert advice on how to amp up my novel about a west won by gun evangelists. Together, Rachel and I have fleshed out the backstories and motivations of each character, and made the big plot turns hit even harder. We’ve also improved the organization of the chapters and expanded upon my frightening vision of a near-future America.
After two rounds of content edits, we have moved into the final phase: copy editing. This is a more technical edit — spelling, grammar and style — but critical to your reading enjoyment. We expect to have this finished by the end of the month, and at that point I plan to shop the manuscript around to potential agents (please contact me if you know anyone). I’m also planning to pitch the novel at an upcoming writers’ conference this April in Philadelphia.
Because I am so excited for you to read my new novel, I may decide to self-publish the novel like I did We, The Watchedand Divided We Fall. However, because this new story is my best work to date, I’m going to give traditional publishing one more stab.
Stay tuned to this blog for updates! Please also join my mailing list if you haven’t already. Thanks for all your support!
Reedsy co-founder Emmanuel Nataf talks about the future of indie publishing.
Just because I’m an indie author doesn’t mean I can’t get good help with editing and book design.
I recently signed up for Reedsy, an innovative web platform that helps indie authors find freelance publishing assistance. A few days ago, I signed ex-DC Comics editor Rachel Gluckstern to edit my upcoming novel, The Wanderer and the New West. It’s an exciting collaboration that was made possible by Reedsy.
Reedsy was founded in London during the summer of 2014 by Emmanuel Nataf, Matthew Cobb, Ricardo Fayet and Vincent Durand. For the first year, the co-founders worked on Reedsy as a side project on nights and weekends, but it became a full-time job after the startup was accepted into Seedcamp, a London-based startup accelerator. Soon after, the tech startup raised cash from angel investors including Ben Yoskovitz, the bestselling author of Lean Analytics. Today, Reedsy is a team of seven that operates out of a co-working space in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London.
I spoke with co-founder Emmanuel Nataf about what Reedsy hopes to accomplish and where it sees the publishing industry headed. You can read the full interview below.
Adam: What problem were you trying to solve when you created Reedsy?
Emmanuel: We were seeing two major publishing trends converging. On the one hand, more and more authors were self-publishing, as they could easily reach an audience through digital distribution (460,000 titles were self-published in the US in 2014 according to Bowker). On the other hand, more and more top publishing professionals have left traditional houses in the past few years and have gone freelance, available to work with both traditional and self-published authors.
At the time, we were seeing too many low-quality books being pushed to the Kindle Store. It was clear that self-publishing was not yet a viable alternative to the traditional route. Quality can only be achieved with an investment in editorial, design and marketing services, something that self-published authors did not have access to. They needed a single, trusted and quality source of people that they could collaborate with.
It’s from this frustration that we decided to create Reedsy, a curated marketplace for the
More recently, we started to work with traditional publishers as well. They have been impressed
with the level of quality Reedsy professionals can provide, and love the way our collaborative
tools streamline their workflows.
Adam: Today, 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?
Emmanuel: The production process of a book doesn’t stop after the writing phase – it starts there. Self-publishing authors can certainly release new titles much faster than “Big 5” authors but they can’t skip editing, design or marketing if they want to have any chance of being successful. In fact, to stand out from the crowd, they need to publish a high-quality product and have a solid plan to commercialize it. This takes time and requires experience. This is where Reedsy professionals can help.
We are planning on open-sourcing our data so authors can get a better idea of the cost of self-publishing. However, for an 80,000 word book that needs editing, design and marketing help, you will need at least $2,000. Most spend $5,000 or more if they want to work with award-winning professionals and want to design an aggressive marketing plan.
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?
Emmanuel: The whole value chain is evolving so much that I’m not sure how long the selfpublishing/traditional publishing antagonism will remain.
For instance, we recently helped PFD Literary Agents set up their own digital imprint where they give a very interesting 50/50 deal to authors. The emergence of more digital imprints is something that we follow closely. What we believe, though, is that the production of high-quality books can be commoditized through a service like Reedsy, and that publishers should only do what they do best: curate content, offer physical distribution and negotiate foreign rights.
Adam: How many freelancers and how many authors do you have on Reedsy?
Emmanuel: About 6,000 authors have joined Reedsy so far and we have selected 300+ professionals out of 7,000 applications.
Adam: What is the most popular service authors are looking for when they join Reedsy?
