OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
The fast-growing self-publishing environment is attracting all kinds of start-ups and companies that intend to serve authors.
However, most of them seem to aim at the periphery of what authors really need, which in my opinion, is primarily editors and cover designers.
Then I met Ricardo Fayet at a number of events, and discovered that his start-up, Reedsy, is aimed at connecting indie authors with editors and other professionals. The providers on the site are curated so you can trust that they offer a quality service.
Reedsy itself is a partner member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, which also gives it another level of trust, in my opinion. Here's a piece on the company in TechCrunch.
I asked Ricardo a few questions about what he sees in successful indie authors and what Reedsy can do for them.
You go to a lot of author events. What are the commonalities you see in successful indie authors?
First, and this is something that has always struck me, I’m amazed at how indies are all such positive and energetic people. Or at least this is what they all appear to be (I know you have repeatedly said you have a dark side – I can’t imagine it, but I’ll take your word for it).
I think this kind of positive energy is absolutely key for indie authors today: you have got to believe that you can make it and persevere in your work with that belief until things begin to pick up. The process is slow and tedious and it’s easy to get discouraged after you’ve put the first couple of books out there and see they’re not selling themselves…
I also see a willingness to experiment. Distribution models have changed, and so have marketing ones. Thinking outside the traditional box usually pays off, but that requires a lot of trying new things and techniques, failing, and “iterating” (to use the start-up jargon).
Finally, I see union and an incredible willingness to help each other. All successful indie authors have become successful partly thanks to other authors. Bella Andre and Tina Folsom have been working together (literally) for years now. You have been interviewing authors for years too. The Alliance of Independent Authors was born out of this belief that indies don’t compete for space on the Kindle Store, they grow stronger together.
You're a businessman and an entrepreneur with a start-up. What can indie authors learn from entrepreneurs?
All three points I mentioned in the previous questions! I think this is why we get on well together.
As an entrepreneur, you also have to “build your team.” Once you do, entrepreneurs are faced with the same problem indies have once your product or your book is up and running: it doesn’t sell itself…
The difference is that entrepreneurs are often a little more educated about all the major challenges on the road from the start of their journey, whereas some starting authors go into self-publishing unprepared, or believing it will be relatively easy.
Start-up entrepreneurs are pushed by their investors to sell, so they market their product before it’s live, they beta-test it before releasing it, they continually improve it afterwards, etc. This pressure makes us more creative in our marketing efforts, and I think indie authors could get a lot of ideas by following the start-ups in their industry, reading their newsletters and observing their marketing efforts.
In way, it’s very difficult to remain oblivious to these challenges as an entrepreneur – there’s no temptation to develop a product in an ivory tower because it’s not an option.
One of the biggest problems for indie authors is finding professionals to work with. How does Reedsy help with this issue?
There’s all kinds of problems with finding good editors, designers, basically any variety of professional. Reedsy makes it easy to find and work with the best professionals – emphasis on both ‘easy’ and ‘best.’
Take editors as an example. First of all, there’s the challenge of finding them – Google is awesome, but if you search for ‘freelance editors’ you’re not being shown the best editors, but rather the editors who are best at SEO. Basically, there’s not much of a connection between visibility and quality.
Eventually you make your shortlist, and start exploring working together – maybe making a spreadsheet along the way of prices, of terms, sending out samples for editing, comparing what you get back… All which is this process you have to micromanage by designing a custom email folder hierarchy…
And that doesn’t even get into what’s involved in tracking drafts and the evolution of a manuscript across multiple rounds of editing. It’s exhausting.
So, Reedsy is an easy solution to all of this hassle. We have a growing network of great freelancers – respectful of their clients, established, experienced, skilled. You’ll be able to manage messaging freelancers, sending and comparing sample edits, receiving quotes, and negotiating terms from one website. And when you start working together you’ll be able to track the history of the entire collaboration, from the very beginning, through our upcoming gorgeous editor.
The best thing about Reedsy is we make things easier for indie authors without taking away control. We make it an easy process, without taking it out of the author’s hands. That’s really important.
How can an author evaluate whether an editor or designer is the right one for them?
There are all kinds of things authors need to think about when choosing who they want to work with. Looking at previous projects is an important one – not just whether the work is in a similar genre to your own work, but how you feel about the work that came out of the collaboration, whether you like the text after editing or like the cover design.
Authors should be totally honest about what they’re looking for from the freelancer. Not just because it’s important to make sure that expectations are clear all around, but to see how the freelancer responds. Collaborating with someone creatively can be intense, and it’s difficult to know how it’s going to go. Jumping in and being upfront about what you what (if you know what you want), or admitting your ignorance (if you don’t know what you need help with), can lead to a productive conversation. The earlier this happens, the better.
What else will Reedsy have coming up for authors?
Reedsy has a very specific purpose – to support independent authors. We’re building Reedsy like a toolbox. We’re starting with making something that can help with finding editors and designers. Naturally, we’ll add other professions over time – right now we’re planning to include publicists, narrators and translators.
