An Interview With Pubslush Founder Jesse Potash

I recently sat down with Jesse Potash, founder of Pubslush, a new online publishing platform. The following is an excerpt of our conversation.
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I recently sat down with Jesse Potash, founder of Pubslush, a new online publishing platform. The following is an excerpt of our conversation.

Plain and simple, what is Pubslush?

A global, crowdfunded publishing platform with a cause. The goal of the platform is to help authors raise money and understand their initial audience, and provide the tools and resources to publish successfully via self-publishing or traditional publishing. The idea is to aggregate all of the essential components (financing, professional publishing services, guidance and support, and a built-in audience) for authors to be successful. The process is simple: authors submit a summary and sample of their book, setting a fundraising goal and campaign duration. Readers financially support their favorite submissions, in exchange for a reward. Authors raise money and use supporter analytics to publish their book.

Pubslush is introducing readers into the publishing equation by allowing them to determine what books get published. We also operate an independent publishing imprint that acquires high potential books exclusively from the site, much like in traditional publishing, and for every book we sell, we donate a children's book to a child in need.

Why should authors use it?

The most important reason is that there is no risk whatsoever and at the very least authors will walk away with some funding to support the costs of producing a high quality book as well as actionable analytics about their audience. Publishers always ask authors who their audience is, and the answer is almost always a guess. Pubslush eliminates the guesswork from publishing and ensures a greater chance of success by mitigating risk (financially and otherwise) and helping authors create a professional product.

In addition, the platform is optimized for authors, meaning we provide all of the education and tools necessary to bring a book to life. This will include a marketplace of freelance publishing professionals so authors can build a qualified team for their book (designer, editor, publicist, etc.) as well as advanced promotion tools such as direct email import and embeddable HTML badges.

If authors wish to traditionally publish, proof of a successful campaign on Pubslush will be a huge boost to an author's query letter. I guarantee a publisher or agent will give extra consideration to an author that can show they've raised a significant amount of money and know exactly who the initial audience is for their book. Also, though we have already seen authors be successful on their own, the reality is self-publishing is difficult and confusing. Our goal is to dissolve that confusion.

How is it different than other crowdfunding platforms?

Pubslush is a crowdfunding platform for books only. Authors represent a unique subset of the creative community, and we felt it was necessary to provide them with their own platform. On other crowdfunding sites, books are often overlooked when positioned next to extremely dynamic and visual projects. This is nonissue on Pubslush. Also, we use flexible funding so authors keep the money they raise even if they fail to meet their goal. This is because the costs associated with publishing can vary greatly and any amount of money can help.

Beyond that, Pubslush is a community of trendsetting readers committed to bypassing the bureaucracy of the publishing industry and giving back (authors using the platform can elect to donate a portion of their proceeds to our nonprofit foundation in support of children's literacy initiatives). We are completely global and offer the most competitive pricing in the industry at just 4 percent. Finally, if authors wish to be published by Pubslush's philanthropic publishing imprint, we only acquire books that are on Pubslush first.

What was the inspiration?

The concept is a tribute to J.K. Rowling and her trials and tribulations in the publishing industry. Harry Potter was rejected several times before being accepted for publication, as were many other bestselling books. I felt appalled by the antiquated, elitist tactics of the industry and thought the existing talent discovery process could be improved with technology. The nonprofit component is a result of me and my partner's previous involvement with intellectual human rights and education philanthropy. The imminent need to aid children's literacy initiatives was at the forefront of the conversation while developing the idea for Pubslush, and having been an avid fan of TOMS Shoes, the one-for-one strategy seemed like a incredible way to bring the concept full circle.

Can you talk more about the publishing imprint and nonprofit component?

Our imprint, Pubslush Press, operates like a traditional publisher to acquire books, but in every other way is quite nontraditional. By extending deals to authors trending highly on the site, we are publishing books chosen by readers. We like to think of our process as partner publishing and offer much higher royalties than in traditional publishing. We believe the role of the publisher is to expertly guide and support the author, much like a manager's job in the music industry. Our process is also highly personalized: we build a specialized freelance team of professionals around each title who actually have a vested interested in the project's success. Most importantly, we are focused on data science and emerging technologies to guarantee an informed publishing process.

Then for every book we sell, we donate a children's book to a child in need. This is because illiteracy is one of the leading causes of poverty. Today, close to a billion people are illiterate. Also today, over 100 million children don't have access to books, meaning they too will become illiterate. Fighting poverty is hopeless without books. The cornerstones of our giving practices are transparency and responsibility. We work with established giving partners to fulfill their literacy needs and build sustainable programs (by providing ongoing support) to achieve tangible results.

Pubslush is entirely about giving: giving an opportunity to authors, giving a voice to readers, and giving books to children without access to literature.

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