In the wake of the success of widely renowned crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the crowdfunding trend continues to find its way as new platforms launch, many of them catering to niche markets.
While a book publishing campaign may go unnoticed in the company of high-profile campaigns to raise funds for new gaming technology or buzzed-about feature films, it finds a nurturing home amongst others of its kind at Pubslush, a crowdfunding platform designed strictly for books.
Here, we explore one burgeoning crowdfunding success story as Amanda Barbara, Vice President and co-founder of Pubslush, speaks on the publishing industry, the merits of niche crowdfunding platforms—and one surefire way to improve your odds of success in the crowdsourcing game.
“When you’re putting your book on Pubslush, you know who your audience is,“ says Barbara. “Because we’re publishing-centric, authors can actually come to us and ask us about the industry. My team and I are not only crowdfunding experts but also publishing experts, so we can actually give advice.”
Authors approach Pubslush with a project and a funding goal and are met with a perk unheard of among many other platforms—specialized campaign counseling, courtesy of their team of experts.
Once an author’s campaign goal is reached, all rights to the publication are owned and retained by the author, leaving Pubslush to collect only a platform fee of 4% of funds raised. So if a campaign fails to raise a dime, Pubslush doesn’t collect a thing, acting as a testament to their investment in the success of their authors.
But why books?
“There’s something called ‘the slush pile’ in traditional publishing. The author submits a book to traditional publishing houses, and they basically get thrown in a massive pile and likely never get read,” explained Barbara. “We joke in the office that it’s where books go to die.”
Their camp was shocked to learn that record-breaking bestsellers like The Help and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone were rejected over and over again—receiving 60 rejections and 12 rejections, respectively—which inspired them to incite a change in the system. “We take these books out of the slush pile, put them online and let the readers decide.”
While much of the beauty of the platform is its singular focus on books, Barbara and her team have noticed a recurring theme among authors that find success in their campaigns, one that likely extends to any crowdfunding venture.
“What we really see in regards to being more successful is what the authors are doing pre-campaign to be successful. Their campaign tactics are so crucial to their success,” says Barbara. “If they actually buzz about their campaign, do outreach and let people know it’s coming; if they have a social media presence—all of those things actually mean more than if you find yourself in a specific genre. Whether it’s a book or gadget, it’s really important to secure your network and make sure they will support you wholeheartedly to help you reach your goal.”
Beyond offering an avenue for fundraising, the value of community is apparent in the Pubslush story. The team takes their mission above and beyond by working to develop a community between authors, readers, literary agents and publishing houses to facilitate relationships and further opportunities.
“I think that the success stories are men and women that really use the power of community, that really use the power of social media, the ones think really creatively and out of the box,” says Barbara.
And in another step beyond what the majority of crowdfunding sites offer, Pubslush lends readers a chance to contribute to social good. The Pubslush Foundation matches book purchases with book donations to areas with limited access to literature—both internationally and domestically.
“As crowdfunding continues to grow I really see a huge growth in social good as well,” says Barbara. “I think they completely correlate, bringing the community together for a common cause.”
So what’s on the horizon for Pubslush?
As Pubslush evolves, their focus on the publishing industry will remain steadfast, but Barbara predicts a shift in campaign types.
“Right now we’re actually getting into audio books, which is picking up speed. It’s actually a part of the industry that we didn’t really take into consideration when we were building, but now we’re getting approached by companies that are looking to produce and crowdfund, because [between print, e-books and audio books] it’s definitely more expensive of the three…so it’s definitely a good fit for crowdfunding.”