Startup Profile: Screwpulp

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At first impression, Richard Billings seems average if not a little voguish, but his early-stage startup “Screwpulp” is undoubtedly of the most exciting new ideas in Memphis. The idea is to use social media to drive down publishing costs, allowing practically anyone to write a book and reach a wider audience.

The inspiration came to Richard when he started writing his own book. He quickly realized the publishing industry had high costs and low margins. Professional readers, editors, marketers, printers, and retailers all have to be paid and together eat up a lion’s share of the revenue. When all is said and done, the average writer takes home just 7% of the final sale. Even high profile authors only take home just 14%. Self-publishing is always an option but then the writer must do a tremendous amount of work and shoulder all the financial risk. Richard guessed that with current technology, there simply had to be a better way.

Enter Screwpulp. The name is a rare triple entendre referencing the screw press, pulp fiction, and an insouciant attitude towards the whole publishing industry. The platform combines social networking and crowdsourcing to virtually replace all levels of the publishing process. Here’s how it will work:

  1. An author writes a book and uploads it to Screwpulp. New releases will be free to download in the beginning, allowing a range of different people to engage with it.
  2. Freelance editors and cover designers can browse early drafts and can offer their services.
  3. User reviews and recommendations raise the profile of the best manuscripts, which are then sold as eBooks for a profit.

Not only would Screwpulp’s “social publishing” model lower entry barriers for aspiring writers, it would give avid readers a wealth of new literature to get engaged with. If this works, it could be the start of a whole new literary movement online.

Richard is a very intelligent entrepreneur with some very bright ideas, but even he acknowledges the value of using LaunchMemphis services to start his business. 48Hour Launch helped refine many of his ideas in a brief but intense weekend. The LaunchMemphis Toolkit helped him think through the nuts and bolts of running a business. He even met two members of his team at LaunchMemphis events.

If you are an entrepreneur with an idea, an early stage business, or even a later stage business looking to move forward, you owe it to yourself to get involved with LaunchMemphis!