5.17 Pubslush

I’ll be honest with you, haven’t been sleeping well the past few weeks. Been following all the suggestions of my neuroscientist - no phone/computer usage before bed, don’t eat two hours before bed, sleep in total darkness - but the results have been mixed. You see, I’m at my worst right as I’m falling asleep and as soon as I wake up. My defences are down and all sense of panic and dread seeps in, sinks into my consciousness.

Usually, these moments - falling asleep, waking up - revolve around how I’m falling asleep and waking up alone, again. But the past few weeks my thoughts at these vulnerable times have moved to something else. That something else is called Pubslush. What is Pubslush, you might be asking? It’s a crowdfunding platform similar to Kickstarter but specifically for the written word.

Why, you might also be asking, is Pubslush keeping me up? Let’s back up.

Crowdfunding is the aggregation of small amounts of money from a large group of people via the internet in order to fund something. These somethings can include: films, environmental initiatives, fashion, publishing, social causes and businesses. Crowdfunding platforms, such as the aforementioned Kickstarter, works on an incentive basis, that is, the product looking for funding has different ways for people to participate in the project. Crowdfunding is increasingly becoming a very viable way for people to by-pass traditional gatekeepers and complete and distribute their projects.

According to Hivewire, the company that operates the Centre for Social Innovation’s Catalyst platform, the growth on crowdfunding volume worldwide has nearly doubled yearly since 2010. The estimated total money raised through crowdfunding in 2013 was 5.1 billion USD, up from 2.7 billion USD in 2012.

Pubslush is the platform from which I’m promoting my pre-sale book campaign. It was founded by mother and daughter Hellen and Amanda Barbara after coming up with an idea to leverage this new way of funding projects but for the literary world. Their platform allows authors to raise money and find the initial audience for a book, as well as provide the opportunity for readers to pledge their financial support to bring books to life. Their goal is to introduce readers into the publishing equation and provide authors with the tools - access to capital, audience demographics, freelance publishing professionals - that they need to be successful. In addition, Hellen and Amanda established The Pubslush Foundation, which strives to impact education initiatives by providing books, relevant resources and logistical support to children worldwide. Through local partnerships, The Pubslush Foundation hopes to positively affect literacy rates, thereby facilitating sustainable change to combat the vicious cycle of illiteracy and poverty.

Here’s how it works - I’ll use my personal experience to help explain the process. First, there was the issue of finding a publishing company. I’m fortunate enough to have the support of Iguana Books, a publishing company I connected with through my office, the Centre for Social Innovation. Iguana suggested Pubslush, as they have had success with their platform in the past. A budget was established by Iguana, which covers items such as marketing and printing. Next are the elements of the Pubslush author’s page: book summary, excerpt, video and incentives. The summary and excerpt are fairly straight forward, as they are already written. I’m lucky enough to come from a film and television background, so it was my priority to create a professional looking video. Two friends brought their expertise: Chris Behnish brought the technical knowledge and Wafa Ktaech coached me through it because I knew I’d need help!

The incentives are where things get interesting. I like to think of this campaign as pre-sales with some extras. It was important to me to offer elements that tied in with the book and I started on my plan to help create an immersive experience for the reader. The incentives include hardcover books with original artwork, CDs of all the episodes of the podcast I produce, DVDs of films I’ve made and perhaps the most exciting: The Walking Man Tours, where I lead tours through the very same streets as the character in the book. Beyond this, an extensive marketing strategy - mainly focused on social media - was developed. All the elements are in place and all that’s left is to flip the switch.

So, what I’m worrying about at those times late at night and early in the morning is my own campaign, which by the time this story is published to my blog, should be underway. I’m worried about if the campaign will be successful. My colleagues from Iguana tell me not to worry. My friends and those involved or aware of the project tell me not to worry. But I am worried. Worried about whether people will enjoy, laugh and be entertained by my work. Will they engage with it? On my better mornings/nights during those vulnerable moments, I think of the work. Of the writing. I think about its evolution and how many hours, days, years I’ve worked on it. I think about this and I admit - which is unusual for me - that I believe in it. The work is good. This putting myself out there is uncomfortable, but I realize that in order to get this work that I think is good out there, I need to put myself out there. I need to risk it. When I think of all the planning, and all that has gone in to this campaign, and I worry, well, I just think about the work. I think about the work. Just think about the work.

In a sense, crowdfunding and Pubslush is the ultimate test and risk: it is work that is unfiltered, work that comes from the heart, work that is built by an individual and something whose fate will be determined by the people. Artistic democracy.

Check out the Pubslush page here: thewalkingman.pubslush.com. Check out the video below: http://youtu.be/UeQopuMoghE