2,527 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
By Bridget Nixdorf
The publishing industry is notoriously hard to crack. Every single day, thousands and thousands of aspiring writers decide to flood the mailboxes (and now inboxes) of editors and agents around the world with their newly completed manuscripts. From there, they are either manually or virtually thrown in to what is known as the slush pile, and, right or wrong, a rejection letter promptly follows.
But this new digital age is a game-changer. The introduction of e-books, e-readers, and web publishers has revolutionized both the production and the consumption of books, forcing the big players in the publishing industry to shape up or ship out. New writers and established authors alike are easily able to share their work with the masses via self-published e-books and hard copies — with or without the backing of a publishing house.
Now add in crowdsourcing and the possibilities are endless. There are several existing platforms (Kickstarter, for one) that allow the creative people of the world to get funded for a variety of projects, including authors who are seeking the means to self-publish. But what happens after the authors reach their monetary goal? Will they be able to navigate the self-publishing world alone and successfully market their work?
That’s where PUBSLUSH comes in, a start-up publisher using crowdsourcing as the first step in the publication process to source talent. Branding itself as “the people’s publisher,” PUBSLUSH is deeply rooted in the spirit of an interactive online community. Writers are encouraged to upload a synopsis and a sample chapter from their manuscript to the site, and from there, the people decide. Using the crowdsourcing model, users are allowed to fund books (which is essentially like preordering a book) that they think should be published. If a particular book gains over 2,000 supporters, PUBSLUSH will provide a full team of experts — from editors and cover designers to publicists — to prep the book for publication, distribution, and marketing. And as for that loyal fan base? Each supporter will receive a first edition copy of the book.
A unique aspect of PUBSLUSH, crucial to its mission, is its commitment to supporting literacy. For every book sold, a book will be donated to a child in need. In a single word, PUBSLUSH is about giving: giving a voice to aspiring authors, giving the power to decide what gets published to readers, and giving books to children without access to literature.
Jesse Potash, founder of PUBSLUSH, came up with the idea after learning about the struggles that his favorite author, JK Rowling, faced when trying to get published. “I wanted to change the system,” Potash confessed. “I started to really consider the workings of the industry and what could be done to improve it. Why should one editor or intern get to decide the fate of a book? Shouldn’t the people be allowed to decide what they want to read?”
PUBSLUSH has been steadily gaining momentum since the site’s beta launch at the end of the summer, but it has not been without challenges. “People can be very afraid of change,” said Erin Eber, the company’s community manager, “especially when it comes from the Internet, because you’re not necessarily meeting people face-to-face.”
Since the site is in beta currently, many updates are planned including the imminent announcement of an advisory board, site redesign, increased user interaction, and an author resource center. As with any new company, PUBSLUSH must gain credibility, much of which will come after it publishes its first book. Alternative publishing routes can of course be risky, but for authors willing to be part of a new wave of philanthropically inclined publishing, PUBSLUSH promises an even greater reward.