Book publishing is in a weird state right now.
It used to be that publishing books was the sole domain of legit publishing houses. The only way to get your manuscript through the presses was to send out loads and loads of proposals and queries, hoping that a nice editor somewhere might just like what you wrote.
It was an emotionally trying, somewhat random process.
J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times before she finally got a contract for the first Harry Potter book.
Carrie, by Stephen King, was rejected 30 times before it finally got published.
George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected with the comment, “It’s impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”
The book publishing industry was clearly jacked up.
Then Amazon invented the Kindle, bringing digital books to the masses and making it possible for anyone to publish a book.
Some authors, like Hugh Howey and J.A. Konrath, achieved massive success by publishing their own books on the Kindle platform. But for every good self-published book, there are 100 absolutely atrocious ones.
Books like Pet Training 101. Pet Training Secrets. Pet training Guide: Cat Behaviour Guide Mastery. How to get your Cat to Listen to You!: The Perfect Cat Owner’s … behavior problems, litterbox problems are all too common.
One of the biggest problems with Amazon, as well as other self-publishing platforms like Lulu and Smashwords, is that there is very little support for authors (not that “support” would have salvaged the kitty litter above).
The author must navigate cover design and editing, as well as any sort of marketing. Many self-published books languish on digital shelves because the authors have zero knowledge about marketing. They foolishly adopt the Field Of Dreams marketing strategy, but in reality, even though they’ve built it, readers never come.
Startup company, Pronoun wants to act as a happy medium between the tyranny of traditional publishing houses and the Wild West-ness of the self-publishing industry.
According to their manifesto, Pronoun wants to fix the publishing world.
At Pronoun, we’re building a platform that puts authors first. We’ve assembled a team of people from traditional publishing, technology, design, and venture capital who love books and care about their future. We believe that technology should be used to empower authors, not to exploit them. We believe that publishing should be open and completely free.
Like most self-publishing sites, Pronoun lets authors submit digital manuscripts, which the company then formats into digital form. Nothing special there.
The real potential happens after the manuscript is uploaded. The platform allows authors to connect with professional cover designers, marketing specialists, and editors to give their book the polish it needs. No more clip art covers. No more glaring typos. No more half-assed marketing campaigns. Pronoun makes it simple for any author to produce a highly professional book with highly professional marketing supporting it.
They even handle distribution of the final work to all the major distributors; Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Google Play.
Pronoun also offers unique analytics and insights not found in other self-publishing companies, giving keyword suggestions, price recommendations, and category suggestions. These insights are the result of Pronoun tracking over 6 million books for the last four years. Ideally, these recommendations make it easier for authors to drive readers to their work.
Currently, Pronoun offers all its services for free. The company is totally investor funded at the moment, receiving $11.25 million in three rounds of funding. In the future, they may offer some paid services, but on their website they claim that they’ll only do that, “…if that’s what authors want.”
As someone who has published books through traditional publishing houses and self-publishing, I can see the appeal of Pronoun. Traditional publishing is endlessly frustrating due to long line of gatekeepers who must approve your book. But self-publishing can be just as frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Pronoun sits right in the middle and may just be the best of both worlds.
Stephen Altrogge is a freelance writer based in Tallahassee, Florida. He writes about tech, marketing, faith, and lots of other things. He’s married to Jen and has three young girls. Every day he consumes more coffee than the entire population of Colombia. He knows more about Star Wars than any respectable man should, and he runs more than any sane man would. He once attempted to eat a 2 pound hamburger in under an hour. He failed.
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