This isn't a blog about whether it's wise to be romantically entangled with a writer, that's a discussion for another time! It's about a new publishing venture that actually builds on a much older model.
Unbound is a new site that asks for readers to commit to an author's book - before it's written. As you'll see from the site, authors are trying out new ideas, and taking on sponsorship from readers, who can sign up to support the author at staggered levels. A £10 stake gets you an e-copy of the book, whereas £250 will get you lunch with the author, signed hardback first editions, tickets to the launch, and goodie bags.
This harks back to a time when books were published by private subscription, with the readers joining a list and paying before the book was published, which was very popular in the seventeenth century. The first illustrated edition of Milton's Paradise Lost was published by subscription, with the support of more than 500 prominent individuals.
What makes this different is also what makes it incredibly valuable for the aspiring writer, as well as the interested reader. As well as the fun and the glamour of these different levels of sponsorship, all levels give the participant access to the author's 'shed', a specific author forum on the site where the author will post thoughts as they work, put up draft chapters, ask for input, and engage with the readers.
Currently they are working with established authors, who are trying out ideas that perhaps their traditional publishers won't take on, but there is scope for this model to be taken further. If none of the current projects interest you, you can sign up to be notified when new projects start up.
As you write, would you welcome or resent having reader input? And what extent of input would work for you? Do you see yourself signing up to become a sponsor?