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Thread: [YADS] Leafless (formerly Screwpulp, Inc.)

  1. #1
    New Member; Teach Me About Thick Skin! francisbruno's Avatar
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    [YADS] Leafless (formerly Screwpulp, Inc.)

    Not sure how I get on these mailing lists, but got this today:


    My name is Richard Billings, founder of Screwpulp. We are working to break down many of the barriers associated with the traditional publishing model and add value to the new trend in self-publishing. We've developed a new dynamic pricing model that is reader driven. We begin our process by giving away the initial copies of any new book in exchange for a social media mention and the promise of a star rating and/or review. After this initial offering we gradually raise the price as the book becomes more popular. By using this approach we hope to give early adopters a clear indication of the quality of any new book's content and build confidence in the book and the author's brand. This low overhead model allows the author to retain 75% of all book sales. We have also developed a process that allows authors to receive professional editing and cover design services with no upfront fees.



    We have built our team and have been accepted into the Seed Hatchery 90 day startup accelerator program. We are currently doing our customer discovery and would love to speak with you and any other writers. Our goal is to make it easier than ever before for authors to publish, market, and profit from their work while at the same time allowing readers to control quality.



    You can read some of our recent press below:

    http://www.memphisflyer.com/memphis/...nt?oid=3343490



    This is a basic overview but, I would love to talk with you in greater detail. The goal of this email is not to sell you on our approach, but to gain as much insight as possible from every level of writer and all forms of publishing.



    Thank you for your time,

    Richard Billings

    Founder/Idea Geek
    Screwpulp Publishing
    www.screwpulp.com

    @screwpulp

    https://www.facebook.com/ScrwPlp

    ----
    I'm not looking for this sort of thing. Thoughts?
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  2. #2
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I'd give them another year to see how well they do. I've seen other companies try this, in art and writing, and bottom out quickly - even when they have the best of intentions.

    Reader-driven marketing is oh-so-fickle.

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  3. #3
    Grr. Argh. Thedrellum's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like a bad idea. Who knows, it might work, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

    As for how you got on their mailing list, I remember that you've been to several writing conferences and pitch fests. Perhaps the organizers of those sold the contact info of the attendees? All I know is that all the spam I get is of the sex and Nigerian scam variety (but the only conference I ever go to is AWP).

  4. #4
    New Member; Teach Me About Thick Skin! francisbruno's Avatar
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    Good point. I'm sure my name was sold at one point.
    I know I get a bunch from when I subscribed to Writer's Digest. Someone may have bought their mailing list.
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  5. #5
    Moderator In Name Only AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    It's an unfortunate name. I can't help seeing it as Screw Up.

    From their website:
    Screwpulp puts the power of decision into the hands of the authors and their readers.

    The "power of decision" has always been, and will always be, in the hands of the reader.
    --Roger J. Carlson

  6. #6
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson View Post
    It's an unfortunate name. I can't help seeing it as Screw Up.
    It would be a great name if they only did pulp erotica. Otherwise, not so much.
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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hey!

    Hey folks. Richard Billings of Screwpulp here.

    In an effort towards transparency I just wanted to let you know we've been reaching out to authors through public authors lists. Francisbruno, yours specifically was listed on PublishersMarketplace.com. We are not and will not be purchasing any email lists or storing any email addresses for any future uses. Our newsletter is strictly opt-in only.

    I appreciate your comments and will be adjusting our strategy over the next several months after our soft launch in a few weeks.

    Please feel free to comment here or email me at richard@screwpulp.com if you have any suggestion, concerns or comments regarding our approach.

    Our goal is to build a high level product that helps readers filter through the noise and brings the highest revenue to authors for quality work. We understand that we are a young startup and will probably make missteps along the way.

