Radish Fiction

So here's an exchange that just occurred in the About section of my serial.


Commenter: "Hey D.B. Webb, is there an email address I could reach you at?


Thanks,


Alex


Radish Fiction

radishfiction.com"





Commenter:"Hi D.D. Webb,





Best wishes,


Alex"


I am curious what others think about this.


Their site is very slick, and I'm sure the app is too, though I've not looked at it. They are clearly getting funding, as the fellow indicated. I am much less impressed that he was unfamiliar with WFG and couldn't be arsed to get my name right in his original communication--not the hallmarks of a startup that has researched its market with any diligence.


In fact, my reaction from looking at this is this company's trying to replicate some things which have worked in Eastern countries without doing any background digging on how the English-language web serial community operates. I told him the plain truth: this idea has been had before, and tried before, and right now I doubt I could even find any trace of those attempts on the entire net except possibly the deeper archives of this very forum. Web serials just don't work that way; we know what works, and it's what we do. I wonder if Radish Fiction asked any actual English serialists how things tend to function; I know they didn't ask me before trying to recruit me.


However, the fellow remains enthused. Anybody seeing something I'm not? Do you perceive any merit here?


I think their model is actually kind of an interesting balance -- people who want early access to the material pay to get it, but the material gets there anyway. It's not much different than what I do with my patreon account for Curveball--subscribers get the rough drafts of each issue before it goes up, then get ebooks and pdfs of each issue once its been cleaned up a little, depending on their sponsorship tier.


I would say that conceptually it doesn't seem bad. The devil is in the details. How well is the site put together? How well is it maintained? What are the details of the author's agreement with the site? What kind of rights do they demand, and what do they provide in exchange?


I actually know creators who use Patreon to do something similar - people who donate a certain amount are sent updates a day early than regular readers. That said, I think that Patreon is a better venue to do this kind of thing because it still lets you as the writer control where your writing is hosted and how you roll out the early access updates to donators. Definitely agree that the devil is in the details here and I would be hesitant to use a site like that without looking at all the details of how it treats authors and their work.


I think, ultimately, it's best for authors to build their own platforms. I look over at Kboards, and while I do think I want to turn my stuff into ebooks at some point, I'm terrified by the way these authors are forced to deal with the mercurial nature of Amazon.


THAT SAID, it can be very interesting to look at the big serial sites, and I think it's important to do so. Two reasons, mainly.


1) It's always good to know what other people think the market looks like. Even if it crashes and burns, there can still be some interesting ideas, lessons to be gleaned.


2) The big, VC-backed websites are going to end up offering opportunities to people like us.


Seriously.


At the end of the day, we're the ones who know the most about serial writing. We're the ones who have been building audiences. These corporations have been looking for our audiences since day one -- which explains why this company posted on your About Page, and why other companies have posted to these very forums.


It's obviously going to take them a while to figure their shit out. A ton of them are going to crash and burn -- the vast majority of start ups crash and burn, which is why going with a new company may not be wise, imo -- but eventually the dust will clear. At least one or two of these sites will survive, thrive, and start providing interesting opportunity for experienced serialists.


I don't know that it would be wise to rely on guys like this as your ONLY serial outlet, but as an element of your web serial strategy? A company can really offer value.


It's hard to see/believe that right now, given the amateur entrepreneurial proposals we've been seeing. Most of these proposals will be shit, but not all of them will be. If 90% of everything is shit, you don't want to condemn the other 10%. You want to look closely and figure out where that 10% is, and if it provides any opportunity.


As for Radish, I think it still needs time to grow. Some of the reviews on iTunes complain about a shoddy interface, and it literally JUST started up. However, they have 48 ratings on iTunes and nearly 1500 likes on Facebook. Not staggering, but shows solid potential.


It reminds me of "Serial+," the model that MCM (a serialist who used to be active in the community) used. He'd serialize after writing the entire thing. You could follow along each day, but if you wanted to read the whole thing immediately, you could just buy the book.


I thought it was an interesting idea.


His plan for when the serial ended was to repeat the process. I don't know how that worked, but it was worth trying.


