The self-publishing industry has grown significantly over recent years — since 2010 the registration of self-published books has grown 375%. With such a strong and rapidly growing industry, the need for resources which support authors and publishing professionals throughout the entire process has also developed. We spoke to one of the founders of Reedsy, Emmanuel Nataf, to find out how they are disrupting the publishing industry.
Let’s start by describing in your words what your company is and what it does?
Reedsy makes the process of publishing a book simple and accessible for authors and publishers at any level, by connecting them with leading editors, designers, publicists and marketers through its curated marketplace.
Our ambitions extend much further than simply connecting authors with the right professionals however. Reedsy also provides a suite of tools and learning resources to assist the publishing process, guiding writers from the first word of their manuscript, right through to typesetting, publishing, distributing and marketing their final book. We’ve also developed the Reedsy Book Editor, a free book production tool, that helps authors create beautifully designed books, for both physical and digital distribution.
What inspired you to start the company?
Mainly the drive and chemistry of the founding team, which we discovered whilst studying together at University — we all have a passion for culture and technology, as well as an ambition to disrupt the publishing industry.
What is your personal background?
I love art and technology, and in many ways my background is Reedsy. I co-founded it when I was 23 and I’ve learned a lot more since then than during the 6 years spent in business schools.
What do you think makes it distinct to any other companies – what’s its USP?
The quality of Reedsy’s community sets us apart from our competitors. Authors who sign up with the platform gain access to an elite marketplace of industry professionals, such as Stephen King’s designer or Neil Gaiman’s editor.
What is the story of the company from launch until now? How big is the company now?
I co-founded Reedsy in 2014 along with Matt Cobb, Ricardo Fayet and Vincent Durand. Reedsy won Seedcamp Berlin, and the founding team left university shortly after in order to pursue the business. With Seedcamp’s initial backing, we were able to build a first version of the product and bring the idea to market.Over the past three years the company has grown rapidly. Building a community of more than 40,000 authors and professionals. Our team has also grown to 15 members, all based across the globe in locations such as Portugal, Sweden, Poland, France, the UK, the US and Canada.
Since the launch, we’ve continued to extend our offering and in October 2016 we launched Reedsy Learning, which is currently one of the world’s largest online publishing schools, with over 20,000 students and over 25 different courses.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your company?
Hiring. While we get about 20 applications a day from our AngelList profile page, I struggle to find at least one person to interview every week. There’s a real shortage of talent when it comes to technical roles generally. Luckily, our model of working remotely has allowed us to find talented people based in various locations that we wouldn’t have found if we were all working in the same city.
What’s your biggest milestone/ which are you most proud of?
There’s a couple of things. First, it’s to have created a community with some of the world’s best publishing professionals. Being part of Reedsy means that you’re among the best in your field.
It’s because we have that pool of talent that about 3,000 people have published beautiful books that exceed sales successes of the average self-published title. That’s also why Reedsy authors often get approached by publishers for a publishing deal.
The second, and following from the above question, is to have built a great team that has a sense of purpose, with unique skills and personalities. I love working with them every day.
What is your business model? How have you monetised your product?
Reedsy currently receives a 10% commission from both the author and professional once they’ve agreed to work together on a project.
What’s the next step for growth – is the intention to grow the business independently, or look for an exit via acquisition or similar?
There’s large players in our industry who could help grow much faster and turn Reedsy into a business worth hundreds of millions. So while we keep an active dialogue with some potential acquirers, we enjoy building the company for now. The current objective is to produce more great quality books every year than some of the largest publishers in the world.
Will you be looking for more funding?
So far, Reedsy has closed two rounds from 10 leading European investors including DN Capital (early investor in Shazam), Seedcamp (investor in Transferwise) and Kima Ventures (Zenly), plus bestselling authors. At this current time we’re not seeking further funding.