    Thanks again for your post and comments!
    Last edited by jazzcat007; 04-03-2013 at 06:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzcat007 View Post
    Hey folks. Richard Billings of Screwpulp here. I just wanted to let you know we've been reaching out to authors through public authors lists.
    Well, it's not just authors you're contacting. You spammed my business email just now:

    My name is Richard Billings, founder of Screwpulp. We are working to break down many of the barriers associated with the traditional publishing model and add value to the new trend in digital self-publishing. We've developed a new dynamic pricing model that is reader driven. We begin our process by giving away the initial copies of any new book in exchange for a social media mention and the promise of a star rating and/or review. After this initial offering we gradually raise the price as the book becomes more popular. By using this approach we hope to give early adopters a clear indication of the quality of any new book's content and build confidence in the book and the author's brand. This low overhead model allows the author to retain 75% of all book sales. We have also developed a process that allows authors to receive professional editing and cover design services with no upfront fees.

    We are contacting you because we know that literary agents and publishers have the daunting task of filtering through massive amounts of inquiries each year to find books that are right for them and their audience. We would like to make a strategic partnership with you, which we think could be mutually beneficial. For example, by simply referencing us in the letters you send to authors you choose not to accept, you can offer us as an alternative outlet for their work. This way the author is not completely left without options upon losing the opportunity to work with you. Our approach takes those books and allows the cream to rise to the top. We could then work directly with you to find reader-approved material that fits well with you and your audience.

    Our goal is to make it easier than ever before for authors to publish, market, and profit from their work while at the same time allowing readers to control quality.

    You can read some of our recent press below:
    http://www.memphisflyer.com/memphis/free-press/Content?oid=3343490

    This is a basic overview but, I would love to talk with you in greater detail.

    Thank you for your time,
    Richard Billings
    Founder/Idea Geek
    Screwpulp Publishing
    www.screwpulp.com
    @screwpulp
    https://www.facebook.com/ScrwPlp
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/screwpulp
    Not only are you suggesting that I pass your name along to those whom I reject, but you'd like to partner with me in sending authors my way. Why would I do this? Why would any editor do this? We know nothing about you, nor do many editors have the time to bother with such a thing.

    Please remove me from your spam list.


  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I apologize that you see our inquiry as spam. How else would you suggest that a young startup make connections in the industry? As I stated before we do not have you on any list. We are only making connections through public lists that you placed yourself on. For every negative response we get we get 10 positive responses. Mostly we receive no response at all.

    Again I apologize for any inconvenience we have caused you.

    Sincerely,
    Richard Billings

  10. #10
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    I see it as spam because that's exactly what it is. You want to join the party by asking me to send people your way. Why would I do this? Why would any reputable editor do this? Editors are far too busy running their businesses to take time to feed authors to someone who says they're "breaking down the barriers associated with traditional publishing," yet offers zero publishing background.

    If you knew how many ideas are floating around, that all say, "We're revolutionizing publishing! We're fixing what's wrong with traditional publishing!" you'd understand my irritation. I get inundated with spam like this, and I happen to think it's unprofessional. These ideas are neither new, nor are they set up to sell books to a hungry reading marketplace.

    we do not have you on any list. We are only making connections through public lists that you placed yourself on
    Just because you find my name, or those of any other editors, doesn't mean it's an invitation to spam them. You attract business by having something solid to offer. What your letter tells me is that you're asking for a favor, yet you don't offer any substance as to why anyone should.

    I don't mean to sound as cranky as I am, but I'm sick to my neck with people talking about how they're helping authors, yet don't offer any proof they can pull it off.
    Last edited by priceless1; 04-04-2013 at 12:43 AM.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the detailed response. I appreciate it. We're learning as we go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzcat007 View Post
    Thanks for the detailed response. I appreciate it. We're learning as we go.
    Sigh. Publishing is not a "learn as you go" endeavor. You either know what you're doing so you don't screw your authors, or you stop what you're doing, get some good experience, learn the industry, THEN open your doors for business. Authors shouldn't have to be your proving ground because they are the ones who suffer when the neophyte publisher goes belly up.
    Last edited by priceless1; 04-04-2013 at 12:50 AM.

