In five years of running whitefox, here are some of the key things we’ve concluded that seem to matter most to both publishers and freelancers.
So when is a start-up no longer classified as a start-up? I remember hearing one entrepreneur pose such a question on a conference platform a few years back somewhere in London. And their answer? “I’ll finally say I don’t run a start up when I stop getting asked to speak at events such as this.”
whitefox CEO John Bond takes a newer breed of self-publishing, in the form of illustrated colour projects, into consideration:
When we think of successful indie publishing, there is a synaptic shortcut which takes us quickly to genre fiction, to crime and romance and, inevitably, to Kindle.
Just over three years ago, whitefox was approached by one of the larger on-line freelance marketplaces (they had raised $ millions) to see if we’d be interested in helping them curate the part of their platform that related to publishing. I am assuming at the time a number of requests went out to different sectors. It didn’t happen. We said no. I’ve no idea if anyone said yes. But it got us thinking at the time about the old adage, how does the guy who drives the snow plough get to work in the morning? Or more accurately, who is curating the curators?
In our experience, there are plenty of pure play tech companies merely succeeding in negotiating investment bingo ( if you include the magic words mobile / crowd-funding / marketplace / freemium / data / platform in your ten slide deck ) and lots of seemingly analogue 20th century businesses expanding rapidly, but who may have taken five or more years to prove their particular concept by doing good, recommendable work and start making profits.
It was hard to ignore the overriding sense from all authors attending the recent Bookseller Author Day conference of the desire for greater transparency, regardless of whether you are traditionally published or not. So it is in that spirit that I tell of a conversation this week with a writer whitefox has worked with over the past year, someone without an agent but with a finished manuscript, looking ideally for a traditional publishing partner. Through his own networking, he seems to have found someone potentially interested, a known publisher with many years of output. This publisher has offered him this proposal: they will publish his book, on the understanding that he contributes £9,000 towards the editorial process.