How We Created A $15K/Month Book Discovery Platform

$15K
revenue/mo
2
Founders
8
Employees
product
AllAuthor
from Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
started September 2016
$15,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
8
Employees
51.2K
alexa rank
6.82K
followers
14.1K
followers
164
subs
Discover what tools Naveen reccommends to grow your business!
social media
Discover what books Naveen reccommends to grow your business!
Become An Author

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi, I’m Naveen Joshi and I co-founded AllAuthor with my brother, Mady Joshi. We started AllAuthor together five years ago as a book promotion platform focused on helping self-published authors to market their books.

We noticed many self-published authors struggling to market their books due to the lack of time and technical knowledge. And we found that a lot of great books get lost because of insufficient marketing.

We wanted to create a platform that provides all authors an equal shot at getting their books out to their audience. This was when we decided to come up with a subscription model called the ‘Pro-Membership Program’ with access to our self-help tools and features that simplify book marketing.

We then developed and tweaked our products as a part of our subscription model. We priced the subscription at $59 for 6 months and bootstrapped without any external funding in 2 years.

Most of our target customers are majorly from the US and the UK. But as a startup located in India, it was initially challenging to cater to such a different audience group. We soon overcame this drawback and started conversing with self-published authors from other countries over Facebook to understand their requirements, challenges with book marketing, and how we can make it better.

Right now, we have two main services: a Pro-Membership Program, which is the subscription model, and the Featured Book Listing, where authors can feature a particular book on AllAuthor.

We wanted AllAuthor to be that affordable solution that makes book marketing accessible to all. So, we introduced free and paid membership for authors to choose from. The free membership allows limited access to the tools and features and covers the basic requirements of authors like a professional author profile.

Readers’ accounts on AllAuthor are entirely free of cost. Readers can browse through the various book and author listings, find ebooks at discounts and search for books from multiple genres and book types.

how-we-created-a-15k-month-book-discovery-platform

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Our journey truly started a couple of years before we began AllAuthor. This was not the first product that Mady and I worked on. We created a website called M4maths, an exam preparatory platform when I was working as a software developer in a corporate company. While I handled the technical aspect of the website, Mady took care of the accounting, marketing, and customer service.

We wanted our product to be that exact solution that solves the major issues of authors. So we did something at our early stage that proved to be quite valuable — talking with authors.

M4maths was an instant hit and we reached over 3,00,000 users. This was when we decided to leave our full-time jobs and work on our startup. I soon started taking up freelance projects on the side, working with multiple clients from around the world.

At one point, I was working with an author to develop her personal website. She was quite happy with the job that she started recommending more of her author friends to work with me. I realized a huge market gap — a platform for authors to list their books and market them without spending a lot of their time, money, and resources.

After talking with multiple authors, we came up with the idea of creating a cost-effective subscription model that bridges this gap. We got financial support from our family and friends to the tune of $15,000 to create the infrastructure.

Since we were already working with a few authors for their personal websites, we could reach out to them and validate our product and improve it with their feedback.

Soon enough, AllAuthor was born with a few tools based on our conversations with the authors.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

I was in charge of the development and design of the website. Since I had already created hundreds of websites and mobile applications on my own, this was relatively easier.

Coming up with a business plan and MVP was one of the challenging aspects for us to do. Our previous venture, M4maths, didn’t work well because we didn’t have a strong business plan. We wanted to remedy that with AllAuthor.

AllAuthor was previously known as Quotesrain, which is a quotes aggregation and publishing platform. We revamped Quotes Rain with book marketing and author self-help tools and renamed it to AllAuthor.

how-we-created-a-15k-month-book-discovery-platform

When we came up with the idea of AllAuthor, we discussed with the authors what they would like to see on such a platform. We collected the most common expectations like the need for a single-page website, easy book marketing visuals, author-reader interactions, etc. We developed and designed the individual tools and features based on these author inputs.

Initially, we launched AllAuthor as a self-help platform where authors can use it as their professional website. All authors, including the free members, were given individual author pages that listed their books, buy links of the books, author bio, social media icons, author photographs, and other details. We introduced a paid membership program for the subscription model where authors get unlimited access to tools to create social media collaterals.

We would go back to the author community at every launch of a new tool/feature to get their feedback. We made edits based on their responses to build a product that the authors would find simple and useful.

We currently have a beta testing team of around 100 authors who’ll test and provide feedback on any of our new launches before the actual release.

When the website development & designing work became a lot demanding, we bought a couple of people to help us out. Here’s how our team looked in the first year of AllAuthor.

how-we-created-a-15k-month-book-discovery-platform

Describe the process of launching the business.

The growth of AllAuthor is incremental and so is the product development.

Initially, when we launched, we had a couple of tools to create marketing visuals and schedule social media posts. Since we were already in touch with a group of authors, we reached out to them once the product was complete.

Most of them converted into paid members after the launch and referred some of their author friends too. We wanted to get the momentum going and soon started personally reaching out to the authors through social media.

This is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made because it quickly became a tight feedback-implementation loop.

This was not just an organic way to convert authors to paid members of AllAuthor, but we could get some valuable information on the author’s expectations.

We incrementally kept working on developing the platform and reaching out to more and more authors to get the word out about AllAuthor.

We started with a $15,000 loan from our friends and family and bootstrapped without any external funding in 2 years.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We wanted our product to be that exact solution that solves the major issues of authors. So we did something at our early stage that proved to be quite valuable — talking with authors.

