Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How reading a book by an indie author made me launch a startup

    Author Hugh Howey and his book "Wool"

This is how it all started: at the beginning of this year I read an outstanding book:   "Wool" by Hugh Howey. It is a science fiction book but I think it can be enjoyed by all kind of readers, even those who do not ordinarily read science fiction. It has an amazing story, an incredible pace, one of the best characters I have ever found in a book... I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you would like to read it, you can buy it at Amazon, it will cost you just 5 bucks in the Kindle version.

But I am not writing this blog post just to praise this book. The thing is that I liked it so much that I wanted to recommend it to all my friends. But the problem is that most of my friends don´t read english and there was no spanish translation available and this was SO frustrating...

I had never heard of Hugh Howey before I read his book (I heard about it in a science fiction blog). I tried to learn more about this author and was amazed to find that he was an "indie" author. He had no proper "publisher" and had published all his books directly in all the electronic platforms like Amazon. I learned more about "indie" authors and found out that there were lots and lots of writers publishing many, many very interesting books.

But I kept finding the same problem again and again: none of these very interesting books were available in my native language and it was frustrating that I could not share them with my friends. I kept thinking that the authors were losing a huge business opportunityI looked at some forums and asked some authors and found out that the main problem behind the lack of translations was the high cost involved: it would cost $2000-$4000 to translate an average book to just one language. If you multiply this by several main languages, it was clear that this was out of reach for most independent authors.

Then it was when it hit me: what if we could involve the translators in the business equation, and have them share both the risks and the rewards of translating these books? If we could involve those translators who had a more entrepreneurial spirit, who saw the business opportunity behind the global expansion of successful books, giving them also the opportunity of expanding their experience in a very rewarding line of work, then we could break down the biggest barrier for having these books translated.

This is how the idea behind Babelcube was born. We are building a platform where successful independent writers can connect with translators, working in a revenue sharing environment where all parties involved shared the risks and rewards.

And the best thing is that the electronic markets provide us the opportunity of making this platform work, as they provide some features that make this project possible:
  • Global reach
  • A good revenue share for authors
  • Accountability, reporting and fast and swift payments

Hugh Howey is now such a successful author that he has been able to sign up with several "traditional" publishers and some translations of his works are now appearing (a german version is already available), but I love to imagine that many more "Hugh Howeys" will be able to reach a global market, reach many more readers and earn higher revenues. And that many translators will be able to work on wonderful books that they like while earning a nice income.

Stay tuned for more!