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|Amber Brooks • 12/14/16|
The Short Version: In traditional publishing, writers are often hampered by rejection, delay, and editing decisions beyond their control. Self-publishing, on the other hand, empowers writers to have the final say on their manuscripts, and Leanpub leads the way with technology to support the entire creative process. For romance novelists and other aspiring authors, the website provides a straightforward platform to write and self-publish ebooks for a 90% royalty (minus $0.50) on every sale. The platform publishes and sells both rough drafts and polished ebooks, so writers of fiction and nonfiction can build anticipation for their works and gain a following online. For a one-time charge of $99 per book, writers can make formatting decisions, set their own prices, and engage with readers more easily on Leanpub.
I’ve been writing pretty much since I realized strings of letters could form stories, but it took me years to actually finish my first rough draft. An online discussion forum for writers actually gave me the push I needed. One slow summer day, I stumbled upon a group of teenage writers who critiqued one another’s works-in-progress, and I eagerly joined their ranks.
Posting our would-be novels one chapter at a time, we gave each other feedback and encouragement throughout the summer. Because I knew they were there waiting to find out what happened next in my story, I felt inspired to write until I reached the ending I so badly wanted to share with my newfound friends.
For a budding writer, knowing someone out there cares about what you’re writing is a powerful motivator. By self-publishing an in-progress work on Leanpub, you can build a loyal following, similar to what I enjoyed, before your book is even complete. A community of readers and writers rallies around the entire publishing process from the first draft to the final product. If you’ve got a romance novel or a dating advice book locked in your head, put it on virtual paper on Leanpub to see how it resonates with an engaged audience.
“Instead of doing all your writing privately and only interacting with your publisher,” said Len Epp, Co-Founder of Leanpub, “we think you should just get your work out there, have fun, and start building an audience while you’re writing.”
On Leanpub, writers often publish their ebooks in spurts, like a serial novel, and learn from reader responses along the way. Reader commentary can actually help make a story stronger. If many readers seem to really like a minor character, for example, you can expand that character’s role to please your audience. Or perhaps someone in the comments section will tell you a story about their experiences in a relationship that will inform your advice to other daters.
Whether you’re a romance reader looking for a fresh story to follow or a dating coach looking to spread your advice to singles worldwide, Leanpub offers a writer-friendly bookstore for self-published authors to expand their brand. So far, Leanpub authors have earned over $4 million selling their books via this online storefront, and you could be one of them with just a click!
“It’s exciting to push that publishing button for the first time,” Len said, “knowing that you did it all yourself. It’s a real thrill.”
Launched in April 2010, Leanpub offered simple tools to usher new voices into the world of self-publishing. They want unknown authors to publish early and publish often to build up their readership. Romance writers simply need to type their story, select “Preview” to see what it’ll look like, and then publish the manuscript on the site. Automatic formatting features will give the work a final touch by adding flourishes like a table of contents.
The speediness of self-publishing helps authors stay relevant. Even as the dating landscape changes, you can ensure that your published work remains timely and updated for readers.
To edit the ebook, you can write in your own browser, Microsoft Word, or plain text, and even automatically sync your updates using Dropbox, GitHub, or Bitbucket. Your manuscript, whether complete or incomplete, will be available in multiple versions on Leanpub, accommodating readers on Kindle, iPads, and desktops.
Recently, the Leanpub platform began offering services for a flat fee per book. Instead of a subscription cost, authors only need pay $99 to self-publish an ebook. There’s a 45-day return period so you risk nothing by giving the platform a try. After you’ve earned at least $1,000 in royalties, the price drops to $49 to publish another book. Once you’ve earned $10,000 (or more) in royalties, creating a new ebook is free.
“As an author, paying to create a Leanpub book is an investment,” wrote Co-Founder Peter Armstrong, “since we will be spending that money to improve your experience using Leanpub.
“We have this romantic notion that books are written in isolation, but that isn’t the best way to go about it,” Len said. “Leanpub was built to encourage a community feel to book publishing.”
