April Hamilton, of Publetariat, has a new service for self-publishers called The Publetariat Vault. Unlike other listing services, the Vault will include sales data, as well as reader reviews. The idea is to make a searchable database for publishing pros to use in order to find authors that are a lower risk to publish. Indie Reader, another for-pay listing service, is aimed primarily at readers (hence the name).
As it says on the site,
The Publetariat Vault is a searchable database of independent literary works for which the authors own all rights free and clear and are interested in selling those rights, with accompanying sales data and reader reviews to take the guesswork out of determining commercial potential in the mass market…
April Hamilton says, “It’s basically a listing service for indie authors who are interested in a mainstream publishing or production (i.e., screenplay, teleplay, videogame rights) contract for their books. Publishing pros and content producers can search the site based on specific content criteria and then look at the detailed listings to view actual sales data, reader reviews, author platform links, publicity & buzz and more. This will allow them to identify books that are trending positively, haven’t yet reached ‘breakout hit’ status, but probably could break through with a pro’s backing. The first 300 listings to be published will be free for 90 days from the day the Vault opens for pro searches–not coincidentally, that will happen when the 300th listing is published. From the 301st published listing onward, the normal rate of $10 per 30 days will apply, but all new listings will have the first 30 days’ fee waived to provide a free, trial period.”
I asked April about the cost issue, as one of the major criticisms about Indie Reader is the high cost of submission when there are so many free listing services already available (Goodreads, Amazon, Red Room, Filedby, etc.). At $10 a month, the site is not much cheaper for an entire year. Indie Reader costs $149 year and The Publetariat Vault will cost $120 for a full year’s subscription. A.H. replied,
Unlike IR, the Vault’s service *begins* with a free 30-day trial for all regular listings, enabling authors to try the service out for 30 days at no cost or risk to them. Also unlike IR, the Vault’s fee is renewable month-to-month, there’s no requirement to invest a big lump up front on a new product or service and authors can cancel at any time because there’s no minimum listing period. On top of this, the first 300 published listings will get their first 90 days’ listing time (from the date the Vault opens for searches, estimated to be early July) for free, and an additional 30 days for free if they elect to renew at the end of the trial period. They can sign up today and not part with a single penny until sometime around Halloween—by which time they should know very well if the service is worth $10/mo. Finally, the Vault is a totally different concept from IR, it’s a type of service that’s never been offered before. I don’t see the sense in paying $149/yr to list my book in an online bookstore when my listings on Amazon (the world’s #1 bookseller) are free, but investing in a Vault listing is an investment in trying to gain mainstream publisher and producer attention, sort of like the money authors typically invest in toner, ink and postage when they do mass-mailing of queries or manuscripts, or when they go to pitch-fests, or attend publishing conferences.
The subscription system is a good way for author’s to have an “out.” The question is whether or not it’s worth it to invest this amount of money at all when there are free alternatives for getting the word out about a book. What separates the Vault is there’s no free service that acts as a database that publishers can access. However, as the subscription model demonstrates, writers should have a wait and see approach to any new venture. And given the fact that the Vault is for those writers who are selling well anyway, signing up for a monthly service doesn’t take as great a leap. It’s those writers who are selling only a handful of books (i.e. most self-published writers) who may be more wary of putting a book on a site that reveals sales figures. In other words, the Vault may be best suited for those writers who have sold well using available tools and are now ready to try and sell the book to traditional publishers.
Time will tell how effective both the Publetariat Vault and Indie Reader turn out to be: the Vault for reaching Publishing pros and Indie Reader for reaching consumers. But they are both services with a lot of potential if they succeed in doing what they set out to do. According to Hamilton, publishing pros are already registering with the site to find new writers. Overall, sites like these are a good signal that publishing is changing significantly and self-publishing is becoming a more-active part of the framework. The Vault could very well become an epicenter for authors looking to make the leap from self-publishing to traditional publishing.
Given April Hamilton’s criticism of Indie Reader, it’ll be ironic if Indie Reader and the Publetariat Vault end up working symbiotically: writers first show an effective sales base at IR and then take that info to the Vault, where they then try to get a publisher.
Try the free trial of the Publetariat Vault.