Seattle Start-Up Powers the Service Side of the Booming Self-Publishing Industry
Writing and demand for reading material are on the rise, but editorial jobs are still being cut from traditional publishing outlets; Writer.ly tackles both with a grassroots approach that creates jobs in the process.
PR Log - Mar 19, 2013 - Writers, writers everywhere, and not a book to publish. According to the Association of American Publishers, overall book sales are still on the increase in both print and ebook formats. The most popular genre is Young Adult, a category that includes such blockbuster hits as Hunger Games and Twilight. Books starting out in digital format are enjoying unprecedented success, such as Amanda Hocking's paranormal YA romances and E.L. James' Fifty Shades trilogy. People are reading more, which in turn creates a higher demand for writers. The publishing industry is in an unprecedented state of flux. Newspapers and publishing houses are hemorrhaging editorial and marketing jobs while trying to figure out what the juggernaut of digital media means to their industries. Meanwhile, the public demands more well-crafted works of fiction and non-fiction as writers looking to earn extra money are providing the raw material. Where are the skilled professionals who can bring these two things together in a dystopian world of publishing?
Abigail Carter and Kelsye Nelson, two experienced veterans in media, technology, and publishing, encountered this junction of product and need; where others saw chaos, they saw an opportunity. They met at a writers' group in Seattle. Their combined résumés read like a promotional brochure for the city itself: tech savvy, creative, and ready to bring years of concrete experience to the Next Big Thing: Writer.ly. Writers are skilled at just that: writing – putting the ideas in their heads to hard or digital copy. The Writer.ly team believes that writers should not have to worry about being an expert on every aspect of publishing. Not every author should be required to know how to properly format their work for print or the myriad of ebook formats now in use. Authors need help. They need fresh eyes to make sure they haven't made distracting and costly typing or factual errors. They need quality cover art for the finished products. And they have to spend their valuable writing time navigating websites to do it.
“A book is a product. Any commercially successful product has the support of an entire team of experts and professional services. A writer can’t be expected to know and do everything on their own. An upfront investment by the author in such things as professional editing and a cover designed by a graphic designer can go a very long way in the future success of her book. Help should be easy to find, high quality and affordable. That’s where Writer.ly comes in,” says Writer.ly CEO and co-founder Kelsye Nelson.
Guy Kawasaki, the former Apple executive and best-selling author who boasts 1.2 million followers on Twitter, agrees. “Publishing isn’t dead. It’s just changing. And, as more authors self-publish their books, they will need to find editors, designers, and publicists. Writer.ly is a great solution for this need,” said Kawasaki. Kawasaki joined Writer.ly as an advisory board member and is supporting the start-up by offering a free copy of his latest book, “APE: Author, Publishers, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book” to everyone who creates a free account on Writer.ly.
As hungry as the reading audience is – and they are hungry – they also demand that books be of good quality and be visually appealing. Books that are sloppily produced not only damage an author’s sales, but reflect badly on the industry and the practice of self-publishing. Writer.ly's Carter and Nelson saw that writers need some sharp editing, professional artwork, and marketing. They also know that there are experienced professionals in the field who need the work and can do it from anywhere. Writer.ly provides a simple online collaborative workspace for writers and industry experts to join forces.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Editors who have adapted to online media and are comfortable writing for and working with a variety of electronic and digital tools should have an advantage in finding work… ...Although the way in which people consume media is changing, editors will continue to add value by reviewing and revising drafts and keeping the style and voice of a publication consistent.” At the same time, BLS adds, “Despite some job growth for editors in online media, the number of traditional editing jobs in print newspapers and magazines is declining and will temper overall employment growth ...” [Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Editors, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/editors.htm (visited February 28, 2013)].
The need is there; the jobs are there. But the industry's traditional employment model of in-house editors, writers, and fact-checkers is in flux. Positions are cut not because there is no longer a need for the skills, but because publishers are scrambling to adapt to the changing way readers consume their media. Writer.ly provides a better place for these experienced professionals than the unemployment line. Writer.ly's model allows authors to post projects with which they need help. Skilled freelancers can then bid on the project. Once accepted, the freelancer receives 25% of the project funding up front, and the other 75% upon completion of the project. Ten percent of each job goes to Writer.ly.
“We sought to provide a better solution for freelancers than scouring craigslist or jobs, or competing on sites like eLance or Odesk with offshore consultants that undercut prices considerably. On Writer.ly, freelancers can bid on jobs at their normal market rate. They can collect ratings and reviews that will help them land new jobs,” said COO and co-founder Abigail Carter.
Although still in its early stages, over 3,000 writer and publishing professionals have created profiles on Writer.ly, and another 20,000 follow them on Facebook and other social media. They have won the "Best Investment Opportunity" award from the Zino Social Innovation Investment forum in Seattle.
“The self-publishing industry experienced triple-digit growth from 2006 to 2011. The numbers for 2012 are expected to be triple that again. This is an exciting time to be supporting the writers and authors leading the new publishing revolution,” said Nelson.
The Writer.ly (https://www.writer.ly) online marketplace connects writers directly with the vendors they need throughout the publishing process. Writers post biddable service requests on Writer.ly to find copy editors, designers, ebook specialists, marketers, etc.. Most self-published books fall short of the author's sales goals. Writer.ly solves this problem by enabling writers to create customized publishing support teams throughout the publishing and marketing process. Writer.ly is a Seattle-based start-up founded in 2012. CEO Kelsye Nelson is a graduate of The Founder Institute, a program founded by Adeo Ressi. Famed silicon-valley VC and thought-leader Guy Kawasaki serves as advisory board member.
CONTACT INFORMATION: Kelsye Nelson, CEO and co-founder Kelsye@Writer.ly (425) 272-5999