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Michael has been a business journalist for 12 years. He has extensive experience editing magazines covering funds management, commercial property and the travel industry. In 2011 he won a Citi Excellence in Financial Journalism award for a BRW cover story on economic indicators.

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Book publishing platform Tablo scores $400k seed funding

Published 10 July 2014 09:51, Updated 11 July 2014 11:42

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Book publishing platform Tablo scores $400k seed funding

Ashley Davies is developing a cloud-based platform which allows authors to have their books critiqued by readers as they write them.

An Australian cloud-based publishing platform which allows authors to have their books critiqued by readers as they write them has attracted $400,000 in seed funding.

Tablo has signed up 10,000 authors from 100 different countries since it was founded by Ashley Davies, himself an author who found it too hard to get his books into online stores, in 2012.

Tablo was selected for the mentor-driven AngelCube accelerator program in 2013, and Davies’ mentor Paul Reining – former chief executive of the Catch Group – has now become the company’s lead investor, director and advisor.

Another major investor is Kevin Hale, a partner at San Francisco’s Y Combinator accelerator and an author of startup how-tos, who like Davies was frustrated by the process of getting on the virtual shelves at Amazon and iBookstore.

Hale reached out to Davies while the 21-year-old entrepreneur happened to be in Silicon Valley earlier his year.

A third significant investor is an author who has published through Tablo, John Buck, who’s reinvested the earnings from his tomes on cinema history back into the company.

“John was one of the first people to email me when the landing page went live back in 2012,” remembers Davies. “He’s been a great source of feedback and one of our most successful authors.”

Tablo is trialling a “freemium” model, where it will cost nothing for authors to write a book through the platform and engage with a reader community. However, if they want the work published to Amazon and iBookstore there is a subscription fee starting at $8 per month.

This subscription will also include what Davies calls “enhanced writing services” - he won’t elaborate further at this stage - which the new funding will be used to develop and release throughout the rest of 2014.

The biggest complication of e-publishing today is its technical complexity, Davies says.

“You have to know where all the right files are, you have to understand the EPUB standard, it’s stuff that’s not natural to most writers”.

Continual feedback to the author from an online community is in the same spirit as start-ups releasing a minimum viable product and tweaking it according to response, according to Davies.

“The alternative with the big online publishers is just putting your completed book up there with no real idea what people will think of it. Tablo authors end up with a better book because we allow them to connect with the public.”

Davies claims publishing a book through Tablo is as easy as publishing a blog – the interface offer a single click pathway to Amazon and the iBookstore – and the platform takes no royalties, only the subscription fee.

“We’ve had a few good successes so far, a few front-page mentions on iBookstore, but with this new investment I reckon we’ll soon have a Tablo book in the New York Times bestseller list,” Davies says.