Tablo Combines the Best of Smashwords and Facebook

Tablo Combines the Best of Smashwords and Facebook


I discovered Tablo when viewing a writing contest the company sponsored. It is a social media site with an intriguing twist. One can write and publish short stories or individual chapters of one’s work in progress. What is so exciting about that? Well, an author can interact with readers and build a fan base while writing the book. Readers can provide feedback about the direction the story has taken, whether they like the characters, etc.  If the author has taken the time to build a rapport with readers about the work in progress, then the author will have readers impatiently waiting for the book to be published. 

Ash Davies Resized_edited-1I read several articles about Tablo online to learn more about the company and its service. If you’d like to read more, here are two,  by the HeraldSun and StartUpDaily.net. I then returned to the website to review Tablo’s  terms and conditions. After  reading the TOC  page, I still had questions, so I sent a message to Tablo and received a personal response from the website founder, Ash Davies.  He graciously granted permission for me to use the questions and answers in this post (Mr. Davies’ answers are in italics).

The Terms and Conditions page indicates Tablo places books on third-party services and retailers including but not limited to the Amazon Kindle Store and on Apple’s iBooks Store. Who are the other third-party services and retailers?

We actually don’t have any additional third party retailers at the moment. We do plan to publish on Kobo, Barnes & Noble and other services in the future, so that ‘third party’ term is there to help us expand your book’s distribution when other bookstores become available. For now though, it’s only Amazon and the iBooks Store.

Also, when an author submits chapters while a book is being written, do they end up submitting the whole book before it is actually published? Or, is it only the first few chapters that get published prior to loading the entire book? Do authors get paid by the submitted chapters or only when the book is a finished product?

Generally an author will use Tablo to publish their progress chapter by chapter, then click the ‘publish to bookstores’ button when their book is finished. At that point, they can toggle Tablo chapters on or off and use the book as a sample, to help them gain exposure for the full book. If a reader purchases the book, it’s for the entire book at the set retail price.

What do you do better than Smashwords?

We do a lot of things better than Smashwords. It’s a lot easier to publish for a start. You can drop a document in and publish a beautiful eBook in seconds. The main thing we do better is help you build an audience. Publishing is only half of the picture. Tablo puts you in front of passionate readers. We have a huge audience of readers who love discovering new books and connecting with authors. If you use Tablo you can build an audience, seek feedback and connect with readers while you’re writing, which will make you more successful when you ultimately choose to publish.

If I have ebooks already listed on Amazon.com are they eligible to be listed here if I deactivate them on Amazon?

Any books that you have with other publishers certainly are eligible to be published here, but I wouldn’t recommend removing books from Amazon (or other bookstores) to publish on Tablo. Don’t think of us as a replacement for Amazon. Tablo can exist in parallel, and we both do things that the other doesn’t 🙂

TABLO Logo

One thing I found that initially concerned me about Tablo was that the site charges to view data about the books. Is this just another way to separate authors from their money? A $7/month subscription will provide the following, as stated in the website:

  • Reader analytics
  • Understand your readers’ attention
  • Find out who likes your books

A $15/month subscription provides additional information and benefits, such as:

  • The first three items listed above
  • Connect with your books’ top readers
  • See your readers’ age and demographics
  • Learn what countries your readers are in

With Facebook limiting post visibility so that authors have to pay for advertising, perhaps the fees aren’t a bad deal. One could learn a significant amount about their audience by purchasing the subscription plans.  Considering that buying the reader data is no different than paying for tweeting tools, grammar checkers or advertising, this could be a very powerful tool for authors.  If funds are a concern, or the author wants to test the fan base development first, one can choose to use the site to meet readers without paying for the subscription plans.

To test the ease of use, I uploaded one of my ebooks. It was quite easy, as claimed,  and I instantly received positive feedback from readers. However, the fan base growth depends heavily on the premise that the author will make the time to talk to the readers. I’ll be honest here,  I have not spent that time. Therefore, I cannot say that my sales have increased as a result of uploading my book to the site, but I will take the responsibility for that.

Another concern was the book sales price structure. The lowest price I can use when publishing via Tablo is $2.99. However, the book I uploaded is quite short and I have it listed for $.99 on Amazon.com. I don’t want readers to feel like they were overcharged due to the length of that particular book.  Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend Tablo for shorter works. Due to Amazon.com’s terms and conditions, I removed most of the short stories from Tablo, leaving only the amount commiserate with the preview available on Amazon.com. I do think Tablo could work well for full-length novels. However, the $2.99 minimum price structure isn’t compatible with the  free promotional days that are popular with authors who want to reach readers through sales sites such as BookBub, as there currently isn’t a promotional free price option.

My instincts are that this could work if an author takes the time to build his or her fan base while writing. Additionally, I don’t know of any company that expects to be successful without advertising or without learning about its customers. I’m inclined to give this more attention in 2016 once I’ve graduated from the class I’m currently taking for work.

I’d love to hear from anyone who is using Tablo. What are your thoughts about the platform and have you experienced a growth in your fan base and sales as a result of using Tablo?

4 thoughts on “Tablo Combines the Best of Smashwords and Facebook”

  1. I appreciate this article, as I am also looking into Tablo. If you have any additional experiences or knowledge on this, it would be beneficial.

    1. Hi, Matt. Thank you for reading my blog post. I ended up listing only the first short story of my book, Point of View, free through Tablo. I had a hard time getting the readers to talk to me. I had to choose between social media sites, because like everyone else, my time was limited. I hope you have more success with the site. If you do, and you’d like to share your experiences, I’d love to have you guest post on my blog. Or, at a minimum, please provide me your link and I’ll update my blog with your post. Good luck!

    2. Hi, Matt. Thank you for reading my blog post. I ended up listing only the first short story of my book, Point of View, free through Tablo. I had a hard time getting the readers to talk to me. I had to choose between social media sites, because like everyone else, my time was limited. I hope you have more success with the site. If you do, and you’d like to share your experiences, I’d love to have you guest post on my blog. Or, at a minimum, please provide me your link and I’ll update my blog with your post. Good luck!

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