The Story Exchange, Sabrina Ricci, Write or ReadYour Name: Sabrina Ricci

Business Name: Write or Read, a platform for self-publishing authors

Type of Business: Publishing

Business Location: California, United States

Reason for starting
Like many other writers, I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. And I’m passionate about reading–sometimes I get so caught up in a book I finish it in a day. I earned my M.S. in publishing from NYU, and while in school I became really interested in e-books and self-publishing. I ended up publishing my own book so I could better understand the process. I think it’s fascinating how much the publishing industry has changed in the past three years, but even though it’s easier than ever to self-publish, once an author hits the “publish” button, they really don’t know what happens to their books. Sure there are sales numbers, but no platform really exists that offers insights into whether or not people actually finish the book, or who an author’s fans are. And for avid readers like myself, I’m frustrated by the fact that even though I “buy” an e-book, I don’t actually own it, and oftentimes I’m limited by which e-reading device I can read my book on. I started Write or Read because I wanted to help other writers and readers. Our site makes it easy for authors to build a platform and become more successful, by learning who their readers are and what parts of their work resonate the most–plus they get paid per page view. And as a web app, readers can access a wide range of work (novels, short stories, articles, poems, and more) on any device, for a low monthly fee. My goal is to eventually make it easy for authors and fans to reach out to each other too.

How do you define success?
That’s tough because I tend to be very hard on myself. But I think setting up milestones and reaching them is success. There are a lot of small steps to take before fulfilling the goal of launching a beta, or even creating a minimum viable product. And that’s worth celebrating. Sure, there’s more work to be done. There will always be more work to do. But it’s important to step back every once in a while and realize that you’ve accomplished something and that you’re on the right track. Sometimes I feel stressed, but then I remind myself that I’m doing something I really believe in, that I really love.

Biggest Success
Launching our beta! It’s taken about a year, but I’ve learned so much along the way, about digital publishing, about business and marketing, and about being confident and expanding my circles to meet new people. Before the launch we had over 2500 people sign up to be notified, and it felt great to let them know our site was finally ready for testing.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
For WoR to succeed, there needs to be both writers and readers on the site. To attract writers, we need a decent number of readers who can provide analytics. To attract readers, we need a decent number of writers who can upload content. So it’s kind of a catch-22. But we’ve been addressing this challenge in our open beta. Fortunately our users are very understanding and know that it will take time for the site to evolve, and we have some enthusiastic book bloggers, who are heavy readers, and authors who have promised to stick with us to help us make it the best site it can be.

Who is your most important role model?
I don’t think I can name just one person. I admire every author who has had the courage and dedication to self-publish their books, and I’ve learned from many of them how to effectively market and network. I’ve also taken to heart Hugh Howey’s approach of never saying no, and it’s already led to me meeting some amazing people and learning invaluable lessons. And I really respect book bloggers, for their commitment and effort in reviewing books and constantly churning out new content. WoR has also been influenced by many companies. Netflix and Redbox make movies and data accessible, Bookrix and Wattpad have a great platform for writers to connect and get feedback, and sites like BookVibe and Booklamp use metadata and analytics in really interesting ways.