Radish AMA

Hi everyone,


Alex here from Radish Fiction. Me and Seung-yoon, the co-founder of the company, will be here answering any questions you might have about our new app. We'll also be answering questions posted in the Radish Fiction thread (http://forums.webfictionguide.com/topic/radish-fiction) here for ease of reference.


Best,


Alex


First of all, let me post materials we distribute to all our writers when discussing them writing for Radish. These address some of the concerns I've seen raised thus far, so they're a useful starting point:


1) Introductory Presentation - https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B21tHwbc1gLWVUdFYXV3aFZ4VUE


2) Writer FAQ - https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B21tHwbc1gLWRVp0OWMxMGp0eTA


3) Writer Agreement, which is a plain English version of what our Terms and Conditions means for writers on the platform - https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B21tHwbc1gLWeXRvak8zRFd4U00


I'm now going to try and go through the questions and concerns raised in the other thread in the order they were posted. If I've missed anything or there's anything you want more detail about, please flag it and I'll try and reply in due course.


You're going to have to make those less private.


Chris P, the admin and heroic soul who runs Webfictionguide, tends to look unfavorably on people posting promotional/advertisement (AMAs typically are) stuff on the forums here. Can I lead off this AMA by asking if you solicited his permission to post it?


Hi Taulsn,


Ah thanks for that, I've amended the access rights now. Let me know if you have any further issues viewing them.


Hi Wildbow,


No I haven't, I'll get in touch with him no w- thanks for the heads up. This is primarily a way to reach out directly to the WFG community and clear up some of the misconceptions we've seen about Radish so far rather than promotion per se, but completely understand how it could be construed that way. In the meantime I'll keep trying to answer questions as they come.


Alex


Posted this on the other thread, but maybe it's better here. The very first section of your FAQ requires exclusivity through the platform. I'm not going to claim to be the voice of all here, but I know how hard we've worked to build our sites and reader bases, so that's a requirement that will drive a whole lot of us off before we even looked at the site.


So I guess the pertinent out of that question is how committed are you to that rule?


For those who couldn't see the FAQ, here's the section I'm referencing:


Q: Does my story have to be exclusive to Radish?



still full retain ownership of your work. We merely ask that you do not upload your work on another


free site during the time your story is being serialised on Radish, plus an additional 90 days after the


story is completed. If you are approached by a publisher, you are free to sell the book to them (or


release it as an e-book, or put it on another website) after the 90 days are up.



be more likely to be converted into paying readers.



A story where the first seven chapters can be posted anywhere else (ie. fanfiction.net, Wattpad, etc),


but from chapter 8 onwards, just a three-paragraph teaser (or less) per chapter can be. Please


remember that the work should remain exclusive to Radish for 90 days after the work is completed.


We studied the likes of Kindle Unlimited and the Wattpad Featured Stories program, and spoke to


publishing industry lawyers, and chose a 90-day period as that was at the shorter end of the average


range.


Let me just repost my comment here:


Moderator Chris here I've removed this response as it was a rather long cross-posting. If you want to read the original, you can find it at http://forums.webfictionguide.com/topic/radish-fiction/page/2#post-22417


Leeyoon's horribly formatted wall-of-text post in the other thread (now in this one too! geez!) reads as very promotional, and doesn't, as Chrysalis suggests, address what we've been saying. I understand that you want to run damage control, so to speak, but setting up this thread to do it in a manner synonymous with self-promotion is really not starting off on the best foot.


It's the same issue that goes hand in hand with sending out mass emails to people at the top of TWF/WFG. When you're rushing to get the word out to the point that you misspell someone's name in the message you're sending them, there's none of that face-to-face connection.


Tactless and faceless.


I'm sorry that I've been brusque in all correspondence thus far with Radish, but I've seen no less than twenty-five startups or whichever come up and try to sell me on their plan to monetize writing, and this is no different from those. Aggregate sites, apps, websites, promotional sites, whatever. There are so many and they're so problematic that I've written posts about them here on WFG and elsewhere. The pattern is so often the same and that pattern is holding true here: they don't do the research or properly reach out in a human way.


My problem with Radish is this: in demanding exclusivity, in the terms and conditions you outline, and in the manner in which you've approached this, well, at best you do nothing that suggests you're looking after our interests or paying attention to what we actually need. At worst, you're predatory and dangerous to writers.


Seung-yoon's response I feel covers a lot of the points in regards to the advantages Radish offers in comparison to personal site + Patreon/PayPal, so let me cover some of the other questions concerns (and again, apologies if I miss anything here):


1. @Ubersoft: Yes, Radish is only on iOS at the moment, although Android development is underway and we're hoping to launch that in early Summer. We'd have loved to have a simultaneous release but we're a start up with limited resources, so we had to prioritise!


