Authors, Inc. Closes Equity Funding To Deliver StoryFIt(TM) Technology, The New Standard In AI Media Analytics

Authors, Inc. Closes Equity Funding to Deliver StoryFIt(TM) Technology, the New Standard in AI Media Analytics

Growth Through Investment, Resale Partnership, Data Science Hires, and Board Additions

August 2, 2017 | Austin, TX — AI startup Authors, Inc. has raised financing from LSC Communications. Authors, Inc. and its StoryFitTM technology combine machine learning and natural language processing with sales performance and text-driven marketing insights to increase per-property revenue for the publishing and movie industries.

LSC Communications joins Techstars and local angel groups in their investment in the Austin-based media tech startup that will use the new funds to continue its machine learning model development and dynamically expand its business.

“We are thrilled to have the new backing of LSC Communications, whose investment in Authors, Inc. demonstrates their market leadership in delivering cutting edge technology solutions to the publishing industry,” said Monica Landers, CEO of Authors, Inc.

“In our continued journey to invest in new technologies, we are thrilled to be making an investment in Authors, Inc.” said Thomas J. Quinlan III, Chairman and CEO of LSC Communications. “Machine learning and AI are positively impacting many industries and we are excited about these new products and solutions we are bringing to publishers.”

In addition to LSC Communication’s investment in Authors, Inc., the companies have collaborated on a business level to directly integrate Authors, Inc. technology into LSC’s existing digital distribution platform and bring new services to market for their publishing clients.

Authors, Inc., also adds two new members to its board of directors: Bob Nelson, EVP, Publisher Services at LSC Communications, and Gordon Daugherty, Managing Director at Capital Factory.

“Authors’ StoryFitTM  products perfectly complement LSC’s legacy publisher offerings and come at a pivotal time in the industry,” said Nelson, who supports LSC Communications’ strategic efforts to expand and diversify the multi-billion dollar company’s product offering through acquisition and development of technological innovation. Nelson’s experience includes machine learning company CognitiveScale, and publisher service companies LSC and Baker and Taylor.

“Having worked with the Authors Inc., team for the past two years since joining the Capital Factory accelerator, I am excited to be involved in this next phase of growth,” said Daugherty, who has been advising startups for more than 15 years and is a Managing Director for Austin’s entrepreneurial center of gravity, Capital Factory. “Artificial intelligence will dramatically revolutionize most industries and Authors, Inc., is well poised to be the leader in AI innovation for the entertainment industries.”LSC investment spurs Authors, Inc., data science development with new hires Grace Lin, Lead Data Scientist, PhD and Mark Bessen, Director of Product/Data Scientist

Two top data scientists have joined the powerhouse media and technology team to grow the StoryFitTM  technology: Grace Lin, PhD, a former NASA data scientist whose dissertation explored building predictive algorithms from scripts using NLP; and Mark Bessen, former data scientist at Apple who worked on iBooks and iTunes Movies & TV.

“As a company, we’re passionate about merging art and technology to champion great story-telling. It’s an incredible time to be in AI with a great team, great partners, and secure funding for growth,” said Landers.

 

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About Authors, Inc.

Authors, Inc. is an Austin-based technology company that brings innovative technology to the publishing and film industries through artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP). Their StoryFitTM technology delivers contextualized data directly from the text that supports editorial, marketing, and sales efforts with audience psychographics, story-arc comparative data, and audience accessibility statistics.

Media contact:
Christen Thompson
Director of Business Development
christen@storyfit.com
(843) 509-4648

 

About LSC Communications, Inc.

With a rich history of industry experience, innovative solutions and service reliability, LSC Communications (NYSE: LKSD) is a global leader in print and digital media solutions. The company’s traditional and digital print-related services and office products serve the needs of publishers, merchandisers and retailers around the world. With advanced technology and a consultative approach, LSC’s supply chain solutions meet the needs of each business by getting their content into the right hands as efficiently as possible.

Media Contact:
Janet Halpin, Senior Vice President, Treasurer & Investor Relations
investor.relations@lsccom.com
(773) 272-9275

Capital Factory

Capital Factory is the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Austin, the number one startup city in the U.S. Last year more than 90,000 entrepreneurs, programmers and designers gathered day and night, in-person and online for meet-ups, classes and co-working. We meet the best entrepreneurs in Austin and introduce them to their first investors, employees, mentors and customers. According to Pitchbook, Capital Factory has been the most active investor in Texas since 2013.