It also reminds me of Modern Tales, a web comic site. Modern Tales made the most recent update free, but made you pay to read the archives. While I could see how that made sense, it seemed to me that you were stopping potential readers from getting invested in the story by using that model. Selling the most recent update makes more sense. I'd be more likely to pay to get the most recent update if I 'd already become desperately attached to the story.


In short, the makes sense. Does it work in reality? I don't know.


I already offer advance access to the latest chapters, and exclusive side stories, on Patreon. I'd much rather keep doing things my own way than use any third party site. Having control over my own work is super important to me. I honestly doubt they would do a better job of promoting my work than I can anyway.


I think the Radish guy must be going through the Top Web Fiction serials. I got an email from him last night that I saw this morning...


In the email they sent me, they said they already had some of the top webfiction writers on board.


...who are these people? If Radish is that good a choice, why haven't we seen people here on WFG or on subreddits talking about it?


I guess they could be talking about top writers on Wattpad or a similar service. Wattpad appears to have an entirely separate community (well, not ENTIRELY separate -- I know there are some WFG writers who use it). On the other hand, it could just be your standard "we're attracting A LOT of interest" marketer's nothingspeak.


One thing to keep in mind about this: it looks like it is primarily an iphone app. Pushing webfiction to mobile devices is a pretty good idea (in that sense it's more of a competitor with WattPad than it is with WFG) but it doesn't deal with the Android market at all.


Sounds like a bluff to me. Ask them to reveal some names of top web fiction writers who are already on board - could be interesting.


Personally, I don't believe in any of those new web fiction platforms. If I wanted to apply their model (pay to read the next chapter / the entire book), I could do it without them.


It might be interesting in a year or two if they manage to attract a sizeable reader base. But I don't think they will. Like D.D. Webb said, it doesn't look like they're doing their homework (research) very well.


Mr Radish must read WFG forums, because that line has already been removed by the time he made his way to me.


As Chrysalis points out, these models aren't exactly new. One of my serials, Beta Key, operates under the exact "Premium" model they tout, and I hardly needed extreme programming chops to accomplish that feat.


Yes, it's nice that they're specifically trying to target mobile, but I do almost all of my serial reading on mobile and I haven't yet encountered a WFG author whose serial is unavailable on a phone.


Perhaps I'm too cynical, but every single time I get one of these "let's go down topwebfiction and email everyone on the list" emails, it's quite clear what we provide them (our audience) but not super clear what they provide us that we can't do for ourselves


Got one of these e-mails as well, and it already felt a little shady even before I started digging in. After research, I don't have much to add except to echo what's already been said: They want to tap the serial market but didn't feel like bothering to actually research it, properly incentivize authors for it, or heaven forbid actually reach out to those of us who've been doing it for years. I don't mind the idea of a consolidated app, but nothing I've seen is prompting a call to action. Maybe if they get it together down the line.


Edit: Didn't think this was worth a fresh post, but I thought I'd add that I sent them an e-mail asking for exact figures on charges, splits with the authors, and who exactly was among those "60 top webfiction writers". I don't necessarily expect answers, but how they respond might be interesting.


In case anyone is curious here are the two sections from their terms and conditions page relevant to people submitting work. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Qe9rK8H30IDE4XCBoV5Rk7f2Yz8j_lcBYamTPIHsQk4/edit


I need to get this app off my phone now. I feel dirty.


Wait, WHAT?


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


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


From thesaurus:


nonproprietary - not protected by trademark or patent or copyright; "nonproprietary products are in the public domain and anyone can produce or distribute them"


So basically, by submitting to them your work is now in the public domain and not protected by copyright?


I TL;DR'ed it as: 'We get the rights to your work in perpetuity, non-exclusive, we're going to reformat and rewrite it, and if lawsuits happen then fuck you, you're on your own.'


