I’m going to conclude this series of posts about The Dissent of Man project with a closer look at the Unbound crowd-sourced publishing process from the point of view of …, well …, me, the author.
Stage 1: The Proposal As you will know by now, Unbound is a pretty new and neat idea in modern publishing, but the subscription model upon which it is based actually extends back beyond the great works of Dickens and Carroll.
When they started up, Unbound made it known that they were soliciting submissions of book proposals. Already in contact with one of the founders, I wrote to them direct, using a proposal that I had recently developed for a book idea. The book was The Dissent of Man and it had been in gestation for the best part of a decade. (It’s a long story, and not for now).
I count myself very, very lucky. Firstly, the timing was coincidentally just right: I had just completed my proposal and they were looking for new book projects. But, most of all, I was lucky that even though what I sent them didn’t conform to their requested format, but was instead a more typical, dour, non-fiction book submission, the Unbounders (as they have become to be known), have wonderful vision and could see the promise of what I was proposing. Since meeting them all, I can also say with all sincerity, that they are among the nicest, kindest, funniest, most joyful, professional, capable and generous people I have ever met, and I do love spending time with them.
Stage 2: London Town I have been back down to London a few times now to attend various Unbound events: Terry Jones’ book launch for the first Unbound title, Evil Machines, an Unbound Live event where other authors pitched their book ideas to an intimate gathering, and the visit that took a very excited, return-to-my-childhood me, to the Natural History Museum to film my very own pitch video.
What I also discovered fairly soon is that at that time Unbound were homeless (they have since procured office premises), so meetings were often over meals, and plotting and planning would often entail pints. I had absolutely no qualms about this, indeed welcomed the change from emails, offices and telephone calls.
A popular haunt was, and still is, the legendary Pillars of Hercules in Soho, and I make a pilgrimage to this Dickensian shrine at any excuse. The last time I was there, Stevyn Colgan regaled me with countless fantastic and fascinating anecdotes and made a long afternoon flit by in a flicker. I don’t hesitate to point out again that Stevyn has a brilliant book project also currently on the go at Unbound called Constable Colgan’s Connectoscope. Please support it and make it happen.
Don’t get me wrong. Hard work is done during these gatherings, and it’s not all about drinking. Honestly. There’s a huge amount to be prepared in getting an Unbound book project ready to go “live”, and that’s what I can tell you about next.
Stage 3: Going Live Pens, paper, ruler, long wibbly thing with round spronk on the end. Got everything? Right, we’re ready, TO GO LIVE! Well, perhaps we don’t need the pens, paper and ruler.
The format on the Unbound website is the same for each book project, and each requires,
a video pitch
a written pitch
an excerpt from the book
a short author bio
a range of levels for which supporters of the book can pledge
The biggest single item to organise is the filming because it involves several people, not least the superb film-makers Kris and Celia from InRoad Pictures, a script, location,… the whole “lights, camera, action” kit and caboodle. However, there is a huge amount of calculating and organising by the Unbounders that goes on behind the scenes; the finance for the project that somehow concentrates every loose end into a honed, accurate to a dozen decimal places, final figure: the target, the ultimate goal, our 100%.
100% is the point to be reached, when we know that we’re going to get the book we want so much. But, the journey there will not be devoid of interesting and engaging pit-stops. That’s the advantage of doing it the Unbound way: it’s not just about buying a book. With this you’re buying into the idea of a book, and there’s plenty of development to witness, progress to share, and goodies to be had along the way. There will also be competition draws that you automatically get entered for simply by making your pledge. But, we need a space for all this to take place, and that’s where the Author’s Shed comes in.
Stage 4: Author’s Shed Of course, as much as I would like a shed like Roald Dahl or some other famous writers, my own actual, physical writing space is more of a cupboard, but it suits me. I have my music and other distractions, and I can always take my laptop for a walk if I get claustrophobic, or cabin fever. But, that’s where I expect to be writing most of the book, once we have collected enough pledges to make it happen, at that carefully calculated, magical 100%. However, over in my virtual Unbound Author’s Shed, I have more space, and when not swinging virtual kittehs, there are shelves for videos, audio and images. Probably more too. I’m only just finding out what is possible. But, with options for those media available, I can already think of a wealth of tantalising gems that I can share with you.
Therefore, and from here on during this project, I will concentrate my efforts towards my Unbound Author’s Shed. To join me and access all the goodies I’m going to stash there, you’re going to have to pledge for the book. That’s the deal; we essentially become partners in this publishing venture when you sign up and commit to the project. But, in return for your generous pledge, I welcome you into that hallowed space, the womb of creation from whence forth shall emerge our literary bastard love child.
Writer. Darwin, science & more. 4 books: Piospheres, Darwin in Scotland, Serial Killers. Current project is THE DISSENT OF MAN. Born near London, raised near Primrose Hill and in Lincolnshire, and studied at the Universities of Bangor, York and Edinburgh for degrees in Biochemistry, Bioelectronics and Biological Computation, and a PhD in African Ecology. Mainly working in British and African universities, but also in Spain, Brussels, Mongolia and Australia, to date, publication history is mostly in academic journals, on aspects of computational biology, pastoralism and on Charles Darwin and evolution. However, also written for several national newspapers, various governments, several major record labels and independent book publishers. Fiction has appeared at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and poetry is at the Human Genre Project. Lives in Edinburgh, with partner and their two daughters.