WEbook is an online writing community launched back in 2008, not long after Goodreads began to establish itself as a major influence and go-to site for authors and publishers. While WEbook has never enjoyed the same success as larger rivals like Goodreads and Wattpad, it is undergoing something of a rejuvenation under new ownership. Imago, an international print and product sourcing services company, bought WEbook early last year and only now are we beginning to see the development and expansion of this acquisition. You can read more about Imago as a print and production service here. Simon Rosenheim, who founded and ran children’s publisher Meadowside for 10 years and now runs iBiblios (a digital publishing service) for Imago, spoke about the value of purchasing WEbook last year.
The key is in the word services – and more specifically, publishing services. And WEbook provides one of the best publishing services that the online world has to offer. And we have plans. Plans to rebuild it (it got partially nuked when the previous owners stopped paying their bills), to develop it, expand it and to ultimately allow it to lead a range of new services that we’re planning to offer. ~ Simon Rosenheim, iBiblios
Imago also has a shareholding in Albury Books
—a new publishing service provider that purchased the UK name rights and domain of defunct USA self-publishing granddaddy Vantage Press last year—and the signs are clear that the company will play a significant role in the publishing services market in the coming years.
So what does this mean for self-publishers and the writing community in general?
MediaBistro reported last week that WEbook was launching a publishing platform for authors within their 13,000 strong writing community, but the real details of the publishing part remain somewhat sketchy to say the least. Writing for MediaBistro’s GalleyCat, Dianna Dilworth reported that ‘WEbook is getting into publishing with a new crowd-based publishing program’ based on a five-stage review process for short and long work submitted for review by WEbook’s readers, top-review scouts and ultimately—if successful—publication by WEbook.
WEbook will then take care of publishing services including layout, cover design, eBook conversion, print-on-demand, distribution and marketing. The authors will earn 85 percent royalties.
Dilworth refers to a ‘press release’ and quotes the following line from it:
The program is fair and anonymous; a reader is unable to search for a specific work or author, preventing biased voting. Those readers who review in high volume will be promoted to Top Scouts and Expert Raters. ~ MediaBistro-GalleyCat
For the life of me I could not find this press release anywhere—not on the WEbook website (its owners site), forum or press page; nor any online press release service. I can only conclude that it exists in Dilworth’s email inbox or in hardcopy. The WEbook website alludes to being ‘The Social Network where writers get published
‘ and a broken link on their FAQ page under ‘Book Publishing
‘, but I’d strongly suggest any company preparing to roll out any expansion or service gets their nuts and bolts fully tightened and aligned before allowing information to seep out.
I actually think this is an innovative way to approach self-publishing and crowd/community-supported work, and a great way for an author to build a fan community before proper publication. WEbook has previously provided a community network (through the PagetoFrame
progam) where writers can have their work reviewed and ultimately exposed to agent and industry professionals, but this takes it a step further.
The real question is how well can WEbook properly develop their reader and writer community and their distribution channels. Will submitted and selected authors still end up paying a fee for publication or marketing through this channel?
Will the ultimate price be enough to attract self-published authors and build readership?
Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant
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