We're stepping out a bit with our latest “Five Questions” and spoke with Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher that "gives people the tools, support, and freedom to bring their ideas to life." Crowdfunding has proven to be a boon to many of the art disciplines, where fans can directly support artists, musicians, filmmakers, and now writers that intrigue them. It is a decidedly modern approach to an industry that has seen a decline in the electronic era. A look at some of the current projects that have recently funded include new books by music journalists John Robb, and Simon Napier-Bell, a collection of lyrics from Throwing Muses Kristin Hersh, and Flamingos guitarist James Cook, whose Memory Songs combines autobiography with homage and meditations on major recording artists. Here's what the folks at Unbound had to say about their business model.
Explain to our readers how Unbound came to be, and how works; it’s basically a crowdfunding site for authors, correct?
Unbound is a crowdfunding publisher. So the costs of producing the book are raised through crowdfunding and then we split any money above this 50/50 with the author. We have a joint venture with Penguin Random House to sell our books in shops. We have been going about 5 years and so far have crowdfunded over 200 books (we are publishing about 60 this year). People can submit their ideas to us via our website.
We came across your business via James Cook’s blog and thought his idea for a book very interesting and we were happy to see it fund. What appealed to your editors about this book?
Firstly, it was really well-written but I also felt it was an intriguing mixture – it is an intelligent book about songwriting as well as a book about moving to London and trying to make it in a band. The backdrop is Britpop but it really could have been set in any period – the story is universal.
We see several other music books that have funded. What percentage of your output is music-related and how has that niche performed for you? We notice a majority of the books have achieved over 100% funding!
We have published a few music books and are keen to build a bigger list in this area. To this end we have just taken a dedicated music books editor Mark Brend who used to work for the publisher Jawbone (and is also a well regarded musician). His email is email@example.com.
How involved is the author after the manuscript is finished, say with the artwork, marketing, publicity, etc.?
Besides the crowdfunding bit everything else is like a normal publisher – so the author is involved all the way.
What is the future of Unbound, and what is it’s relationship to and advantages over traditional publishing houses?
The future is more brilliant books! We are also opening an office in America this year and expanding, expanding, expanding.
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