Media Contact:

Kate Trumpower

marketing@capitalfactory.com 

Machine Learning & Essential, Actionable Insights For The Publishing Industry

Machine Learning & Essential, Actionable Insights for the Publishing Industry

Machine Learning & Essential, Actionable Insights for the Publishing Industry
What we can learn from advanced algorithms and what they hold for the future
BY MONICA LANDERS, CEO OF AUTHORS.ME

We began this company as a standardized solution to the laborious and inefficient methods of the traditional query process which is often painful for individual authors as well as publishers and studios. We’ve evolved this platform into a breeding ground for dynamic, transformational publishing technology that benefits every part of the industry. More than two years out, we have developed exciting technology that forecasts successful projects. After many conversations with industry professionals, we are more confident than ever that it can be changed for the better through technology and the essential insights it stands to receive.

Data-Driven Operations and Collection
Our platform is not only robust, it’s extremely effective.

Without getting into how the platform works (you can learn that here, here, and here), let’s look at the state of the industry’s submissions and publication statistics. According to writer Joseph Epstein, at any given moment 200 million Americans have a book they want to publish.  Digital Book World  surveyed writers and discovered that more than 60% submitted their work to a publisher or agent the previous year.

From that, we can estimate that anywhere between 125 million writers submit manuscripts to publishers and agents in the US every year (though anecdotal evidence from agents may suggest more like 20 million submissions every year3). This means each publisher/agent is receiving  between 3,000 and 20,000 submissions a year1. So, the likelihood that a given submission will be published is between just .25%2 at the conservative end and 15% at the optimistic end and, more importantly, the likelihood a manuscript will be rejected or ignored is up to 99.76%  

It’s a wonder anyone tries at all. But, the fact that they do means that there is real worth in trying to make the system work better.

With the AUTHORS.me platform, writers are 7 times more likely to be accepted and 13 times more likely to get positive, forward movement for their manuscript.  

For many writers the most frustrating part about the submissions process isn’t being declined.It’s not knowing where you stand or what is going on. While it is an ongoing process to get publishers and agents to use our workflow statuses to accurately represent when they review work, 39% of writers who submit through us know concretely that their work has been declined and just 56% in the lifetime of the platform are awaiting review. Considering that lifetime submissions on the platform nearly doubled in the past three months, that is a true improvement to the norm.

 

Transformational, Dynamic Development
Algorithm Progress & Essential Insights

For the past year and a half, our developers have been honing and deepening a patent-pending algorithm that delivers the probability an individual manuscript could be a bestseller. The underlying goal is to offer a product that helps publishers, agents, and production companies identify and act on lucrative properties more quickly and with increased acuity. Our belief is that this technology offers the industry transformational power driven by actionable insights.

As the work went on, we discovered that beyond just that singular determination, the program was able to identify strengths and weaknesses within a given piece of writing that could, by an editor or a writer, be turned into essential, actionable insights that both expedite and strengthen the editing process and go-to-market plan.

For example, a report may detect room for improvement in areas such as redundant phrasing, incomparable constructions, or explicit language use. Editing with specific actions or recommendations is far easier and less overwhelming. A manuscript that seemed like it just wasn’t working now has a dynamic road map for revision.

Likewise, the sentiment analysis and comparable literary archetype can, to an industry professional, become a keen market insight that allows for a faster, more objective method of finding comparable titles and, informed with a title’s less obvious but no less essential common characteristics, possibly expand the target audience. In an industry with a reputation for homogeneity both in representation and delivery, these kinds of tools bolster objectivity and in turn create a more diverse landscape.

With these insights in mind, we launched the first iteration of our Intelligent Editorial Analysis Reports in partnership with BookLife, a Publisher’s Weekly website that seeks to provide self-published authors with resources, community, and platform elevation.