  13. #13
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    I am sure a more experienced member of these forums can suggest to you other, better ways in which a young startup publisher might make connections. They might mention press releases, an entry in the Writer's Marketplace maybe, calls for submissions posted in the places where authors look for calls for submissions. They will, I imagine, recall you to your industry contacts made during your previous publishing/editing experience; say, agents and authors who have worked with the publishing houses where you learned the trade. This assumes you have industry experience, however. If you do not, I suspect you will be invited to meditate upon the commonplace that "Publishing is not an entry-level position."

    My response, for the most part, even as a relatively inexperienced author, is to view with grave suspicion any unsolicited mass marketing (which we call "spam") from anyone purporting to offer to publish my work.

    Reputable publishers, agents and editors tend to receive more slush than they have hours in the day to deal with. Why would they go looking for more? The rare exception to this is certainly not done by mass unsolicited email (i.e. "spam"), but by individual communication turning on a specific interest. And the author would consider carefully the publisher's track-record of selling books to readers before accepting their offer. An example would be Tor Books acquiring and publishing John Scalzi's Old Man's War.

    Also, spam (because what you did was spam, however sorry you are that it looks like spam and however targeted your mailing list is to authors) is a marketing strategy. It targets prospective customers. Authors - at least, authors who know a little bit about the industry in which they want to make their living - want nothing to do with a publisher who treats them like customers. Spamming authors makes your business model look based on selling authors services, when it ought to be based on selling readers books.

    Edit: And while I was composing this, priceless1 came in with the same basic message. Still, it's a good message, and one worth repeating.
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  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Great information. Thanks.

  15. #15
    Ships full of vampires are hell. AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    As an author, I'd be rather annoyed if I got a rejection from an editor or agent that funneled me to some start-up publisher/social marketing thing. In fact, I'd start to think that editor/agent was skeevy and perhaps getting some kind of kickback.
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  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    This is really good feedback. Our approach will be completely adjusted.

  17. #17
    Wicked chicken AW Moderator evilrooster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzcat007 View Post
    I apologize that you see our inquiry as spam. How else would you suggest that a young startup make connections in the industry?
    Well, you know, you're kind of in luck here. This is an online community populated by people in the industry: writers, both published and unpublished; agents; editors; publishers. There's an astonishing amount of experience here. And you have your very own thread in our room for companies that want to do business in the industry.

    But you're only kind of in luck, because this board is--not coincidentally--full of people who know a lot about how publishing works, and have seen a lot of very bad ideas in publishing come to messy ends. (Read that link. Ask yourself if your business plan is going to put you on the next installment of it.) This room is about asking the questions that can determine if your venture is likely to succeed or fail, so that your potential authors can make informed choices about what they do.

    So take the stage. Do tell, in as much detail as you like:
    1. What do you intend to do for the books you want to publish?
    2. What experience do you have doing those things?
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    Quote Originally Posted by amergina View Post
    As an author, I'd be rather annoyed if I got a rejection from an editor or agent that funneled me to some start-up publisher/social marketing thing. In fact, I'd start to think that editor/agent was skeevy and perhaps getting some kind of kickback.
    Wow, I completely missed that - I sorta stopped at "Yup, that's spam there," and didn't actually read the spam. Rereading it more carefully, I suspect this is what you're replying to? From the spam that priceless1 got (as a publisher):

    We are contacting you because we know that literary agents and publishers have the daunting task of filtering through massive amounts of inquiries each year to find books that are right for them and their audience. We would like to make a strategic partnership with you, which we think could be mutually beneficial. For example, by simply referencing us in the letters you send to authors you choose not to accept, you can offer us as an alternative outlet for their work. This way the author is not completely left without options upon losing the opportunity to work with you. Our approach takes those books and allows the cream to rise to the top. We could then work directly with you to find reader-approved material that fits well with you and your audience.
    Ick, Screwpulp! Ick ick ick! Bad enough make yourself look sleazy, but here you invite the publishers you're spamming to make themselves look sleazy with you. That's... kind of insulting, actually.

