Blurb: The Importance of Collaboration in the Age of Self-Publishing

A quick google search for “book publishing” will yield a number of links to self-publishing websites, articles with tips and tricks, and  lists of do’s and don’ts. Amidst these search results was a link for a self-publishing start-up named Blurb.

Blurb stood out from many of the other links and publishing websites due to a number of different reasons. First, Blurb provides a publishing outlet for professional print books, magazines, or e-books, whereas many other organizations specialize in only one of the three. Furthermore, Blurb has its own “bookstore” based on tags so consumers can easily search for content that appeals to their own personal interest. Interestingly enough, Blurb’s set-up appeared to mirror the organization of many of the Big 5 publishing houses in the sense that every stage of the publishing process is available in one place, or ‘in-house’: beginning with formatting and pricing, to the creation, and then finally the sale and distribution of the content.

One of Blurb’s most unique features, however, is the emphasis placed on collaboration. One of the major benefits of working with a major publishing house over self-publishing are the teams of editors, designers, and marketers who help to create and distribute an author’s work.

Under the “create” tab on their website, there is a new marketplace for authors to hire collaborators in one convenient location. Blurb refers to their new marketplace as an area to find “Dream Team Collaborators” for authors to find and hire professionals like editors, cover artists, illustrators, designers, photographers, and more.

This so-called Dream Team Marketplace has been applauded for creating collaborator profiles that link prior work and collaborator portfolios, and for allowing authors to give feedback to ensure that only the best of the best are available for hire. Supposedly, “Blurb has plans to improve the Dream Team marketplace over time based on the needs of authors. The marketplace will eventually add new types of collaborators like ghost writers, publishing business managers, marketers, publicists, and more. The idea, Gittins said, is to slowly transform Dream Team into a platform that offers all the services of a traditional book publisher, and then some.” Startups like Blurb should be an interesting development to the publishing industry, and may even have the potential to change the business model as a whole.