The report uses the technology we have been developing for publishers and enterprise entertainment companies and delivers digestible, actionable insights on an individual manuscript. Anyone can upload a manuscript and receive feedback on elements of their writing from style and grammar to syntax and literary device implementation. It points out areas for potential revision as well as commendations for markers of “good” writing. It shows the writer the manuscript’s literary archetype based on sentiment analysis, and it also delivers a numerical evaluation of their manuscript in comparison to best sellers.

The road to get here was full of curious, fascinating experiments and realizations. Let’s look at a few of them.

 Archetypes

We’ve analyzed thousands of books—bestsellers, mid-list titles, backlist classics, self-published books, and unpublished manuscripts—to develop and improve the algorithm. One of the measurement points is a sentiment analysis, which when translated into a plotted arc resembles the narrative arc of the story in question. In performing these thousands of calculations, we discovered that there are measurable differences in manuscripts down to the tenth decimal point.

That is how unique each piece of text is, and how quickly and easily a computer can prove it. Within those fractions of variation exist essential insights into tone, character, style — the possibilities for measurement and action are boundless and thrilling to data scientists and forward-thinking literary analysts alike.

Sentiment Analysis — Part of a Whole

Many teams are working on understanding NLP better and we’ve been able to incorporate into our systems training some of the smartest APIs available., such as Microsoft’s Watson program. In one of these tests, we asked Watson to analyze the sentiment arc for particular  parts of a book; specifically different characters and settings (it’s fascinating but not altogether surprising that an element can have a narrative arc, but that’s a story for another day.)

When we ran these results back through our own program and analyzing bestsellers, we found that the overall sentiment arc plays a much larger role in determining a title’s comparability to the standard bestseller profile than that of any one part of the book. Or, in simpler terms: a book is more than the sum of its parts. The romantic part of me somehow thinks we all knew this already, but this is documented, objective proof to that effect.

Data & Publishing
Finding Meaning in the Numbers

The larger point is that in all of this work, we are discovering objective key performance indicators of raw text that transform previously elusive, ephemeral qualities of writing into quantifiable, measurable, and meaningful data points.

With this information, editors and writers alike can optimize their own individual approach to their work. The industry and community at large can harness the raw power of Big Data to stake claim to their creativity and carve out pieces of the market that fit best, not just fit now.

We’re seeing that the increased prevalence and use of data in publishing doesn’t have to mean a withering competitive landscape, but instead a richer, more vibrant one where the bar is continuously raised, met, and transformed altogether.


1 There are roughly  6,080 traditional publishers and agents in the US.  [2014 SUSB Annual Data Tables by Establishment Industry]

2 In 2016, 311,723  books were traditionally published in the US. [International Publishers Association]

3 In our initial R&D, polled agents and editors who accepted unsolicited work reported an average of 100 submissions/week. 

What Is AUTHORS.me? A Guide To What We Do & Why We Do It

What is AUTHORS.me? A Guide to What We Do & Why We Do It

So what, exactly, is AUTHORS.me?

AUTHORS.me is an online platform that connects writers to publishers and agents seeking new content. We accomplish this through technology which streamlines and standardizes submissions. Our platform lets your work shine. Through intelligent machine learning,  we deliver efficient, accurate editorial snapshots to agents and publisher who are likely to be a good fit. The whole platform is built to help eliminate the guess work of the traditional query process without losing the valuable information that is conveyed in an ideal query letter. We connect writers to publishers and agents by using technology to simplify the whole process; so that editors and agents can do what they do best and technology can handle the rest.

Let’s start off by addressing what it is AUTHORS.me does and what it is we definitely do NOT do.

We DO:

Simplify Submissions & Queries

If you’ve ever written a query letter—or a cover letter or resume for that matter—you know just how exciting the idea of a “streamlined submission” is for writers. For kicks, Google “Query Letter template.” I’ll wait.

Did you catch that? 311,000 results. Literally thousands of options and opinions on what the “perfect” query is. And it’s all completely subjective. Some talk about making sure to personalize. Others mention describing your audience while others leave that out and just want to know more about your qualifications. With all of this guesswork, it’s easy to understand how discouraged writers, publishers, and agents can get with this part of the process.

