This spring I interviewed Amanda Barbara, the Vice President and Cofounder of Pubslush – a new player in the publishing world. Pubslush is a global cross lending and analytics platform to the literary world. They help authors raise money for their book ideas pre-publication, engage their audience and also gain readership and build community.
Beth: So the first question I had was about the current state of publishing from your perspective and maybe say a few words about who you are and why you can have an opinion on the state of publishing.
Amanda: In regards to the question about the state of publishing I think that self-publishing has definitely taken a turn for the positive.
And if you were looking at self-published authors as a way of discovery for traditional publishers in the past year and a half, some of the biggest traditional publishers that I’ve met have all expressed the same type of commonality in the fact that they will be looking at self-published authors who are garnering interest, who are selling copies of their books, and who creating a buzz and know how to use social media and their own marketing tools to sell copies. Those are the authors that they are approaching, especially if they’re first time authors. This is opposed to more the old fashioned model of seeing a first time author who had an agent but hasn’t sold any books. Traditional publishers are not willing to take as much of a risk because there is so much content out there in today’s world — a lot of content that isn’t as high of quality because there’s not as much curation control.
Crowdfunding for the literary world
We also see sites that are amazing assets to the community such as Wattpad that are giving away free content. However because there’s so much of it, you’re not really sure which is a high quality and which isn’t. But we definitely see this revolution in the publishing industry.
More and more start-ups like myself are trying to change the face of publishing, trying to really bring some new elements into the picture. At Pubslush we’re trying to do more about connecting the reader with the publisher and creating more of a sense of brand loyalty and brand recognition in the process. Often a reader would go to a bookstore and peruse the table when they first walk in of bestselling novels or maybe they search for their favorite author.
Or a cover that seems familiar that they can kind of relate to but they’re not really out there looking for a publisher that they might read overly frequently. That’s not to say every reader – you know I’ve met several readers that are very loyal followers of indie publishers and things like that that basically they go in the stores and look for specific publishers. But that’s not the case all around. So it would be very important as the state of publishing changes and because self publishing is on the rise and so many people can do it themselves and really retain a lot of the control and the rights of their book, it’s important that the publisher is still a huge part of the process.
I don’t think this will ever really go away, and I think they’re super important. But I think being able to bring them back into the equation and having people really align themselves with the publisher will see a great success in the future of the traditional publisher.
Beth: That’s great. What you’re saying actually brings me right into my next question, which is where you see its going. I characterize it as we the authors, we become our own publishers. We have the power. We can define everything, we can control everything, the content to the design to the cover, how we reach our audience. Really the power is in our hands now. That’s also quite challenging for a lot of writers who tend to be, especially fiction writers, who tend to be on the introverted side.
But that aside, I’m just curious how you see in the next six months to a year. I know it’s hard to make predictions or even things you think are coming, even if you don’t know when they’re coming. Where is publishing going? Both for the writers and for the publishers and maybe there’s another category in there. There’s also the people like you and me who help authors.
Amanda: One that you haven’t even mentioned but I think I’m going to touch on first, and then I’ll go back to writers and publishers. I think it’s important to definitely not just discount the change that’s going on in the literary agent community. The agent is someone that’s always been this middleman between the writer and the publisher. I’ve met several agents and agencies that are kind of adopting a new model where they’re being more of this you know basically an agent, a publicist, an assistant, someone that’s the right hand to that writer, whether they’re choosing to self publish or whether they’re choosing to traditionally publish. I think it’s important to have someone that knows the industry and knows the ins and outs.
If you are selling a good amount of books and you’re writing more than just one book, it’s nice to have someone that is able to step you through the process and the agent has the experience and will know whether or not you should take route A, route B, keep going straight. I know that’s a sort of silly way to talk about it but it’s really true and I think that they’re definitely still very valuable but I think they’re going to need to adapt and basically broaden the services that they can provide. I think that it’s crucial to be able to adapt in a world that is very social media based, that’s very driven by word of mouth via social media, but still you know it’s important to see what the trends are and be able to advise your author correctly.
I think it’s very important for any writer to realize how important marketing is at all stages. I meet authors all the time that said I spent the last year writing the book and now I’m ready to start marketing the book. And I’ll say well you’re about a year late than where you should be. You need to market yourself and brand. Be an entrepreneur. Start building a following whether it’s through just a Twitter or whether it’s through a blog or whether it’s through genuine connections in your community. Don’t wait until the book is done and you’re ready to hit Amazon or ready to crowd fund for it to realize I have no readers that are interested in reading this book.
Who is your reader? Find who your target audience is. And this is all work whether you have a traditional publisher or whether you’re self-publishing or whether you’re not sure which route you’re taking. This is something you’re going to need to do as an author individually no matter what. The traditional publisher will want you to come in with an audience already and know that you’re going to sell books. That is super super crucial. There are just so many ways to get your content out there. You need to be willing to possibly lowball your first title and get it into the hand of a lot of readers in hopes that your second and third you can price higher because people really love what you wrote initially.
Or maybe giving some content, the first chapter second chapter for free to get people hooked. You need to think outside of the box as a writer. As I said earlier there’s so much content out there. What’s going to make your content stand out?
Learn more about Pubslush here.
A word about crowdfunding from Amanda: Crowdfunding requires a lot of planning, marketing, and passion, but if successful, it’s an amazing opportunity to lessen financial burden and build your audience while doing so. If you’re thinking about crowdfunding, it’s important to research how to be successful. Learn more about crowdfunding for books and don’t hesitate to ask questions! (Editor’s note: You can learn more about crowdfunding here in this article Amanda wrote for Writer’s Fun Zone, our sister blog on writing for writers.)
ABOUT AMANDA BARBARA
Amanda Barbara, vice-president at Pubslush
Amanda Barbara is the vice president at Pubslush, a global crowdfunding and marketing platform for the literary world. A philanthropist at heart, she serves on the board of directors for the Pubslush Foundation, which supports children’s literacy initiatives worldwide, and is a founder and director of The Barbara Family Foundation, an organization committed to assisting charities and children in need. Amanda is member of the Young Entrepreneur Council and is an advocate for crowdfunding in the publishing world. She has spoken at various conferences, such as Writer’s Digest, Exceptional Women in Publishing, Crowdfunding East Conference, and the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, and has served as an ambassador and speaker at CONTEC at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Amanda has also contributed to Elite Daily, Yahoo Small Business, and Tech Cocktail.