Publishing Books Together
Unbound is a new type of publishing house. Using crowd-sourced funding, it allows authors to write the books they want to. It also gives readers access to the writing process and involvement with their chosen book on varying levels. Sponsor a book’s publishing with a donation and your name is included in the back of the book. You might even get an invite to the launch party.
One of the co-founders of the project is John Mitchinson. Away from Unbound he’s also the director of research at QI, co-author of the QI books and Vice President of the Hay Festival of Literature. After Unbound’s first live event, we spoke to John about helping out unknown authors, the pleasure of a good read and advice for setting up a small press.
Unbound has just run its first live event. How did it go?
It was a triumph. 300 people, 180 pledges, thousands of pounds spent. It’s a new model - like a publisher’s sales conference for the public, with the participatory excitement of an auction of promises. Several of the authors at the event, including Jenny Pickup and George Chopping, were unknown. That’s a huge part of it - showcasing the new by packing in the audience with the better known.
Each author made a six minute pitch. We had a trapeze artist and novelist to open and a kick-arse band to close, with every shade of literary, commercial, serious and amusing in between.
Would you have been able to set up Unbound without your previous experience in book publishing?
I think good ideas always tend to come from the outside and although we are all writers, we’re determined not to reproduce the same rather cliquey, inward-looking feel that surrounds many publishers.
How does Unbound find its authors?
Many come direct from authors themselves; some come via agents and writers’ groups like ABCTales. Others come out of jolly lunches and drinks in the pub with people we love, or better still people we have only just met and who we will come to love.
What do you think attracts them to Unbound rather than established publishing houses?
Three things. One. Speed of turnaround. The first conversation to the pitch can take as little as a fortnight. Two. The financial upside. It’s a fifity-fifty profit share, so if a book does take off the author stands to make more than the traditional 10% royalty. Three. The direct contact with the most important people of all: their readers.
Read the rest of the interview here.