But with our platform, that’s gone. If you complete every field for your project and writer details, and complete it with thought, consideration and detail, you will not have missed anything. Even better, you won’t have added too much. We deliver the information  in such an easy-to-read format that our partners know just where to send their eyes for the details they care about. Yes, it will take time. But it’s time well spent. It’s your virtual pitch for why an editor or agent should invest thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into you and your book, and why they should want to. Why they should beg to spend that money on you.

Level the Playing Field

How often have you heard a story about a how someone met their agent because of a cousin or a friend? It can sometimes feel like the only way to get published is to know someone in publishing, regardless of your talent or work ethic. But through our platform, the work is allowed to shine, and the agents and publishers are able to evaluate not just on the subjective word of a trusted friend, but by objective, empirical information we deliver on the suitability of your manuscript to their needs (which, by the way, they tell us).

We Do NOT:

Publish your Book

AUTHORS.me is not a publisher, plain and simple. We work with publishers, and we like them very much…we just aren’t one of them.

Use, Sell, or Distribute your Book

AUTHORS.me has never and will never take our authors’ content and sell it, give it away or even show it to anyone who did not have permission to view it  or was not a publisher or agent we work with. Likewise, we have no interest in working with anyone who has a less than stellar reputation. We’ve actually denied account requests by agents and publishers who do not have upstanding reputations, which means we’ve turned down money. We take copyright and intellectual property very seriously (more on that here) and would never jeopardize that integrity. The only people who can view your work are people with logins, and no other writer can view your work. The site is secure and encrypted.

Promise you a book deal

This might sound harsh, but it’s the reality of it. We’re not going to say we guarantee you any kind of deal or attention, because we work with publishers and agents who are making decisions about their business. We can’t—and wouldn’t venture to—make those decisions for them. What we’re interested in doing is giving everyone involved the tools and data they need to make good, efficient  decisions for their business.

 

“So that’s what you do, but why do you do it?”

 

 

The traditional submissions process is a pretty fraught ordeal. Every year, 2 million people submit proposals to agents and publishers, trying to make the case for their book. Every year, about 350,000 trade books are published. Is that difference because there is a lack of quality, or because the editors, agents and scouts finding the projects are finite? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but we saw the latter as a very solvable problem. We talked with acquisitions editors, agents, and publishers, and asked them what they loved about their jobs and what they wished they could change. Almost universally, they loved the stories, and the process of bringing a book to life, but hated the drudgery that can come along with finding those stories.

 

“So much of what is sent to me just isn’t right. I want trade romance, not sci-fi mystery. I feel bad, especially when it’s really good stuff, but it’s just not right for me.”

“We get proposals in all shapes and sizes. Some have the things we want, but so many just have the manuscript or are missing a big chunk of vital information. And even figuring out what is missing takes time. When you need to review 100 submissions a week, seemingly little things like  the wrong subject line or a missing CV will get a project rejected before it’s read. There just isn’t enough time.”

 

We heard concerns like these and saw two very solvable problems: the need for standardized submissions that shows the publisher and agents the things they need in addition to the manuscript, and a way to easily navigate through submissions. So, we built just that.

Reinvigorating Tradition

In addition to this, we have developed a proprietary technology that looks beyond genre and word count to match elements of your manuscript with the publisher who is most likely to make it a success. Our technology is able to review entire manuscripts to look at story arc, character development, scene location, and more to further showcase manuscripts that might otherwise not make it past the 2-sentence hook. This has resulted in an acceptance rate that is almost 10 times faster than the traditional model of an email sent into the ether, perhaps never to return. And we’re talking about first-time authors for the most part!

About fifteen years ago, the self-publishing movement started to answer the call of authors frustrated with the traditional publishing industry. Some self-published authors have thrived in that environment, but it’s not for everyone. To be a successful self-published author, you not only have to have a great book, but you have to have business acumen, design and sales experience, money to pay an editor or a knowledge of copyediting and proofreading, experience with events planning, marketing, distribution, and more. In short, you have to be either: a superhero, have deep enough pockets to hire someone every step of the way, or be really, really lucky. It’s not a bad thing to admit you need help and the benefit of professional expertise to make your book happen. It’s logical. And the publishers and agents are in the same boat. They need you, too. And they want to find you. And we want to help.  

