Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Crowdsourced publishing

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  1. I like aspects of this. Being a publisher seems silly in a way, as it's so easy to do on your own. As for editing, what would qualify as a "good" editor? A site representing quality indie fiction would be interesting. If indie authors can provide a credible (and that's the key) site with books reviewed by respected reviewers, it could be a boost to really great indie books. It would have to rise above just any indie book being on board, in my opinion (like it or not, you'd want to try and avoid "poor" quality books).
    Great post!

  2. I really admire the thought you've put into this model. It's extremely thought-provoking. To be perfectly honest, I read this post quite a while ago, but didn't at the time have the brain power to respond. :) I've been mulling it over ever since.

    The biggest flaw I see in this is that it is too similar to traditional publishing in this major way: the compensation structure of the various team members in your pipeline (who basically make up a fungible publishing house) is still intrinsically tied to how well the book does. By its nature, this will cause the most "commercially viable" books to float to the top. Typically, the "best" editors/designers/proofreaders will want to work on the books they see as having the most potential to make a lot of money. The result will be that the books that do well are the books that are predicted to do well, and once again, the public is at the mercy of a system based in money instead of in quality (which are not reliably tied to each other).

    Editors have a job. If they do their job, they get paid--flat fee. Cover designers have a job. If they do their job, they get paid--flat fee. In the self-published world, everyone should get paid for doing their job regardless of how well the book does, except the author--who gets paid based on the success of the book. And the success of the book comes down to good writing, good marketing, and the author's shrewd selection of "team members."

    Also, reviewers should never ever perform reviews in exchange for compensation that is any way tied to the success or failure of a work.

    I think the strongest aspect of your concept is the crowdsourced ratings of the quality of team members (editors, especially). THIS is an asset needed by indie authors. Since we don't have our own publishing houses with requisite staff, we need a "stable" of vetted professionals we can tap whose reputation is built upon the previous experience of others. There is really something in that...

  3. Hi Elly,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

    I think there are a couple of things that will mitigate the whole 'commercially viable' issue. First, there are about 500,000 writers, many of whom already spend a great deal of effort helping other writers with various blogs and websites. I'm seeing that helping in publishing other books will raise their own visibility and help them get their name out there. If they make a little money doing it, that's just icing on the cake.

    As far as what the members of the publishing team get paid, I'm thinking that would be negotiated between them and the writer. This way, poor broke writers could get their books out (if they were decent) without a lot of up front costs.

    I'm also playing with the idea of having 'agent' be a role on this site. The agent could make all those negotiations for the authors, freeing the authors to write.

    What do you think?