According to The New York Times, 81% of Americans want to write a book, but only 3% actually publish one, as The Synergy Whisperer reports. These numbers are not surprising, even with an exciting vision writing and then publishing is an enormous challenge, especially for first-time authors.
Blooksy’s founder & CEO, Anthony ‘AJ’ Joiner has been on a mission to help would-be authors get over the hump, start writing and get published. Anthony is a radio personality, entrepreneur and 3x best-selling author. AJ has helped thousands of authors get started writing and over 200 get published over the course of the last five years.
Anthony started out as a project manager in the IT industry and later the owner of a digital marketing agency. After becoming an expert in digital services and marketing he published several books and started a coaching career helping aspiring authors get published often running live events. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and offline events became impossible, Anthony took his activity to the web continuing to coach people online and founding a publishing agency. He saw a need in the market for software to help people write and shape their manuscripts independently, and so Blooksy was born.
From the MVP development to 10+ paid subscriptions!
In March 2021, Anthony approached Flexum about working on Blooksy. We started by refining the existing code from a previous agency that wasn’t able to deliver. Our goal was to finish the minimum viable product so that the first real-world users could test the product and provide candid feedback. While the functionality was basic, it immediately made writers’ life easier. Some standout features included Blooksy’s ability to create multiple manuscripts, collaborate with other users, manage the creation of chapters and transcribe the text from the author's voice.
At first, Anthony, the founder of Blooksy, showed the software to people he was already coaching to become published authors. The reaction was immediate and encouraging, Blooksy was able to onboard the first 10 paying users. Even at that initial MVP stage, people saw enough value in Blooksy that they were willing to pay $20/month for it.
Aiming High & Introducing AI
In May 2021, we started developing a new version of the platform with a dramatically improved UI/UX. The goal was to make the experience as simple and intuitive as possible to get the product ready to handle a broader user base and open beta. Flexum’s co-founder & lead designer, Anton Chuiko worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Anthony to come up with new layouts, a new design system and test prototypes before settling on the elegant look & feel you see below:
The new version of the application also had new collaboration features with role-based permissions, the ability to export the book in several formats, convenient subscriptions, templates, and much more.
The most exciting feature was adding an artificial intelligence assistant named “Aven AI” to create any text based on the title and description that an author needs to fill in the form. With these features, Blooksy has become much more user-friendly for writers and closer to its mission of helping to create texts quickly and efficiently.
"It's been great! Since I hired the Flexum team, it's gone 100%. Whenever I get a chance, I go to Ukraine to hang out with this team."
— Anthony "AJ" Joiner, CEO of Blooksy
It wasn't just budding writers who appreciated Blooksy's innovation and utility. The application was named a top five startup by the VC firm Panoramic Ventures, attracting $120 thousand dollars in funding which was invested right back into the product to keep the flywheel going. Blooksy was a wonderful example of a complex project that was launched with a focused MVP, a keen sense of what users needed and a plan for growing the business and getting to the next milestone. You can read more about Blooksy in Anthony’s interview with TrustShoring.
Adding Generative AI to your SaaS application
One of the main competitive advantages of Blooksy is artificial intelligence. Blooksy’s AI-driven capabilities complement the author’s writing and help boost creativity. Blooksy also provides convenient templates for creating the structure of different texts like introductions, chapter dedications, etc. This ready-to-use structure helps authors create the essential structural elements of their work and create something that’s ready to publish.
"You only need to click one button to start the AI assistant. Just write a topic, describe it and add keywords. Aven will generate three versions and you can choose the one you like most. The three versions are similar, but differ slightly in length and style, so you can find what’s most appropriate for your manuscript. By the way, the AI assistant is called “Aven” for a reason... It was named after Anthony's grandmother. So sweet!"
— Yevhenii Bilyk, Software Engineer at Flexum
When developing Aven AI we explored different options for artificial intelligence that we could use. Some of those systems were focused on writing texts, but the more general-purpose Open AI suited Blooksy’s needs best.
We communicated with Open AI and showed them the idea and app so that they could test it and grant permission to use their APIs. There are several conditions for access including, not using the API to cause harm, trying to reverse-engineer the source code of Open AI or its algorithms, etc. You can read more on the company's website. We were excited when we got access and Open AI even gave us some positive feedback for the novelty and utility of our idea.
The next step in creating an AI assistant was to choose the most suitable engine. The text created with Davinci was the most meaningful and error-free, and since quality was the priority we had found the right fit.
There were enough challenges while working on Aven AI. The most significant was creating a form for the user to fill in requests so that the artificial intelligence would generate precisely the answer the user expects. Our team invested a lot of time experimenting and creating different combinations, but the result was worth it! Now, whatever topic the user describes in the form, he will receive meaningful text or even poetry.
Aven in Action
Currently, Aven AI supports our types of books - fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and academic. By default, Blooksy understands the type of work an author is writing and Aven will help the author with contextually appropriate recommendations that are adapted to the style. Here’s how Aven AI works with different types of books having the same description as a task:
What’s on the Roadmap?
Having a smart writing assistant like Aven AI is a game changer, and there’s still so much opportunity for innovation! Some of the roadmap priorities we’re considering include the ability to rewrite and expand content, as well as generate an outline. We’re also planning to work with Blooksy to improve subscriptions, add new templates, create a plagiarism checker for academic papers, etc. All these features will continue to help the company expand its user base and have even greater impact.
Summing Things Up
We’re so proud of our collaboration with Anthony and Blooksy. We partnered to create a user-friendly and innovative SaaS application for creative and academic writers that’s making a real impact on users’ lives. We’re helping authors achieve their dreams of getting published and doing so with the help of an intelligent platform that’s user-friendly and helps both creative and academic writers.
Most importantly, we were able to navigate the MVP stage together and build something that has a clear path to further growth and innovation. We’re excited to keep building Blooksy shoulder-to-shoulder with Anthony. As a project manager, I can say that working with him was very inspiring! Anthony is a person who always has a vast number of ideas and can see the situation from a helicopter view. That is noticeable in the product itself - the fact that we used artificial intelligence for such an editor is a sure innovation, and our entire team and I had a great experience working on the creation of Aven AI.
"They're awesome and will take your project wherever you need it to go. Flexum has been doing awesome with the development. They perform tasks within the client's requirements and needs, continuously exceeding the client's expectations. Furthermore, the company strongly vouch for their willingness, flexibility, and skills."
— Anthony "AJ" Joiner, CEO of Blooksy