How To Write A Great Synopsis

How to Write a Great Synopsis

The purpose of the synopsis is to give the editor or agent a big picture of the overall narrative arc of your book, an introduction to your major characters, a taste of the setting, and a sense of your writing style. If they like what they see, they’ll read more of your manuscript. If the synopsis doesn’t grab them, they’ll move on. It’s a tool that editors and agents take very seriously, so you want your synopsis to be the best it can be.

Ideally, a novel for adults, young adults, and middle-grade readers needs a synopsis of around 500 words. If you’re writing for young children, a picture book synopsis should be two to four sentences. Easy reader synopses should be about the same length. Early chapter books can have synopses of one paragraph.

The synopsis covers:

  • The broad narrative arc of the story
  • The main character, the antagonist and the most significant secondary characters
  • The primary problem or conflict of the plot
  • How the book ends

Start by crafting your synopsis in three paragraphs. Each of these paragraphs will represent your book’s beginning, middle and end. Once you have your rough draft down, you may need to break up the middle paragraph into two or three smaller paragraphs, depending on the complexity of your plot. Once it’s polished and revised, a novel synopsis will be anywhere from three to five paragraphs long.

Write your synopsis in present tense, third person, with an active voice. Spend time making it perfect. This is a very important step in selling your work, so make it shine.

For more detailed tips on writing a synopsis, watch Laura Backes’ video.

 

Laura Backes is the publisher of Children’s Book Insider, The Children’s Writing Monthly, and co-creator of WriteForKids. She’s worked in the publishing industry for 28 years as an editor, writer, speaker and teacher. Find out more at www.writeforkids.org.

 

The Writer’s Hook

The Writer’s Hook

Imagine trying to fish without a hook at the end of your line. You are not very likely to catch anything. The same can be said about the writer trying to attract the interest of an agent or publisher. If there isn’t a properly baited hook at the end of the line (your query submission), you will have a very difficult time gaining their interest to read a synopsis or manuscript.

AUTHORS.me has invited me to share with you the key elements and craft in building an effective hook. For those of you using AUTHORS.me, your hook is placed front and center on your submission to agents and publishers. Make that first impression count.

A hook is a short statement about your book, generally no more than one or two sentences, that communicates what’s unique about your protagonist or your plot. The hook allows an editor or agent to quickly get a sense of the plot and the book’s genre, and know if they want to read your synopsis.

The hook doesn’t involve details of the plot, but the broad plot premise. It also highlights the most unusual aspects of this premise.

One way to get an idea of how to craft a good hook is to look at the Spring and Fall announcement issues inPublishers Weekly (go to www.publishersweekly.com to access announcement issues from past seasons). The short descriptions publishers provide for their upcoming books usually describe the works’ hooks.

Spend time on your hook. This is the one or two sentences that will catch the editor or agent’s eye as they’re scrolling through all the possible manuscripts they can read. If you do it well, they’ll want to click through and read more. If you don’t have a good hook, they’ll go on to the next manuscript.

———————–

Laura Backes is the publisher of Children’s Book Insider, The Children’s Writing Monthly, and co-creator of WriteForKids. She’s worked in the publishing industry for 28 years as an editor, writer, speaker and teacher. Find out more at www.writeforkids.org.

Amazing Women And Their Amazing Books

Amazing Women and their Amazing Books

Congratulations to our YA! 2015 winners. What an honor to get to know these terrific women. Their stories are such perfect examples of how everyday people manage to create great stories in the middle of real life.

Jessica Kelley – 1st Place – The Mercy Killers
Jessica Kelley, lives in Virginia. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know her a bit. She’s a tax accountant, mother to two boys, and a military wife. Any one of these jobs are enough, but she managed to carve out some time during the last year and a half to complete her first novel, The Mercy Killers. For six months of that time, she actually put the book on pause while her husband was home to focus on family. She spent that time exploring hobbies, such as shooting her crossbow and learning about throwing knives, which is reflected in her characters.

In what was very poignant to me, AUTHORS.me was lucky enough to receive her submission just before the New Year’s Eve deadline. Her husband was deployed, so she found herself at home missing him, but making the best of the New Year by submitting her work to our contest. “If I hadn’t been alone that night, I wouldn’t have entered.”

