Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

02/28/2015

The First Crowdsourced Publishing Platform


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John R. Austin Writes Publishing Industry News

AND, guess who is bringing it to fruition? — Amazon. In the form of its Amazon Kindle Scout program. Kindle Scout announced it will release its first set of 10 reader-selected titles next month.

Husna Haq of The Christian Monitor wrote tonight’s research/Resource article:

Will Amazon’s Kindle Scout democratize publishing?

Key excerpt: “Launched in October, the program lets readers vote for their favorite unpublished titles from a collection of manuscripts submitted for consideration by aspiring authors. Readers get to first preview an excerpt from unreleased books, then nominate up to three for publishing. The Kindle Scout team then tallies how many votes each the book received and decides which are suitable for publishing.”

Call it the American Idol of books, the democratization of publishing, the crowdsourcing of literature.

Amazon’s Kindle Scout, one of the first crowdsourced publishing platforms, announced it will release its first set of 10 reader-voted titles March 3.

The first set of books include science fiction, romance, thriller, and mystery novels, including “G1” by Rigel Carson (science fiction), “A Highland Knight’s Desire” by Amy Jarecki (romance), and “L.A. Sniper” by Steve Gannon (thriller).

Launched in October, the program lets readers vote for their favorite unpublished titles from a collection of manuscripts submitted for consideration by aspiring authors. Readers get to first preview an excerpt from unreleased books, then nominate up to three for publishing. The Kindle Scout team then tallies how many votes each the book received and decides which are suitable for publishing.

“Since we opened our doors we’ve been busy weighing the feedback of over 29,000 enthusiastic Scouts who have nominated the books they want to read next,” Dina Hilal, general manager for Kindle Scout, said in astatement. “These first 10 titles signal a new option for authors, who can choose to have their books discovered and supported by Amazon customers even before they are published.”

Authors whose books are chosen receive a 5-year renewable publishing deal, with a $1,500 advance, a royalty rate of 50 percent, and the ability to take back rights to the book if the author doesn’t earn at least $25,000 during the 5-year contract.

The approach benefits Amazon in many ways. As Geekwire points out, it leverages the company’s large customer base for market research, similar to the way that Amazon Studios asks viewers to weigh in on television pilots before deciding which will go into full production.

It also gives Amazon access to a slew of up-and-coming authors who will remember that Amazon, not a traditional publishing house, gave them their first opportunity.

And finally, it offers the company folks in publishing love to hate some good PR: Amazon Scout is, in effect, a feel-good story about a large corporation helping indie authors get published and get noticed.

Amazon today opened up Scout to more genres. The company is now accepting contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and action & adventure submissions in addition to romance, mystery/thriller and science fiction.

Here are the 10 titles chosen by Amazon Scouts for publication March 3:

 

Well, what do you readers think? Good idea or not?

 

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06/04/2012

Need Funds to Write/Publish a Book? More on Crowd-Funding


Crowdsourcing

I have previously posted on the crowd-funding or crowdsourcing phenomenon on both The Writers Welcome Blog and more recently on this blog

 A commenter to one of the above posts (that appeared on one of my Linkedin groups) said he did not want to give up any writers’ rights to use the Kickstarter crowd-funding site. To answer his concern, users of any of these crowdsourcing sites do not give up any copyrights.

Crowdsourcing sites usually charge between 3 to 5 percent of the successful amount funded. This is how they make their money.

RocketHub, Kickstarter, PledgeMusic, Funding4Learning, ArtistShare, FundRazr are just a few of the hundreds of these type sites that are popping up worldwide.

About 450 crowd-funding sites raised 1.5 billion dollars last year. 

“The gradual success of many projects has validated this as a real option, a real way to make things,” says Yancey Strickler, co-founder of Kickstarter. “The Internet is incredible for harnessing organizational power.”

More details such as how to apply, how much they cost, etc. are provided by Roger Yu, USA TODAY:

Need cash? Ask a crowd

While studying abroad in Ghana in 2006, Meghan Sebold often roamed local textile markets and marveled at the surplus of colorfully patterned fabrics that were left unwanted.

After she returned home to San Francisco, her thoughts kept drifting back to the faint but enduring idea of producing a clothing line that used textiles and talent from the West African country. She had few concrete plans on how to start a business — and even less money.

Then, a chance encounter at a seminar in New York with the founders of start-up RocketHub, a crowd-funding website, stirred her hopes. At the urging and guidance of Brian Meece and Vladimir Vukicevic, Sebold wrote at length about the business idea on RocketHub.com, accompanied by a video, and asked for direct financial contributions from family, friends, and friends of friends.

Her modest goal of raising $4,000 was achieved in about two weeks. Her first set of dresses, funded by the donations and made in Ghana with local labor, sold out online and at local pop-up stores. “It gives you more credibility than saying ‘Hey, Uncle, can you lend me $20?'”

