In the world of digital publishing, there are a lot of copycats but only a handful of genuine game changers. Amazon’s KDP changed the entire industry model for self-published authors, while Kobo opened up a global market for producing and selling ebooks in nearly every language. In that vein, Wattpad rethought the entire concept of what a published story means, giving authors and readers a way to connect on works in progress that has since led to a publication discovery model that lets content creators benefit from their online fan base.
Since the industry can never know which models will be the next great innovation in publishing, it would be foolish to write off a company just because someone else has done it first and done it bigger (or because UrbanDictionary.com defines the company name as the week after high school graduation in which young people head to the beach and get blistering drunk for a week). A new startup, Sweek, looks and operates virtually identically to the concept behind Wattpad, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have something new to offer…even though they may be just another digital publishing model.
Sweek lets writers create and post stories through an Android app (iOS app coming July 2016) and affords readers the option to discover new voices, follow authors whose works they’ve enjoyed, share discovered content across social media channels, and more. The company sees its model as suited to everything from short stories and serialized content to full-length novels.
The platform was launched by a European self-publishing company, Mybestseller, but the claims in a recent press release are somewhat alarming in their wording, namely that this is a revolutionary concept that no one has ever tried before: “We envision a world where readers can ﬁnd stories they like everywhere, anytime and where they feel they are in direct contact with their favorite authors and are part of the writing process. Compared to the current situation, in which reading is a solitary activity and the author doesn’t know who his readers are, this
fundamentally changes the nature of reading and writing.”
The “never been done before” statement is troublesome, as not only is this idea already doing really well for Wattpad and its countless millions of users, but other startups have come and gone in the free reading, instant upload, collaborative publishing space. Either Sweek truly has something unique to offer that doesn’t really come across in its announcement, or its founders haven’t fully explored the existing competition.