When I asked what she does to get in the right frame of mind to write, she replied, “If I get stuck, I turn on music, clean the house, daydream a bit and then get back to work.” The easiest part of writing for her was letting the characters come alive individually. The hardest part? I’m sure most of us can relate to her biggest challenge: cutting and editing!

I can’t wait to hear what happens next for Jessica and her first novel. I predict great things.

Lara Dunning – 2nd Place – Aleutian Pearl
I was amazed to learn that Lara wrote Aleutian Pearl twice—once from the perspective of another character, then rewriting it to this current version. I was super-impressed and thought about how our best stuff usually comes in the rewrites. This led me onto a million other questions about how she created this book. Similar to Jessica, Lara spent about a year and a half crafting her book. She spent a good three months just envisioning, outlining, and following the Hero’s Journey as a method. She wrote for another six to nine months then spent the rest of the time working on structure.

Her family has roots in Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia and she spent six months backpacking through the land of the leprechauns. She also lived in Alaska for 10 years, three of which were on a very remote Aleutian Island. These experiences combined to connect her with the landscape and selkie mythology, leading her to create her wonderful book.

One of the judges was so impressed with the vivid action and terrific storytelling in Aleutian Pearl, that they envisioned this as a surefire movie success!

Catherine Hogarth – 3rd Place – Dora Finching
Our third winner is a bit of a mystery. She appears to have used Catherine Hogarth as her pen name, which coincidentally is the name of Charles Dickens’ wife. (this explains the Catherine Hogarth picture we used to represent her) Her novel, Dora Finching, is set in 19th century London and has a cameo appearance by Dickens himself. Catherine has no photo and hasn’t responded to our emails. Could it be that JK Rowling has done it again?! Could it be that Jessica or Lara wrote two books?? Is she off hiding with Waldo or Carmen Sandiego? I think this one might belong in our next contest, Operation: Thriller. Give us a call Catherine; inquiring minds want to know. We’ll update when she does!

Big Prizes For YA! 2015 Young Adult Fiction Competition

Big prizes for YA! 2015 Young Adult Fiction Competition

Calling all YA writers! AUTHORS.me is sponsoring more than $4,000 in prizes for top YA manuscripts. It’s our chance to support great writers who have knocked themselves out to create entertaining YA fiction. Three talented writers will be chosen to receive prizes including a complete line edit of their manuscript or a one-hour session with a book coach after a careful read; a free one-year membership with AUTHORS.me; and of course, cash. (Details here.)

I love the genre! I have written a couple YA mysteries of my own; raised 5 kids who surrounded me with YA books; and although I’m in the over-40 crowd, one out of three books I read today are classified Young Adult. I am currently reading The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon. Case in point, who in their right mind doesn’t love the Harry Potter Series?

We define young adult fiction as a story for a young adult audience, that is, a book for a readership between the ages of 12 to 18. The protagonist, story theme and POV should be within the same age range. Beyond that, your imagination knows no bounds.

The judges for the contest are top-flight publishing professionals. They include Danielle Chiotti from Upstart Crow Literary; John B. Bryans of Plexus Publishing; Jackie Lindert from New Leaf Literary and Media; and editor and bookseller Christen Thompson. Each has a solid footprint in the YA field and will readily recognize a talented YA author.

My advice to YA writers out there – be brave. Submit your work, not just to YA! 2015, but also to as many places that will take it. Get some feedback. Keep at it. If you do not happen to win this contest, so what! We grow and get better by doing it.

Keep in the loop with our contest on Twitter. Follow the hashtag, #AUTHORSmeContest. We’ll announce the winners here on February 1, 2016. If you are reading this before December 31, 2015, you still have a chance to enter! Click here for details.

 

The Right Team. The Right Time.

The Right Team. The Right Time.

Sometimes all it takes to calm your fears are a few words.

I couldn’t have done this without you,” someone says.

“This is a dream come true!”

I never even imagined something this good.”

These are just some of the messages we’ve received from writers and publishers since we introduced AUTHORS.me in a limited roll out a few months ago. When I spent sleepless nights worrying, “Are they really going to like this?” These phone calls and emails have sustained me through the months of building that can so often feel like an echo chamber of ideas.

