For many people, this idea is very familiar: get invited to the private beta of a website or application, use it, make suggestions, and await the completed product. In fact, this method has been used for years to ensure that products are ready to go when they open their doors. So, why not apply this to books?
Readmill got a fair amount of attention a few days ago with the announcement of its beautiful iPhone app. For those of you who don’t know, Readmill is a website that offers a new e-reading experience. You can store your books in the cloud to sync them across devices, you can share highlights, and you can have discussions in the margins of the books. A different announcement from Readmill from about a year ago introduced a part of their service that seems to have gone unnoticed, or at least, not noticed enough. This is Readmill for Authors, and this is the service that finally allows writers to do what other content creators have done for years with their apps.
If Readmill for Authors gets put to good use, the whole process of publishing a book will change. Sure, there are already authors who release rough drafts of their book to get feedback, but bringing the book to the convenience of the internet would allow for more eyes around the world to see your writing. Readmill could help transform the feedback process for writing into a more social experience (of course, the author would be able to decide how social he/she wants the experience to be). For example, while writing the sequel to a book, an author could obtain ideas and inspiration from a select few fans invited to pre-read the story. Of course, not all stories should be written with a lot of fan input (especially with regard to the plot); it is important for readers to become familiar with the author’s own voice. Even still, there is a lot of potential with this service.
Readmill for Authors takes the world of ebooks and ebook publishing to the next level by offering ebook feedback. If it receives the attention it deserves, I feel that it could have a significant impact for both writers and readers. As stated on the About Readmill page:
We believe reading should be an open and easily shareable experience. We built Readmill to help fix the somewhat broken world of ebooks, and create the best reading experience imaginable.
Through the creation of Readmill for Authors, Readmill has certainly furthered this goal.