    Also, I still don't see how in the blazes this is supposed to "help" the publisher "filter through massive amounts of inquiries". The publisher's own slush pile isn't diminished or filtered; they just have added to it Screwpulp's ham-handed attempts to... what, act like an agent? What? What precisely are they offering to do here besides suggest that publishers make themselves look like sleazy kick-back-accepting skeezebags?

    Boggle and puzzlement!
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    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf View Post
    Ick, Screwpulp! Ick ick ick! Bad enough make yourself look sleazy, but here you invite the publishers you're spamming to make themselves look sleazy with you.
    Now you see why I'm greatly peeved.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    It would be a great name if they only did pulp erotica. Otherwise, not so much.
    When I first saw this thread, I assumed they were a pulp erotica imprint.

    (and yeah, if an editor who rejected me tried to direct me to an endeavor like this, not only would I not be interested, I'd cross that editor/publisher off my list for future submissions, figuring they were not reputable.)

    Honest question: Given that many people have tried this or similar, but none (to my knowledge) have made it work, what makes you different? What do you bring to the table that gives you a better chance of success?

    For example, by simply referencing us in the letters you send to authors you choose not to accept, you can offer us as an alternative outlet for their work. This way the author is not completely left without options upon losing the opportunity to work with you.
    Why on earth would an author be left "completely left without options" upon being rejected by one publisher? Presumably, they would submit to another reputable publisher. Or, if they've exhausted the list of publishers that seem like a good fit, shelve that manuscript and start shopping the next one around. And/or self-publish.

    So far, you haven't demonstrated why you are a better choice than any of the above.

    And how would a publisher giving you (ethically-problematic) free advertising in their rejection letters constitute a "strategic partnership"? The only thing the publisher is getting out of the deal is a negative hit to their reputation. All your offer to send authors to the publisher does is increase their slush pile. Surely you don't think you'll be better at determining what's a good fit for the publisher than the publisher themselves?
    Last edited by LindaJeanne; 04-04-2013 at 03:30 PM.
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  21. #21
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    For example, by simply referencing us in the letters you send to authors you choose not to accept, you can offer us as an alternative outlet for their work.


    A court of law made EditInk pay five million dollars in restitution for following this business plan. Please re-think.

    This way the author is not completely left without options upon losing the opportunity to work with you.
    Authors are never left without options when they get a rejection from this-or-that publisher or agent. They just send their submission to the next place on their lists.

    Look, guys, I'm sure your hearts are in the right place, but "publisher" is not an entry-level position. Nor should any author's work be used for your on-the-job training.

    When your business collapses you can say, "Well, that didn't work!" and walk away whistling a happy tune. But the authors will not be in any such position. They'll have a book whose first rights are expended and a sales record branding it --and them-- proven failures. That's assuming the contracts aren't so messed up that they're unable to use their own work ever again.

  22. #22
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    First of all thanks for the forum to explain our approach and for all of the feedback thus far. The Why Publishers Fail post was extremely informative.



    We developed our model after talking with authors who found it nearly impossible to break into the traditional publishing system. There are so many steps, endless rejections, and the ones who were published complained of minimal revenue from each book sale (below 25%). They also found the marketing offered by the publishers ineffective. This method typically produces high quality work but not all rejected work is bad. We know this because there is a huge surge in self-publishing. The industry has grown over 300% in the last 5 years with nearly 250,000 self-published titles in the US in 2011 (that’s only the ones with ISBN’s). Self-Publishing has lower barriers to entry and pays higher book sale revenue. But it usually provides little to no marketing and there are no mechanisms in place to protect early consumers of these books. I often see self published titles posted for $5-15 from an unknown author with no ratings or information to help influence my purchase decision.

    We began to research book marketing and quickly learned that word of mouth was the best marketing tool (86% of e-readers get their recommendations from friends, family or coworkers). The only way to get people talking about a book is to get it into their hands. This is why the first few copies of a book on our system will be paid for by a social media mention. We’re getting the conversation started about the book. We learned by talking with readers that some of them love to be the first kid on the block to find something new, and that those readers are willing to wade through the not-so-good stuff to find those gems. Screwpulp provides an outlet for those readers but, more importantly, those readers are providing a valuable service for us and the author. They are our vetting process.

