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Book geek turned startup founder goes through 500 Startups Batch 13 and brings the family-like approach to the first ever book accelerator program, poised to give authors a better publishing experience.

“The family-like experience was created by being among awesome people. Because it’s curated and hand-selected, you feel a part of something special. Struggling, succeeding and learning together reinforces powerfully deep bonds.”

Guy Vincent, Rockstart & 500 Startups Batch Graduate and Founder/CEO at Publishizer.com

Startup accelerators, are fixed-term, cohort-based programs, that include mentorship and educational components and culminate in a public pitch event or demo day.

Mimic this idea onto book publishing and consider the key players:

  • Founders into authors
  • Startup idea into book idea
  • Investors into publishers
  • Funding into advances
  • Customers into book sales
  • Demo pitch into proposal query
  • Mentors into literary agents

How it works

Just like a startup accelerator increases in value over time through the quality of their founders, investors, mentors and team, the book accelerator also increases in value through the quality of their authors, publishers, agents and editors.

Authors apply to be part of a batch lasting a couple months, in which they obtain coaching and agenting, usually in exchange for a small fee once they obtain a minimum of 500 pre-order copies within 30 days of a book crowdfunding campaign.

The accelerator program hopes to enable authors and exciting new book ideas, and of course land an advance-paying publisher.

The secret sauce of any accelerator

To enable the big wins, an accelerator must create a cycle — a good accelerator will attract great authors and book ideas, which will in turn attract strong publishers and subsequently lead to higher book sales and a better publishing experience, which will just repeat the cycle of attracting better authors and publishers. Paul Lee, partner at Lightbank, backs this notion.

In accordance with this rule, Publishizer accepts carefully vetted authors, often times hand-picked or ‘scouted’, and who stand the best chances of completing a successful book crowdfunding campaign and landing a traditional advance-paying publishing deal with our partners.

“We save the publishing community time and make book deals and advances more efficient for them.”

— Guy Vincent, CEO at Publishizer

Why are accelerators appealing

This question was posed to Brad Feld, a cofounder of TechStars, and he likened the accelerator experience to immersive education, where a period of intense, focused attention provides creators an opportunity to learn at a rapid pace. Learning-by-doing is vital to the process of scaling a project, and the point of accelerators, suggests Feld and others, is to accelerate that process. In this way, you can compress years’ worth of learning into a period of a couple months.

Imagine this immersive education and intense, focused attention when applied to an author’s book idea.

“Publishizer is a disruptor in this industry and with my background in Silicon Valley it felt aligned.”

— Anshu Singh, author of Pressure to Pleasure, former executive turned breath-work coach and facilitator

Entering an accelerator without a product is like going to a car race with a bicycle. You have to have something to accelerate. Authors usually have many book ideas. These need testing and validating to ensure market fit and potential to scale. Rapid experimentation and being strategic obtaining pre-order copies is the best way to bring traction to a book idea in the short term and get editors interested in working with the title. 

What authors learn at Publishizer they will be able to execute immediately, and the connections they make will last a lifetime.

“We spent time working on my book proposal and then negotiated multiple publishing contracts. I ended up with a 5-figure paid advance.”

— Neal Schaffer, author of The Business of Influence, social media influencer and keynote speaker on marketing, sales and influence. Published by HarperCollins Leadership

What if you could launch your book side-by-side

with Stu Krieger the screenwriter of The Land Before Time and first-time novelist, Ajit Nawalkha the cofounder at Mindvalley who fulfilled his dream to publish a book, Casey Fenton the founder of Couchsurfing.com and now debut author, or other influencers, authors and entrepreneurs in your cohort?

“To summarize [delicately], accelerators can have a positive effect on performance.”

— Ian Hathaway, Harvard Business Review, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution

So far, 500 Startups has invested $100 million+ in over 50 countries to more than 1,000 investments over the past five years. The accelerator has had 18 cohorts, which have graduated over 400 individuals. All of that investment activity has produced 2 “unicorn” companies worth over $1 billion.

To model any accelerator program after 500 Startups is quite ambitious — especially when they are 2 for 1,000 (instead of 2 for 10) and can include the word ‘billion’ in any given sentence.

But does this mean Publishizer should treat their authors as investments? As cohorts to be ‘graduated’ from this accelerator program? Do we plan to invest in ten authors a month and then hope two unicorns are produced?

Well, kinda. But more on that later…

Why should you join a book accelerator

For authors, a book accelerator provides a head start for the long marathon towards writing a book and getting it published.

The value of this experience is multi-layered: learn from industry experts, get privileged access to agents, maintain morale through peer support, grow early readership, gain credibility in the eyes of editors and publishers and be guided in critical choices.

What a book accelerator does is time compression. It allows you to shorten the learning cycle to the extreme, reduce distractions and increase serendipity. 

We support authors by providing access to editors, market, community and expertise in almost every book publishing category and genre, including these authors who have already graduated.

I signed with Berrett-Koehler, an independent publisher which also has a distribution agreement with Penguin Random House. We are totally values-aligned and I’m very happy I signed with them.”

— Leena Olaimy, author of Compassionate Counterterrorism, Dalai Lama Fellow and Fulbright Scholar who has been researching terrorism since 9/11. Published by Berrett-Koehler

Be coachable

Over the years we’ve seen experienced authors and entrepreneurs with book ideas do great on writing the proposal only to fail at the crowdfunding aspects because of their lack of commitment when it’s most important. 

During the program your choices will be constantly challenged by a coach and agent. The point is to give you the most complete perspective on your book idea and how to shape it into something with market viability — and something editors want for their publishing lists. This process cannot happen without a constructive feedback loop.

In short: the job of an accelerator is to speed up the creation of a book proposal and gain early readers through crowdfunding, and this happens very well for authors and entrepreneurs with a clear book idea and a desire to land a traditional publisher.

If this resonates with you we’d love to have you apply.

Yours,

The Shizzle

Musings on the future of traditional publishing

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