Lose the Attitude and Look at the Numbers: A Crowdfunding Model for Authors of All Kinds

There’s a whole lot of noise about crowdfunding out there, and in recent years, it’s permeated the publishing industry–happily so, since there are more writers wanting to publish than ever before and fewer agents and publishers willing to take the financial risk. Publishing crowdfunding models from Kickstarter to Pubslush (which we wrote about here) to Publishizer (more in a minute) give writers the resources to bring their books to market in unconventional, effective, and creative ways.

Unfortunately, crowdfunding sites have a bad PR problem: first, there’s the desperation factor, the very public admission that you need financial assistance in order to publish because you weren’t given a traditional book deal. (Hopefully Seth Godin has done something to improve upon that image!) And then, if you’re lucky and talented enough to succeed in your publishing campaign, you may have to contend with some serious slack for it.

I was introduced to the very smart and affable young CEO of crowdfunding site, Publishizer, about a year ago. Publishizer’s modus operandi is to give authors the “freedom” they want to publish, freedom that is as much financially-driven as it is creative. Since my business is with authors who are published with commercial houses, it wasn’t the crowdfunding piece (though I was certainly impressed by it) that compelled me. It was the potential of agents and publishers to work with Publishizer purely from a pre-orders standpoint. Some of Publishizer’s authors have raised $20,000-$30,000 in pre-orders; enough not only to produce a print run of books, but to fly around the world  promoting them. As publishing sometimes seems to gallop at an elephant’s speed, you remember those revelatory, re-energizing conversations when you can see yourself at the brink of something new and even earth-shattering for your industry.

Yesterday, the hope I’d harbored for Publishizer came true when a romance author of Full Fathom Five Digital set a campaign live on its site–the very first time Publishizer has launched a preorders campaign for 1) a novelist and 2) an author who already has a publisher in place. In less than 48 hours, The Absolute Novels Campaign has raised over $500, and by the time you read this, it may have broken 6. I am in love with this campaign–because of Publishizer’s design and seamless user experience, because SJ’s story is a real one and a tearjerker, and because the gift options she’s created for those who pre-order the book are brilliantly branded and creative. No doubt there will be haters. But I’m personally wishing SJ and the other authors on Publishizer all success.

Richard Cohen

"The highest compliment one can pay “How to Write Like Tolstoy” is that it provokes an overwhelming urge to read and write, to be in dialogue or even doomed competition with the greatest creative minds… That Mr. Cohen is an editor, that his love of literature comes in large part from awe in the presence of better writers than he, is no small matter. His love is infectious, and regardless of how well he ends up teaching us to write, that is miracle enough." — Stefan Beck, The Wall Street Journal

“An elegant, chatty how-to book on writing well, using the lessons of many of the world’s best writers . . . [Cohen] draws on plentiful advice from past and present literary titans. . . . The process of gathering advice from prominent contemporary authors such as Francine Prose, Jonathan Franzen, and Nick Hornby gives Cohen the opportunity to tell any number of amusing, often discursive stories about great literature and authors, mixed with the writers’ own observations.” — Publishers Weekly