Overwhelm for agents, missed opportunities for publishers and poor feedback for writers. Can MyManuscripts fix the bugs in the traditional submission process?
MyManuscripts.com is a soon-to-be-launched online platform that matches writers with publishers and literary agents. Designed to support rather than replace the traditional publishing model free to publishers and agents, it offers writers a free month trial before charging a £19.99 monthly subscription fee.
Founder Norm Thomas is an Australian businessman who has lived in the UK for the past 12 years. Having experienced his own struggles with the submissions process for many years, and seen many other promising writers fail to get their work seen or accepted, he decided to use his business experience to build a team of freelancers, marketers and developers who could create a tech based, automated solution to the submission process.
As MyManuscripts moves from beta to operational phase, the team is being restructured to cope with growing demand.
What's the gap in the market?
Thomas felt that the traditional submission process not only fails to exploit the latest technology, but results in a poor experience for those on both side of the relationship.
"Publishers and literary agents are inundated with submissions which are often poorly screened and miscategorised, resulting in a huge percent of rejections," says Thomas. "In most cases, no direct feedback is given to the writer which is really disheartening. We know that publishable manuscripts exist in those forgotten rejection piles. We know this because some of the world’s greatest & most prolific writers were lost in them for far too long."
All MyManuscript writers and authors are encouraged to have their manuscripts ‘screened’ by an experienced editor before they are submitted to the platform. Their profiles clearly identify to publishers and agents if their manuscript has been screened or not to improve the quality of submissions.
"We don’t promise our writers that they will get a publishing deal but we do ensure that every time they have their manuscript viewed they will receive direct feedback by our publishers and agents," Thomas asserts.
In order to address the issue of ‘overwhelm’ for publishers and agents, the platform also has several targeted preference setting options. This allows them to simply browse the platform on an ad-hoc basis if they prefer not to receive matches directly into the system in-box.
Success so far?
After twelve months in development, the platform went live this week, and is now beginning to matching the first group of authors with publishers and agents.
"Despite having nothing to ‘show’ except the vision in the early days, we were able to onboard upwards of 300 early adopters, our ‘trailblazers’, who are ready to utilise the platform when we go live," Thomas reports. "We’ve received some wonderful ideas and manuscripts and are now focusing on a few potential and promising ‘early wins’ before the launch."
The team is aiming for the greatest possible diversity, and is encouraging writers with a wide range of backgrounds from around the world to submit. They are also starting to form alliances with agencies, publishers and local organisations that are open to developing and nurturing new voices.
The biggest challenge at this point is a common launch sticking point: responding to the needs and expectations of users fast enough.
"Our platform must deliver the right user experience for both our target audiences - writers and the people who publish them," Thomas explains. "That’s a tricky balance. We conducted extensive interviews with publishers, literary agents and writers to ensure the platform meets everyone’s needs and provides every user with value. We have been very fortunate to work with a flexible and intuitive development team to implement the changes to the system."
Also, predictably, winning the confidence of those first early adopters has been tough.
"We have a great team of effective marketers whose ‘think outside the box’ approaches have resulted in some amazing collaborations in the industry and hundreds of authors ready to complete their profiles once we go live," Thomas says.
The MyManuscripts team wants their platform to become top of mind for both publishers and agents looking for their next publishable manuscript - not to mention writers looking for a publishing deal. "We are fully focused on supporting traditional and Independent publishers to bring more diverse and quality writing into the mainstream," Thomas adds.
Advice to other publishing entrepreneurs?
"Validate your product or idea with your market. Ensure that you clearly understand what it is, and how it will both work for and benefit your target audiences."