If you’re a reader, you know the feeling: you’ve just finished an amazing book that ends on a devastating cliffhanger, and you can’t wait to discuss the book with other fans to find out what happens next. Fan chats can often be hard to uncover, but you could get lucky on Reddit, Tumblr, or Discord.
Copper’s CEO and creator, Allison Trowbridge, set out to create a social network that would bring together readers and writers through in-app chats and in-person gatherings. Her goal, as a writer, was to assist other authors in diversifying their income, whether it be by selling tickets to online events or just increasing book buzz to boost sales.
Twitch is for games, Etsy is for crafts, Spotify and SoundCloud are for artists, etc., Trowbridge added. As on of the company’s creators described it, “authors have never experienced a platform which is built around their requirements, and helping authors reach a target demographic in an approach that is authentic and engaging and can scale, but also creates depth in the relationships.”
In the future, Copper will allow authors to sell tickets to FaceTime-style chats about their books. Furthering their connection with their readers, they may take part in text-based forum conversations with supporters. The app will always have a free version for authors and fans, but Trowbridge plans to launch a premium edition later this year that will provide users who pay for it with access to the app’s extra features.
Copper is among a slew of new services that aim to bring together writers and readers. Consumers now have options besides Amazon, with sites like Bookshop.org, Libro.fm, and Folio, and applications like The StoryGraph aiming to topple the venerable Goodreads.
For instance, Goodreads is still widely used as a discovery tool, although the site’s interface hasn’t altered noticeably since Amazon acquired it in 2013. In addition, Trowbridge said that new writers are often warned against checking the ratings and comments on Goodreads for their works for fear of being deterred from writing further (“You’ll never want to write another book again,” she joked). Readers seeking for suggestions may find it helpful, but authors won’t find much support there. Copper intends to create something entertaining and beneficial for authors and readers alike.
A writer is more than just a writer. Some writers may be put off by this remark, but promoting your book is essential unless you’re already a household name.”Once the book is written, you’re really doing a product launch,” one author explained to me. “You’re spending six months thinking about how to launch this product and sell it to an engaged audience that’s going to buy it and read it.”
Wave Capital has led $2.5 million in pre-seed investing into Copper from a number of high-profile individuals such former Time Inc. CEO Fran Hauser. Professor at Wharton and best-selling book Adam Grant has also been an invaluable advisor.
6,000 people, half of whom are published authors, are on the waiting list for Copper as the app emerges from private testing on iOS. According to Trowbridge, “several hundred” of these authors joined Copper during private beta.
Copper’s promise of community is a major selling element, but there can’t be a community if there aren’t enough people using Copper. In other words, Copper will have to prove itself in the coming months as it pushes forward in the age-old chase of user acquisition.