I was happy to attend a lunch lecture through Gotham Ghostwriters about Publishizer, a start-up described as "Kickstarter meets Tinder" for books. Authors run campaigns through Publishizer and collect pre-orders on their books from the public. Publishers learn about the books through the platform.The author contracts with a publisher and every investor of the campaign gets a published book.
It was an interesting meeting, bringing up issues in my head about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, writing for self versus others, the struggle to get an audience, and also whether start-ups will ever successfully disrupt publishing.
The founder of Publishizer is Lee Constantine, and the presentation began with the statistic 96%, the percentage of manuscripts that agents reject in the slush pile, and moved on to this quote from Lee, about what it takes for literary agents to want a manuscript.
The presentation then moved to how Publishizer was seeking to change this system. Below is a chart about the different ways authors get supported. The "accelerators" category is where Publishizer fits in. Publishizer is similar to literary agents in that it gets manuscripts seen by publishers and different in that it takes a one-time fee. Also, most agents do not deal with self-publishers as they will not make money. Publishizer deals with traditional and self-publishers. If you join Publishizer, the idea is you do not need an agent.
Below is an example of a successful Publishizer campaign. The author made a video, a cover, a synopsis, a bio. He sold pre-orders of the book and then contracted with Harvard Square Editions to publish the book. These pages for authors interested me a lot because they felt more up-to-date than query letters. It reminded me of checking out a person's website rather than their resume to get a feel for them and their work.
Here's a helpful pricing breakdown for authors working with Publishizer.
For clients who know they are going to self-publish, Publishizer might make sense. I have had clients do Kickstarter to fund their projects and Kickstarter takes less of a fee (5%), but doesn't link you up with publishers. I For clients who seek traditional publishing--the bulk of my clients--the normal query letter-literary agent route still seems best.