Hello all,


Alex here from Radish Fiction. I reached out to D.D. Webb (apologies for the typo in that first message) and a few other writers I found when researching WFG and TopWebFiction.com, in order to tell them more about Radish and see if they'd be interested in getting involved with the platform. I know it's been discussed already, but just to summarise: we're a new app for online serial fiction that aims to help writers get paid for their work by offering a 'freemium' model, namely content that is locked behind a paywall for a limited period of time (usually a week) which then becomes free. The idea is that fans who want to support the author and/or read content early can pay a small amount via in app currency to do so, while those who aren't willing to pay still can read their favourite stories for free - they just have to wait a little longer. This way, writers can earn a living without alienating a loyal fanbase who are used to reading content for for free.


Looking through a lot of your comments, the one thing that struck me is that there is a sense that we haven't done enough research on our part, and that we've emailied or contacted you without approaching the community directly. For that, we apologise. The WFG and TopWebFiction world is quite distinct from the communities we've been engaged with to this point, namely Wattpad and Reddit, and I think it's fair to say we assumed an approach that worked in those spaces would work the same here, which I don't think is the case. As such, I think it would be good to start from scratch. I will set up a new thread in Writing to answer any and all questions you might have about Radish, and will respond to questions in this thread there for ease of reference. In the meantime, Seung-yoon, the co-founder of Radish also has some responses to some of the questions you've raised here, and will post both here and in the dedicated thread shortly.


Look forward to discussing this further with you all, and if you want to contact me directly drop me a line at [email protected]


Best,


Alex


Hello,


This is Seung-yoon Lee, CEO and co-founder of Radish. I wanted to give feedback to you all directly regarding some of the questions and comments I've seen regarding Radish here so far.


First of all, let me just say thank you so much for your interest and feedback. We always value hearing what writers think about the app, positive or negative - ultimately, we created Radish to help writers produce more great stories, and so their opinions are always crucial .


I would be grateful if you can open up a separate thread for us and do a bit of AMA for Radish app, but for now I would just like to give you a context on why we are starting out this platform. We view that the transition from print book reading and e-book reading to smartphone reading is as game-changing as the transition from going to a movie cinema to watching TV. Already, last year alone e-book reader ownership was cut by half, and e-book sales has gone down 10%.


http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/e-reader-ownership-declines-by-50

http://techcrunch.com/2016/01/16/book-it-baby/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-rise-of-phone-reading-1439398395


Whenever you move from one content delivery device to another, a new market is created. Let's take the video content. When you moved from movie cinema to TV, there were two markets. One market was about moving the already existing movie content to TV through video tapes, DVDs, and so on. However, the market for the most TV-optimised cotnent like TV dramas and TV shows were created and developed.


We believe that it's going to be the same for the reading market. The one market is going to be about transferring already existing e-book and physical book content to smartphones, which is going to be done by Amazon, Google, Apple, However, there is going to be a huge market for the most smartphone-optmised story content. We think that is going to be serials. Mobile and web serials are to print books and e-books as TV dramas and shows were to movies.


Specifically, our business has a freemium model fore serialised fiction based on bite-sized pieces suitable for 10 minutes on a smartphone. It is a modern take on the Victorian idea of the serialised model.


As a Korean native, I had the benefit of seeing how mobile serial market exploded with smartphone adoptions. China and Korea didn't really have Amazon and Kindles. About six or seven years ago, we jumped straight into smartphone reading while the west was moving to Kindle e-readers. We skipped the whole "Kindle" and "Nook" phase and went straight into smartphone reading. When people started reading on smartphones, the web serial market exploded. It was prefect for the smartphones. No one wanted to make the psychological and economic commitment of buying an "e-book". Also, each episode took 5 mins - 15 mins to read, so it was perfect while you are commuting or trying to kill time while you are waiting for something.


These web serial market had existed in Asia for the last 20 years, most notability in fantasy and fanfiction communities. However, smartphones basically brought about an explosive growth in the market. Also, made a viable business models for these web serial writers for the first time. (Obviously, some of these writers were making money through donation on their wordpress blogs and e-books. Somehow, getting picked up by traditional publishers.)


