Amanda L. Barbara is the vice president of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding platform for books. Authors can raise funds, understand their audience, and self-publish or traditionally publish their work.
A philanthropist at heart, she serves on the board of directors for the Pubslush Foundation, which supports children’s literacy initiatives worldwide, and is a founder and director of The Barbara Family Foundation, an organization committed to assisting charities and children in need.
Amanda is an advocate for crowdfunding in the publishing world and has spoken at various conferences, such as Writer’s Digest, Tools of Change, and the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, and has been invited to serve as an ambassador and speaker at CONTEC at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
MO: How did you get started with Pubslush?
Amanda: Pubslush is a direct tribute to J.K. Rowling. We were shocked to learn that 12 publishers rejected her first Harry Potter book. This seemed to indicate that there was a problem within the publishing industry. Upon further investigation, we learned many bestselling books were rejected time and time again, which means there are countless bestsellers out there that would never reach the shelves under the current publishing system. As with all creative projects, writers can’t share their work without monetary backing. That’s where Pubslush comes in.
Of course, Pubslush is also a tribute to the TOMS Shoes movement. By implementing a one-for-one model, we are able to create a sustainable nonprofit brand that’s able to combat illiteracy.
MO: Where does your passion for helping authors live their dreams and get published come from?
Amanda: My passion comes from knowing that there are so many great writers out there whose words will never be read without our help. Publishing is such a guessing game, but it no longer has to be. The reality is if a book can’t establish a considerable audience and funding in advance of publication, it probably isn’t going to be the next bestseller. I hope that Pubslush will do for publishing what “American Idol” did for music by reintegrating readers in the publishing equation.
Also, I hope Pubslush will increase the professional quality of self-published books. Self-publishing is fantastic because it’s so accessible, but the quality often suffers because of financial restrictions and lack of knowledge. Pubslush is trying to make the process more democratic and let the readers have a voice. I am a huge reader — I love seeing the new books that come on Pubslush, and I support books that tell stories I would genuinely enjoy reading.
MO: Your mother, Hellen Barbara, also serves as Pubslush’s president. What’s it like to be in business with your mother?
Amanda: It makes every day a bit more exciting. We work very hard, but we share a lot of laughs. She brings a lot of experience, wisdom, and creativity to our business. I think we operate with different mindsets, but our personalities are both so essential to running a successful business. We are both big team players and great leaders. Our team gets a lot of work done, but we have fun doing it.
MO: What separates you from the competition?
Amanda: Pubslush is a global crowdfunding platform only for books. Authors can raise funds, understand their audience, and publish successfully via self-publishing or traditional publishing.
Why should they choose Pubslush instead of other crowdfunding sites?
MO: What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken, and how did it turn out?
Amanda: When we first launched Pubslush in September 2011, our platform was a bit different — we served as the publisher, and if an author reached 1,000 pre-orders in 30 days, we would publish his book full-service. As great an idea as this was, we felt it closed us off from working with many great people in the industry.
After realizing that the platform wasn’t formatted as strongly as it could have been, we went back and reworked our idea to develop a more effective and beneficial Pubslush process for all. There was more need for authors to be able to crowdfund and choose any path they wanted after they had those funds. It eliminated the author being locked into a contract with us, and it still allowed people to self-publish if they wanted to take that track.
We took a big risk by relaunching the company and changing the concept after a year of business. We learned that just because the initial idea didn’t work, that doesn’t mean the company’s over. We were able to relaunch in August 2012 with a stronger, more useful platform. This platform has proven to be much more accepted and successful within the industry.
MO: I noticed on your website that Pubslush has partnered with the organization Flying Kites. How did the partnership begin?
Amanda: This cause allows us to act on our commitment to literacy initiatives for children worldwide. Our one-for-one program is the cornerstone: for every book we sell, we donate a book to a child in need. Pubslush’s main giving partner is Flying Kites, an orphanage in Kenya. Our president had been involved in education and human rights nonprofits before launching Pubslush. During her travels, she discovered an ideal inaugural giving partner: Flying Kites, an orphanage in Kenya. Flying Kites was a perfect fit for us, and it’s near and dear to our hearts. We work very closely with the organization; we’re working together to fund the construction of a new library and have already funded three new teachers for their school.
As we continue to grow as a company, we’re expanding our relationships and partnering with other organizations in Brazil and Israel. Our dream has always been to provide e-readers to children without access to literature. We are very excited and hopeful that we will be able to make this dream a reality with the help of our loyal writers and readers.
MO: What are you most excited about on the horizon for Pubslush?
Amanda: Pubslush’s implementation of technology in the publishing industry will lead authors, agents, and publishers to trend toward a more informed publishing process. By using data science and attaching a financial value in the form of crowdfunding, publishing will benefit immensely. We’re excited for the 2013 fall conference season, when our team will travel and speak on several panels discussing the future of self-publishing and how to remain involved as the industry makes drastic changes.
We’re looking forward to meeting more readers and writers and being able to answer their questions. Pubslush is all about personal service and being there for our authors. This will allow us to answer questions about crowdfunding and how authors can use it to best be successful.
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