    Now that we’ve engaged readers and started the word-of-mouth marketing approach, we now need to ensure that we can get some ratings – good or bad. As mentioned, readers will be able to download a book for a social media mention. Before they can download additional books at this price-point, they will be required to rate and/or review the previous book. We also limit ‘free’ books to once per day for these readers to give them time to read what they’ve downloaded. Once the initial ‘free’ copies have been exhausted, the price of the book will automatically rise to 99 cents, but now it will have a rating for potential buyers to base their decision on. Books with low ratings at this 99 cent mark will be ignored by potential buyers, but highly rated books will be quickly purchased. As the book becomes more popular, it gains value, and the price will continue to rise. This has a twofold effect. It accelerates the growth of a book’s reader base, and also builds confidence in the book’s brand. We will continually monitor a book’s sales over time to find which price best suits a book’s value to readers which should result in the highest profits.

    This model has already been proven in the music industry, and while the book industry is very different in its productions methods, the sale of digital products remains analogous. AmieStreet began this similar approach to music in 2006. Amazon was one of their very first investors. The concept was both wildly popular with music lovers and musicians. AmieStreet was ultimately acquired by Amazon in 2010 for an undisclosed amount. After acquisition, Amazon quickly shuttered the concept, likely because it was disruptive to their new entry into the music distribution world. We are in contact with the former CEO of AmieStreet and will continue to leverage this connection to ensure that we find similar success. Unlike AmieStreet, we have no goal of selling out to another company.

    We are continually doing customer discovery with both authors and readers as well as increasing our communication with industry insiders. In a conversation with Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, he described our method as “the most sane and logical approach” to many of the problems plaguing publishing and saw no ‘red-flags’ as to why our method would not work. Shari Stauch of Writers Win has agreed to recommend our service to her clients once we have launched. We will be speaking with the CEO of Safari Books Online next week. We already have several authors lined up for our launch.

    We do not see ourselves as competition to traditional publishing. We actually aren’t publishers at all. We are only providing a self-publishing marketplace for those who are already ignored by the traditional method. Our low-overhead approach allows the author to retain 75% of the final book sale (gross not net). We are a ‘no-strings-attached’ company with the best intentions for the author. We do not assume any IP rights of course, but we also have no rules toward exclusivity. We only ask that if you provide your work for sale on our site, that you give us 90 days to prove our method with your book. During that time you are free to sell your work anywhere else you choose. If at anytime, after that 90 days, you feel that your work is better off in a different market you can remove it. If your book is well received through our process and is picked up by a traditional publisher we would be extremely happy.

    We will provide each author with a dashboard where they can create marketing links, and review analytics on their book sales to help them determine which marketing tools are working best for them. From the dashboard you can track sales/profits and forecast future earnings. Each author will have a forward facing page, a public profile if you will, they can use to showcase their work and even engage their audience if they choose to do so.

    Our team does not have a publishing background. Sometimes it takes new eyes to tackle a problem without considering the status quo. We are all avid readers. As a reader I personally have not found a site where I can discover new authors and books, and that offers a pleasant experience. We know that the most important thing to authors is having an audience for their work. To that end, we are focusing our design and development on making a better book discovery experience for your readers. I have attached a screenshot of our development page to this post. Please let us know what you think of our design approach.

    We are currently one of 6 teams chosen from hundreds around the country to participate in The Seed Hatchery, a 90 day startup accelerator. Through this program, we have received seed funding and have formed our corporation complete with a board of directors and advisors. Our fault in approaching authors/agents was taking the advice of business gurus instead of leveraging our industry mentors. The business guys say ‘cold call’ (i.e. spam) them. I bet our mentors would’ve warned us against it.

    As for our name. Screwpulp is based off of the name of the original printing press, Gutenberg’s “Screw” Press. It tests very well with readers and writers. So well in fact that we were recently showcased in a SXSW presentation by a reputable national advertising firm among examples of good startup names.

