What we’re bringing into existence is unlike anything ever offered for writers in the history of publishing.”– @Rhondak
Summary and Updates
Over the last six months, much has happened within The Writers’ Block. We’ve gone through administrative shifts and governance changes, but one thing has remained steadfast, and that is our commitment to the goal of bringing real value to this platform.
The idea of a crypto-backed publishing house germinated in 2017 and has grown steadily since. We’ve incorporated an LLC in the Commonwealth of Virginia, U.S., to legitimize us as a business with its own tax I.D. number. We have our own FIAT checking account. We have a legal department. We have a marketing department. We have a full staff of highly competent editors. Within the next four months, we’ll have a novel physically on bookstore shelves across the U.S. that bears the Steemhouse brand. We’ve accomplished all of this without large delegations or cash boluses. And we’re just getting started.
Issues with Steemit as an interface led us to consider our own front-end website, where we can curate content based on quality of the writing and presentation. We discussed this at length at a TWB meetup in Gatlinburg last year. We planned the site as well as a potential ICO and began working on a wireframe design. The finished site will demonstrate that it is possible to have a centralized-type of interface that pulls from a decentralized blockchain.
Why centralized? Because we’re in the business of real-world publishing. And for a writer to make it in this industry, they must have a portfolio of published work that amounts to more than blog posts. Credibility is built on how many times an author’s work has been deemed fit for publication by other professionals. For this reason, publication in the featured section of our managed front-end site will count as a legitimate publishing credit for authors whose work appears there.
The Writers’ Block is taking a different approach with our publishing house. We’ve noticed a gap in traditional publishing, where some of the greatest contemporary talent is shoved out of the market by big name authors and left with only self-publishing as an option. Sometimes, that talent needs only a tiny bit of guidance or editorial help to produce writing that exceeds the quality of many mainstream books. We intend to offer recourse.
How will we accomplish this? Imagine a triangle. Steemhouse Publishing is the pinnacle point, but underneath it are two foundation points–The Writers’ Block and Wordrow. Workflow runs both directions between all points. An author can find us through the publishing house, and if they’re almost ready to publish but need a little more work, we send them to The Writers’ Block rather than reject their work automatically. There they can interact directly with Steemhouse editors and learn from the workshops and mentoring we offer.
Wordrow is a specialized front-end site that will showcase work worthy of publication in the mainstream. By gamifying this–making the rewards worth the extra effort and by providing the visibility that most authors want–we encourage the production of high quality content that will attract traditional audiences. Its design from the ground up is with the average reader in mind, not just the crypto fanatic or tech enthusiast. It is our plan, however, to introduce casual users to blockchain technology by allowing them to reward authors they like with tokens, and to have Steem wallets of their own without having to understand the dynamics behind it.
One very real advantage to building a publishing ecosystem on the Steem blockchain community is the rich talent pool we have to draw from. The novel High Kill, which will be available in both print and e-book format aimed at mainstream audiences, is a collaboration of skills from within The Writers’ Block. From manuscript to cover art to editing and formatting, we had to outsource nothing. This set a precedent for earning potential in all of those areas for those collaborating on future Steemhouse projects.
How Does This Benefit Steem?
One of the most persistent complaints about Steem is the prevalence of bad content. While quality can be subjective, few of us would be willing to accept a news site full of bad information or a novel full of typos. Individual blog posts are seldom edited to professional standards and expectations are lower. However, commercial media applications demand a higher standard. They also lure serious followers and have the broadest reach. We intend to compete at the level of commercial media as both a publisher (Steemhouse) and a literary magazine (Wordrow.)
We also have a built-in plan for onboarding new users. Our front-end site will have account creation capability. We’ll be targeting adult readers in the same demographic that populates most blockchain communities. Our interface will become an excellent onboarding tool, particularly among users who are likely to embrace the idea of owning a crypto wallet.
By far, the biggest contribution our ecosystem can make to the success of the blockchain is our ability to bring money into the system. Steemhouse Publishing will sell products into the mainstream for FIAT, which will then be invested in Steem. We’ll transact with our authors and staff with Steem. Some of that will be cashed out, sure. But much of it will remain as investment capital. This will potentially contribute to the sustainability and long-term value of the platform overall.
One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced on the Steem blockchain is the inability to successfully disseminate information among the various communities. There is no central hub for sharing and sometimes very little crossover of members. We’ve been trying for months to get word out about our project. We even sent representatives to Steemfest to speak about it on stage. Even now, major players in the Steem universe are unaware of our initiative or misinformed about it. This is definitely a problem for us as well as dozens of other projects that could use support from the community at large.
We’re also trying to build our ecosystem at a time when trust has been shattered by the collapse of several projects gone before us. Some left the blockchain and took their wares elsewhere. Some internally combusted with ugly fallout that sullied the feeds for weeks. We’ve not been without our own little dramas that played out on a public stage. Add to this the abysmal price of Steem and there’s a loss of morale across the platform that affects our momentum greatly. We aren’t about to quit–we’re as committed as ever. But we have definitely noticed waning enthusiasm for Steem-based projects and hope this takes an upward turn in the near future.
The Steemhouse Publishing project is in no way dependent on the blockchain. We’re marketing to the mainstream, targeting a FIAT economy. So the pinnacle point of the triangle is full speed ahead. We’re currently looking to raise at least $20,000 USD for book promotion, marketing, and travel expenses to speak with bookstore owners across the country. We have a Fundition project running and we’re also considering a Kickstarter. Pre-sales of our first novel will be available in March. Our deadline for raising this capital is April.
We’ve never pushed hard for delegations until recently, and the latest effort fell flat. Most likely, that was due to the inability to efficiently disseminate information and the loss of community morale. With a large upvote, we could reward authors posting quality content on Wordrow and attract mainstream writers to the platform. We do have a business partnership in discussion that would help us with this, but the point is for us to earn and retain our own capital. More delegation drives may be on the horizon. Stay tuned to our blog for developments and announcements.