Memphis book publishing startup Screwpulp shares some #jpreneur insight

Richard Billings, founder of Screwpulp, was kind enough to speak to students in my entrepreneurial journalism course Monday about his experiences creating a new eBook market that helps authors get published and readers find great new books.

You can read more about Screwpulp at their site or see Billings pitch at Seed Hatchery Investor Day. Here is a quick recap of a few of the thoughts he shared with us.

  • Amazon has really crushed the price for eBooks; Screwpulp hopes to put the value back in. By offering the first 25 copies of a book free to users willing to rate it, Screwpulp leverages the crowd to build higher demand for its top-rated books. This also allows it to operate with low overhead – it’s not paying editors to sift through manuscripts  to find the best ones to publish and feature.
  • Screwpulp is at an early stage, but is hoping to ultimately have multiple revenue streams, offering authors a variety of services such as cover design and auto-translation. It also hopes to offer best practices, writing tips and other useful info to potential authors. Screwpulp
  • The main thing that authors need is people to read their books. So Screwpulp focused on readers and their habits. When they talked to readers, they found that most weren’t as concerned with having a rigorous editorial process as one might think. Many wanted to get their hands on new books more.
  • Interviews trump surveys for getting rich information in customer discovery.
  • To hone your pitch, practice it a lot. And practice in similar situations/locations to where you will pitch investors.
  • Launching a startup would be very different in Silicon Valley, where many startups have larger valuations but also higher costs and noise in the market. Billings is happy to be starting up in Memphis and thinks it is a great place to do so.
  • If you have a good idea, go do it. Entrepreneurship is addictive and teaches you a lot.
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