The business model around it is called the "freemium micropayment" business model. The Guardian ran a story as early as 2011. http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2011/nov/04/china-future-publishing


===


"But did you know that self-publishing websites are attracting more than 40% of all China's internet users every month? I didn't, and I am reeling, a little, from the statistic.



====


So The Guardian asks whether this micropayment freemium business model around web serial work can ever work in the west. In 2011, the answer was "no" at the time because no one is willing to read on smartphones then in the West. People only read on e-book readers or on print.


===


Abrahamsen isn't sure. "Chinese readers are unusually willing to read on mobile devices and other screens, and so the model works," he says. "For this model to work in the west, western readers would have to own devices that they'd be willing to read large quantities of text on. So far, cellphones and computer screens have not fit the bill. The proliferation of more comfortable readers might change that."


===


However, the game has changed because people are willing to read on smartphones now in the west.


The top authors in China make as much as 5 million dollars per year using this micropaymnet model and taking secondary income from their IPs. http://www.buchmesse.de/images/fbm/dokumente-ua-pdfs/2015/buchmarkt_china_2015_en_52061.pdf


In my home country, the top web serial authors make as much as 1 million dollars per year through this freemium "micropayment" model.


If you want to learn about the discussion around this model among western authors, please check out the following kboards discussion: http://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=228198.0


Few excerpts from there..


"Online literature made available via sites like Qidian tends to begin as serialised fiction thatreaders can access without any charge. Once a series becomes popular, it is converted into 'VIP content' and readers are required to pay to read the latest instalments. The price of online paid reading is extremely low by Western standards, as illustrated below, and revenue is split between authors and website operators."


....


"Shanda, launched in 2008, was innovative in a number of ways, not the least of which was enabling Chinese writers to freely publish online and monetize their work through micropayments from readers as well as rights and licensing deals. As of 2010, it commanded 71.5% of the Chinese reading market (according to Iresearch).


...Think of Qidian as similar Wattpad but one that generate vastly more revenue and authors are compensated for their writing....


Chinese web-writers are self publishers. The only middle man between the authors and the readers are the novel hosting sites. The authors own all the rights and some authors publish their works on multiple web novel hosting sites to gain more audience. Though some do go exclusive. Revenue is split between the novel hosting site and the author.


...'In fact, there are now so many web-writers in China (in the millions) that they are now "ranked," both by their earnings and number of fans.


On the lowest level is the ordinary writer, also "known as poor guy (or poor guy writer)." They have a limited number of fans, and their work is seldom recommended to others. Their annual income is around 1,000 yuan.


Next up are the Xiaoshen (low rank god) writers with a fan base of more than 100,000 and annual earnings of more than 100,000 yuan ($16,100). One step further up the ladder are the dashen (super god) class of writers with earnings of more than 1 million yuan ($161,200) with fans counted in the millions as well. At the very top of the tier are the 20-30 web writers known as platinum authors or zhigaoshen (the Supreme God) class of writers. The 2014 Chinese web-writers list ranks Tangjiasanshao first, with earnings of 50 million yuan (around $8.06 million) per year from royalties, while second and third on the list both raked in more than 25 million yuan ($4.03 million) each."


..."The ebook market in China evolve totally differently from the U.S./Europe. Instead of ebookstores, it's web novels. In addition, the young generation in China are now reading through web novels. When they publish, it is likely they will do it the same way."


====


Hopefully, this gives some context to what we are doing. Anyone can make their own blog and create a Paypal button. Even, they can open their own Patreon account and get funded that way.


However, it's a very desktop solution, and we are a mobile app business. We feel that the future of smartphone reading is going to be shaped by serial writers because their content make sense for smartphone screens. We will focus entirely on building a great mobile reading, consumption, micropayment and social experience within our app.


Please shoot me more questions - [email protected]


I am also happy to do an AMA as well.


Best,


SY


Unfortunately, this doesn't address the copyright concern.


Edit: Oh, I see... new thread. Alright.


Can't speak for everyone, but given how hard we've all worked to build our serials and reader bases, I'm going to take a stab that the very first part of your FAQ will be a deal breaker for the vast majority of us:


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.