Book publishing is dead? Thanks to e-books and the web, it’s just got a new format and provides a lot more autonomy for authors.

Sabrina Ricci, Founder of Write or Read
Sabrina Ricci, Founder of Write or Read

The self-publishing market has grown tremendously in the past few years and Sabrina Ricci, founder of Write or Read, is looking to make her (book)mark. She’s developed a web-based business where writers share their self-published ebooks and in return gain audience (and analytics) for their work. Readers can access to a wide range of titles – and since the site is still in beta, access to books is free.

Ricci’s learned a bunch of lessons since starting up, which she shared for our 1,000 Stories campaign. Have a question for Sabrina? Submit it here.

The Story Exchange (TSE): After you came up with your idea for your website, how did you go about developing it?

Sabrina Ricci (SR): I started by looking for a developer who could help me build Write or Read. I found someone through Founder Dating, and together we worked on a minimum viable product (MVP) for about four months. [An MVP is a new product or website developed with few features to allow feedback from users before further development.] After getting some feedback, we went to work on developing the beta site, which we launched in June.

TSE: What have been some of your challenges?

SR: I’d say my first big challenge was finding a developer I trusted. For three to four months, I was out two or three nights a week going to meet-ups, classes, and any kind of events where I might meet someone to work with. I also met with a lot of people, around 20-30, who I had either been introduced to or found online. Unfortunately, none of them worked out, either because they needed to be paid and I didn’t have much money, or they didn’t have time. In the meantime, I contracted a MVP from a freelance developer who had good reviews online, but unfortunately he never delivered. It was a very tiring and stressful few months. [pullquote]I’d say my first big challenge was finding a developer I trusted.[/pullquote]

Related: 5 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Prepare for Crowdfunding

TSE: How about finding an audience?

SR: We have a chicken/egg kind of problem. To get enough data to be useful to authors, we need a lot of readers. But to attract a lot of readers, we need a lot of books. To attract more authors, I’ve been going to a lot of publishing and literary conferences and meeting with publishers, agents, and authors. I also write articles on my blog about self-publishing, and have been fortunate to have some of those articles published on the Huffington Post. Before the beta launch, I also set up a LaunchRock account and a Google ads campaign, and we were able to get over 2500 people signed up before our beta launch.

TSE: How are you funding the company?

SR: Right now, WoR is completely boot-strapped, so things like paying the lawyer fees to properly set up an LLC feel daunting at times (I highly recommend properly setting up an LLC – at another startup we did not have an operating agreement; there was a falling out between the founders, and it was a huge headache to wrap up). I do have high hopes for crowdfunding though.

Have you started a business? Share you startup story here.


Sabrina Ricci is the founder of Write or Read, and a freelance writer with a M.S. in publishing from New York University. She has worked and written for a variety of publications, including, Noozhawk, Santa Barbara Magazine, Yahoo! Voices, Demand Media and Follow her on Twitter @sabsky.