Crowdfunding As An Antidote To Vanity Publishing: Colborne and Pubslush Join Forces

Image - iStockphoto: ruivalesousa
Image – iStockphoto: ruivalesousa

‘All The Backend Experience’

“The conversation was along the lines of ‘Pubslush has the marketing smarts that Colborne needs, and Colborne has all the backend experience that Pubslush is short on.’”

Greg Ioannou
Greg Ioannou

Toronto’s Greg Ioannou was one of the very few people not surprised last week, as news got around that his company and author-crowdfunder Pubslush would be joining forces.

“This deal, in some form or other, has been on my wish list for about 18 months.”

Because an email went out to Pubslush’s subscription list first, many thought that the New York-based company was a goner. Certainly its key players, Hellen and Amanda Barbara have long been valued and welcome members of the independent writers’ community and publishing conference-going set.

And while many campaigns in crowdfunding don’t succeed, Pubslush was hardly without successes. For example, when Orna Ross, director of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) wrote about her new W.B. Yeats Secret Rose project at The FutureBook, she mentioned that she’d used Pubslush to fund it with £7,890 ($12,157) in contributions from 49 backers.

What Ioannou’s Colborne Communications didn’t have was a way for authors and publishers to try to fund their projects. Now, with Pubslush, it’s getting that.

“It’s a bit like we had each built half a company,” Ioannou says. “I’ve finally joined the two halves together. ”

If that sounds like Platonic Pubslush is at hand, the development of Colborne as its new destination follows a pathway almost organically reflective of the development of the modern writer’s independence.  And in an interview with Ioannou, he stakes out the stations of the cross his business — along with the writing community — has checked into along the way.

‘Our US Customers Found It Quaint’

Colborne Communications — not especially widely known to many in the US market — is positioned as a provider of broadening menu of services not only for authors but also for publishers and for corporate and government entities that are becoming publishers for various purposes of public and internal messaging.

One of the more robust elements of the digital dynamic’s “everybody can publish” energy lies in corporate and government settings that — like people who think of themselves as authors — can now publish their own work. The problems for large organizations can be quite similar to those of writers: they may have content but be completely new to the ways and means of professional publication. Colborne, in a sense, has grown into this development from what was, originally, a far more focused offering.

[pullquote]”You don’t really want to get your friend who is kind of into cars to do a brake job for you. But so many authors think that, say, having untrained beta readers go over their books is a substitute for professional editing.”
Greg Ioannou, Colborne Communications[/pullquote]

“Colborne was formed September 1977,” Ioannou tells me. “For many years it was called ‘The Editorial Centre’ but we changed that in the early 1990s when the range of services we offered moved well beyond editing. Not to mention our US customers found it quaint. We were on Colborne Street at the time, and my lawyer suggested that using the street name would sound ‘corporate.’

“Our first service directly aimed at individuals was this.” He shows me a manuscript evaluation service offering.

Today, Ioannou says (he pronounces it You-AH-noo), “I try to keep our business balanced, so when I’m doing sales/marketing I tend to go after what we don’t have enough of at the moment. It’s always a mix of four client groups: governments, corporations, publishers, and individuals.”

Initially, though, “I started doing evaluations in 1982 or ’83, and soon after began giving workshops on how to do them properly. The focus at first was how to get the manuscript good enough that it would stand a strong chance with a traditional agent or publisher. Now, it’s more like a very sophisticated beta-reading service.

“By the early 1990s, we were doing ghostwriting, editing and such directly for authors, but the focus was still getting the book ready for a traditional publisher. This was one of the first of those projects.” He refers me to Boost Your Business in Any Economy by Bill Gibson. “We finished it in 1990 or ’91, and it came out in 1993.”

The proliferation of services has led to a collection of a la carte offerings that can mesh or be pulled apart, according to a client’s needs.

An In-House Engine For Seed Money

What has attracted Ioannou to Pubslush as part of that collection is its potential to be an enabler to the rest.

“Say an author comes in to Colborne with a good manuscript to self-publish and says, ‘What can you do for me for $250?’ The honest answer to that is, ‘Probably nothing that really helps you all that much.’

“But Pubslush lets me answer, ‘Let me look at it and tell you what it needs to be a good, professional publication — editing, design, distribution, marketing. I’ll give you a budget and a schedule, and then we’ll put it on Pubslush to raise the money. If it works, great. If it falls short, maybe it isn’t really a marketable project the way you’re currently thinking of it.’

“If you really want to spend that $250 wisely on your book, use it to pay for Pubslush Prep to get your project launched properly.”

And if that’s how an author might leverage the Colborne-plus-Pubslush combo, what of other operations that might ask for help?

[pullquote]”I want all of people’s publishing activities to be funded by selling books to people who will read them. I have no interest in…vanity publishing.”
Greg Ioannou, Colborne Communications[/pullquote]

“Look at it from the viewpoint of a publishing consultant,” Ioannou says, “or freelance editor or designer or agent who has an author with a great project. But they only do, say, editing. We can help them provide the parts of the process they can’t do themselves through Colborne. Or, better, we can build a team for them from Pubslush’s various publishing partners.

“I’m saying ‘better’ because I want the partners using each other’s services — so, say, an editor gets design services from some partners and provides editing services to others.”

Put it all together this way:

“Not too far in the future, the author comes to the Pubslush site,” Ioannou says, “gets a checklist of the steps that the book needs; gets to choose an editor who has lots of experience with that kind of book or a young editor just starting out who will do the work more cheaply; sees samples of the work of a lot of cover designers and picks one; sees an array of publishers who might be interested in publishing the book — or gets various options to self-publish; and gets help to pay for it all” with crowdfunding “or can just pay for it all on the spot if that option appeals more.”

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There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son

Writing on the Ether: Crowdfunding As An Antidote To Vanity Publishing: Colborne and Pubslush Join Forces

Originally published by Thought Catalog at




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