Readership: The Unknown Seas Of A New Self-Publishing Platform
What would happen if, after someone hit the "Like" button on your Facebook post, they were asked for a donation to support your work?
That's the basic premise of Readership, a new self-publishing platform that combines publication and crowdfunding.
Here's how it works:
Writers upload a full version of a piece into the submission form, adding first lines or chapters into special, designated spaces on the form.
Readers then go through the slush pile and have a simple option: Yes or No. Yes, this should be published. No, it shouldn't. If a reader selects "Yes", she is then prompted to make a donation, and if that donation is made she will receive a free copy if the book is published. If a reader selects "No" he will be prompted to provide feedback, which is required for a No vote.
Here's where things are a little different.
Once the donations reach the goal amount, currently set at £500 (that's $757.63 'merican) the book will be published by Readership. They will use the money to publish and promote the book. Publication includes cover creation, file conversion, pushing of the book into "all major eBook distribution channels" and Readership will promote in every "relevant online space."
The published book will then be made available for sale, and authors will receive 70% royalties.
It's still early to say, but here seem to be the obvious pros and cons.
Pro: It's pretty hands-off for a writer. Assuming Readership can accomplish the goals they've set, including creating good covers and doing a good job of promoting titles and getting them up on multiple sales platforms, authors would be free to do what they do best: write.
Readership also makes an attempt to answer a problem facing the world of self-publishing, namely the problem of figuring out what's good and what isn't. In theory, a group has donated a collective £500, which means SOMEBODY thought it had SOME merit. There's no accounting for taste, but from a reading standpoint, it's an improvement over the Amazon model where anyone can upload whatever the hell they want.
Con: The obvious downside here is that your book raises a decent amount of money before you even see a dime.
Think about it like this: The standard Kindle price for an author looking for 70% royalties is $2.99. I'll do the math, and the math tells me you have to sell about 250 books to hit the £500 mark. Seems like a wash in some ways. Get 250 people to donate $2.99 or get 250 people to buy your book for the same price. The difference, however, is that when you've sold that initial 250, that money is in your pocket, not to mention your book is out there.
Overall, results remain to be seen. If Readership becomes an active, heady environment, then it could be a big help to authors, especially those who manage to sell about 250 copies and want to invest that back into pushing a book to the next level, sales-wise. For authors who find 250 to be somewhere near their maximum sales on a title, it would potentially be a worthwhile experiment.
The big question is whether it will evolve into a cruise liner, a desirable hangout for authors and readers, or if it will be a dinghy, powered mostly by a single person with the same couple of oars we've always had.
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