Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Crowdsourced Publishing Take II

A few weeks back I put out my idea of Crowdsourced Publishing out for public examination.  The blog got picked up by  Jane Friedman and sparked some interesting conversation but didn't start a fire.  The comments were mixed but are pretty typical of the responses I have gotten.
It seems that the benefits of crowdsourced publishing are pretty self evident to me, but not so much with most people who encounter the idea for the first time.
The most interesting thing to come out of this for me was finding out about a website going by the name of Libboo.  These guys had already put together a site that was amazingly similar to what I had described. Even though the site lacks some of the tools I believe are needed for it to be truly useful, it was very cool. I immediately got on and tried to make some friends, but I got almost no responses on the people I pinged. Either people weren't interested or they had given up on the site. That started me thinking about why this would be.
Here is what I think stands in the way of this idea:
  1. Public awareness is the big one.  You need a large number of people to make this work well.
  2. In general I'm finding a lot of authors seem to be loners by nature and are not interested in collaboration. 
  3. The authors that are interested in collaboration have a tough time finding people who are compatible with their ideas of how a book should read.
  4. The authors who cannot even find an agent who will give them feedback jump directly to self publishing.  Why not?  When your book only costs a dollar, you can get five star reviews on Amazon, regardless of the quality of your editing.  After all, what do you expect for a buck?
  5. Serious editors already make a solid living charging one to four pennies per word to edit peoples books. That ends up being somewhere between $1000 and $5000 to get a professional editor. per book up front.  They believe that editing on spec is equivalent to working for free - which it is likely true if you rely on traditional publishing.  They don't need a solution to the problem of writers getting published because they have a word for the hundreds of thousands of wannabe authors out there:  Customers.
  6. In general, any currently published authors are not going to want to rock the boat. After all, their genius was already recognized.  Successful agents fall into this same bucket.
  7. People with existing websites have put a lot of time and effort into them so they are not inclined to change them.
Do I think this means that crowdsourced publishing is never going to fly?  Absolutely not.  It provides solutions to so many problems with the current system that someone will eventually pull it off.  It will just take a lot of serious work, luck and eyeballs.