So I’m not sure how this site has eluded me for so long, but I recently discovered InkShares.com. They are like Kickstarter.com or IndieGoGo.com, but once your book is crowdfunded enough they handle the editing, publishing, marketing, and distribution whereas KS & IG raise the money then you have to go find all that yourself. It’s a pretty cool idea… but is it actually viable?
InkShares pays a 50% royalty to their authors which sounds fantastic considering most book royalty deals are under 12%, but that 50% royalty doesn’t come into play UNTIL after the 250 pre-order mark or 750 pre-order mark. Why are there two milestone marks? Well, at 250 you can opt in to the Quill imprint which means they will technically print your book and put it on Amazon, but they aren’t going to put much marketing weight behind it or make too many copies. At the 750 mark they give you the full editing, marketing, cover design, promotion, distribution, etc etc (this would be worth it imo, but I’m not going to discuss this). The Quill imprint, which is where most authors will end up, would basically be like self-publishing. Let’s say you everybody in your family pre-orders your book so then your up to 50 pre-orders (generously). Now, half of your Facebook “friends” pre-order it getting you up to the 250. Yay, your book is going to get published… but is that a good thing?
250 pre-orders at roughly $20 is $5,000. So InkShares just made $5,000 and you made nothing. Granted, you get your book printed, and a good portion of that $5,000 will cover those costs, so that’s something. You get a book out of the deal, that’s a plus – but you get that if you self-publish too. Now I don’t know how many copies they print over the 250, but I can’t imagine it is many unless you have a huge following growing. It’s more likely that they print only the books people have committed to buy with pre-orders and then >100 extras. So on those 100 extra, you make $10 a book and InkShares makes $10. Now that’s a good deal, but remember this only after you’ve already sold over double that. Stay with me on this math. If you sold all 100 extra books, totaling at 350 books, you’ve made $1,000 and InkShares has made $4,500. Obviously, you have to subtract their costs for printing the book but they have contracts and deals with an Editing company and a Publisher so I’m sure it costs them a very, very reduced price since they’re printing so many books with the Publisher. We can relatively assume that, after the costs of printing, InkShares is still making 3x as much as you as the writer.
You’ve made $1,000 for a 300 page book, $3 a page for something that took you 6 months to a year to write, something that you probably wrote less than 5 good pages a day on. You poured your blood, sweat, and tears into this book to essentially make less than $5 an hour while the crowdfunding company essentially does nothing and makes 3x as much as you, and all profit since they don’t print your book until it hits a certain mark. They don’t take any risks. It’s a genius business model.
Now, if your goal is to just get a book published because you love writing as a hobby and you don’t want to make money then I say go for it! But I think the problem is that on the surface it seems like a fantastic idea when you see 50% royalties right on their page. It is a bit misleading. If you just want to hold a book in your hand that has your words printed on it and, more importantly, your name printed on the cover then you’d be better off self-publishing.
Lastly, I began writing this thinking InkShares was a cool idea and I would consider it. And I don’t want to come completely down on it. I guess I learned my feelings on it through writing this post about it. First of all, the hitting the 750 mark and getting the full treatment may be worth i. And I do want to say that it is not like they’re some evil corporation. In fact, I think what they’re doing is pretty cool. They are supporting the arts with an interesting crowdfunding model and making money while doing it. More power to them. They are not terrible greedy people; I just think what they do may not be viable for serious writers unless they already have a big following. If you are huge on social media or have a very popular blog or maybe even already have one book published, then I think this could work for you.
I know this site is new and I barely have any visitors, but if there’s anybody out there with experience with InkShares or would like to weigh in with their thoughts on what I’ve written, I’d like to read your comments below. Thanks for reading!