Kickstarter is great. It’s a great idea, a great platform for creativity, and a great website. At my school however, where new film projects are being churned out every week, it’s used primarily as a means of guilting family members into financially supporting their niece’s or granddaughter’s or second-cousin-one-removed’s student film without being directly asked. Of course, that isn’t to demean the work my peers put into their video pitches (some are so cinematographic they could be the end product), but few rarely get the random and unknown supporters Kickstarter strives to open their projects to – those generous donors who back a film just because it seems like a good idea.
Kickstarter, if you aren’t familiar with site, allows artists, musicians, filmmakers – anyone with a creative vision – to pitch her/his idea to the public. If the site’s users believe the artist’s work looks promising, the users can choice to back the project, like a Renaissance patron of the arts. The artist only receives the financial support if her/his pitch reaches its goal, the estimated amount this project would cost to bring to life. Some artists promise rewards for support, others might simply include the names of their backers in their film’s credits. Backers are never charged unless the pitch reaches its end goal.
The essential point is to create a community around an artistic idea and to allow artists and supporters to follow that idea from germination to harvest. But Kickstarter is a general platform. It can be used to promote works from any field, any art form, and as such, the typical pitch (a video and a long, or short, explanation of the project and its hopeful creators) might not be suited for the project at hand. It’s no surprise then, that similar concepts have popped up specifically geared towards (what else but) the literary world.
Pubslush is nearly identical in operation to Kickstarter. Site users support projects and are only charged for their contribution if the project gains enough support. The projects are all books hoping to be published: authors submit ten pages of their book and a summary rather than a video. Like Kickstarter, Pubslush serves as a dialogue between the writer and potential readers; the one difference though is that if a book is selected for publication (I’m not sure how many backers an author needs or how much financial support must be pledge for Pubslush to print), a book is also donated to a child in need. It has been summarized as a Kickstarter meets Toms sort of organization.
Pubslush isn’t just letting unknown voices find a platform though, it is dramatically changing the way publishing is done, or at least has the potential to do so. While publishing houses determine what is worth printing and affluent writers self-publish their work, Pubslush lets the public decide what’s worth reading, giving the work merit and supporters before it even exists, eliminating overhead costs. Pubslush seems like a fantastic initiative to mend the gap between the publishing world and modern society. This technology-dependant press makes me wonder, is there any gap at all? Book publishers and authors are finding innovative ways to make the switch to digital workspaces successful. And authors have to prove their merit to their peers and biggest critics – readers – perhaps making Pubslush more selective than another platform (I know I’ve asked myself how some books have been published).
Perhaps if you know enough people, though, your pitch on Pubslush might be as easily brought to life as your pitch on Kickstarter. With your Great Aunt Sue and Grandma Sally’s best friend pledging twenty dollars, might you be a published author too?