Aspiring authors take note: There’s a new publishing company in town and it’s letting readers decide which books get published.
PUBSLUSH Press, a privately-owned company which calls itself the people’s publisher, launched in August. The company hopes to “bring publishing back to the people” using social media, said founder Jesse Potash. I interviewed Potash to learn more about the company.
Elana Zak: How would you describe PUBSLUSH?
Jesse Potash: PUBSLUSH in one word is about giving. Giving a voice to aspiring authors – to all the incredible writing talent we know is out there, just waiting to be discovered – and giving a voice to aspiring readers. By allowing the reading public to assume an active role in deciding what books get published, we hope to reinvigorate the industry to be more inclined to the preferences of the real people reading books everyday. At the same time, our philanthropic efforts will literally give a voice to readers who are unable to experience the incredible power of books, not because of inability, but because of inhibited access.
Together, we can create a sustainable circle of giving: authors give their manuscripts to their readers, readers give their support to aspiring talent, and the gift of literature is given to children in need.
How exactly does the site involve social media? What kinds of social media do you mean?
There is no denying that in today’s market, self promotion through social networking is not only important for authors, it’s critical. That’s why PUBSLUSH connects authors with their readers in a unique way to specifically benefit their current writing projects.
On every book page, users are able to share the book with practically anyone with one simple click. And on author profile pages, we let authors import all of their virtual selves into a central venue, meaning their Twitter feed, Tumblr, Facebook, blogs, etc., directly on their profiles. Also, our format for engaging readers is non intimidating and highly usable. Many sites allow authors to upload their entire manuscripts for review, while we simply offer 10 pages and a description, a much less daunting proposition.
The most profound dialogue on the site is punctuated by the adage, “actions speak louder than words.” By sharing and financially supporting a work, readers will very clearly convey their feelings towards a work. Meanwhile, readers will be free to express their thoughts in a comments section, and authors likewise in an updates section. We should note, by no means does PUBSLUSH encourage a collaborative creative process. Authors can of course utilize readers’ comments as they see fit, but our community places the highest respect on the uniquely personal creation of the author.
Why did the company decide to go with actual publishing?
PUBSLUSH has a massive focus on digital publishing, and is at the forefront of all new, relative technologies, including an exploration of its own proprietary developments. All PUBSLUSH books will be made available in all digital formats and distributed to every major ebook store. Nonetheless, the physical book is far from dead and has significant value. We intend to offer our authors a full range of options to fulfil the demands of their customer.
We also understand the unparalleled benefits of utilizing such technology in the developing world and are working with capable partners. The benefits of giving an e-reader when appropriate can vastly outweigh those of a physical book in terms of cost, learning value, and sustainability. Features such as a massive mobile library, built in dictionary and text to speech make ereaders an incredible educational tool. For more information, please visit www.pubslush.com/thecause.
It seems like there are two sides to PUBSLUSH — the side helping authors get published and the side helping Flying Kites Library in Kenya. Can you talk a little about each and how the decision to merge the two inspirations into one business came about?
Truthfully, the synergy between the two emerged very naturally. My interest in publishing is deep rooted, and after learning about JK Rowling’s (one of my greatest inspirations) struggles, I started to really consider the workings of the industry and what could be done to improve the overtly bureaucratic system. Though one of the most important factors in creating PUBSLUSH was to be an ally to the publishing world by aiding the existing talent discovery process. We offer a forum for undiscovered aspiring authors to shine, and encourage editors at major publishers to use this venue as a way to gauge potential success before the book reaches publication.
The non profit component is a result of my previous involvement with intellectual human rights campaigns in developing nations, which has a primary focus on education. The lack of literature available, especially to the younger generation, is so clearly a defining contributor to ongoing poverty and war. The imminent need to aid children’s literacy initiatives was at the forefront of the conversation while developing the idea for PUBSLUSH, and having been an avid fan of TOMS Shoes, the one for one strategy seemed like an incredible way to bring the concept full circle.
After much research and visiting different organizations around the world, we carefully selected Flying Kites as our first giving partner because of their commitment to excellence and capacity to employ our resources at the most elevated level. In addition to sourcing the Flying Kites library in Njabini, we are also working to provide books to partner orphanages in Nairobi through their Oasis Program. And though they are our inceptive partner, and we plan to spend ample time with them to achieve our goals, we have already begun recruiting additional partners around the world and are eager to expand our giving efforts soon.
Who are the main people in charge? How many people make up the company?
The company is led by myself and our president, Hellen Barbara, whom offers extensive experience from a wide array of industries. In addition we have an eclectic mix of professionals helming roles in community management, account management, business development, fundraising, and a network of agents and publishing professionals. In addition we have put together an advisory board of publishing industry veterans to help guide the development of the company.
For more information on PUBSLUSH, visit www.pubslush.com.