    We will continue to develop our model and with your help we can fill the holes in our process. Again I want to thank you for your feedback and the opportunity to explain Screwpulp.

    http://d.pr/i/rzJ

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzcat007 View Post
    We developed our model after talking with authors who found it nearly impossible to break into the traditional publishing system.
    There are already plenty options for authors who bypass mainstream publishing.
    They also found the marketing offered by the publishers ineffective.
    Specifics would help here because this statement is painted with an extremely broad brush.

    We are only providing a self-publishing marketplace for those who are already ignored by the traditional method.
    But since you have zero footprint within the marketplace, I don't see how authors who sign with your services gain any kind of traction. You're dependent on others to do your work for you via a mention in their emails. And there is that pesky problem of your lack of any publishing experience.
    Our low-overhead approach allows the author to retain 75% of the final book sale (gross not net).
    If you garner no sales, then how do you plan on keeping the lights on?

    We only ask that if you provide your work for sale on our site, that you give us 90 days to prove our method with your book. During that time you are free to sell your work anywhere else you choose.
    I'm not clear on this. Whose name is on the copyright page under "publisher"? Yours or the author's? If it's Screwpulp, then you're publishing these authors via your site, and their first print rights are gone.

    If you're publishing them, then how can they legally sell their books on other sites? Could you please clarify this?

    Our team does not have a publishing background. Sometimes it takes new eyes to tackle a problem without considering the status quo.
    Bullshit. Sorry, but that simply isn't true. Publishing is like no other business. Publishing is about putting out a quality product with attractive covers and properly formatted interiors. And you're asking everyone to do your job for you. At least that's what your spam letters indicate. Since you admit to having zero publishing experience, there is no way you can "break down many of the barriers associated with the traditional publishing model" (your words).

  24. #24
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    What the heck. I have a few minutes to spare. We'll see what all I feel like commenting on.
    Quote Originally Posted by jazzcat007 View Post
    We developed our model after talking with authors who found it nearly impossible to break into the traditional publishing system. There are so many steps, endless rejections, and the ones who were published complained of minimal revenue from each book sale (below 25%). They also found the marketing offered by the publishers ineffective. This method typically produces high quality work but not all rejected work is bad. We know this because there is a huge surge in self-publishing. The industry has grown over 300% in the last 5 years with nearly 250,000 self-published titles in the US in 2011 (that’s only the ones with ISBN’s). Self-Publishing has lower barriers to entry and pays higher book sale revenue. But it usually provides little to no marketing and there are no mechanisms in place to protect early consumers of these books. I often see self published titles posted for $5-15 from an unknown author with no ratings or information to help influence my purchase decision.
    Just because a book has been self-published doesn't mean that it's high quality. In fact, have you ever looked at any of those 250,000 books? The vast majority are very low-mediocre quality. The fact that there are no barriers is exactly the reason why so much of it is so poor--all those people who got rejected by publishers because the quality wasn't good enough are able to self-publish the same books without a second thought.

    I don't see at all how you can use this as a way of proving publishers are passing over high quality books. I'm not saying it doesn't happen (my book roxors, and it got passed over), but that this is a major logic fail.

    It's been my experience talking with authors that most of the ones who talk about how impossible it is to break in to publishing are those who just aren't good enough yet and who don't take responsibility for their rejections. Those who succeed are the ones who work their asses off to improve, those who persevere. Usually the ones complaining about the publishing industry are upset by rejections and not yet willing to say "maybe my work is the problem. What can I do to fix it?"

    Of the two, which would you rather base a business model off of?

    As for royalties, I can personally say that I'd rather have 10% of 10,000 copies sold than 70% of 100.

