Our Investment in Fictionary: Enabling A Nascent Story-Editing Economy
Serving the Proliferation of Self-Publishing Authors & Editors Mastering the Art of Story Editing
StandUp Ventures is incredibly excited to announce our investment in Fictionary’s $1.8M seed round to accelerate growth of the creator economy platform. StandUp co-led the round with BDC’s new Thrive Venture Fund, with The51 and other angels also participating.
Founded by Kristina and Mathew Stanley, Fictionary is a community-led SaaS-enabled platform that produces a better story edit for writers, and by increasing the productivity and skill of editors, unlocks a a new gig economy.
Because there are a lack of structured tools to streamline the process of story editing, writers often use a manual, trial-and-error-based process, along with a combination of Microsoft Word, Excel, and pen and paper to perform a story edit. Writers that can afford it hire expensive editors to fill this gap, but in many cases, the story editing step is skipped and writers end up publishing a low quality product that does not sell.
After a career in technology and during her second trip sailing around the world, Kristina began to write. After completing her first fiction novel, she began the complicated and difficult process of editing a storyline, quickly learning that there remains a deficit of effective tools to support this process. After 2 years of her own proprietary research, Kristina identified 38 key components that contribute to more effective storytelling, and decided to integrate those factors into a software solution that could easily analyze a story and support the editing process.
Fictionary has two products — StoryTeller, and StoryCoach. StoryTeller enables fiction authors to evaluate the 38 components that Kristina identified contribute to an effective storyline quickly and in a way that facilitates simple editing. Writers are able to visualize their storyarc through the automatic analysis of several key story elements, and see how this storyarc compares on a number of measures to the storyarc often present in the best stories. StoryCoach on the other hand, allows editors to provide better, deeper, story edits in half the time, increasing both quality and profitability of the editors services.
At StandUp we love investing in big markets. But our absolute favourite markets are ones that are rapidly expanding in size.
Fictionary serves a nascent creator market that barely existed before 2010 — self-publishing authors. The advent of the Kindle in 2007 along with widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets popularized the eBook format, giving would-be authors a platform to bypass gatekeeping publishers. Books that were dismissed by these groups suddenly had a path to market on the internet, where authors could promote their work directly to potential readers without needing upfront capital to print thousands of copies.
At the same time, self-publishing platforms evolved that are substantially more profitable for writers, where they can receive royalties of 50–70% vs. 7.5% from traditional publishers. The question and cost of distribution is critical, of course, but the bucking of middlemen in favour of going direct to your audience is a successful trend we see across the “Creator Economy”.
Add to this the fact that writing itself has become more accessible due to the advancement of tools in the space, and the self-publishing market has boomed. In 2011, the self-published market share expanded from 0 to 30% of all recorded book sales in the US. By 2016, 300M units of self-published books were sold in the US. And in 2019, Amazon paid out $250M in royalties to indie authors. We anticipate the market will continue to expand at a remarkable rate.
When a market is experiencing acceleration like this one, we get especially excited about products that are uniquely positioned to both capitalize on and propel even more market growth.
Investors have seen a similar growth trajectory in companies like Canva. Before Canva, the demand for simple and fast design execution was large, but it was also growing rapidly due to the boom of startups addressing barriers to entry for entrepreneurship at the earliest stages. Canva’s platform lowered the threshold for skill required to complete simple design tasks, meaning more of their target customer could access better designs, eventually raising the design bar for everyone & further increasing demand for the product.
Fictionary’s products enable similar opportunity for serious writers and editors by lowering the threshold of experience and effort required to complete a high-quality story edit. An easier story edit means more writers will be able to offer their services to other writers in the space, giving them a new source of income. A more accessible quality story edit means the bar for good stories will be raised, increasing demand for story-edits, and further perpetuating this market growth loop.
Fictionary’s rapidly growing user base of customers is supported by a vibrant digital community of writers and editors. While writing and editing are typically thought of as lonely professions, the Fictionary community changes this. Offering a place for writers and editors to connect, attend live training by a network of professional editors, and solicit feedback from peers, the Fictionary community is rich with activity and opportunities for connection.
While companies like Wattpad have nourished a community of writers that demonstrates the magnitude of opportunity in the writer’s space, the need for a solution that serves both serious hobbyist authors and career editors remains.
“Wattpad is very inspirational for us,” said Stanley. “They are different in the sense that people write their stories in the community, where we help writers take those stories and turn them into powerful stories readers love. Their community is a great lead-in to Fictionary for writers needing to edit their stories.”
StandUp has a strong belief that signs of organic community-driven growth signal incredible product-market fit, of which Fictionary is no exception. We’ve been extremely encouraged by the genuine love Fictionary users show for the product, and the ways in which they continue to contribute to the growing community.
StandUp is extremely excited to welcome Kristina and Mathew to the portfolio after initially meeting them at the 2021 SaaS North Conference. We’ve been so impressed with how deeply they understand their users, the speed at which they execute, and their courage to be a first-mover in a massively expanding market.
Fictionary is live across the globe. If you love to write — join the Fictionary community here.