We spent several hours every single day talking with so many authors on Facebook. We never stopped until we got 5 new authors to sign up and at least one paid author. We created a powerful, tight feedback loop to make minor corrections to AllAuthor based on our everyday conversations.

Since I was the co-founder and the developer, I could instantly make changes to convince an author towards becoming a paid member. If the author was reluctant because of the price, I gave a discount. If the author wanted a simple change in a particular feature, I implemented that and reached out to them again.

Due to our close working relationship with authors, we quickly built our loyal customer base, many of whom are still with us. Our current retention rate is between 80% to 85%. We can achieve this due to our timely assistance and regular launches of helpful tools and features. We also interact with the authors constantly, listening to their everyday challenges and presenting the solutions as a part of our platform.

We always swore by our principle of promising only what we can deliver. We never over-promise anything and try our best to provide complete value for the money.

As our author-reader community, we hired more full-time employees to manage the huge volumes. Currently, we are a five-person team working out of our office in Noida each of us responsible for website development & maintenance, website design, customer service & interactions, social media marketing, and finance management.

how-we-created-a-15k-month-book-discovery-platform

We are quite active on AllAuthor’s social handles. By active, we don’t only mean the public posts but also in the DMs. Our team responds to every query from our authors, converses with them, and provides the best service we can. We don’t just post regularly about our platform. We also leverage our following to promote our authors and their books.

To date, we have grown purely by our organic reach and word-of-mouth referrals. We regularly create content on our websites, work on our SEO and conduct free contests for authors, which drives in more traffic from new authors.

AllAuthor is also included in listings of some top author platforms like ALLi and Kindlepreneur, which drives a part of our organic traffic.

One of the main challenges to increasing our retention rate is to make the authors spend time using the tools. Authors may love our membership features and pay for them. But making them use the tools was particularly a difficult challenge we didn’t expect. And this was a necessary step to ensure that they resubscribe when the current membership duration is over.

Even when most of our tools are so simple and take a minute or two to use, authors had to be compelled enough to make use of their membership. This is where our organic social media posts and recommendations from other authors helped.

Learn from your mistakes, your success, and your past experiences. If something works, analyze why. If not, analyze why it didn’t. An entrepreneur should keep learning from the past and implementing the lessons in the present and future.

We also developed a tool that directly delivers social media collateral to the author’s inbox every week. This way, our authors don’t even have to log on to AllAuthor to get social media banners for their books.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

All of our sales come from our organic marketing. Our authors either sign up for our paid membership program or feature any of their books on our platform.

Right now, we have reached the $20,000 revenue mark and have over 13,500 authors, most of whom are from developed countries, and 333,000 readers on AllAuthor. We’ve grown to list over 56,000 books and have over 32,000 book discussions between our authors and readers.

We have registered over 41 million page views and the current bounce rate is 69% and the author retention rate is 80% to 85%.

how-we-created-a-15k-month-book-discovery-platform

We’re planning to launch new tools as a part of the Pro-Membership program and a monthly magazine for our authors.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

After AllAuthor got off to a good start, we wanted to rope in some investors initially. We spent a lot of time creating presentations, developing 5-year business projections, and rounds of investor meetings and pitching.

After a few months, it dawned on us that the amount of time we spent on working our pitches can be put to good use to serve our authors instead. We decided not to go for any external funding and bootstrap our company. We began dedicating our entire time to create new products and provide the best customer service.

We got a major realization in this phase — customers are our real investors. Every one of us has limited time. So what we do at this time could decide the direction of our future. If you think you can go on without any investment and instead use that time to improve the services, you’ll earn loyal customers.

Don’t lose heart over small failures and instead, keep moving, keep implementing and keep experimenting with your ideas. Even when 9 ideas fail, the 10th idea will work because you’d have learned from the previous 9 failures.

Bootstrapping our company without any external funding made me develop a good product with the minimum cost possible. And we were still able to realize the ideas we had for our authors.

We strongly believe that our familiarity with the author community helped us come with the great services they needed the most. So when you start working on any business idea, make sure to get familiar with your audience, gain insights from them and plan the direction of the development.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

  • Website & hosting: AWS
  • Tech stack: PHP, MySQL
  • Mobile app: Android, iOS
  • Marketing: Google Analytics, AdWords, Photoshop

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The One Thing is a book that made a great impact on me. It essentially talks about focussing on one thing that we have to do right now instead of focussing on a thousand other things. It gave me some deep insights to focus on a single thing to develop without being all over the place.

I’m also a part of the Toastmasters which gives me amazing insights on running my business.

how-we-created-a-15k-month-book-discovery-platform

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

Learn from your mistakes, your success, and your past experiences. If something works, analyze why. If not, analyze why it didn’t. An entrepreneur should keep learning from the past and implementing the lessons in the present and future.

One major thing that has always worked in my favor is experimentation. When you have an idea, start working on it. Keep experimenting! Don’t just keep others ‘asking’ if it will work. Do it and see for yourself.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are looking for a couple of interns to work on online marketing.

Where can we go to learn more?

-  
Naveen Joshi,   Founder of AllAuthor
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

Want to start your own business?

Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.

We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.

Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:

  • Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
  • Step by step guides on how to start and grow
  • Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
  • And much more!

Are you ready to boost your revenue?

Using Klaviyo will open up a massive, untapped sales channel and bring you closer to your customers!

We've interviewed many impressive businesses who swear by the results of the product, including Brumate, Beardbrand, and many more.

Level up your email marketing with Klaviyo!

Leave a comment
Your email address will not be published.