Entrepreneurs and dreamers such as Sebold are flocking to crowd funding, an emerging field of finance that, by using the Internet as an efficient middleman, often manages to be both more intimate and more high-tech than traditional means of raising seed money. The idea has existed for years but is receiving renewed attention now that social media, online networks and payment technologies increasingly strip away legal, psychological and logistical barriers for money solicitations.

RocketHub, Kickstarter, PledgeMusic, Funding4Learning, ArtistShare, FundRazr and hundreds of other sites call on individuals to pool their money, by way of the Internet, and support others’ artistic, educational and business efforts, as well as charities and disaster relief. Some sites, like Kiva, specialize in small loans.

“The gradual success of many projects has validated this as a real option, a real way to make things,” says Yancey Strickler, co-founder of Kickstarter. “The Internet is incredible for harnessing organizational power.”

While they get a sense of fulfillment at seeing the campaigns they support continue, donors typically receive neither a stake nor artistic/operational input. That could eventually change. President Obama recently signed a law, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, that would allow individuals to buy equity stakes in companies via crowd-funding sites under certain rules, likely effective next year.

A few dollars here and a couple of hundred bucks there can add up quickly. About $1.5 billion was raised in 2011 by about 450 crowd-sourcing Internet sites worldwide, says a report by Crowdsourcing.org, a site tracking the industry. That’s expected to double this year, the report forecasts.

“This expands on the angel investor model” in which a wealthy individual puts up money in return for equity, says David Rubenstein, partner at accounting firm WeiserMazars. “There is some good to this. This will ultimately result in growth of companies and additional jobs.”

The business is also good for those who operate successful crowd-funding sites. They make money by taking a percentage of the money raised — typically about 3% to 5% — and a per-transaction fee.

Kickstarter, one of the largest crowd-funding sites, has so far counted $200 million of pledged contributions, though not all were given to fund seekers. Fund seekers on Kickstarter get their hands on the money only if they can meet their goal. If a campaign fails, money is returned to donors. About 20,000 Kickstarter campaigns have met the goal, or about 44% of all campaigns.

Rival RocketHub sees about 1,000 campaigns a month launched on its site, Meece says. RocketHub allows campaign creators to keep the funds they raise even if they fall short of the goal.

Many campaigns, such as for Sebold’s Ghana-inspired dresses, are quirky, artistic or creative, but modest in their financial goal. Successful Kickstarter campaigns average about $5,000 in funds raised. “Kickstarter changes the question of funding from ‘Is this a good investment?’ to ‘Do I want this to exist?’ And that’s a much lower bar,” Strickler says.

Read and learn more

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05/25/2012

Independent Publishing Using Crowd Source Funding


Crowd Source-Funding Can Be Colorful

A good example of how crowd source funding can work — along with an excellent crowd funding site resource: Kickstarter.

These things are discussed by author/educator Joseph Gutiz by using his own recent crowd source funding experience:  

By Joseph Gutiz in press release through Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch: 

How Crowd Funding has Transformed the Publishing Landscape Through Hybrid Advances

New Trends in Publishing Lead a California Educator to Offer Pre-Orders of His Inner-City Children’s Book

New Trends in Publishing lead a California educator, Joseph Gutiz, to seek help in funding by offering pre-orders of his humorous, anti-bullying, and pro sports children’s book through the reward filled crowd-funding site, Kickstarter.

Joseph Gutiz, Author/Independent publisher ( http://www.josephgutizpublishing.com ), also a California educator for the past twelve years, and a professional photographer for the past three years ( http://www.josephgutizphotography.com ), understands first hand what children deal with on a daily basis. Joseph Gutiz, who writes and publishes under this pseudo name, recently launched the book project entitled “The Adventures of Chubby Cheeks: The Pro Quest,” which balances many issues children face nowadays, such as bullying, financial hardships, and common middle school dilemmas, all while they pursue their dream of becoming skateboarding pros without compromising good humor.

The book is set in the world-renowned Skateboarding city of Venice Beach, CA. Which has been a mecca for new trends like skateboarding, body building, street art to name a few. Joseph now wants to be the next Jeff Kinney in order to bring more awareness to the various common issues that plague our youth of today. He thinks that the book will do well by offering diverse characters in a well-plotted story line in order to capture the age group that he has written for (8-14).

Here are just a few of these assorted characters: a bullied chubby cheeked boy and his wimpy African-American sidekick set out on a Pro Quest to become pros at everything they do, along with a skateboarding bulldog, a blue jay, and a daring Caucasian skater girl. As they start their quest, they encounter thrills, mishaps and everyday inner-city childhood adventures along the way.

Read and learn more 

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