    We began to research book marketing and quickly learned that word of mouth was the best marketing tool (86% of e-readers get their recommendations from friends, family or coworkers). The only way to get people talking about a book is to get it into their hands. This is why the first few copies of a book on our system will be paid for by a social media mention. We’re getting the conversation started about the book. We learned by talking with readers that some of them love to be the first kid on the block to find something new, and that those readers are willing to wade through the not-so-good stuff to find those gems. Screwpulp provides an outlet for those readers but, more importantly, those readers are providing a valuable service for us and the author. They are our vetting process.
    Okay, I'm only half-functional at the moment, but you're using readers as your slush readers? Because honestly, that strikes me as a terrible idea. Here's why:

    Say I'm a reader. I got to a publisher's site, buy the book and read it. It's crap. Maybe I decide hm..., I'll try one more. I buy another book. It's also crap. I decide not to buy any more books by that publisher.

    This is especially true if I've paid money for it. I don't see how you'll be able to keep people around. Most people aren't interested in reading dozens of poor books to find one that's good. We want to read for pleasure and entertainment. And to charge someone to do what is the most basic function of a commercial publisher? Kind of sleazy.

    Second thought: The only way this would ever work is if you had a massive following in the first place. Putting messages up on Facebook don't matter if only three people ever read them.

    The majority of people won't click on a link to a book in the first place. Of those who do, only a small percentage will buy. That's one of the reasons paid advertising isn't usually worth it--you don't get enough books sold to make up for the amount you spent buying the advertising.

    I could see something like this perhaps having a chance if you had several hundred thousand people on a site following you, but somehow I imagine this press has far fewer. There are a gazillion sites competing for attention on the web, using the same social media formula. You really have to do something different to bring anything to the table.

    Now that we’ve engaged readers and started the word-of-mouth marketing approach, we now need to ensure that we can get some ratings – good or bad. As mentioned, readers will be able to download a book for a social media mention. Before they can download additional books at this price-point, they will be required to rate and/or review the previous book. We also limit ‘free’ books to once per day for these readers to give them time to read what they’ve downloaded. Once the initial ‘free’ copies have been exhausted, the price of the book will automatically rise to 99 cents, but now it will have a rating for potential buyers to base their decision on. Books with low ratings at this 99 cent mark will be ignored by potential buyers, but highly rated books will be quickly purchased. As the book becomes more popular, it gains value, and the price will continue to rise. This has a twofold effect. It accelerates the growth of a book’s reader base, and also builds confidence in the book’s brand. We will continually monitor a book’s sales over time to find which price best suits a book’s value to readers which should result in the highest profits.
    Free sales don't do as much for authors as they once did before Amazon changed their algorithms. Nowadays books that once might have "sold" a thousand free copies might get a hundred. Free doesn't automatically guarantee exposure, and it doesn't guarantee ratings, either. There are plenty of readers who collect more free books than they can ever read.

    I've also heard tell that the $.99 price point is weakening as more poor-quality books have come into that price. Your plan might work, or you might find that readers are less willing to take a chance because they've been burned too many times.


    We do not see ourselves as competition to traditional publishing. We actually aren’t publishers at all. We are only providing a self-publishing marketplace for those who are already ignored by the traditional method. Our low-overhead approach allows the author to retain 75% of the final book sale (gross not net). We are a ‘no-strings-attached’ company with the best intentions for the author. We do not assume any IP rights of course, but we also have no rules toward exclusivity. We only ask that if you provide your work for sale on our site, that you give us 90 days to prove our method with your book. During that time you are free to sell your work anywhere else you choose. If at anytime, after that 90 days, you feel that your work is better off in a different market you can remove it. If your book is well received through our process and is picked up by a traditional publisher we would be extremely happy.
    So what exactly are you doing for authors? Because it sounds like you just said your company doesn't do much more than what an author can do self-publishing himself.

    We will provide each author with a dashboard where they can create marketing links, and review analytics on their book sales to help them determine which marketing tools are working best for them. From the dashboard you can track sales/profits and forecast future earnings. Each author will have a forward facing page, a public profile if you will, they can use to showcase their work and even engage their audience if they choose to do so.
    Again, I'm not sure I see how this is much different from just doing it on Amazon. Authors can track their sales there, too. I also don't know how you plan to track future sales.

