Laterpress 2022 Year In Review
As 2022 comes to a close, we look back on what we accomplished this year.
This content first appeared in the December 22nd issue of our weekly newsletter.
It has been a productive first year for Laterpress! We went live in January, and have grown our team and the amount of features we offer users in the months since. As we outlined in our post announcing user governance, we're committed to building the kind of platform we're excited to publish on, one with a creator-friendly business model in mind. I wanted to take a moment to summarize our major events and progress milestones from throughout the year.
Early in the year, we ran a genre fiction contest, in which four authors received $10,000 prizes. There were two winners for completed books, and two for ongoing serials. You can find interviews with all of our cash prize winners here. For most of the year, this contest was our only big marketing and promotion move, as we preferred to spend most of our time focused on quietly building the platform and adding features.
For example, when Laterpress first launched, books could only be uploaded manually, one chapter at a time. That's fine if you're releasing serialized content like I am, but quite tedious if you have a completed book to upload (even more so if you're bringing over your whole backlist). For that reason, we developed an "import epub" tool to make the process far faster and easier for authors. I'm practiced enough that I can now go through the entire process of uploading and publishing a book on Laterpress in 90-120 seconds. We really want it to be as easy as possible to go direct to your readers.
Collections were not available at launch, but later added to provide a way for authors to give a series or literary universe its own home, and control the order the books are shown in.
Custom domain functionality went live in April, providing a way for authors to keep their domain and branding more front-and-center. For example, planargates.nategillick.com, or truthspokenuniverse.novaecaelum.com.
Custom Numbering added a way for authors to further customize how their books are displayed. It can be used to signify front and back matter, prologues, epilogues, and more.
In July, we rolled out our biggest single feature update ever, introducing the bookshelf, ratings and reviews, and recommendations. The bookshelf makes it easy to find all of your Laterpress-published content in one place, without having to manually create bookmarks to each story in your browser of choice. Recommendations were our first community feature aimed at discoverability, and helping authors find new readers. We would add affiliate links soon after to give authors and readers alike a way to be rewarded for driving sales to books they enjoyed.
While data shows more and more people are reading from their phones and tablets, for a lot of people, an ebook is something they read off a dedicated device, such as a Kobo or Kindle Paperwhite. Wanting to give authors as many options as possible in how you make your books available, we added a book download feature, so authors who want their readers to be able to download their book and forward it to an e-reader can do so.
In October, we rolled out enhanced reader controls to give readers more options on font, font size, background color, and line spacing.
Once all of the above features were in place, we eliminated the 5% commission we had been taking on direct sales since we launched, which had helped us bring in some revenue as we built out the platform. Now, authors can use our tools to start selling direct to their fans in minutes, for free. Stripe has their payment processing fees, but Laterpress takes nothing from your direct sales. Our plan has always been to align our profit motives with what is good for authors. We make our money when our community features help you reach a new reader that you didn't have before.
In November, we sponsored Jane Friedman's Electric Speed newsletter, and I attended the 20Books Vegas indie author convention. For many of you, I'd imagine you first heard about us from one of those two sources. Our vision and values have resonated with the authors I've talked to, which has been really gratifying. I'm seeing new authors and books show up in recommendations every week, and "I heard about Laterpress from a fellow author" is something I'm hearing more and more frequently. We love it when folks want to tell their friends and colleagues about us!
In 2022, we built ourselves a solid foundation that we can expand upon for years to come. We're just getting started. The best is yet to come.
Thank you to everyone who's been a part of the journey so far, whether that's in using us to sell direct, offering feedback to help us improve, or spreading the word to your professional network of fellow authors. We appreciate all the kindness, enthusiasm, and ideas you've shared with us.
Wishing everyone a happy holiday season, and success in 2023 with everything you aim to accomplish.