2. @Chrysalis: as Ubersoft mentioned, a lot of our writers are from Wattpad, which seems to be quite a distinct online fiction community. However, according to Alexa rankings, it also has the largest traffic of any online fiction site, so when we say we have top fiction writers from this platform it's legitimate to say they're some of the biggest (in terms of traffic) around. They include Louisse Carreon (https://www.wattpad.com/user/fallenbabybubu) who has over 400k followers and tens of millions of reads on many of her stories; Rob Thier (https://www.wattpad.com/user/RobThier), who has 163k followers and has published ebooks successfully on Kindle; and Molly Knight (https://www.wattpad.com/user/MollyNight), who is one of the biggest UK authors on the site. In addition we also have some popular writers from other sites such Reddit, including Cesar Vitale (https://www.reddit.com/r/psycho_alpaca) and LeoDuhVinci (https://www.reddit.com/r/leoduhvinci).


3. @InkyLlama: While the basic 'freemium' model might of timed locked content not require the most sophisticate coding to accomplish, I can assure you that building an app from scratch that embeds in-app purchasing and a clean and clear reading experience all in one mobile dedicated platform definitely is. As SY post addresses, mobile is the future of reading, and this is a model that is optimised for mobile.


4. @DrewHayes: I'll respond to you shortly (my time at the moment is all on this AMA), and I am happy to share or for you to share the answers to those questions once I have.


I'm going to address the copyright issue in another post, as I think that there's a lot of misconceptions there and it is incredibly important, and so requires a dedicated space.


In regards to the rights issue, let me be clear: if you post your writing on Radish, you retain 100% of the rights to that work. Full stop. You can stop publishing, edit or remove stories whenever you want. If you get offered a book deal for a story, you have total control what happens to the story on Radish, and we would not take any cut of that. We are focused on monetising serial fiction, not competing with Amazon or traditional publishers.


The only exception to this control are chapters that readers have paid for, under either the premium or freemium model. This is a necessity, as no one wants to purchase something that could be deleted from their library at anytime without warning. However, it would remain only in their private library, and no longer available on the app generally.


As for exclusivity, this is a condition that we ask for but is not a necessity - some of the writers on our site are non-exclusive to Radish, such as Rob Thier. In fact, we added this to the Writer's Agreement after an overwhelming number of our launch writers actively said they wanted to be exclusive to Radish, as we offer more chances to be featured and promoted in the app when a story is exclusive. I can completely see that this wouldn't be the case for many of the writers in here, as has been expressed in these threads, and that's completely understandable. So just to reiterate: being exclusive to the Radish platform is NOT required to publish your stories there. In fact, we find that cross posting on multiple platforms often brings in more traffic and helps writers keep their fanbases happy, so this is something we're no longer encouraging as heavily. Apologies for any confusion.


Why is this in terms and conditions, then?


d. you agree, warrant and represent that all Content submitted to the RadishFiction Platforms:


ii. will be considered non-confidential and non-proprietary;


That doesn't sound like the author retains their rights.


Wildbow,


Seung-yoon's post was designed to address some of the concerns raised in regards to the viability and potential success of an app like Radish. By it's very nature, it's going to appear as promotional, as it is indeed spelling out the positives on what Radish is and what we hope to achieve with it.


I have acknowledged previously that in reaching out via email to some of the top writers on WFG and TWF, that Radish may have come across as tactless and impersonal, as you have suggested. That is precisely the reason I set up this thread and attempted to address some of the questions and concerns that have been raised personally. We're a start up company, and will fully admit that we're not world experts on the entire breadth of web fiction communities around. We're not going to get everything right straight away. However we're eager to learn and excited to discuss with writers what Radish could offer them, now or in the future. There's no guarantee that we won't go the way of the other 25 companies who have approached you previously, but at some point, someone is going to get this right. We're hoping it will be us, and so far, the signs are good, but ultimately all we can do is try our absolute best to talk to writers and readers and create an app that they're both happy with.


I've addressed the exclusivity and terms and condition issue you cite in my previous post, and hope that by trying to engage the WFG community directly (which, based on previous feedback, was considered a positive step) we can demonstrate we're committed to listening and talking to writers we want to invite to our platform.


Best,


Alex


Chrysalis,


Let me preface this by stating that I am not a lawyer - my following points are based on how we at Radish treat the content (i.e. stories) submitted by our writers, which we have communicated to the lawyers who drew up these terms and conditions. I am no expert on legal terminology, I can only tell you how we intend these conditions to be read.


These terms are basically giving us permission to publish your work on the app. We need specify that work be non-confidential and non-propriety so that when a writer posts a story, and it appears on Radish, they cannot then sue us for publishing work that they personally considered to be confidential for some reason, or because it's their story. This doesn't give us rights over the work - it just clarifies if you post a story on Radish you are giving consent for it to appear on Radish. It's common sense of course, but it still needs to be enshrined in the legal agreement.


(edited for spelling and clarity)


Why is this in terms and conditions, then?


d. you agree, warrant and represent that all Content submitted to the RadishFiction Platforms:


ii. will be considered non-confidential and non-proprietary;


That doesn't sound like the author retains their rights.



That line makes sense, Chrys. If your work remained confidential and proprietary then they couldn't distribute it or do stuff with it. You could have X trademarked and take issue with them using your trademark.


Where the issues lay in the ToS are how one sided they are on protecting Radish, with no protections or thought given to the writer. It's a dangerous game to put yourself out there using this sort of platform, sign off on giving them permission to alter your work or clean it up (or do the opposite of cleaning it up), and be wholly liable with little recourse for any issues that crop up regarding said work after the fact. That's an example from just skimming the ToS. There are countless avenues where a writer can get screwed by the legalese.


