Award winning ELT authors Lindsay Clandfield and Luke Meddings are doing just this. They have set up The Round, which aims to bring together creative people in English Language Teaching. It aims to bridge “the gap between blogs and books – and about the difficulty of placing innovative, niche or critical materials with the big ELT publishers.” And has so far released two books for public consumption. Their mission is to provide material for educators, give a fair deal to authors and share expertise and ideas.
Since starting The Round in spring 2011 they have released two new titles 52, which is an activity book for language teachers, and Webinars: A Cookbook for educators, a how-to guide for doing web seminars or lessons.
They release the new titles through a section on their website called Labs, whereby The Round team let you see new projects which are being developed and sample content can be downloaded. And feedback can be given to the authors via the comment boxes.
I asked Lindsay and Luke some more questions:
Where are you hoping to go with The Round in the next 6 months?
Well, we’ve got around three more e-books lined up so those will hopefully all be out. We are also accepting proposals and pairing up experienced and new authors. It’s quite a busy time, but it’s very exciting.
And where do you hope it to be in 5 years time?
I think we’ll have to see what has changed in the publishing landscape. At the moment, it’s all a little bit messy. There are different formats for ebooks, there isn’t one universal way of doing them so our authors are making their titles in multiple formats. It would be nice if this process could change.
I expect us, in five years time, to have a nice little collection of e-books at The Round. Imagine it like an independent bookshop on the web. I also hope that by then we’ll have a few cool apps for teachers. And everything will still be at the same affordable prices that we’ve started out at.
Is this the end of writing material for the larger established Publishers?
No. I don’t think so. The large publishers have the resources, money and infrastructure to do great mainstream products. That won’t change. But for smaller, niche and quicker-to-customer products the big publishers have been struggling. That’s the area that we want to focus on. There is room for scale in publishing.
Do you think now having set up The Round, and once it becomes a huge success of course, it will change the type of material that Publishing Houses will look at taking to market?
Maybe. It’s too early to say. It probably also depends on the commercial success of some of the products that emerge from The Round. I mean, we aren’t doing it primarily for commercial reasons, it’s more about the fun and pleasure of the thing. But if something comes out of The Round that makes lots and lots of money then yes of course I imagine publishers to follow.
How do people get in contact with you if they have material that might be suitable for Labs?
Easy. They send us an email using the contact page at the website. We’d need a short proposal and sample and we go from there. At the moment we are being very discerning with what we accept, so there are quite a few things we’ve had to pass on now. But as any good experienced writer knows, you need to get used to rejection. Luke and I have both been there many times!
Is there anything else you would like to say about The Round?
Just to say thanks for doing this interview. We don’t have a marketing department, or marketing budget really. We are relying on word of mouth and social media to spread this idea and this kind of thing really helps.