For a while now I’ve been pondering Kickstarter: if it’s a good idea, if every low-funds creative individual with a dream project should do it, and how exactly a writer could utilize this fundraising opportunity. When competing with really amazing, tangible creative projects on the Kickstarter website–like Amanda Palmer’s project, where prizes ranged from a digital download of her album, to concert tickets, to a personal five hour dinner/ukulele serenade (PS: her past Kickstarter project offered tickets to An Evening with Neil (Gaiman) and Amanda. How can a little novel possibility compete with THAT?)–is offering nothing more than a free signed copy of your forthcoming book, with a (potentially super lame) limited-run bookmark, really enough of a prize to encourage people to donate to your self-publishing project?
Having identified such issues with Kickstarter, Pubslush has now appeared on the scene, and it’s like Kickstarter for authors. A self-proclaimed publishing revolution, using democratic language like “books by the people and for the people,” this “publishing lovechild of American Idol and TOMS shoes,” gives readers the opportunity to discover the next bestseller (specifically, “discover the next Harry Potter”), change the life of an aspiring author, and change the lives of aspiring readers.
Writers, for their part, upload 10 pages and a summary of their book. Readers can then read these samples and preorder the books they want to see published. In the typical TOMS shoe tradition, for every book sold, a book will be donated to a child in need. In turn similar to the Kickstarter guidelines–where a project won’t be funded at all unless it gets the full funding–unless a book gets 1,000 supporters in 120 days (4 months), Pubslush won’t publish it (and the money is returned).
This is just my humble opinion, but I think Pubslush might be the up-and-coming, new way that authors interested in self-publishing, or at least alternatives to traditional publishing, publish their books. And the best part is that, unlike self-publishing, authors don’t have to pay a dime for the publication, but you’re still getting the high-percentage royalties (Pubslush offers 35% royalty on net profits for all sales) that self-published authors enjoy. Also, you get to establish 1,000 readers before publication.
According to Publisher’s Weekly, the average book published in the US sells only 500 copies, and the average book self published in the US sells only 50 copies!
1,000 guaranteed sold copies is quite a sales improvement!
Personally, as a reader I’d feel more comfortable paying for a book on Pubslush than I would buying a completely self-published and self-promoted book. The process of choosing a book on Pubslush is familiar. It reminds me of how I pick up a book at the bookstore, read the jacket copy, and then maybe the first few pages before buying the book. It’s similar to how I taste-test the first few pages of a book on my Kindle, for free, before deciding to purchase. It seems trustworthy.
Also, I think it’s better for the author. Instead of throwing their book into an abyss, they’re building a platform for their book and establishing a readership. Authors can promote themselves for four months, pushing hard spread the buzz and acquire 1,000 interested readers. If they succeed, the book is published. But even if they don’t quite make it, they’ll get an idea of whether it’s worth self-publishing it themselves. It’s like a test-run. If 700 people were interested in reading the book, then maybe it’s worth taking the self-publishing route and reaching out to those 700 potential readers in the future, when the book is available. I would think that it makes the hard work of self-publishing more rewarding, if you already have an audience, anxiously waiting to enjoy the book.
For traditionally published authors that are frustrated with the low royalties–authors who can’t afford to write for traditional publishers anymore–but have an excellent, loyal reader following, this might be the answer they’ve been waiting for.
What do you think? Exciting revolution or future flunk? Are you interested in reading any of the books currently on Pubslush?