inTouch: Unbound, Readers as Part of the Publishing Process
In a discussion last week about mega-bestsellers, I mentioned something about readers voting with their wallets. If you don’t like the candidates out there, there are ways to assist writers and book projects that you really believe in.
One option is Unbound, which Fast Company describes as “the Kickstarter for books.” The site offers proposals for books by known and first-time authors with agents and lets reader pledges decide who gets published:
“If you like their idea, you can pledge to support it. If we hit the target number of supporters, the author can go ahead and start writing (if the target isn’t met you can either get your pledge refunded in full or switch your pledge to another Unbound project).”
Although Fast Company compares Unbound to Kickstarter, co-founder John Mithchinson notes that Unbound differs from Kickstarter because it does more than just help raise money and acts more like a traditional publisher by producing and also “distributing and finding the market for the books.” And since Unbound will be “providing and mediating interaction between readers and authors,” that also sets them apart from Kickstarter…and from traditional publishers.
A traditional publisher does work to bring authors and readers together, but Unbound amplifies the relationship by letting readers have figurative and literal buy-in. So far, the model has worked. According the the Fast Company article, the Unbound team has been surprised at the pledges they’ve received, since the average pledge is about 30 British pounds (or $49 and change).
Unbound offers supporters different levels of rewards, depending on the amount pledged. Big spenders get perks like lunch with the author and a goodie bag of author-selected treats. The site is UK-based, but that doesn’t mean you have to be there to support it; it does mean, however, arranging your own travel to the UK for any “meet the author” perks that come with your pledge.
Each person who pledges gets his/her name in the back of the book and access to the writer’s “shed,” a part of the website where supporters can get updates on how the project is progressing, be a part of discussions with the author, and see drafts of chapters. And when the book is finished, supporters get their own copies of the final work (either an e-book or a limited edition hardcover).
In days past, many an author or artist had a wealthy patron to help finance their creative endeavors. A site like Unbound gives a writer a large number of patrons, which may be more advantageous than relying on just one. Of course, such an enterprise is not for writers who would rather not spend a lot of time or energy discussing a work in progress.
But, many writers have to do a lot more marketing these days, so they might as well market themselves to willing readers who have a stake in their work. Crowdsourcing is good, but Unbound shows that crowdfunding might be what it takes to actually get the job done.
Learn more about how Unbound works:
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Elsewhere in inReads: Author James Frey approached publishing new authors in a completely different way.