Last year, Digital Book World wrote about a Spanish crowdfunding publisher called Pentian. From that piece:
In the Spanish-speaking world, one digital publishing company has disrupted the traditional publishing process by creating an online platform that combines full-service self-publishing with crowdfunding. This platform allows authors to present their projects, lets backers pledge and support them and provides financial rewards to all involved once the books sell. The company is called Pentian, and after several years shaking up the ebook world in Spain, Central and South America, it’s now expanding into the United States.
One trouble people find with crowdfunding projects is that once the donation is met, there is little incentive for backers to continue offering support. Pentian, however, has found that by offering backers a financial return on their investment, they are more likely to get support throughout the project, particularly upon a book’s release.
Having brought their services over to the US a little over a year ago, Pentian has gone through some changes and has several more on the horizon. To get the latest from the publisher, we sat down with Enrique Parrilla, founder and CEO, to discuss the company’s reception in America, what the process of using the service is like, and what’s in store for the future.
What led to the creation of Pentian?
The need to have a publishing company that could offer an answer to the financial challenges of writers putting a book out in the market. We had been working in the self-publishing world for a while, and it broke my heart to see excellent books go unpublished simply because the author did not have the means to get the book done—after plenty of rejections from the traditional publishers, of course. We did not want to create yet another Kickstarter that would hand off free money and take a commission. We wanted to assure the backers that the book would get done while meeting the highest quality standards and get it into the distribution network. That was not an easy feat, and it was only possible due to the fact that we were already publishers.
What has the response been like since the company expanded to the US?
Extraordinary. We have been constantly expanding the operation. I am not going to deny that there were challenges. The average response time for a book went from two days to two weeks, but through the use of our technology we were able to greatly accelerate the process. There are a couple of very interesting algorithms that take care of some tasks that previously could only be done by a human reader, but we are waiting for the patents to be granted before we can give more details.
What percentage of books meet their fundraising goals?
Between 40 and 60 percent.
What percentage of projects submitted get rejected?
Maybe five percent.
How collaborative is the process for an author with whoever is editing their book, designing their cover, etc?
It is a collaborative project through and through. We involve the author at all stages of the project. But because we are responsible for the quality of the overall production, we will have final say on the finished product. It’s important to understand that this is different than self-funded self-publishing where the author is the customer, the publisher and therefore the king. In this case, we have an obligation toward the backers to create a quality product that will actually have a chance to become a best-seller. We keep in mind that 50 percent of the net profits goes to them and that they are treating this as an investment.
What is your evaluation process like? Can any author use your service, or are there gatekeepers who determine what can get in?
There are no gatekeepers. Everyone gets in and we let the market decide by seeing what projects get support from backers and which don’t. We only reject projects that are not books—a seven-page collection of poems, for example, will not qualify as a book—or works that promote violence or hatred in any of its forms. Pretty standard stuff.
What’s on the horizon for Pentian? Are there any upcoming changes you can tell us about?
Pentian and its family of imprints is going to become the largest provider of content in the world. We are working with communities of writers that were simply excluded from the market through the artificial perception of barriers that today do not exist. We have given a voice to Cuban writers that would have never dreamed of seeing their book on Amazon. Children’s books authors from Ecuador have connected with illustrators from South Korea. Novels from expats living in remote locations and without the ability to find an agent, attend a trade show or find a way to bring their story to the public have successfully found financing, publishing and distribution for their books all at the same time.
What is next for us? Education. A lot of good people have been trying to address the challenges faced by students in underdeveloped countries. We are going to do something about it. I witnessed the destruction of 200,000 textbooks because the publisher wanted to get the assets of their books, while students in Africa have to make do with photocopied pages to learn math and science. I think there is a great open collaborative project out there waiting to give quality education materials to anyone that needs them.
Let’s take it one day at a time, though. We certainly live in extraordinary times, and we are grateful to enjoy what we do. Publishing with a purpose is a privilege, and we get to do it every day.
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