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John Mitchinson

Small independent presses: interview with John Mitchinson

In the latest blog post Norah Myers interviews John Mitchinson. John is a writer and publisher and the co-founder of Unbound, the award-winning crowdfunding platform for books. He helped to create the award-winning BBCTV show QI and co-wrote the best-selling series of QI books. He is co-host of Unbound’s books podcast Backlisted (@BacklistedPod) and a Vice-President of the Hay Festival of Arts & Literature.

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Small presses: a vibrant sector with lessons for all of us

Abbie Headon runs Abbie Headon Publishing Services, and offers a range of skills including writing, editing and commissioning, alongside social media, website development and publishing management. She champions fresh approaches to solving the industry’s challenges and can be found mingling at most publishing events. Abbie’s also BookMachine’s Commissioning Editor and sits on the BookMachine Editorial Board

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On crowdsourcing and crowdfunding: 10 things we learned from #LBF16

Jan Kasprzycki-Rosikon (Managing Director, MillionYou), John Mitchinson (Co-founder, Unbound) and Enrique Parrilla (Chief Executive, Pentian) spoke on crowdfunding and crowdsourcing at this year’s The London Book Fair. Here are our top 10 takeaway points on publishing and the collective wisdom of crowds.


1) Crowdsourcing is the generation of ideas, content, materials and collections. You simply create a community of people and give them challenges to solve. They then generate ideas which you can analyse, refine and implement.

2) You can crowdsource employees by implementing the same process and selecting the people whose ideas and solutions you like best. You can get feedback on a new product by asking your target market to feedback on design, quality, reflection of the company brand, etc. Crowdsource your marketing material by asking for submissions of ideas, designs or videos. Select, pay for and use the best ones. You can even crowdsource your content by asking the public to submit information and research on a certain topic.

3) Crowdsourcing creates a pool of talented people, motivates employees, encourages news ideas and fresh approaches, and ultimately leaves you will a community of engaged consumers with brand awareness and customer loyalty.


4) Crowdfunding offers authors more control over their content and better deals. By putting authors in control of their own marketing, creativity is encouraged and rewarded.

5) Authors are being given more access to social media and sales data, allowing them to inform and improve their own marketing strategies.

6) Unbound launch 15-20 projects a month. Many reach their targets within several months and over 70% get funding within 18 months. They implement a degree of quality control but creativity and difference is encouraged, which will be beneficial to the industry as whole.

7) Crowdfunding has also disrupted, and experiments with, traditional royalty models. For example, Pentian give 50% of the profits to the backers, 40% goes to the author and they receive 10%.

8) After being driven to the site to pledge following a recommendation or seeing online material for a particular book, many backers tend to stay on the site to browse and then pledge on other products.

9) Pentian report that a majority of their successes have been with authors in emerging markets e.g. Chile, Ecuador and Cuba, These markets have not had access to the traditional publishing channels, funding and distribution, but these authors now have the tools that they need to reach their audiences.

10) With data available on every aspect of the process, crowdfunding companies can amass enough over time to inform their strategies and even predict what’s likely to be a success based on previous data.

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