Discover the world of self publishing with Reedsy

March 23, 2023

In this episode Ricardo, explains how Reedsy is revolutionising the self-publishing industry, gives tips on how they achieved a spot on the Financial Times thousands fastest-growing companies list and their secrets to phenomenal growth on their blog through SEO.

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Charles: Welcome to the Legislate Podcast, a place to learn about the latest insights and trends in business, technology, and contract drafting. Today, I'm excited to welcome Ricardo Fayet on the show. Ricardo is a co-founder and CMO at Reedsy, a friendly place for authors to learn, create, and market the next indy books. Ricardo, thank you for taking the time. Please can you share a bit of background about yourself and Reedsy? 

Ricardo Fayet: No, thanks for having me on the show. Yes, we started Reedsy in 2014, so it's been eight years now, something like that, eight, nine years, well, yes, it's been a while, basically. We were four founders at the time, still are the same four founders, and the idea hasn't really changed that much. It's still to create a place where authors can come to and find all the services they need to successfully self-publish their books. So, from the editing to proofreading, the cover design, down to the marketing and eventually translation, ghostwriting for future books or author website design, kind of, yes. A marketplace where they can find freelancers for all kinds of services, then we started adding a lot of, you know, content and free tools for authors and publishers to be able to make the most of that marketplace, but yes, the marketplace is still the number one place where we generate our revenue and the number one thing we're known for in the publishing world. 

Charles: That's very interesting, and you recently made the FT thousands fastest growing companies and I saw on your website or on your LinkedIn that you've got over a million authors. Are you able to share any, you know, stats or numbers on the impact you've had? 

Ricardo Fayet: Yes, I think we get around 2,00-3,000 authors every month who hire someone through our marketplace, and so, at any given time, we've got over 1,500 professionals actively working through the marketplace. Some of these are full-time through Reedsy, they make, you know, a living working through us. So, that's always a great feeling when you talk to them, because you, kind of, enabled their career. I mean, they could have freelanced on their own, but if they get all their work through Reedsy, it's always a nice thing to hear, and others just use it to complement. So, maybe they work in traditional publishing, traditional publishing doesn't pay super-well, so they have a side hustle as a freelancer, if their employment contract permits it, obviously, but yes, I think, yes, around 1,500 freelancers working on the marketplace at any given time and it's the main thing we're proud of right now. 

Charles: Congratulations, and what's been your favourite moment, so far? 

Ricardo Fayet: I mean, there have been a lot of favourite moments. January's always a good month for us, in terms of growth, with people making a resolution to write or publish a book that year. So, any month of January is usually a good moment. Favourite moment might be when we launched our writing tool, the Reedsy book editor, back in 2015, I think. 2015, yes, or 2016, and yes, I remember our designer, Matt, worked all night on the product and we were living all three founders together in a flat, so we spent all night working on it to fix some last minute bugs. I woke up early to start the promotion of the tool, so that was a pretty intense day, but it was quite fun to have a new product release like that, and it ended up with some good adoption right away. 

Charles: Yes, new product releases are always exciting and nerve-wracking, because you never know how it's going to be received. 

Ricardo Fayet: Yes, absolutely. 

Charles: Marketing is always really important. Obviously, it's been some time now since you started the company with your co-founders. What do you wish you had known before starting Reedsy? 

Ricardo Fayet: I wish I'd known more about marketing in general and probably SCO in particular, because we started-, we had a blog from Day One, because one of our investors, Carlos Espinal from Seedcamp told us that, you know, we had to, basically, educate people as to what goes into publishing a book, because we can't just have a marketplace with people you can hire if you have no idea what these people do and why they're important, etc. So, we started a blog and we started interviewing those people, but I mean, very few people read the blog. It was more people who used our product that went on to read the blog, rather than the blog being a lead generation asset or anything like that. So, I think a couple of years later, we came across a good article on SCO and we started implementing some advice. And from then on, everything we've written and published on the blog has been optimised for a specific search term or search topic, and since then, we've had, like, phenomenal growth on the blog and it's our number one acquisition channel on our content marketing and SCO. So, yes, I wish we'd done that sooner, but yes, that's also how we learn, it's part of the process, right? 

Charles: Yes, SCO has also been really important for us and we had a blog from Day One to educate, but without any real background in SCO and yes, I've definitely found the learning journey very interesting, but I agree, there are lots of things that if you implement from Day One, then it, obviously, makes your life a lot easier. You know, so, great, and obviously, so the company's been around for some time, you've reached success, you've built various products and had the marketplace. What's the vision for the company for the next five, ten years? 

Ricardo Fayet: Our vision is to keep going with the marketplace, we want to add more services to it, like, audiobook narration, for example, or audio editing. Audio books are a very fast-growing format right now, and then, we've got some big plans this year to launch a writing course, because, right now, obviously, our blog attracts a lot of aspiring authors, people who want to know how to write a book, how to, you know, write, how to do creative writing, how to write fiction. We've got a short story contest as well, so we've got a lot of people writing short stories, but in order to make full use of our marketplace, we need people who have a finished novel, right? So, we're going to launch a paid course on how to write a novel and maybe do a few more courses on crafts like that, to try to bridge the gap between those aspiring authors we have and the marketplace of professional services, and to develop a new income stream. So, I think that's going to be fun and probably a game-changer for the company, and we're going to work more on our writing tool as well, to make it collaborative, so that, yes, authors who hire an editor through Reedsy can just have them work within the tool. It looks a little bit like Google Docs, but aimed for books, with chapters and parts and sidebar. So, hopefully, we manage to replace Microsoft Word in the writing and editing process which, yes, you know, is obviously a challenge, but it's such a dreadful tool for writing books. It's great for documents, but for writing books, it's terrible. So, hopefully, we have the ambition to replace that, at some point. 

