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When I was still in university, one of my best friends and I had this old idea to create and promote a hypothetical web service that would connect creators and publishing professionals.
I don't know if it will ever see the light of day, but it was nevertheless important to us at the time because we are both creatives who want to get our own stories out there, and know what it’s like to be overwhelmed by the whole process as well as discouraged by the lack of support emerging authors get. We would definitely want to make it easier for people to access the connections and tools they need in order to fully actualize their projects.
Besides, it might be better for me to have it out in writing and establish it as our idea. Allow me to share with all of you the thought process behind what may one day be known as "Wordsmen Unite."
There are so many diverse and challenging stories out there waiting to be told. The problem is, the book publishing process is overwhelming, and many aspiring writers feel as though they’re left to their own devices.
The truth is, they’re probably not getting the right kind of support for their particular story ideas.
Wordsmen Unite (previously named Wordsmanship Unite) is a hypothetical networking platform that aims to encourage new creators to openly, comfortably, and unapologetically share drafts of their novels, comics, anthologies, poetry, and any other forms of writing with readers and network with users in the publishing and design industries.
Not only that; editors, illustrators, graphic designers and publishing consultants can choose to connect with and help writers with their projects by providing feedback, publicizing their works-in-progress, and even collaborating with them if a particular project piques their interest.
Publishing consultants in particular could advise creators on how to self-publish or seek out suitable publishing houses willing to publish and promote their works. Site readers might choose to donate to writers, and writers can strike payment negotiations with their collaborators.
Our goals with this platform are to build credibility and businesses as a source of great modern-day literature, give people job opportunities and allow content to flourish in a collaborative blogging-oriented environment.
Rupi Kaur is an inspiration with her poetry depicting very real experiences in her life, and she was successful in breaking the mold. We’d like to see more creatives like her find their way in the market.
We also find crowdfunding initiatives like Kickstarter and Patreon to be very inspiring, in that they allow for the creators and consumers to have close, transparent contact on an ongoing basis. Creators have the means to continue creating, reach their goals, and provide incentives for consumers, while consumers can give their support and suggestions every step of the way to ensure fulfillment and satisfaction on both ends. We would want to implement a sort of donation system like this into our own web service.
In order to get the development of this website underway, we'd first need to build, design and code it. We'd have prompts for people to register as creators, editors, publishing consultants, or simply readers, as well as a sign-in button for returning users. Everyone would have their own profile with their bio, interests, PayPal earnings information, direct messaging, friend request buttons and contact information; however, depending on what kind of user they are, they’ll have additional features unique to their role.
For example, creators could have the option to upload their publications to their profile, and any collaborators can include links to them on their own profiles unless they have permission from the original creators (project initiators) to upload the projects as well. If it’s something that two or more people came up with together, then they all should be able to upload the work to their own profiles without issue.
Editors and publishing consultants can have reference links to all creators they’ve worked with, and readers can have lists of finished publications and authors that they recommend to others. Creators could have the option to publish drafts of their work either publicly so that everyone can see, or only to other creators, collaborators, editors and publishing consultants until they feel prepared to share with readers.
There would be options to like and comment on works in forums for everyone, but only editors would have the power to actively edit and leave comments on files if creators grant permission, and then creators can respond to, accept and reject them. Creators can list their works as either drafts or finished products. Any and all updates concerning activities such as project progression, readers’ reviews, and site maintenance can be shared via social media by anyone. We'd include widgets for email subscriptions, donations, social media updates and press releases, and a shopping cart or some sort of payment process.
We'd have tabs for: contact information; a page about us; news and interview articles and videos; affiliate programs for readers whereby they get financially compensated every time someone buys a book by one of our authors that they recommended (eligibility is based on their online presence as critics, and if they have their own website that would allow for Wordsmen Unite plugins); sponsors; terms policy and privacy, shipping and returns; careers at Wordsmen Unite; a database for published books; and a search page for users and other viewers to find and browse creators whose projects they are interested in following.
On the main page, we would feature creators that are currently getting lots of followers and funding for their works-in-progress. For the actual website to make profit, aside from bought books, royalties, and sponsorships, we’d implement pay-per-click advertising. We would nonetheless try to put as much emphasis on the creators’ books as possible by: recommending other books to customers that make a purchase based on the genre of the book(s) they bought on a “Thank You” page; have sales and offer coupons based on the customer’s purchase history; and other special events.
Our target audience would naturally be writers, readers, editors, publishers, journalists, illustrators, and graphic designers. Social networks and platforms that we would share content and announcements on include Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Our weekly plan would start with deciding whether or not we want to build a site from the ground up or have it powered by an already established blogging site like WordPress or Squarespace. Then, we would create it, figure out our budget for the project, create an advertising campaign, call on agencies that would help advertise potential job opportunities to people as well as encouraging interested users to register. We would want to try doing all this within a few months after the initial plan devising.
Aside from the two of us, we’d ask for sponsors, partners, and advertising requests from agencies such as: Amazon (especially since they own Kindle Direct Publishing); Audible (to encourage creators to offer audio versions of their projects); Bookwitty; Chapters; Goodreads; Goodreads Missoula; Reader’s Digest; Penguin Random House; TED; and For Reading Addicts.
Once we have a storyboard, we'd want to put together an advertising campaign or digital story in video format.
Our takeaway from this project are the importance of experimenting with the different technologies at our disposal, and not shying away from trying to create something or at the very least seeking guidance on getting started. The obvious challenges with this concept would be creating the actual campaign video and figuring out how to prioritize our ideas for the website.
It also certainly helps to have a clear plan after doing research on how to do things such as developing the website itself, getting business and financial consultation, doing business with other entities, and starting up the recruitment process for our employees.
As I finish writing up this plan, I realise more and more how enthusiastic I actually feel about finally launching the initiative. It's something my friend and I have thought about for over two years, and it would honestly be a shame to not follow through on it. In any case, I thank you all for giving this a read, and I'll hopefully be posting updates about Wordsmen Unite someday!