Publishing Perspectives has another founder-penned piece promoting a publishing business. This one, called PUBSLUSH Press, aims to crowdsource the gatekeeping process by allowing its users to choose the stories they feel are worthy of publication.
The founder, Jesse Potash, was inspired by the story of how much the first Harry Potter novel was rejected (twelve times!) before it found a publisher willing to take a chance on it. Indeed, the publishing world is rife with stories of novels that overcame repeated rejections to become major hits. This suggests that there are still a lot of excellent works out there that have yet to find a publisher willing to take a chance on them.
PUBSLUSH asks writers to submit “the best 10 pages and a summary” of their book, then users can choose to “support” (pre-order) the books they think are best (they will only be charged if and when the book is published). Once a book reaches 2,000 supporters (pre-orders), it will be edited and published, just as it would be if it were approved by a traditional publisher. (PUBSLUSH will offer all the editorial, design, marketing, etc. services of such a publisher.)
Also, for every book PUBSLUSH publishes, it will donate a book to a child in need, in the interest of fighting global illiteracy.
PUBSLUSH seems like an interesting idea, though I’m not sure that ten pages are really enough to judge a book. I think it would be interesting to see a publishing operation built around a similar goal that would instead search for well-written and popular original fiction on the Internet, and seek to get permission to publish it. (For example, I happen to think that most of the Paradise stories would make an excellent print anthology.)
I also wonder whether it’s going to be able to get the critical mass necessary to support its publishing operations. As varied as people’s tastes tend to be, for 2,000 people to be willing to support any given book I would expect it to have to have considerably more users than that altogether.
But for all of that, I think PUBSLUSH is an excellent idea, and is just the kind of experiment we really should be seeing more of. If it catches on, it could form a sort of middle ground between the anarchy of self-publishing and the too-restrictive gates of traditional publishers.