Through Leanpub, romance writers can establish a rapport with readers and build excitement for their stories. Authors of all ages and backgrounds have taken advantage of this publishing avenue. The website’s robust romance fiction library has a growing assortment of passionate plotlines written by people the world over.
“Leanpub is a game changer for independent authors,” writes W. Jason Gilmore, author of “Easy Laravel 5,” in a testimonial, “removing the hassles associated with formatting, book production, and electronic sales, freeing up the time to do what we do best: write.”
Authors of all types of books, from technical works to romantic novels, can profit on Leanpub by self-publishing their manuscripts. Thanks to the platform’s unique variable pricing model, writers have total control over their ebooks’ prices. The author sets a minimum as well as a suggested purchase price, adding special coupons or bundles of ebooks if desired.
The site is all about giving customers a choice. When buying an ebook on the storefront, the reader chooses what to pay. A slider feature shows how much the author earns, what Leanpub receives, and the price options (from the book’s minimum price and above), so individual readers can adjust the payouts as he or she sees fit.
According to Len, many people actually choose to pay more than the minimum price to show appreciation for the author’s work. For instance, one of the site’s bestsellers was written by a professor at Johns Hopkins. He wanted to offer his students a free way to read his textbook, so he set the minimum price as “Free,” and still ended up listed on the bestseller list by revenue.
“I no longer spin my wheels with layouts and formats — Leanpub gets out the way when it’s time to write, and then automates everything when it’s time to publish.” — Daniel Root, Author of “Trello Dojo” and Leanpub subscriber
The Leanpub storefront gives authors a generous cut for their hard work — for every ebook sold, the writer earns 90% of royalties minus $0.50 per sale. That means a $10 ebook puts $8.50 in the writer’s pocket. You can set whatever price you think is fair. Some ebooks sell for as high as $200. Currently, Leanpub pays out over $100,000 in royalties to authors every month, and they’re hoping to grow that number as more writers join the platform.
When you publish using Leanpub’s channel, you retain the rights to you book, so you always have the option to publish elsewhere if your book gains traction and you want to expand your brand.
“We don’t restrict you, when you’re writing your books,” Len said. “We’ve always taken customer development very seriously, which means we listen closely to what customers want and provide features to help them.”
Co-Founders Peter Armstrong, Scott Patten, Len Epp, and Braden Simpson view Leanpub as a writer-friendly publishing tool that makes it easy to cultivate a relationship with readers. They work hard to make Leanpub a simple and cost-efficient solution for independent authors across the web.
“We’re very startupy,” Len said. “We’re quite small, and we prize our developers very highly. Everyone has the opportunity to work on a little bit of everything.”
Passionate about the company mission, these guys are coding, programming, and writing enthusiasts, who make time, between running the site, to publish ebooks of their own. From Peter’s programming guide for kids to Len’s satirical novel, it’s clear the Co-Founders believe in their product — because they use it themselves!
A lean startup with big goals, the team constantly improves the site’s features to help lower the risk, cost, and hassle for self-published authors. For romance writers, the upsides are enormous (you can read more about the benefits here).
Leanpub invites unknown authors to come out of isolation and join an online community of writers sharing content with one another.
If I’d stayed a brooding teenager stockpiling stories behind a locked door, I never would’ve grown as a writer. Hearing feedback from my first readers validated and improved my writing in meaningful ways.
Books aren’t meant to stay hidden in a for-my-eyes-only document — they’re meant to be shared. Leanpub’s platform makes it easier than ever to impart your words to the world and promote your brand as a dating expert or romance novelist. On the site, writers of fiction and nonfiction are welcome to write, publish, and sell ebooks without constraint.
Leanpub draws back the curtains and demystifies the writing process so readers can jump on board all the earlier, even before the first draft is finished. Readers come to the storefront to invest in new authors and support their works-in-progress, creating a unique atmosphere of enthusiasm and camaraderie.
“We encourage people to publish on Leanpub as they create content because publishing serially is a great way to build excitement for your writing,” Len said. “When someone is building a personal brand, this process of engagement is really powerful.”