    Our team does not have a publishing background. Sometimes it takes new eyes to tackle a problem without considering the status quo. We are all avid readers. As a reader I personally have not found a site where I can discover new authors and books, and that offers a pleasant experience. We know that the most important thing to authors is having an audience for their work. To that end, we are focusing our design and development on making a better book discovery experience for your readers. I have attached a screenshot of our development page to this post. Please let us know what you think of our design approach.
    Honestly, this whole thing just strikes me as wrong, unoriginal, and ineffective on so many levels. I'm not trying to be rude in saying that, but I'd never recommend an author go with anything like this.

    Saying you don't have any experience but know the problems is just...well, ignorant. Literally. How can you know what the problems are if you don't know the workings of the industry? Plenty of rejected authors think they know the problems (publishers won't publish anyone new, they don't care about original, good work, etc.), but those problems are almost always myths. Yes, there are problems in the publishing industry, but I don't see a single thing you've mentioned as being a problem, and I the problems I can think of aren't things you've mentioned.

    We are currently one of 6 teams chosen from hundreds around the country to participate in The Seed Hatchery, a 90 day startup accelerator. Through this program, we have received seed funding and have formed our corporation complete with a board of directors and advisors. Our fault in approaching authors/agents was taking the advice of business gurus instead of leveraging our industry mentors. The business guys say ‘cold call’ (i.e. spam) them. I bet our mentors would’ve warned us against it.
    In other words, those with experience in the industry would have let you know that this was a bad idea. And yet you still don't see why not having experience is a bad idea?

    We will continue to develop our model and with your help we can fill the holes in our process. Again I want to thank you for your feedback and the opportunity to explain Screwpulp.
    Okay, last thought. You aren't calling yourself a publisher, so what are you? You want to publish books, you're a publisher. An author who publishes a book with you is going to face the same problems they'd face if they went with any other publisher. First rights are gone, the books have a sales history, etc.

    You don't get to say "we don't consider ourselves a publisher" because you are. You saying you aren't doesn't change things for the authors who publish with you. Hell, it's in your name.

    I hope your authors do well, for their sake, but this isn't as ingenious as you think, and it's not something I'd ever recommend.

    /ramble


  25. #25
    Wicked chicken AW Moderator evilrooster's Avatar
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    So are you a publisher or a vendor? It almost sounds to me like you're a eBook vendor, looking to compete with programs like Amazon's KDP.

    You say you don't have a publishing background. Do you have a bookselling background? eCommerce? Web development? How many people are in your company? What's the range of experience? Why have you chosen this business?

    Do you think that you've learned the right lessons about when to listen to your business mentors and when to your industry gurus?

    How will you ensure the quality of the books you present, so that your users don't decide you're a slush outlet? Not all self-published works are unconsidered trifles, ready to be snapped up; some are not ready for the attention. Who will do the work of filtering those out?

    And how will you ensure that the reviews are fair and honest, neither the gushings of the author's nearest and dearest nor the casual cruelty of trolls?

    I presume you have break-even scenarios, either for the volume of low-price books or the average price of more popular works. How have you evaluated the likelihood of those scenarios? What real-world sources have you used to build your models? How much are you expecting authors to publicize their works, and how will you check/enforce that expectation?

    How, if at all, are you dealing with issues around DRM and regional licensing? Are you assuming that all of your books are to be available everywhere on all platforms?

    How close are you to launch?
    An excerpt from Bigglethwaite & Windemere's Manual of Proper and Exquisite English on the Capitalisation of Historical Events.

    The capitalisation of historical terms is a matter of concern to many writers. The rule, though simple, requires and reveals the writer's judgment, opinions, and preconceptions, and should be applied with care:


    1. Matters of absolute importance should be capitalised.
    2. Matters of no wider historical import should have only their proper nouns capitalised.
    3. Matters which the author not only considers insignificant, but wishes had never occurred, should have all words rendered in lower-case.
    4. If the writer looks upon history as a kind of fantastical territory, and wishes to assert either that it is wildly unlikely or highly distorted, all matters that can be considered nouns of any sort should be capitalised


    B&W 2:14

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