Although Unbound calls their process ‘crowdfunding’ it is not a new concept but goes back to the seventeenth century when it was named 'subscription publishing'. Recently, I found an interesting article on this from the University of Pennsylvania.
“As a way of acknowledging subscribers, authors included printed lists of subscribers in the work, often at the beginning, in place of or in addition to a dedication. The works typically sold by subscription in the seventeenth century were atlases, geographies, and histories, especially Bible histories. But important works of English literature were also published in this manner. Among them was, for example, the first illustrated edition of Milton's Paradise Lost, published by the great London publisher, Jacob Tonson in 1688. Its subscriber list names more than five hundred prominent individuals.”
While I’m not comparing myself to John Milton I do find it interesting that individual donations made the printing of this classic possible. On Unbound my statistics are far from 500 but more like 65. It’s unclear whether the writers back then were on a timer like we writers on Unbound are with only 90 days to raise the funds.
Another reason subscription publishing was popular was that “[…]In many cases, those seeking to move up the social ladder, and with sufficient resources at their disposal, would willingly subscribe to a publication just to see their name in proximity with royalty and other illustrious persons of the age.”
This is partly a relief to learn, even though I don’t expect royalty to pledge my work (although Prince Harry has left a few messages). The research from the Uni of Pennslyvania makes it clear that readers want to be part of a written works’ creation, if at the least to have their names alongside other supporters. When I go onto social media sites and break through my resistances to learning about book promotion and communicating online I must remember this model is a standard one that has a successful history. So, I will not knock on your door with my manuscript nor do I need to drive to every local bookstore with boxes of copies in the back of my car (although I’ve heard this technique is still used in North America). But how else will people discover ones’ writing? We are bombarded online and in bookshops with the next ‘great’ read and if we bought every single recommendation we’d be in the poor house (financially, but we’d have richer minds and imaginations for it). So how does one choose? It is Unbound's model that it comes back to the human element: word of mouth, friends, family, readers, writers, supporters who have a connection with the subject or the writer.
Here is a photo of one of my bookshelves. Each book has its story of how long it took to write, to get published, how much it cost and what route it travelled to land on this shelf in Hamburg, Germany. Your support for LOVE BITES is now part of my book’s adventure and your illustrious (if not royal) names will be a reminder of how grateful I am for your support. At this point I am at 42% pledged so please continue to share the link with your friends, family, and fellow readers and writers. I couldn’t do it without you. Oh, sorry, gotta go: Harry is calling back.
Reference: University of Pennsylvania, Penn Libraries
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