Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Last week I stumbled on an intriguing wrinkle in, let’s call it, “indie publishing” — a newish platform called Booktrope. Unlike Smashwords, CreateSpace, or Kindle Direct Publishing, Booktrope is team-based and matches authors with skilled pros who help produce their books. In other words, Ms. Author will need a book manager, an editor, a proofreader, and a designer, and the five of them will work together to put the book out and market it.
The real innovation here is that nobody gets any money up front, so the author doesn’t have to fork over hundreds or even thousands to get the ball rolling. Everyone gets paid a share of the royalties (from 4% to the cover designer to 24% to the book manager, which means everyone involved is going to do their goldarned best to make sure that book is in the best position it can be to make money. Nobody gets a dime if no copies sell.
Interestingly, Booktrope does not limit its sales to Amazon. It sells via iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and “other major platforms and distributors.” This may well neutralize the policy so many bookstores have these days of declining to carry books produced by the Amazon system. (Much depends, of course, on whether Booktrope books can be returned to the distributors if they don’t sell in the store.) But at least these titles shouldn’t have the stigma that’s been placed on paperbacks from CreateSpace and ebooks from KDP.
The largest issue is probably the fact that Booktrope markets strictly through social media, and we all know — and I hear the groans on Twitter every time I do another “Town Father, $2.99” tweet — that social media is becoming a fricking monkey house of sales pitches. There are gazillions of services that tweet books, RT book releases, and otherwise clog up the feed with book covers featuring naked male torsos, so limiting publicity to that scene seems like a losing proposition. That’s because few people buy books because they saw a tweet flit by for a nanosecond. I daresay nobody does.
Booktrope’s desire to do book publishing differently is laudable, and for the Amazon problem alone I’m highly tempted to give it a try next time out. (Probably not, though, if I can’t use Max Scratchmann as my cover artist!) But until somebody cracks the marketing problem in a way that’s affordable to authors and avoids the “self-published” ick factor (in other words, major newspapers and magazines don’t review indie books, nor is it likely that your local radio stations would pony up time for interviews), I worry that Booktrope is merely different, not better.
I’d love to hear from any Booktrope authors (or editors, designers, managers) who might wander in. Tell us about your experience.
For everyone else, what do you think of a collaborative, royalties-based system like Booktrope?