Unbound, a crowdfunding platform for authors and publishers, has closed a funding round led by new investors including DFJ Esprit and Cambridge Angels. Seed investor Forward Investment Partners participated in the investment round.
Unbound, the crowdfunding platform for authors and publishers, announces today that it has closed a £1.2 million funding. The round was led by new investors including DFJ Esprit and Cambridge Angels; seed investor Forward Investment Partners participated in the investment round.
Soho-based Unbound was launched in May 2011 and in that time has grown from a trio of founders to a full-time team of 14. Unbound was founded by Dan Kieran (author of best-selling Crap Towns and The Idle Traveller), John Mitchinson (veteran publisher, writer and head of research for BBC’s QI) and Justin Pollard (historian, television producer and established author). Unbound puts the power of publishing into the hands of authors and readers, and has become an online publishing platform that authors and readers love and that rivals traditional models. Allying the subscription-in-advance model familiar to Charles Dickens and Samuel Johnson with the Internet allows readers to become micro-patrons rather than passive consumers and connects them directly with their favourite authors.
Unbound gives authors a platform on which to pitch their ideas for books. Supporters then pledge their financial backing in return for rewards. The higher the pledge, the greater the reward – from seeing your name in the back of the book to having lunch with the author or attending the book launch party. Unbound will soon have raised £1 million in pledges for authors on its platform, who include both established authors with existing fan-bases and new authors whose pitches capture supporters’ imaginations.
The average successful pitch takes three months to raise £15,000 from 500 supporters. This pledged sum allows the Unbound team and the author to pay for the writing, design, editing and printing of the book. Unbound authors receive 50% of all profits made on their projects; this is in sharp contrast with the 5% – 10% royalty that authors typically receive through traditional publishing channels. Authors not only get a better cut of profits but Unbound also ‘makes the pie bigger’ by helping authors generate new revenue streams from events, special edition books and live readings.
The current funding round is helping to pay for Unbound to add to its tech team and to expand and improve its website, making it a more inclusive portal for authors and pledgers alike. In addition, the investment will enable Unbound to develop new platforms for engaging comprehensively with key stakeholders in the publishing industry, including literary agents, publishers and booksellers.
Dan Kieran, CEO and founder of Unbound commented: “Unbound was founded on a very simple ethos: to bring authors and readers together and to give them all a better, more engaged experience of the publishing process. With this funding in place, we are ready to enter the second phase of our plans.”
David Cummings, DFJ Esprit, said, “What stands out about Unbound is that fans support the publication of books they want to own. It is one of the purest forms of crowdfunding that has emerged. And the uptake amongst high profile authors demonstrates the appeal of the model.”
Nic Brisbourne, director of Forward Investment Partners said: “Since Forward’s first investment, the Unbound team has demonstrated that they can use their deep understanding of authors and the demands put upon them by modern publishing to create a unique business that addresses the needs of both writers and publishers. Unbound helps authors and publishers stay relevant and continue to make money in a very challenging industry. I am looking forward to helping the team roll out more platforms and channels in the coming months as they turn publishing on its head.”
Sean Phelan of the Cambridge Angels said: “Unbound is becoming a virtual muse where readers inspire authors with their hearts, minds and wallets.”
The new funding will also help to support Unbound’s biggest project to date, Letters of Note by Shaun Usher, which has raised more than £125,000 in advance pledges and is published in the UK this Wednesday (23 October). Stephen Fry has called Letters of Note, his ‘book of the year’. Having turned down traditional publishing channels to bring Letters of Note to market, Shaun has already signed up to do his next book with Unbound.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
Unbound, the world’s first crowd-funded publishing house, was launched in May 2011, winning the Futurebook Innovation Award for Best Start-Up that same year.
Unbound has successfully funded more than forty books in two years (by authors including Kate Mosse, Terry Jones, Jonathan Meades, Julie Burchill, Robert Llewellyn and Hillary Boyd). In the last few weeks, Unbound projects by BBC Food broadcaster Matthew Fort and former Wham! manager Simon Napier Bell have been successfully funded. The recently launched Letters to a Beekeeper, by Guardian columnist Alys Fowler and respected beekeeper Steve Benbow, is proving to be one of the fasted-funded books on Unbound.
Unbound was shortlisted for the Bookseller Awards Independent Publisher of the Year in 2013. Find out more at unbound.co.uk
About Letters of Note
Letters of Note is a collection of over one hundred of the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, based on the seismically popular website of the same name – an online museum of correspondence visited by over 70 million people. The press coverage for Letters of Note includes large features in the Observer, the Telegraph, Shortlist and GQ. To mark the book’s launch, Shaun will appear across radio and TV, including the Today programme on Radio 4 and Lauren Laverne’s show on BBC6 Music. Stephen Fry has called Letters of Note his ‘book of the year’ and the vast public support from well-known personalities including Caitlin Moran, India Knight, Graham Linehan, Minnie Driver and Danny Wallace has been extremely positive.