But there are other tools we want to build for authors. The first of these is a text editor designed to support the process of creating book-length works, as well as making it more natural to share that work with your editor. We basically want to be more than a simple marketplace, and add value to the collaborations. This is why we’ll release the first set of project management tools in a few weeks only…
Would you consider having translators there too?
This should come in a month or two, yes. We’ll start with translators “into English” (not from), as we know many foreign authors wish to enter the US and UK markets but are unsure where to start… And also because translating is actually that: just a start! The book then needs to be copy-edited and/or proofread (in English), the cover needs to be modified (or redesigned), and the launch has to be accompanied by a marketing effort (in English).
On Reedsy, we already have all these resources (US/UK editors and designers), so foreign authors would access the full suite of services they need to really penetrate a new market. We’re going to be like Ellis Island for foreign authors arriving to the English-speaking market.
How can people find out more about Reedsy?
Our homepage – www.reedsy.com – would be a great start! If you’re an author, it’s free to sign up to the site and take a look around at who we have on the marketplace. If you’re a freelancer, it’s both free and very easy to build a profile and wait to be approached by authors.
The other way of learning more is by asking us. We love the way the indie community supports itself, and we’re a part of that community. If you want a hand with anything, or want to know more, let us know and we’ll do what we can to help.
If you have any questions for Ricardo or thoughts on what other things indie authors need, please do leave a comment below.
Top image: Flickr Creative Commons edit on the go by fensterbme
Scot C. Morgan says
Thanks for bringing another great resource to light.
Joshua Cobb says
I’m thinking the reedsy site could be the resource I need. I’ve been working hard to get my first memoir published. I’m hoping to find an editor that works out for me. Great article I hope it leads many to success! Thank you, Joshua
Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2) says
Love this! I’m looking for an editor for a middle-grade novel I’m drafting now, so headed over to Reedsy to browse. Thanks, Joanna & Ricardo!
I’m considering getting a new editor. My current editor isn’t doing a bad job, but I constantly wonder if I rushed into this editor and I don’t know if they’re a great editor or just “okay”. They’re the first editor I’ve ever used, so I have no basis of comparison.
Like I said, I think they’re a good editor, and I don’t want to burn any bridges by trying another editor for my next project. Any tips on how to handle this situation?
Joanna Penn says
Hi Nick, from my perspective, finding an editor is like dating – you’re unlikely to marry the first person you meet 🙂
I’ve used a lot of editors over the last 6 years, and only this year have found my ‘perfect match’ for my fiction – but I still use someone else for my non-fiction. I would suggest that you shop around for your next book. No need to burn bridges – this is normality for editors! You can get editors to do a chapter or something to check out how you work together – e.g. pay 3 for a chapter and see who you like best.
Thanks so much for this. I need to work with an editor after completing my first NaNoWriMo and this seems like a fantastic place to start. Love the interface.
What I’m missing from the site at the moment are some guidelines or pointers on approaching an editor for the first time and some thoughts on how to work with them. I know there is plenty of advice out there but something on the site (for the future) would be good for us novices. Thanks for the post.
Ricardo Fayet says
This is definitely something we are putting together. We’re going to use our blog next year for it, creating a weekly column for how best to approach editors, designers, work with them on Reedsy, etc.
But we’ve also tried to make it incredibly easy and intuitive when you go through the process on Reedsy: you select up to 5 editors to ask a quote and sample from, and by doing that you are automatically asked to fill out a brief that contains all the information the freelancers are going to need to make you an offer (and provide a sample). So it’s really straightforward 🙂
Gene Brode says
Thanks for this post. I’m not sure if you’ve touched on this or not, but at what stage of one’s writing should a writer find an editor? For example, many of my short stories are still in progress but I’d like to “finish” them in the next year and publish them as a collection. Do you need an editor who specializes in short fiction?
Also, how do story collections do in your experience? Is there a difference between traditional publishing and ebooks when it comes to short fiction?
Joanna Penn says
If you have some finished writing that needs improvement, then you need an editor IMHO. An editor will help you take your writing to the next level, and help make it publishable if that’s what you want. I would suggest you need an editor in your genre, and I’m sure there are many that do short fiction. In terms of trad pub vs indie – most trad publishers don’t want to publish collections of short fiction by unknowns, but you can submit to magazines and anthologies as well as self-publishing collections or using them for marketing. Also, check this out: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-new-world-of-publishing-making-a-living-with-your-short-fiction-updated-2013/
Phyllis Falbey says
Question: How can I obtain a good agent? I have self published 5 books (series). Genre is international thriller. I have been told by several agents that my books are well written (and a good read) by Lee Child, but agents do not want to take them on because I am self published.
Joanna Penn says
Sorry, this site is about independent publishing. You’ll need to try a different site that deals with the agent process.