Charles: Well, best of luck and talking of contracts, as a co-founder, I imagine you interact with contracts quite a bit. What are the key ones and have you encountered any friction or do you have any lessons you can share about them? 

Ricardo Fayet: Yes, I mean, the main contracts that we interact with on a weekly basis, possibly, are employment or consultancy contracts with people who work for the company, we hire quite a bit. For those, we had a lawyer draft them up, early on, kind of, give us a template, and the, we've been using those templates, whether for employment or consultancy contracts, and we recently opened a subsidiary in France as well, to be able to have some French employees, and so, same thing. We work with lawyers over there to draw up the initial contracts, and then, we, kind of, use the templates. Then, we've had some contracts with other companies, but we don't do that much B2B, so usually it's on a case by case basis and usually have the other company supplying it. If they want us to sign an NDA, they can supply an NDA. If they want a commercial agreement contract for, I don't know, an affiliate partnership or something like that, if they supply that, we'll review it and, you know, we may sign it, but usually, kind of, for commercial agreements, for (inaudible 09.11) and things like that, we don't usually send contracts unless the other party wants to. Then the more interesting bit maybe is the contracts on our marketplace. So, when an author hires a freelancer, what we do is we wanted there to be some contracts, some standard, kind of, terms for when authors hire freelancers through Reedsy, and so, we incorporated those within our terms of use. So, when they accept an offer, they have to accept the mandatory terms of the collaboration, and then, freelancers can attach special terms that may override certain terms. That's worked quite well, because it provides a certain level of protection for freelancers. 


They don't have to worry about, like, providing their own contract to have an author hire them, but they also have the flexibility, especially for collaborations around ghost writing or translation, which can be a lot more expensive and an involve things such as NDA or moral rights, and foreign law, as well, for translation. That they can have this option to add their own terms tat will override ours. 

Charles: Do you find that there's any negotiation between the freelancers and the authors and are there any, sort of, tensions that they have to figure out themselves, or do you intervene? 

Ricardo Fayet: Yes, sometimes, the negotiation would say that the main negotiation, obviously, is on price and potentially payment plans, especially for longer projects, where they pay once a month, maybe some negotiation on the upfront fee, but the main negotiation is really on the overall price, when there's something. Then, sometimes, there are authors who are going to require NDAs or, like, yes, some kind of NDA or some kind of contract before hiring their freelancer. Usually, in our experience, 99% of the time, it's a bad sign, because it means the author thinks they have this incredible story that no-one else has, and that is worth millions, on it's own, without even being written yet. So, some people are going to still sign an NDA, we have had some cases in the past of, like, editors signing an NDA to discuss the project and all of that, but usually, they don't end up hiring that editor. Like, when people are so worried about their idea and the protection of their idea, it makes it hard for them to trust an editor. It makes it hard for the editor to enter into a trusting relationship with them as well. So, that's, when there's negotiating on contracts or, like, legal things, it's usually nota good bad for either us or the freelancer. 

Moderator: That's a very interesting insight 

Ricardo Fayet: When we started Reedsy, we knew nothing about the industry, so we spent a year interviewing people, from industry agents, authors, editors, and we never asked for an NDA. In some of these calls, we disclosed the idea, quite frankly, and others, we didn't, because we thought that person could've been potentially, you know, a threat, down the line. Most of these calls, we just disclosed it at the end and ask if it is a good idea or not, and I think entrepreneurs are too often worried about, like, hiding their idea, when at any given time, there's at least three or four other people in the world that have this idea as well, and want to build something, and usually, there are people who have built it before. That's a really good sign. It means that there's probably a market for it, right? So, yes, I find a lot of people worry about legalese, but NDAs, copyrights, trademarks, in the beginning, a lot more than they should, when that stuff an come later down the line. 

Charles: Well said. Ricardo, I'm conscious that I've already taken a lot of your time, so I'm going to ask you the closing question we ask all our guests. If you were being sent a contract to sign today, what would impress you? 

Ricardo Fayet: I think brevity and presentation, probably. If it's well presented if it's easy to read and easy to understand as well, I feel a lot of contracts are, you know, unnecessarily complicated with ten clauses that could be said in one. If you need the contract to be iron-clad, then yes, you may need to have all these clauses on there, but that's not a contract that you receive and you're impressed by. That's usually followed, after weeks of negotiation, right? If I'm sent a contract, I need it to be simple, simple to read, simple to understand, well presented, well formatted, yes, nothing too fancy, basically, but clear. Clear and concise. 

Charles: Nothing too fancy, except for the presentation. 

Ricardo Fayet: Exactly. I mean, by presentation I mean everything. The indent s are in the same place, stuff is well-aligned, yes, basics. 

Charles: That's the response I'd expect from a, you know, publisher. So, but yes, no, exactly, I think the presentation is really important and it's something, at Legislate, that we try to do. Obviously, we try to make the presentation of the contracts themselves good, and we'll be introducing shortly a modern view or a classic view, depending on your preference, but we also try to represent the data and the information in the contract visually, beyond the actual text, and yes, it's something where we can definitely improve and its really key to impressive contracts. 

Ricardo Fayet: I agree. 

Charles: So, great. Well, thank you very much, Ricardo, for being on the show, and best of luck launching your new products and conquering the world. 

Ricardo Fayet: Thank you very much for having me on the show and best of luck with Legislate. 

Charles: Thank you, bye-bye. 


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