Ebook publishing platform and Y Combinator graduate Hyperink announced Thursday that it has raised $1.2 million in a round of funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, SVAngel, Lerer Ventures, Launch Capital, Cyriac Roeding, Milo founder Jack Abraham and others. The platform goes live today and CEO Kevin Gao says the company is actively looking for new authors.
Founded earlier this year, the company is taking on a pretty ambitious challenge: to deliver an alternative to traditional book publishing—but one that actually works. Anyone can go out and self-publish, but the average self-published book only sells about 100 copies in its lifetime. Meanwhile, traditional book publishing is like a hyper-exclusive clique at this point, and unless your novel or proposal is among one of the top trending topics—like, say, teen vampire romance fiction—you don’t stand a chance of getting published.
Hyperink is offering a pretty interesting half-way point between the two extremes. On the one hand, the platform is open to anyone with an idea to share, but on the other hand, there’s still some quality control and marketing, so your craptastic coming-of-age novel about a girl grappling with the rigors of womanhood gets some sprucing up and actually gets into readers’ hands.
Actually, to be more accurate, Gao tells me Hyperink is focused primarily on non-fiction, particularly in the self-help and advice categories (so no coming-of-age novels). Current titles include “Ivy League Admissions,” “Patenting Your Startup Idea,” “LulzSec: 50 Days of Lulz,” “Steve Jobs: One More Thing,” “Raising Autistic Children,” and “Having Great Married Sex,” among others.
The company is not currently releasing sales numbers, so it’s not clear how much better Hyperink’s titles perform in the book market compared to self-published books, but Gao says that the platform has published more than 100 titles since Hyperink was founded in January, and all are profitable.
In fact, the company says that its titles are on a fast-track to profitability compared to traditionally published books, which take on average one to two years to hit the shelves. Hyperink titles, by comparison, are published within four to six weeks and authors receive higher royalty rates.
But is faster better? The traditional book publishing industry might be slow, but there’s a pretty legitimate reason for it: it takes time to make a good book (though you might not know it from picking up one of the “Twilight” books—and I’m sorry to keep bringing them up, but I just have a really conflicted love-hate relationship with the series…22 more days till the “Breaking Dawn” premier! Edward and Bella finally do it!).
There’s the writing process itself, which takes a while, but then there’s also the editorial process—fact-checking, line editing, expert review, and so on. In short, it comes down to quality control—which can’t always be done speedily.
Gao disagrees and claims that Hyperink is looking to do just that—put out hundreds (eventually thousands) of high-quality ebooks every month that are edited by Hyperink’s own editorial team and marketed via search engines and social media to get the titles in front of readers.
Like I said, it’s ambitious. Can Hyperink deliver?