We’re going to post new FAQs on Tumblr once a week or so, because inevitably there are things we didn’t have room to include in the main Kickstarter page. First, we’ll answer a couple of questions about how Big Bang Press selects its books and authors.
How did the selection process work?
We already included something about this on Kickstarter, but there’s more room for me to elaborate here on Tumblr.
Our first step was to contact around thirty fanfic writer who are generally known for writing high-quality, novel-length stories. We asked them if they’d be interested in a project like Big Bang Press, and fifteen of them agreed to submit a three-chapter excerpt of original writing. The others were either too busy, or wanted to try mainstream publishing first, or had no interest in writing original fiction. We did not specify what type of original writing they should submit: the authors had complete creative freedom to choose the genre, audience, target length, and so on.
Our submissions editor worked with those fifteen authors to develop their writing samples. We wanted to give them every chance to improve their writing with an editor, rather than just asking them to produce something to our deadline with no help at all.
Once the writing samples were ready, they were submitted anonymously to the other four members of the publishing team, along with cover letters and plot summaries. The reason why we felt it was very important to read the manuscripts “blind” is because this way, we could be sure our selection process was fair and unbiased, and based purely on the quality of the writing.
Why didn’t we just have open submissions?
Open submissions simply weren’t a practical option this time round, and here’s why:
- We didn’t have the time and manpower to sift through potentially hundreds of manuscripts before we had even launched the project.
- If we went public before our “official” launch, it would have put a serious dent in our crowdfunding campaign. Basically, people are way more likely to get excited about something fresh and new, as opposed to something they’ve been hearing for months and months already.
- This way, we could launch Big Bang Press in a professional manner, with months of preparation behind us. We have three excellent excerpts in a variety of genres, sketches from our cover artists, a polished website, and a realistic plan for our Kickstarter campaign.
In an ideal world, we would’ve been able to open our submissions to everyone, and that’s definitely something we want to do in the future. Which brings me to my final point:
The Future of Big Bang Press
As a crowdfunding site, Kickstarter’s purpose is to launch creative projects in fields such as visual art, music, publishing, technology, and so on. You’re not actually allowed to use Kickstarter to gain investors when starting a business. So while Big Bang Press is definitely a publishing press in that we are a team of editors, publishers, writers, and publicists, our Kickstarter campaign only pays for the three books we are currently marketing.
Our long term aim is to become a self-sustaining publishing press, but that’s reliant on a number of factors. Mostly, we need to sell a lot of books once all three novels are on general release, at which point we could set ourselves up on a more permanent basis. If we do get to the point of being able to afford a second round of submissions, we would start soliciting manuscripts from any writer who is interested in working with us. Until then, Big Bang Press is a typical Kickstarter campaign: our customers fund us by pre-ordering various reward levels, and we provide the eventual product.
If you like what we’re doing, and want to submit a manuscript to us one day, then the best thing for you to do just now is back us on Kickstarter and spread the word! :)
— Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, Managing Editor & Social Media Director
okay, maybe I’m reading this wrong, and if I am I’m definitely up for someone putting me right because I think the idea behind a fandom-run publishing business is pretty cool, but so far this:
a) presented it as a business for fandom as a whole that everyone could take part in, enjoy, and benefit from
b) then revealed no, it’s not a business, it’s a project for single three books, and no, fandom as a whole can’t submit, and there’s no definitive business plan for a definite business in the future
c) basically finished up by saying “give us your money! maybe someday we’ll deign to read your work too,” with probably a full awareness fandom is made up of a big group of aspiring writers?
I mean, I have no issue with people wanting to fund their work getting published, and people wanting to fund their friends’ work, I think that’s pretty cool, but I’m super uncomfortable with the whole way this has been presented, wow. Call it what it is.
Reblogging for the comments.
So I do think that you’re reading this wrong. Big Bang Press isn’t a full business yet, and they said in their FAQ post that they can’t can’t use Kickstarter to solicit investors to start the business. So instead, they’re collecting pre-orders for their first three books, which they picked through a relatively blind process (and that it only wasn’t open submission because of staff size/limitations).
If these books sell well beyond the pre-orders and are successful, the money will then be there to grow the company into a real business that can take more submissions and publish more books. That’s pretty basic.
So while it’s only these three books at the moment, if it’s successful then it will indeed be a publishing company that anyone in fandom can submit to. I don’t think it’s fair to criticize them for not being there yet, as though all of the money and expertise should be there before they start. Companies need years to grow, but these guys have a great idea, and they have a good plan for the future if they can make it successful. They deserve the benefit of the doubt and a more generous reading of the situation.
As someone who works in the book business, I can confirm that this is how reputable publishing works. If a publishing house is interested in a submission, the authors are given advances to complete their work, and then paid a percentage of sales after the amount of the advance goes back to the publishing house. This is what all good publishers do, and it’s refreshing to see fandom authors being treated well.
I am really damn excited about this and hopeful that the three books will do well and that the company will grow from there.