UCSB alum Sabrina Ricci recently launched a web startup called Write or Read, a service that seeks to provide independent authors with metrics and better insight on how readers interact with their work.
The site allows authors to register and upload their work for viewing by the site’s registered readers. Over 200 eBooks have already been uploaded for the perusal of over 2,200 already registered users, and a Write or Read account provides easy online access to more than 40,000 public domain works.
Ricci, now 26 years old, was a communication major and professional writing minor at UCSB before attending New York University. During her time at NYU, Ricci earned a master’s degree in publishing and went on to write her two self-published books, The 13th Cycle and How to Create Your First E-Book.
She came up with the idea for Write or Read after doing some work in independent publishing, which was when she found that it was difficult to see the progress of work after uploading it online.
“I got kind of frustrated because … you get your eBooks out there, you hit the publish button and then you know nothing about what happens to them after,” Ricci said.
To solve the problem, Write or Read connects authors directly with their readers, offering useful analytics such as reader demographics and statistics on how much time people spend reading an author’s work. She said such a system answers many writers’ questions that would otherwise go unanswered.
“Are they so captivated by it that they have to read it in one sitting?” Ricci said. “What percentage of the book is read? Are they reading the whole book, or do they get bored after the first chapter?”
Currently, the service is in its public testing period, and registration is free. Once the full service launches, however, readers will be required to pay a monthly subscription fee. Writers will then receive pay based on the number of page views their work accrues.
In an effort to have the full service up and running, Ricci launched a crowd-funding campaign on online crowd-funding platform RocketHub last week, with the goal of raising $10,000 in 45 days. The funds, Ricci said, will be used to finish implementing a visual representation of analytics data for easy access by authors, amongst other features.
Ricci said one of her favorite features still to be implemented is what she calls “crowd-sourced copy edits.”
“If you read a lot of eBooks, sometimes you’ll come across some random spelling errors,” Ricci said. “I’d like to make it easy for a reader to spot it and highlight it, and then the author could approve that change and have the eBook update itself.”
According to Ricci, should the crowd-funding campaign bear fruit, the site’s temporary trial period will be concluded, and the full site will launch sometime next year. In the meantime, Ricci said authors are already providing support by volunteering their help to “get the site going.”
Craig Cotich, co-director of the professional writing minor at UCSB, has kept in touch with Ricci since she was his student at the university. Cotich said he is a strong supporter of her web startup.
“I think it is great that Sabrina has found a way to turn her passion into a job,” Cotich said. “It is impressive that she’s trying to use technology to help fellow writers, while at the same time being at the cutting-edge of the publishing field.”
Cotich, who helps professional writing students find internships, referred his student Alyssa Vergun, who graduated this past spring, to Write or Read for an internship during Spring Quarter 2013.
According to Vergun, the site first caught her eye when she saw an article by Ricci in the Huffington Post on the rise of self-publishing.
“Having held an interest in the publishing industry for a while, I was very eager to learn more about the two sides of publishing as well as apply the skills I was learning in my minor to assist,” Vergun said.
This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.