Finding Readers: Crowd the Book!

Your book comes out. You promote the heck out of the launch, and then what? That’s the question we’re acknowledging and exploring as part of the Finding Readers series. (Read the first installment here.)

Successful books get noticed long after their debut weeks. Successful books build on the initial hype and keep growing their audience, through word of mouth, publicity, new reviews, and events.

A friend recently told me about Crowd the Book, an innovative new concept that supports small presses and indie authors. Here’s how it works. The folks at Crowd the Book pick a title to “crowd” each month, and then they spread the word about the book and the author, hoping to encourage grassroots support and boost sales and reviews.

May’s selection is Here Is How It Happens, the debut novel by Spencer Dew, released by Ampersand Books in March. You can read more about the book, as well as an author interview, at the Crowd the Book author page.  

I love this concept. It involves that very important curatorship component, where Crowd the Book chooses titles and then advocates for them. It’s a group of people informing other people, “You have to read THIS book.”

My whole goal as a small press publisher is to find a home for worthy fiction by Oregon writers–building a sense of local community along the way with readings, events, and anthologies, while growing a national audience for our authors. Crowd the Book has the same philosophy: to build a sense of community around individual books. To support independent authors and presses. To get beautiful work noticed and appreciated in a world that is much less reading-centric than it used to be.

The Crowd the Book website states 300,000 books are released in America per year. As authors and publishers, that’s a daunting statistic, isn’t it? How does one book–one among those 300,000–find its audience? How does one book get discovered on the shelf or online? How does one small press get its authors the attention they deserve when there are so many mega-titles from mega-publishers being released? Crowd the Book is answering those questions in a positive, community focused way, by doing exactly what it’s doing.

“We’re curators of indie lit,” Crowd the Book’s “About” page explains. “We give indie authors and the small presses that publish them an arena to generate interest and support from people who love indie lit. And we give you a backstage pass with interviews with our authors and their publishers, sneak peeks at their writing studios and more.” 

From the Finding Readers perspective, what could be better? Crowd the Book vocally advocates for one book a month, offering several features and a handy PayPal button for immediate purchase. The titles are hand-selected, much like independent booksellers promoting their picks to customers by setting up tables of favorites and hand-writing “shelf talkers” to share the love. That kind of attention is so amazingly important for the health of small presses, not to mention the individual authors whose work gets applauded.

We’re all in this together, writers, readers, and publishers. Crowd the Book is taking that philosophy and expanding on it, building an online community around one title after the other. It’s a community that’s not based on regionality, or on a particular press, but on quality, and that overall mission to support independent authors and publishers.

If we want others to support us, we need to buy books and support other writers. I encourage you to check out Crowd the Book with a final, inspirational quote from the “About” page: “Repost updates about the book and get your friends to support the author and help us make a big change for one small author and one small press. If we get enough readers to crowd that book, we’ll give the author the attention and adoration he or she deserves and we’ll give the press enough of a groundswell to publish an extra 1, 2, 3 or even 10 books that year.”

That’s pretty wonderful, whether you’re a reader, a writer, or a publisher.

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
This entry was posted in Community, Finding Readers, small press, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Finding Readers: Crowd the Book!

  1. Marc Schuster says:

    Out of curiosity, do you know if Crowd the Book charges for its services, or is this a philanthropic venture?

    • Good question, Marc. I’m not sure, but I’ll let you know if/when I figure out the answer. My sense, just from the site, is that it’s philanthropic, with no up-front fee, but I would expect them to keep a little of each book sale to defray costs, since the transactions are handled through the Crowd the Book site (vs. sending people to, say, Amazon). But that’s just me guessing about how it might work.

      • Marc Schuster says:

        Thanks!

        • Hi Marc – we ask our publisher partners to sell books to us at the same rate they would any other bookseller. We then offer them to readers at the same cost that the publisher would charge. We try to make sure this is fair to us, our publishers and our crowds. Cheers! Vish

          • Thanks for jumping in with an answer, Vishal. I love your model and the fact that it’s based on community building. And–speaking of community–Christopher and I have a writer-friend in common out here in the Pacific Northwest and we both attended her book launch in April. Small world!

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