Crowd-editing: Yay or Nay?

Flying lettersWith many musicians now turning to crowd-sourcing (or crowd-funding) to finance their latest album, it was only a matter of time, perhaps, before writers got in on the act. True, with singers and bands, it’s mostly the newbies who are making the most of this creative way of getting their music out there sooner rather than later, but more established artists are also catching on.

Essentially, you ask your fans to contribute towards the recording of your album or EP and as you go along, these contributors receive little perks, such as a signed copy of the album when released, previews of the music and other merchandise, depending on how the artist has decided to reward you. I know people doing this and it’s working really well. It helps them to fund their work and the ‘crowd’ is basically just buying what they’d be buying anyway, but at an earlier stage. It requires a certain amount of faith on behalf of the supporters, but the amounts paid don’t have to be huge.

Now, what’s this got to do with writers, I hear you say. Have authors started to charge people for bits of their books before they’re even published? Well, no. Actually, I don’t know – perhaps some writers, somewhere, are. But what I’m referring to is… Advance Editions.IMG_1982

This recently launched website is an initiative by my old friends at Book Drum, which I previously contributed to (check out the link – it’s a great resource for really delving into books!). Anyway, Advance Editions allows contributors to download the first half of an edited book for free. Their task then is to read the book and subsequently make any suggestions they have about it to the author – such as areas which could be refined, plot problems and the like.

If the reader wants to read the entire book, they can then buy it at a 60% advance discount. Meanwhile, the authors will revise their books and if they include your suggestion, you get a mention in the paperback and ebook when it comes out.

It’s an interesting idea and, as we’re told on the site: ‘This is a revolutionary time in publishing’.

I’m interested (as I’m sure Advance Editions are) to know what readers and writers think of this. Sure, we sometimes do it for friends (maybe!) and we may do it for work, but do we want to do it like this? I think the answer may, for many, be yes. The first two books on the site have already garnered a good bit of feedback and has also attracted the attention of The Guardian newspaper.

As the digital era pushes onwards, it’s good to try new things, see what works and what doesn’t. Traditional publishing is more than aware that the book world is changing, so we’ll see how crowd-editing works out.628px-The_Sun_by_the_Atmospheric_Imaging_Assembly_of_NASA's_Solar_Dynamics_Observatory_-_20100819

My thoughts? I think it will be good for:

  • Plot improvements/tidy-ups
  • Insights into what your specific readers want
  • Unique expertise on subjects (although… research!)

I think it might be unhelpful because:

  • Readers aren’t always writers
  • Everyone has an opinion and they ain’t generally all the same!
  • If you’re a new author, you may be put off by a multitude of ‘helpful’ comments re potential changes

Okay, I’m just thinking aloud here, but I’m intrigued to see how this goes and may well delve in myself at some point. I think the idea isn’t to get ‘expert advice’ but, rather like a writer’s group, to ask for useful feedback, and I think that the majority of people who’ll take the time to contribute, will take the time to be insightful and helpful to the author.

What do you think…?



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4 responses to “Crowd-editing: Yay or Nay?

  1. The professional editors, who know their stuff, won’t be contributing for free, so it’ll be interesting to see what the quality of the feedback will be like.

    • Hey Averill, thanks for commenting. Yes, I think it’ll be interesting as no doubt it won’t be the pros doing the work here on the site. They say the books will be ‘comprehensively edited’ first, though, so first the pros, then throw it out to the readers I guess.
      Question is, how much do you trust them?!

  2. essbreeshantay

    Is it like the equivalent of going to a critique group? That’s what this reads like to me, except the editors get a heavily discounted book. It sounds interesting enough and I’ll look into it once I get things situated.

    • Hey, thanks for commenting. Yes, I think that’s what it sounds like, and I don’t think it will replace professional editing, as the books will already have been worked on by a pro. But it seems like this will act as a sounding board for books due for publication which have been edited, but the author wants to hear what readers think of the overall plot etc. I guess more refining than anything. Interesting idea