I'm sharing an article (below) on a recent initiative by one of my favorite publishers, Cinco Punto Press. Founded in 1985 by writers Bobby and Lee Byrd, Cinco Puntos is located just three miles north of the US-Mexico border in El Paso. Their catalog is brimming with culturally (and linguistically) diverse titles for adults and youth in every genre. Writers fortunate enough to work with the Byrds, call them "family," for these relationships are based on mutual trust, respect and admiration. So when an initiative comes out of such an auspicious environment, we should all pay close attention . . .
On Breaking Demographic Borders for Books With Crowdfunding
By Lisa Y. Garibay
EL PASO, TEXAS: What first catches a visitor’s eye on the Cinco Puntos Press Rockethub crowdfunding campaign page is the video. It features press co-founder Lee Byrd right up in the camera and thus the viewer’s face, delivering less of a “why you should donate” pitch than a homespun, off-the-rails monologue about her husband, poet and Cinco Puntos co-founder Bobby Byrd. Her anecdotes about Bobby’s and forthcoming book for which the campaign is fundraising are intercut with a home video of a previous grassroots outreach effort for his 2006 project, a CD that matched Bobby’s poetry with music by noted rock ‘n’ roller Jim Ward of Sleepercar, Sparta, and At the Drive-In.
The video’s content and quality are quite different from other much more composed, deliberate videos that are the result of standards and practices put into place by a few years’ worth of crowdsourcing. In other words, the video is very much in the spirit of Cinco Puntos Press, which has been doing things differently—that is, in ways that most other people in the profession would deem unworkable—with measured, ever-increasing success over its three decades. (An earlier Publishing Perspectives article on Cinco Puntos press offers more detail about their unique business model.)
The concept of crowdfunding (which is raising money to bring a fully fleshed-out project to fruition versus crowdsourcing, which brings resources and talents together to complete a project) hadn’t been on the Byrds’ radar until Rockethub’s founder Brian Meece traveled to Cinco Puntos’ hometown of El Paso, Texas. Meece conducted a public presentation for local entrepreneurs based on his successful partnership with the West Texas athletic shoe companySpira, which resulted in promotion by A&E and a tie-in with the popular reality show Duck Dynasty.
The Byrds had been looking into new ways to capitalize after their long-time author Benjamin Alire Sáenz received the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction last spring, resulting in a jump in sales. This capitalization included not only literal revenue streams or long-range investors, but also a better reaping of their audience.
Cinco Puntos’ third partner, Lee and Bobby’s son John, believes that the company has always been good at identifying market inefficiencies within the publishing world, and wanted crowdfunding to be part of that tradition.
“Most books published are by white writers who live on the East Coast,” John told Publishing Perspectives. “So we realized that demographically there’s a large audience for non-white writers, so we’re seeking to capitalize on it and we’re really good at it, but we’re trying to connect with some additional capital so that we can take what we’re doing further.”
“We realized that demographically there’s a large audience for non-white writers, so we’re seeking to capitalize on it.”
Crowdfunding was a big draw given that, ideally, it provides both capital and publicity, not just one or the other. “[Meece] was talking about it a lot as an opportunity to not only sell what you’re doing but to create a broader audience for it. We’re always looking for ways to push beyond the people that we know enjoy our books and are buying our books,” says John, whether those methods are within or outside of the traditional publishing framework.
(To read the rest of the article, click here).
What do you think about crowdfunding for the publishing industry? Is is a potential game changer for Latino writers? Or just another way to highlight disparity? ¡Opina aquí!