We saw two sides of the book industry treating each other like adversaries and wanted to change that. We believe the solution is one which helps everyone. That seems almost too obvious, but up until now, it just hasn’t happened. Ultimately, there are not two opposite sides — writer versus agent–or–writer versus publisher–though it sometimes feels that way. Any solution that truly helps both sides is good for everyone, and that’s our goal for AUTHORS.

It takes all sorts of skills to create, launch, and run a successful company. Beyond skills and experience, there’s another crucial ingredient- and it’s this ingredient that ultimately makes or breaks a business. And that’s passion.

The passion that we have at AUTHORS.me is two-fold: a love of technology, and a love of stories. Tying this all together is a strong desire to help the people that create amazing books that we all enjoy.

When we first thought about this idea, we looked through the landscape of companies and support for writers, agents, and publishers. There is a lot of help available! Writers need that help, because finding an agent or publisher is a hurdle so high that few writers actually clear it.

But this helpful landscape is so often one-sided. We saw frameworks and training for writers and form-builders for agents and publishers. We found hundreds of blogs giving great advice and plenty of self-help books. But we wanted to approach this differently, and develop a panacea for the whole process, not just create another Advil or Band-Aid for one small part of it.

We believe in our company. With a team built of knowledgeable programmers, writers, publishers, marketers and more, we’re uniquely positioned to deliver on this promise. Together, we have a thorough knowledge of complex technology and matching algorithms, as well as a business sense of what writers, agents, and publishers need to take a manuscript to production.

Most of all, we have you, our users, who have been our biggest inspiration and encouragement.

And here we are—ready to step out into the world. So with excitement and a little trepidation, we launch our new site and welcome our first agent and publisher relationships.

Keep the emails and conversation going!

One Publisher’s Take On AUTHORS

One Publisher’s Take on AUTHORS

As far back as I can remember, my life has revolved around stories. As a child, I wrote what can now only be described as precocious fanfiction of fairytales. I saw room for improvement in their stories and wanted more opportunities for their heroines. When my tiny hand tired of writing such elegant prose, I would dictate these new stories to my mother. When they were down, I would illustrate, bind and add them to the family library. Stories similar and increasingly mortifying pepper my adolescence and teenage-dom, so it should come as no surprise that I entered into publishing, determined to craft beautiful books and meet creative people.

While this has largely been the case, during my tenure as an acquisitions editor, it has always felt as if the next great thing was just beyond my reach. What if I wasn’t looking in the right places? What if the agent didn’t know to contact me or that I was really in the mood to find some nineteenth-century feminist revision history? How could they know? So much of this business is about gut and chemistry, that every time a book is a hit, the stars have to align perfectly. There is no magic formula. This is why you see so many celebrity-authored books in the bargain bins at your local bookstores mere months after their publication. Being famous does not mean you can write, and even if you can it doesn’t mean your book is going to find its correct home.

Enter Authors.ME. Monica Landers, our rock star of a CEO, contacted me to pick my brain on the endeavor. It was completely out of the blue. She found me on LinkedIn of all places. See what I mean about stars and alignment and kismet? Anyways, she’s telling me about how it all works and I could hardly let her complete a sentence. I was so, so excited. This was literally the exact type of tool I wished every single day I had for my job. I wanted a way for people to find me, and I wanted a way for me to find people. In my job, I specifically look only for local nonfiction. I know there are tons of people who write it, because I have a back list of over 100 individual titles. But I had to go find most of those people individually, which is really, really hard! So, I know those people are out there, but it’s the finding that’s the hard part. And agents are great, but what if their white whale is still roaming? What if the perfect author has just felt so bombarded by the process—which is long, laborious and necessitates rhino-thick skin—that they relegate the next great American Novel to the junk drawer, or worse, the waste bin? There are lots of genre-specific writers’ forums that are helpful, but often out of date, or there is no way to contact anyone. I can’t tell you how many times I found the perfect book for a perfect market by what seemed like the perfect author, but my only indication of their identity was a screen name like WritesaLot34. That is not exactly helpful. It is deflating.

