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Tablo launches social features hoping to increase potential audiences for its authors

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 | By Bronwen Clune
Publishing startup Tablo, which recently secured $400,000 of funding and aims to make publishing e-books as easy as writing a blog, has launched new features to encourage collaboration amongst authors. 


According to the Melbourne-based startup, the developments are part of a “wider effort to transform the writer from a solitary character into a social one.”


Branding it a “unique social network” the features will enable authors to create their own individual profiles – complete with a biography, photo and previous or upcoming works – and to share their writing with others in the online community.


In turn, followers can browse the ‘bookshelf’ of their favourite authors, receive updates on new chapters as they are written, and become part of the creative journey.


Bringing social elements to writing has proven successful for shorter-form online publishing platforms like Medium, but the community apect for writers is fairly well-covered by like Wattpad and Cowbird.


However, the demand for the new features was quite organic. After Tablo built a tool for Nanowrimo (a popular event where authors attempt to write a book in 30 days) it found that authors were sharing their progress and using the opportunity to build their following.


The 21-year-old entrepreneur behind Tablo, Ash Davies (who previously tried to self-publish a book and found the process lengthy and costly), told StartupSmart it was this that inspired him to build the social tools.


“Writing has traditionally been seen as a lonely endeavour,” Davies says. “This, combined with the sad reality that the vast majority of authors struggle to see their work ever published, means that countless pages of writing from talented individuals, are never shared or read by others. Tablo is changing that.


“Publishing a book in 2014 should not be the same as it was in 1914. Yes, authors still put words onto a page (whether digital or paper), but an ambitious or talented writer shouldn’t need a huge publishing deal to ensure their words are read. With our new social features, readers can discover and follow authors from day one. This will help authors secure and grow a loyal readership.”


While Tablo’s offering is unique in the way it allows authors to publish and distribute their books through the iBook Store and Amazon, there have been a number of startups that have had similar ambitions to upend e-publishing and empower authors, with mixed results.

Byliner is probably the most well-known and also incorporates social elements so that readers can follow their favourite authors.


It’s monetised through a shared revenue of content sales with authors, but appears to be in trouble having recently notified its users by email that it has “struggled to reach the level of growth we’d been hoping for the business, and thus we’ve begun conversations with possible partners about the future of Byliner.”


There have also been some questions about how much authors actually received.

Creatavist (which powers the monthly publication Ativist) is another platform bringing the seamless e-publishing experience to authors, but it doesn’t offer the ability for distribution.


Tablo authors receive 100% of royalties, but those who want to publish on the iBooks Store and Amazon need to subscribe, which starts at $7.95 per month.


Davies would not confirm how much top authors were receiving specifically, but indicated the range for author's potential earnings is between $100 and $10,000 per year. Whether the new features can further promote the authors and increase that revenue remains to be seen.

Interestingly, John Buck, one of the top authors on the platform, reinvested the money he made through Tablo into the startup during its recent funding round.