Think of Authors.me as a dating website for manuscripts and publishers. The platform tries to connect eligible manuscripts with the suitable publishing houses, based on the information available to it. In bringing new technology to the publishing process and industry, it aims to help writers take their manuscripts directly to the publishing house that suits them best, publishers to streamline the process of collecting information on the author and manuscript, and get early alerts on manuscripts that may be best suited to their particular publishing houses, and therefore help entire publishing industry work faster and smoother.
As one of Authors.me’s three co-founders, Monica Landers, points out to thebookseller.com, “countless industries have benefited from the simultaneous adoption of standardized evaluation systems and machine learning insights”. Authors.me believes there’s no reason that the publishing industry, long-lambasted for being “resistant” to change, shouldn’t do the same.
Why Authors.me is attractive
In 2011, Publishing Perspectives reported that 200 million Americans wanted to publish books. In 2013, Forbes said that 600,000 to 1,000,000 books get published in the country every year, and that half of those are self published. Another report published on BetterStorytelling.net states that 90% of manuscripts in the US are rejected by publishers. This could be for a variety of reasons, like shoddy writing, an unclear idea or premise, or simply being unsuitable for the publishing house the work was submitted to.
Authors.me claims that registering on their site ups writers’ chances of being accepted by publishers by 7 times, and the chances of receiving “positive, forward movement for their manuscript” by 13 times.
It also promises to eliminate, for writers, some of the more frustrating parts of the process of getting in touch with a publisher in order to publish a manuscript. For many writers, one of the most trying aspects of the process is not knowing what decision a publishing house has made on their work. Authors.me claims that 39% of the writers who submit their work through the platform know definitely that their work has been declined, and only 56% of those on the platform are awaiting reviews on their work.
How authors submit their manuscripts
Authors.me’s submission process, which is currently free for writers, allows prospective authors to upload all the components of their project onto the submission platform, including the hook, a synopsis, the first 30 pages, an author’s bio and the full manuscript. It also asks for details like the manuscript’s target audience, genre and some quotable quotes, after which the project goes into discovery.
At this stage, the submitted project is matched to various publishing houses and agents, who put out specific guidelines on what genres, sub-genres, word counts, keywords or ideas they’re looking to publish or acquire, and other information on the kind of authors they’re looking for. For a small fee, writers can avail of additional marketing services for their manuscripts.
A publishing house, editor or agent can peruse different components, or receive an “editorial snapshot” of a submitted project. With this platform, they have all the information they need to make a decision with their first contact with the author, hopefully eliminating a lot of the time, energy and effort on the publisher’s side spent in tracking down manuscript or author information. It not only allows publishers to search and pre-filter submissions, it also helps them access what Authors.me hopes will be a much larger pool of writers and manuscripts than would be otherwise available to them.
The author is informed of the publisher’s progress by tracking the publisher’s progress through their submitted materials. This process provides the author with the invaluable information of at what stage their project was rejected: was the publisher hooked through the hook and synopsis, but lose interest at the first 30 pages? Did they even make it past the synopsis? Receiving information like this helps rejected authors streamline and tailor their projects for their next attempts, in addition to giving them real-time feedback from publishers, as opposed to the notorious and often fruitless wait for a call-back from the publisher instead.
A company of storytellers
Founded in 2014 by David O’Brien, Henrik Kjallbring and Monica Landers, the company has received over $1.9M in funding thus far. It’s also a part of Techstars, a global startup accelerator and development program that provides the company mentoring, support and networking.
Authors.me’s major competitors include other text and manuscript discovery platforms like Synapsify, Deep BI, sprout social and Echobox, but founder Lander says that their biggest obstacle is not competitors in the same market, but the nature of the publishing industry itself. As she said in an interview with thebookseller.com in May 2017, ”Publishing is a venerated industry that plans their products a minimum one year in advance if not two or three. So as with many technology startups, the personality of the industry and understandable hesitation to adopt new technologies can stymie, but within the past six months we’ve seen a dramatic change in tide.”
Within just a year of its launch, in 2015, Authors.me claimed to have helped 58 authors get “discovered” by publishing houses, and 11 signed book deals. By mid- 2017, the platform reported that over 200 of its writers had been formally contracted for publication, and that it has been responsible for over 20 published manuscripts.
Being a self-described company of storytellers and story lovers, Authors.me plans, in the future, to branch out into other spheres, including working with studios and visual production houses.
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