After publishing my book, The Alchemy of Loss: A Young Widow’s Transformation in 2008, I received very little in the way of marketing support from my US publisher, HCI. After the book was published, I received an email from a woman who specialized in “Blog Tours” and coaxed $500 from my publisher to pay for one. I called two bookstores and set myself up with readings and contacted a friend of a friend at a local NPR station and managed to get a radio interview. That was the full extent of my book’s promotion. The publisher never told me I was meant to market my own book, so I didn’t know and never learned all the book promotion avenues until years later, after it was too late.
I met Kelsye Nelson, Writer.ly’s co-founder at a Seattle-based meetup.com group that she formed called “The Seattle Daylight Writer’s Group,” a Friday morning coffee-shop-based group where a regular group of writers get together and write for 45 minutes and then read aloud their work.
Often during these meetups we exchange our writing experiences. In several of these discussions we heard the stories of writers looking fruitlessly for book designers or others who were trying to self-format their e-books, and lamenting about how painful a process it was. We also met writers who were finding huge success with self-publishing, where others seemed to spend a ton of money only to have crates full of books stacked in their garage.
The inspiration for Writer.ly was born.
Kelsye latched onto the idea of a marketplace of publishing services. She pitched the idea to “The Founder Institute,” an incubator group and was accepted into the program. The Founder Institute helped her to hone Writer.ly into a plausible business idea and taught her to pitch in front of Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors where she has since had some pretty significant success.
I joined as co-founder, during her time with The Founder Institute because I immediately saw the value of Writer.ly. With the advent of self-publishing, it’s clear that authors need to become more autonomous, no longer able to rely on the expertise of traditional publishers and agents, particularly when it comes to the marketing and promotion of their works. Authors will need to hire out the skills they don’t possess, such as copy editing, book design, and marketing, eventually creating a team of experts who work together to get the author’s work to market.
Together Kelsye and I planned out a marketplace and found an off-shore developer. The development has taken longer than we expected, but in Janaury 2013, we launched Writer.ly. We are excited to have created a place where writers can find publishing experts and where experts can find jobs.
It’s been an exciting journey, one that seems to just get more exciting. We hope that Writer.ly will change the way authors bring their books to market, providing them with more control and autonomy over their work, without having to become experts in fields they are not qualified for. In doing so, we hope to turn the publishing world on it’s head.