The Self-Made Man: Larry Levitsky
Publishing really is a remarkable business. For one thing, it’s been “dying” for at least 20 years now, but no matter how many pearl-clutching op-eds are written about this year being the end of print media, it still keeps lurching forward, bleeding out books and magazines.
The other thing about traditional publishing is that it’s a very small world, and an almost-literal handful of people (and their unpaid interns) decide what books we all end up reading. The odds of an author breaking through that system weren’t all that good even back in publishing’s glory days, but now you pretty much have to already be famous (or hot, or both) to get a book out there.
Enter Larry Levitsky, co-founder of Inkshares and this week’s Self Made Man. Levitsky used to work for McGraw-Hill, so he saw firsthand how broken that system really is, and he decided to start his own company that combined print media and the kind of crowd-funding you see from Indiegogo and Kickstarter.
Levitsky’s plan for Inkshares is twofold. The first part is helping writers get enough funding to put their work out there, and then editing/designing/distributing said work online, as an ebook, or even in print. They also let authors determine their own advance, which is a huge step up from traditional publishing.
Part two is all about audience. Inkshares is set up to help readers find and support new writers, plus there’s also the potential to buy shares in an Inkshares project, which grants supports a cut of the project’s sales revenue.
But as much as Larry wants to disrupt modern publishing, where new authors get turned down for what seems like an eternity before they find someone who’ll take a chance on them, he doesn’t want to discard the pieces of the industry that actually work. An essential part of his business model is establishing the writer/editor relationship that made good books great, but is often lacking in the less-personal digital era.
There are a few other companies working the same hustle as Inkshares, but Larry seems like the kind of old school workhorse that made publishing work in its heyday. Instead of chatting it up with interviewers or burning time away on social media, he’s getting stuff done, without caring if everyone on Twitter knows what he ate for brunch.
About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.