Ricardo Fayet is a co-founder of Reedsy, an online marketplace connecting authors with the best editorial, design, marketing and translation talent. A technology and startup enthusiast, he likes to imagine how small players will build the future of publishing. He also blogs about writing, book design, and in-depth marketing on the Reedsy blog.
In 2014 you and co-founders Emmanuel Nataf, Vincent Durand and Matt Cobb launched Reedsy. Can you tell me a bit about the climate in publishing at the time, and how the idea to build the online marketplace for freelance publishing got started? What did you guys see missing, and how does Reedsy fill that gap?
Back in 2014, self-publishing was just establishing itself as a proper, viable alternative to the “find an agent, then find a publisher” route. There was a lot of enthusiasm — maybe more than today — but also quite a bit of scepticism from the more traditional players.
When we learnt about self-publishing, our first question was: “who does the editing, the design, the typesetting, etc.?” We found out that a lot of the professionals who used to do that in-house at traditional publishers had actually gone freelance, and we working with self-publishing authors. The idea of a marketplace came naturally from both these trends.
Walk me through a scenario: I’m a new writer with no publishing experience or knowledge. I’ve just finished the 1st draft of a book. What would my first steps be on the Reedsy platform, and what do you (as a co-founder) hope my experience will be like?
The most important thing to know, in my opinion, is who your target market is for your book (which is ultimately the same question as “what is your genre?”). Once you know exactly what type of readers you’re after, you can look for Reedsy professionals who’ve worked on comparable books and have experience in your genre.I always recommend authors reach out to at least three or four editors (with relevant experience) and interact with them before making their decision. You don’t just want someone experienced in your genre, you want someone you can connect with. In the words of one of our top editors:
“The number one piece of advice I would give to a writer is to work with an editor who is enthusiastic about your project and who understands what you want to accomplish with the story. An editor is there to help you hone your voice, not to take over the book. At the end of the day, it is your book and you want it to sing with your voice and vision.” — Laurie Chittenden, Developmental Editor
You guys have also launched Reedsy Learning courses, where authors can learn more about the publishing industry and develop their craft. What was the motivation behind offering free courses to the users on your site, and what can they look forward to learning?
The philosophy behind the Reedsy Marketplace is to leave authors with as much flexibility as possible. We don’t sell “packages”. We don’t tell authors: “you should first do this, then that, then this ”, because every author and every book is different.
This means that it’s up to the author to figure out how self-publishing works, and what their needs are. We want authors to do the research, we want to turn them into entrepreneurs because otherwise, they’ll never succeed in self-publishing. Reedsy Learning, just like our blog or our Reedsy Live sessions, are all ways to help authors with that research.
We now have over 30,000 students in the Reedsy Learning program, with over 34 free courses on offer. They range from broad and basic topics like “how to write a novel” or “how to self-publish a book” to more advanced ones like “Amazon ads for authors” or “how to plot a novel using the three-act story structure”.
In an interview with the Self-Publishing Review, you mentioned that you see the word ‘self’ disappearing from the term ‘self-publishing’ in the future, easing into more of atmosphere where authors ‘publish’, no matter the avenue. Do you think this shift in publishing will change the way that consumers find books to read, and if so, in what ways?
I was young back then! I don’t think the term “self-publishing” is going to disappear, it’s been too wildly adopted already. But in any case, I think the “self-publishing vs traditional publishing” debate (and all the options in between) is one that concerns the authors and publishers only. Readers don’t care.Amazon changed how consumers find and consume books. And Amazon, or other players, might change that again in the future — but that change won’t come from the authors themselves and their publishing paths.
There is a lot of talk out there about the “discoverability” problem. And honestly, I think it’s just a problem for the authors (and publishers), which they wrongly extrapolate to the readers.
Do authors/publishers struggle to get their books “discovered” on Amazon and other retailers? Yes. Do readers have a problem finding books to read? I don’t think so.
Interview with thanks to Julie Broderick:
Julie is a freelance writer with a curiosity for human behavior. After finishing a Masters degree in Sociology, Julie sold everything and moved to Italy, where she writes, teaches, and continues to be curious. She is a lazy Buddhist, a grammar geek, and a recovering academic. Julie’s work has been published with the Natural Hazards Center and Men’s Culture Magazine.