The Pitfalls of Landing a Traditional Publisher: Enter Publishizer

10/17/2017 09:31 am ET Updated Oct 18, 2017

Launched in 2014 and graduated from 500 Startups Batch 13 in Mountain View, CA. Today, Publishizer is a NYC-based startup and crowdfunding platform that’s helped hundreds of authors get published. Authors have used Publishizer to earn over $1 million in funds. Perhaps this interview will inspire you to submit a proposal to begin to get your work out there. With the industry changing so drastically, I wanted to share the latest publishing innovations.

Loren Kleinman (LK): Can you talk about the traditional publishing route vs. what Publishizer has to offer authors? What are the benefits? Is Publishizer a new publishing model?

Lee Constantine (LC): Landing a traditional publisher can be a frustrating, convoluted process. Yet, most speakers, professionals and fiction writers want to publish a book. The main reasons being: credibility and retail distribution, followed by logistical help producing and fulfilling sales.

Self-publishing lacks legitimacy, especially now that anyone with internet access can publish on amazon and call themselves an expert on whatever topic they choose. It’s lowering the legitimacy of Amazon bestsellers every single day, while traditional publishing remains an elusive endeavor.

Publishizer uses proprietary software to query your proposal to a targeted list of acquiring editors from traditional publishers. We believe pre-orders can be used to filter and match authors with a diversity of potential publishers. Debut authors can get discovered, experienced authors earn better book deals, and acquiring editors make more profitable acquisitions.

LK: Who are some of the publishers that have signed on to work with Publishizer? What have they said about the authors?

LC: Our publishing partners have grown over the last year from less than 50 to more than 200. We now work with imprints at every big 5 publishing house, as well hundreds of independents, small presses and other traditional publishers who can offer authors quality services.

The most important learnings from these publishers are that they are all looking for new avenues to author discovery and more innovative approaches to acquiring new book titles and meeting authors. Publishizer is certainly a platform that allows this interaction, and we are consistently landing more traditional book deals for authors who run successful preorder campaigns.

You can view the current list of publishing partners at http://publishizer.com/publishers

LK: How did Publishizer fit the needs of a new territory in publishing?

LC: Crowdfunding your book is becoming a more popular means for authors to fund their idea while gaining readership. It’s a much more personal approach than publishing on Amazon and “seeing what happens.” More than that, it’s getting about discovery. Publishers see crowdfunding as a way to vet an author’s platform and then offer book deals to those who validate their book has potential in the market.

Traditional publishers acknowledge that several challenges remain for books and publishing, not the least of which is discovery. At the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair, Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle said: “There are 50 million books available from Amazon,” and that “while we are growing in titles, we are still thirsty of the next great story.” Publishers, he went on to say, have a key role to play as curators of content, in addition to producing the best products out there. “Publishers stand for quality and perfect each product before it makes it to the market.”

LK: What was the idea that sparked Publishizer? What's been the process like growing the new platform?

LC: The idea was built around rejection. Acquiring editors at traditional and independent publishers, for one, receive hundreds of book proposals to their inboxes every day.And they don’t have time or the resources to read through every single one to determine writing quality and market fit. So instead, they default to traditional gatekeepers, which include literary agents.

On the author side of things, they don’t usually know what publishers really want, or often times how to gain a loyal readership. And if they do know how, they’re not great at executing. So they also default to traditional gatekeepers: literary agents.

As a result of these gatekeepers, 96% of book proposals get rejected — usually because most books don’t have potential to earn a $50k advance from the publisher (of which, the literary agent earns 15%). So, tons of highly quality amazing books never leave the slush pile simply because someone’s not making a big enough paycheck. This is a major downfall of the book publishing industry.

LK: Can you talk about Publishizer's successes? Failures? Learnings?

LC: Launched in 2014 and graduated from 500 Startups Batch 13 in Mountain View, CA. Today, Publishizer is a NYC-based startup and crowdfunding platform that’s helped hundreds of authors get published. Authors have used Publishizer to earn over $1 million in funds. We pride ourselves on working with world-class thought leaders, speakers, coaches, investors, and people doing interesting things.

My most memorable was a fiction author named Stu Krieger, the guy who wrote the animated classic The Land Before Time. We all watched that movie as kids. I watched a Tedx talk of his and wanted to see if he was interested in turning it into a book. He told me he had a fiction novel he’d been working for 7 years and would like to finish it and get that published instead. We worked together to create a solid proposal, crowdfund preorders to show readership and get him in front of publishers.

He sold 300 copies in about ten days and we landed a traditional book deal with a Hollywood publisher. I received a print copy of his book the summer of 2017 and opening it up for the first time was one of the biggest wins I’ve ever felt, for both of us. That’s why our company exists, to share those moments with as many authors as possible.

LK: Which campaigns have been most successful using Publishizer? Which campaigns are live now on Publishizer? Why should readers support them?

LC: Authors apply to be part of a book accelerator batch, much like a startup accelerator, which is a 30-day cohort-based program. It’s about community and accountability that bring authors publishing experiences to the next level.

To join a batch, authors must have something to accelerate—a book idea, or a proposal. These need testing and validating to ensure market fit and potential to scale. Rapid experimentation and obtaining readership with preorders are the best way to validate an idea in the short term. What authors learn at Publishizer they will be able to execute immediately, and the connections they make with publishers will ensure credibility and quality of product.

To date, the program has graduated 98 authors from 7 batches, who together, crowdfunded more than 19,000 book preorders with more than $400,000 in funds, and received more than 100 independent and traditional publishing offers.

To enable the big wins, an accelerator must create a cycle — a good accelerator will attract great authors and book ideas, which will in turn attract strong publishers and subsequently lead to higher book sales and a better publishing experience, which will just repeat the cycle of attracting better authors and publishers.

This is what we are seeing with each new batch, and the next batch, BATCH 6, has an exceptional cohort of authors, with a diverse range of topics and a lot of potential. The better campaigns they can run and the more preorders they can obtain, the bigger, better and more diverse set of publishers will express interest.

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LK: What's next for Publishizer?

LC: To continue working with world-class thoughts leaders and people doing interesting things. And to create deeper partnerships in the traditional books industry.

Learn more about Publishizer and follow their campaigns.

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