Last year, the Guild received an email from Verne Kenney, who claimed to have held the position of Vice President at Zondervan, a well-known Christian publishing house established in the 1930’s. Spam? Why would the former VP of Zondervan email us? Surely it was spam. We did a little research before sending the email to the Spam Graveyard. He really was the VP of Zondervan before he retired.
We replied to the email. He currently works as a consultant for Crowd Scribed. Their website launched October of last year with a new and old concept in publishing. New because it does not follow contemporary models of publishing. Old because it has been done in the past.
“In the eighteenth century, English publishers printed the names of subscribers in the books they helped fund. Status seeking subscribers actually competed to be involved in the hottest publishing projects so that their names would appear next to the Duchess of York, Jane Austen, Edmund Burke and other big shots.
When American publishers in the 1820s turned down the opportunity to publish his water colors, John James Audubon raised the equivalent of $2 million from subscriptions, art sales, lectures and even the sale of furs to publish his celebrated Birds of America.” (http://publishingperspectives.com/2012/09/crowdscribed-com-an-18th-century-publishing-model-for-the-21st/)
The Crowd Scribed website is similar to Kickstarter but focuses on books. Kickstarter includes all forms of artistic expression. Instead of looking for a publisher with deep pockets to risk the cost of failure, the author appeals to readers. The reader can either cast a vote of confidence that the author has a good idea or pay in advance for the finished product. Crowd Scribed either refunds the money if the manuscript does not meet its goals for production or the money can be applied to a new project. If enough readers are interested, the risk to the publisher is minimized and the publisher is more inclined to risk publication of the manuscript.
Verne met with the Southern Christian Writers Guild via Skype to explain Crowd Scribed. His comments are in the video at the end of this article. The authors had a mixed reaction. The traditionally published authors were reluctant to pursue a new model of publishing. Those who used print-on-demand were interested, but none of them as of this writing submitted an idea or manuscript to the website. Whether you love the Crowd Scribed model or hate it, it is a good way to find out if there is enough interest in your book idea to write it.