When author Solomon Inkwell queried agents with his YA vampire novel Vickie Van Helsing, he received an immediate, eager response. The literary agent who called, however, had only just finished praising the sample chapters when he said, “But I can’t sell a vampire novel to a publisher. What else ya got?”
Inkwell, who had taken almost two years to pen his debut novel, turned to self-publishing.
“Just because the industry was tired of selling vampires didn’t mean the readers were tired of them!” he explained.
That’s the premise behind the hybrid model of crowdfunding in which companies like Inkshares–whose platform is currently hosting the book campaign for Gary Whitta’s first self-published novel–allow the public to fund a book’s production through pre-orders before sending it on to a traditional publishing house.
Typically, book crowdfunding has worked like any other type of project funding in which the public is involved. Whether through a multi-dimensional site like Kickstarter or the book-specific platform Pubslush, the readers are able to throw their support towards the creation of a book through what essentially amounts to a pre-order process. But with hybrid models, the function of the pre-publishing support isn’t so much to provide the author with the funds to develop the book, but to demonstrate the interest of a readership to a traditional publisher.
There can easily be support and criticism for this type of concept. On the one hand, a major criticism of the traditional publishing industry is that a small pool of tunnel-visioned editors get to decide what the public will read. At the same time, this model gives voice to readers who then have the power to say to that small group of gatekeepers, “I’ve decided that this book is worth it.”
Inkshares will serve as a traditional publisher with regards to providing the editorial and publishing services that self-published authors typically have to secure on their own. But in addition to a 50-50 split on the print and the more standard self-publishing royalty of 70% of ebook sales, authors enjoy knowing they have a built-in audience for their work, if they manage to get the backing they need to go to press in the first place.