Emmanuel: Self-publishing authors are mainly looking for editing services when they come to Reedsy. We would love to see self-publishing authors invest more into their book covers though: too many of them still underestimate the incredible impact a beautiful cover can have for their book sales.
We see mix of authors looking to self-publish and authors looking to polish their manuscript before submitting to agents or publishers, which is why we recently added a “query letter review” service to our marketplace. Eventually, we want Reedsy to become the backbone of the industry, providing high-quality services to all authors or publishers.
Adam: Do you have any minimum qualifications for freelancers? Is it required they have
experience in the publishing industry?
Emmanuel: Yes! Our team receives hundreds of applications every week and only selects a handful of professionals. The objective is to provide the highest level of quality to authors and publishers. This is why people often describe Reedsy as a “curated” marketplace. We require a strong experience working at top publishers or with bestselling authors and a portfolio of at least 10 books. We also ask them to connect their social networks to Reedsy so we can verify their online identity.
Adam: How does Reedsy make money? Is it purely commission-based?
Emmanuel: Our fees are shared between professionals and clients who both pay a 10 percent commission on every transaction. This allows us to develop our product, curate our network, and offer customer support with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
Adam: Besides Reedsy, what other innovative companies are helping indie authors right now?
Emmanuel: Crowdfunding platforms are a good complement to Reedsy. For instance, Reedsy authors often use Publishizer or Kickstarter to raise funds to pay for our services. We are also pretty excited to see what Find My Audience is going to release in the coming months to help authors locate and engage with a highly qualified audience.
Adam: What’s coming next for Reedsy? What can you tell me about any plans to further expand or enhance your services?
Emmanuel: Many things! First, we will be adding more services to our marketplace in the coming months: marketing, ghostwriting and translation will be progressively rolled out. Then, we will be adding dedicated publisher accounts to allow publishers to manage entire teams and projects through Reedsy. Last but not least, we will be releasing our collaborative book editor to allow any author to work collaboratively on their books and get properly formatted EPUB and PDF files instantly.
Rachel will be doing content and copy editing on The Wanderer to sharpen my prose and, generally, to keep me from looking like a hack. I’d be lying if I said comic books didn’t influence the knockabout action in my new book, and I believe Rachel’s experience with action/adventure stories will really give the novel a boost.
I completed my own edits for The Wanderer last week, and–if you’ll allow my biased opinion–it’s a fun and topical book. The story is set in a possible future won by gun evangelists and advocates for hands-off government. Plagued by shootings, this America has returned to the ways of the Wild West, a lawless land where people make their own justice.
Editing is more than fixing typos. Over the past few months, I have gone into detective mode — reading and re-reading my story and taking notes about what I need to add, what I need to cut, and what I need to reorder. Writing a novel takes a lot of time, and a lot of things — including characters and writing style — can (and should) evolve as you write. Sometimes as I write, I know that a scene doesn’t quite work, but don’t have an immediate solution. Rather than bash my head against the wall, I just move on to the next scene, because in my experience the perfect solution often comes along later when I’m solving something else.
Cutting scenes can be hard. One of my problems is that I’ll write a joke or a bit dialogue that I believe is terribly clever, but in fact does nothing for the story. Usually my wife and editing ally Mallika calls me out on (and ruthlessly chides me for) such passages. It’s hard to hit the delete button, but in the end it’s better for the overall story. This is why I always am wary of new editions of novels or movies that restore previously cut material. In most cases, scenes or chapters are cut for a reason.
While I have cut some unnecessary segments in The Wanderer since the first draft, I’ve also added a few chapters in the middle to fill what I saw as a void in the plot. Without giving much away, there’s a part about two-thirds of the way through when the heroes decide to go stop the bad guy. In my original draft, however, there didn’t seem to be quite enough pushing them to make that decision beyond my fervent wishes as the author. As I went to work coming up with a new episode, I inadvertently addressed a few other weaknesses along the way (remember what I said before about waiting for the perfect solution?). I didn’t just fill a plot hole; I created one of my favorite sequences in the novel!
Editing is hard. It takes a lot of time. But it’s also a lot of fun. And when you read the end product, I think you’ll agree it’s worth it.
I am happy to say I’m getting close to the finish line for my edits, but of course, that will only mark the start of the next challenge: getting the story through someone who does this for a living — a professional editor! How’s that going to go? Stay tuned!