All of this is to say: thank you. Thank you to Monica for sharing the idea, to the whole team for working your butts off and most of all, to you: our users. Developing this platform is only going to strengthen our industry and help us diversify against the dilution and confusion of our craft. I love the DIY aesthetic and independent author movement, but the fact of the matter is that writing a book is hard. Editing a book is hard, paging a book is hard, designing a crackerjack book cover is hard, marketing a book is hard, selling a book is hard, giving readings is hard: you get the idea. This thing we have all decided to do because we can’t imagine doing anything else is really, really hard, and there is absolutely no shame in admitting you can’t do it by yourself. I don’t think you should go it alone! Any editor will tell you that the more eyes on a draft the better. If one person were good at all of the elements it takes to make a book, then they would have already destroyed our industry. But that person doesn’t exist. Together, we can make absolute magic. Together, we can change lives. And until recently, we searched. Now, we have found each other. We have found a community.

How Long Will It Take To Get Published?

How Long Will It Take to Get Published?

How long does it usually take to get published by a traditional publisher? The answer is two years – on average. Let me qualify that. This is not two years from when you begin your book. This is two years from when you have secured an agent and publisher. In the age of instant coffee and Instagram, one might ask, “Why does it take so long?”

Well, when you add up the time it takes to negotiate a deal, edit the book, work with the author, prepare a marketing plan, schedule promotions, place the book into production, and deliver it to distribution, your congressman is running for re-election; your eighth grader is now in high school; the summer Olympics have turned to winter; your car has had eight oil changes; and you are two years older still waiting to see your book in print. It’s just the reality of book publishing.

This may be the biggest reason why so many writers choose to self-publish. It was the reason I chose to do so. Self-publishing my book took one day to format (my manuscript) and just minutes to put it up on Amazon KDP. One day. Hmmmm, two years or one day? Hold on. Is the time to put a book into print a fair comparison for choosing a type of publishing?

Before we answer that, let’s compare the quick version of getting self-published and the two-year process of traditional publishing with other equally challenging endeavors.

Run a marathon.

I can run a marathon today if I wanted; after all, my daughter runs marathons throughout Europe. I happen to live in the country, fourteen miles from the nearest town. I’ll just lace up the sneaks and jog there and back. Maybe pick up some groceries along the way. Right? Wrong. Without the proper training – a process that normally takes two arduous years – I would die.

Be a Nurse.

My neighbor had his tractor hit a ditch and roll over top of him. Ouch. I could have attended to his injuries and recommended proper medical treatments, maybe even tried to reset his dislocated ankle and shoulder. Easy, right? Wrong. Without an associate’s degree in nursing and lots of training, another two-year venture, my would-be patient might have died. Okay, my patient would have died.

Play the piano with two hands.

I can sit at the piano and bang on the keys in an attempt to play Clare de Lune, but unless I train for around two years, the resulting sounds would, well, you get the picture. I would probably die with your hands around my throat.

A lot of dying going on in these examples, but I think you get my point.

When you consider what a self-publishing writer looking for a shortcut to publishing has to do after they put their book up on Amazon KDP to create sales, it is a scary, frustrating, sleepless-nights and lonely days, super expensive ordeal. The faint of heart need not apply. At least self-publishing won’t kill you. Will it?

In terms of generating income, the same outcome happens to nearly ever book that is self-published. They die on the vine because most writers, myself included, do not have the expertise, the clout, the network of connections, and the machine to have their book succeed in the marketplace. Quick fact: There are over 250,000 titles published by traditional publishers each year and 750,000 titles self-published. When the dollars are counted, 98% of the revenues generated go to the traditionally published titles. In other words, not much money in the DIY, quick, self-publishing route.

This is not said in order to dissuade someone from self-publishing. On the contrary, I champion their cause. But since 76% of writers polled would prefer to publish traditionally, I think the reality of the process needs to be understood from the onset.

Publishing a book to be profitable is a long shot at best. This is why publishers take their time preparing the book and the author. They may publish 100 titles a year with less than ten of them selling more than 30,000 copies. Publishers have to get it right to stay in business.

So when you do find an agent and publisher to move forward with your manuscript, be patient. Follow the expert’s lead. Do the work they ask. You may be able to trim a month or two off, but in reality, expect it to take the whole two years. During that time you may want to read all of Shakespeare’s works; get a pilot’s license; build your own house; or walk across America and back. Or better yet, write a couple more books. They each may take two years of your time just like getting published.

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