Case study: Crowd #publishing needs social capital

Martin BakerMassively excited by my latest guest post – written by the authorised biographer of David Moyes! An author, screenwriter and script editor, Martin Baker‘s latest novel, Version Thirteen, was recently launched by UnboundVersion Thirteen is the second in the Spendlove trilogy set against the crisis in global capitalism, is 116% funded, and due to be published in October 2013. The early stages of screen adaptation in Hollywood are in hand. See the video here.

There’s more than you might think going on with the publication of my new novel, Version Thirteen.

The publishers, Unbound, have given me a few weeks to revise the manuscript Version Thirteen, the second novel in a trilogy featuring Samuel Spendlove, a hero who battles against near impossible odds, a media mogul, a financial master of the universe, and the darkest forces of global capitalism.

By now, you’re probably thinking: “So what?” I probably would be, even though I believe the subject matter of this thriller is something we all need to know about.

But what’s truly exceptional about Version Thirteen is the publishing process. It aligns the interests of author, publisher and reader in a way that is alien to modern times – though not olden ones. Let me explain.

Version Thirteen is a technology that sets the oil industry against the arms trade

Version Thirteen is a technology that sets the oil industry against the arms trade

The Internet has in effect revivified the Elizabethan publishing model. As they used to back then, readers band together and subscribe to have a writer’s work published. The subscribers then have their names published in a roll of honour at the back of the book. In Elizabethan times, financial capital was at a premium. Today, anyone can self-publish on Amazon. It’s social capital that has scarcity value.

Authors pitch ideas on Unbound’s website, and in person, at special, cabaret-style evenings. Readers, if they like what they see, pre-buy the books. Once the money’s raised, the book is written, printed and distributed.

The experience is transformative. Having published two earlier books with mainstream publishers, I can attest that the process is indeed simple and direct – and very good fun. Most writers are loners. We tend not to join things. But the Unbound authors’ evenings – readings, rants, cabaret and quite a lot of drink – transcend all that. As writers we have a rare opportunity to enthuse our readers, to communicate the passion that goes into our work.

The list of fellow authors makes for humbling reading: Terry Jones of Monty Python fame, the brilliant and prolific Julie Burchill, Tibor Fischer, Jonathan Meades, and many other eminent writers and luminaries from the worlds of acting and television.

Revolutionary Russian technology sparks geo-political dogfight

Revolutionary Russian technology sparks geo-political dogfight

Fellow author, Dr Sue Black, feels similarly: “The Internet, technology and social media are changing our world. Old-fashioned power structures are gradually breaking down. No longer are a few elite people making decisions about what gets published; crowd-funding gives that power to the people.”

And one way of persuading people to pre-buy (which is all patronage amounts to) is the use of cool video. Do check this one out, and explore the site. Of course, you’re very welcome to add your support, and get your name on the roll of honour at the back of the book.

About Dan Purvis

PR, comms, digital / social media specialist and advisor.

While consistently balancing the need for sustainable, impactful campaigns that incorporate PR, social/digital media and external communications in the mix, I ensure that game-changing strategies are aligned to commercial goals and objectives. Passionate about social media, the value of digital properties and PR, I have a proven track record of successfully leading various PR-specific and multi-discipline marketing campaigns. Internal comms, crisis comms and stakeholder liaison is also a core strength of mine.


  1. Sounds like an excellent idea. Although I would wonder how the author can balance providing enough information for readers to want to invest without giving away too many spoilers…

    • Good point, Prashad. It’s a great concept, but time will tell how popular (and therefore how viable a business model) it will be. My gut feel is that it will survive and grow, but won’t become mainstream as such. And your Q about giving enough but not too much plot info? This will most likely be determined by how good the author is, and how strong / compelling the plot is. All of these points highlight the need for social capital…without it, authors will find it hard to get off the ground – brand advocacy for individuals!

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