Sunday, September 25, 2011

Indie Spotlight: Wink Publishing

The world of publishing continues to evolve - to meet the needs of todays writers and readers.

I have a special new publisher I would like you to meet. Their called Wink Publishing, and they are asking for your help in deciding which new books they should publish.

Yup, you heard me right. A publisher who is asking for reader input on which breakthrough new novels get published. Check out their guest post explaining it all....

The problem with publishing.

Wink Publishing shouldn’t exist.  Its purpose, the problem it was created to solve, shouldn’t exist, but it does.  So Wink Publishing is here, looking for the best undiscovered writing talent and offering something more to new authors than traditional publishers currently do.

There is a problem at the heart of publishing which eBooks have brought into sharp focus.  It’s a problem which has always existed, but the accessibility to sales platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iBooks has brought the issue into the dazzling sunlight.

The problem is that while many writers don’t write for the money, the majority of publishers publish for profit.  This misalignment of interests has shaped the publishing world for years.  While publishers haven’t taken advantage of author’s lack of commerciality, their financial imperatives have coloured their title list.  An editor will usually stand behind only those novels which will at the very least break even, unless it is seen as a loss leader to a franchise or a continuing body or work from that writer.  The plethora of celebrity titles, ghost written fiction and formulaic genre bestsellers are evidence of publisher’s mercantile mindset.

But literature has nothing to do with money.  In its purist form it is the most efficient, entertaining and everlasting way to share ideas and emotions.  It allows one person to share their unique view of the world with people they will never meet and never know.  If asked, most writers would happily give away their work if they didn’t need to eat as the spiritual nourishment of sharing their work would be enough.

Until the advent of eBooks, there were no credible alternatives to the publisher’s way of publishing for authors to take advantage of.  Publishers controlled the supply chain, had the financial resources to all but guarantee a books success and kept civil and profitable relationships with all of the books shops, both independent retailers and chains.  The system was designed to benefit everyone except writers, who were expected to give up control of the work that they had spent years crafting in return for a fraction of the income it generated.  While it was ideal for publishers, it was simply the better of two ills for writers, the alternative being eternal obscurity.

Everything changed when Amazon arrived.  While it just sold print books, publishers only noticed the increase in sales.  They didn’t notice any change in the overall landscape, not even when the Kindle eReader was launched.  Neither did they spot the potential risk to their way of doing business when Kindle’s Direct Publishing was launched, followed by Apple’s iBooks and iBook Store.  It was just another fad which would fade into the landscape.

But it hasn’t.  When the history of eBooks is written, Christmas 2010 will be marked as the watershed, the time when it all changed.  Whether it was because of the launch of the iPad, the lower price of the Kindle or simple zeitgeist only time will tell, but 2011 has shown phenomenal sales increases for eBooks.  The income has, belatedly, convinced publishers of the benefits of this new way of enjoying literature.

It has also seen the rise of the best-selling, self-published author. The number of writers who have sold over a million books without the aid of a publisher so far this year is almost as many as in the entire history of publishing.  This is all because of eBooks and shows no sign of slowing down.

While this trend is welcomed by struggling writers, it also accentuates the oldest problems in publishing.  The problem which Wink Publishing exists to solve.  How does a reader discover a new writer? 

Traditionally, a publisher would back a writer with the necessary marketing campaign and financial resources to ensure that the author becomes well known, thus ensuring steady sales.  However, with more writers choosing to eschew publishers in favour of going it alone, the reality of becoming a lone voice in a deafening chorus clamouring for attentions bites early and bites hard.  How does a new writer, without a big budget marketing campaign, find their readers?  How does a new writer become discovered?

It’s an old problem, but a problem, which, thanks to technology has a new solution as well as providing Wink Publishing with a reason to exist.

If the main purpose of a publisher is to sell books, and to do that readers need to want to buy that book, why take a risk on a novel?  As a publisher, why not take out the guesswork about which books will be popular and only publish those with a proven track record?  Until now it has been impossible to do this with an unpublished writer, but we’ve found a way to do just that.

Wink Publishing doesn’t choose which books to publish, we let readers do that.

We select a number of titles which have been well written and then ask readers to vote for the one which they want to see published.  No other publisher is doing this.  It’s scary for us, but the benefits will, we believe, far outweigh the drawbacks.

But we’ve decided to go further than that.  Not only do we offer undiscovered authors another way to connect with their readers, we offer a fairer deal.  Whatever income their debut novel generates is split 50/50.  Any costs of generating that income is taken from our share, so the writer always gets half of the income we receive.

We also do more than just publish their book.  We try to find people who are interested in filming their work, or people who want to serialise or use the novel in another way.  In this respect we fill the role of the writer’s agent.  Again, something no other publisher does at the moment.

The new publishing landscape opens lots of possibilities for publishers and we have only scratched the surface so far, but if you think we’re doing something worthwhile, please help us help new writers.

We don’t want your money or even much of your time. 

All we need is your vote.

Please read the entries for our current contest here and then vote for your favourite.

Without you we won’t have anything to publish.

Without you a new writer may never be discovered.

(Wink Publishing can be found on twitter and facebook as well as on their website.)

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