I'm not saying this is the intent, or that it's even likely that they'll do something deliberate. I can understand why the rules are there. But the door is open for the screwing to happen, be it due to deliberateness or mistakes on their part. The protections for the author aren't really there in turn. Authors have to advocate for themselves and be very, very careful before committing to something like this. This kind of awareness and care is 100% the responsibility of the modern writer.


Radish is offering a vehicle/means to do what people can do on their own. Boarding this vehicle means potentially using them to reach a wider audience, but at the cost of closing numerous doors and sinking along with them if they sink. If they make a mistake, it's your mistake to deal with.


I'm not a lawyer, either - but I can see at a glance that nothing in these terms and conditions explicitly guarantees authors that they will retain their rights. You might want to consult a lawyer and re-draft this to include more favorable terms for authors. 'Non-proprietary' is a very scary term.


When it comes to contracts, 'intentions' mean nothing. Only what's explicitly stated there.


I am also not a lawyer either... er... you know what I mean. However, from what I understand, if the agreement doesn't explicitly state that you're giving up a specific right, you keep it. In other words a contract doesn't have to say "you keep all your rights" because that's the default state--at a minimum, a contract has to specify how the default state changes.


That said, contracts and agreements are better for everyone when they explicitly acknowledge that default state. It cuts down on people suing each other.


The thing that sticks out most in my mind here is that I do not see the advantage for the people to whom you reached out most directly, the top ranked writers on TWF, in jumping aboard this platform. If I were a brand new serialist with no reputation, no audience and no market, something like this would be an extremely attractive venture. A neat way to gain readers by having my work placed in the same venue as established and much more successful writers.


That's the essence of this. The collective platform is a means for new writers to benefit from the established audiences of established writers. To be blunt, what's in it for us? Nothing I've seen about your monetization or promotion models is anything we can't do on our own--in fact, it all appears to be things we are already doing and doing just fine. I wish all the best to new serialists getting started in the field, but I do not see the advantage to me in using the audience and presence I've built over the last year and a half of writing to benefit them in a manner that adds no value for me.


To look a little more ahead, suppose this were addressed and established authors moving onto the platform and bringing their audience were incentivized, as we would have to be to find it a worthwhile endeavor. What happens after that? Either your founding established writers would have contracts that grandfathered them in for preferential treatment thereafter, which sounds like it would be bad for both the writers and the business, or you would establish some kind of model whereby the stories posted on Radish would be continually judged based on their traffic and authors compensated per their ability to contribute. That also seems like an administrative mess for those running the program, and basically a nightmare scenario for authors.


Assuming that all the rights issues are settled to everyone's satisfaction, the base problem here is one of who benefits. It doesn't look like any of us would. And I cannot see how this could be resolved without creating an unsustainable administrative burden.


In regards to the Terms and Conditions, I think short of us all getting actual lawyers involved I will have to leave it at this: Radish writers retain 100% of the rights to their work, and that's how we treat content on the platform. I would encourage everyone to read the T&Cs; indeed, I would encourage everyone to read the T&Cs of any site they sign up to. They are pretty standard as far as any web content hosting platform goes. We prioritise the intellectual property of our writers, and do everything we can to protect their work (e.g. we have disabled copying and pasting functions on the app), but as a small start up company we cannot legally guarantee aggressive action against offending parties above and beyond what is in our power on the platform, such as deleting a plagiarising user an removing the work - which incidentally is why there is a clause allowing us to delete or edit content.


@D.D. Webb, I can understand that you may not feel Radish is necessarily a good fit for you, seeing as you are already successfully monetising your work. As you mention, Radish provides great opportunities to writers that haven't reached that level yet - that's why we're doing what we're doing. The reason we reached out to some of the top writers from WFG and TWF is because, well, you are at the top, and we were interested in hearing your feedback about Radish (and indeed we still are, so thank you). We will continue to reach out to writers and aim to get more great stories on our platform, but of course realise Radish isn't right for everyone. At the same time, I hope you appreciate that we do need to reach out regardless, even if not every writer is interested (and many are).


I'm going to have to wrap this up on my end for the day, but please feel free to continue posting here and I will try and answer questions when I can. I actually have two days of annual leave booked off for the rest of the week but will try to respond here or via email ([email protected]) over the weekend or early next week. Alternatively, you can email Seung-yoon ([email protected]) and he or another member of the team will do their best to get back to you.


Thanks you all for your feedback and questions so far. We always appreciate hearing what writers think about Radish and what we can do to make it the best platform possible for helping writers get paid for online serial fiction. We hope that some of you will consider publishing on Radish at some point in the future, and that in the meantime we wish you the best of luck with your literary endeavors.


Best,


Alex and the Radish Team


Regarding the non-proprietary line - I have a feeling it should be worded differently, as in, 'non-proprietary for the purpose of...' and then a specific purpose. The current wording sounds too broad and general for comfort.


But hey, I'm not a lawyer, so I'll leave it at that.