As yet Unbound – three books from a crowdfunder

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about discovering Unbound, the British-based crowd funding website dedicated to book publishing. I thought I might give this week’s entry over to a review of the three publishing projects I pledged to support. They are Springfield Road by Salena Godden, The Nine Lives of John Ogilby by Alan Ereira and I Will Pay One Pound for Your Story by Michelle Thomas. I chose these three first and foremost because they all looked like books I would like to read. But I had other reasons for picking each of them.

You can [used to be able to] get much more information about these books and their authors by following the links to each book’s Unbound campaign site as they come up below and viewing the authors’ pitch videos. [No longer. Two of the three links I had here are now broken. March 2019.] But here’s a potted account of each, and an explanation of my reasons for supporting them.

I Will Pay One Pound for Your Story

Michelle Thomas from her Unbound video pitch
Michelle Thomas from her Unbound video pitch

Let’s take the most interesting book first. Facing a period of unemployment, Michelle Thomas decided to start a “performance research project”. (She says the term’s her own invention and probably doesn’t mean anything. “I made it up because I’m not sure what to call the project”.) What she seems to do (and it must take considerable nerve) is stand around in public with a sign offering to buy people’s stories for one pound.

People who accept tell her their stories and she records them (in return for the pound). She then transcribes the stories as closely as she can to the way they were told – including hesitations and slips. And that’s it. She’s published a few of the stories on her blog. She started the Unbound campaign in order to find the cash to publish a book with 100 of the best stories.

I think the project – whatever it’s called – is a brilliant idea! I look forward to reading the book when it’s completed.

Cycle

Apart from wanting to read the book and wanting to help it get into print, I chose to pledge (for a signed, first edition hardback copy) because Michelle Thomas had only recently launched her project and I wanted to follow an Unbound book all the way through its cycle. I pledged when the book had just 7% support. Now, two weeks later, it’s got 13%, so I’m excited to see how the campaign develops.

I encourage you to support Michelle Thomas’s campaign too! The criticism I expressed of Unbound in my earlier blog entry (that they add 50% for postage and packing outside of the UK) does not apply to e-books. So if you can afford it, why not pledge £10 (that’s about 115 Skr) and help this interesting indie effort? Pledging also gets you access to the author’s “shed” – her Unbound-dedicated blog where she’s posted some of the original recordings along with links to her transcriptions.

Salena Godden from her Unbound video pitch
Salena Godden from her Unbound video pitch

Springfield Road

The second book I chose to support is Salena Godden’s Springfield Road. “Support” may be going a bit far as the book was already fully subscribed when I signed up. However, but the autobiography of this stand-up poet and her memories of growing up as a child in Hastings – just along the coast from Brighton, my own home town – sounds like something I’ll enjoy reading.

I was also interested to sponsor a funded project in order to see how it develops from full funding to published. I paid the minimum (£10) for a copy of the e-book and while I wait for publication I can follow Salena Godden’s Unbound blog (in her “shed”) and also get pointed to other events she’s involved in. (Interviews on the BBC, public readings of parts of the autobiography, her earlier books and her poetry.)

The Nine Lives of John Ogilby

My third choice fell on Alan Ereira’s The Nine Lives of John Ogilby. This will be a history book about a fascinating 17th century character. John Ogilby, says Alan Ereira, went through nine careers in his long life…

He was dancer, poet, publisher (the first crowd-funding publisher), Master of the Revels in Ireland and impresario. His final project, when he was over 70, was to create from scratch a new kind of map. The first national road atlas of any country in the world. Until this old man accurately measured 20,000 miles of roads, maps simply did not have roads on them.

The road atlas was called Britannia and was published in 1675. Alan Ereira’s projected book, though, will tell more than just the story of this extraordinary man, it will interpret Britannia and reveal (we are promised) a coded secret – a plot to invade Britain and re-establish an absolute monarchy.

Alan Eriera from his Unbound video pitch
Alan Eriera from his Unbound video pitch

I chose to support this project (by pledging for the hardback) partly because I’m interested in Ogilby’s story. In part I also chose it because Alan Ereira has been involved as co-author with Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) in writing three earlier history books (Crusades, Medieval Lives, Barbarians). Alan Ereira’s professional presentation of the book in his video, backed up by Terry Jones who endorses the book, and the fact that they seem to be planning a TV series together based on the book, also swung me to pledge.

Chances

I confess, I thought there was a better chance that Alan Ereira’s book would end up fully funded than that Michelle Thomas’s would.

I’m less sure now.

Having pledged and gained access to Alan Ereira’s “shed” I realise he has been looking for funding at Unbound for at least a year. His Unbound blog has exactly two entries, the last dated August 2013. Which, sadly, isn’t promising.

However, if I decide that John Ogilby’s story doesn’t look as though it’s going to get told – or not through the help of Unbound – then trying to disengage myself from supporting it will also be part of my learning experience as regards crowd funding.

Unbound

After signing up to support Unbound two weeks back I was in two minds about the site. I’ve since read through their legal documentation (the small print), which makes some things a bit clearer. Also, I’ve been in communication with them – and I’m hoping for some answers (which I’ll share in a later post).

There’s more to crowd funding for publication than at first meets the eye. (And isn’t that true of all indie publishing?) It’s a learning experience, but it’s a fun learning experience.

The next blog entry will say something more about FundedByMe.

Till then, cheerio!


This article was written for the #Blogg52 challenge.

3 thoughts on “As yet Unbound – three books from a crowdfunder”

  1. You have really found three interesting projects! The first one might be one for this crow (hehe) too. I would also like to know more about John Ogilby but it sounds like this project will not be the fastest way to learn more.

    • Glad you find this interesting Eva and I’m sure Michelle Thomas would appreciate more support. I speculate about what may have happened to the Ogilby project, but who knows. If I ever find out, I’ll share!

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