One of my favorite modern writers, Dolly Alderton, brought The Pound Project to my attention earlier this fall on her Instagram.
Dolly published an exclusive book with The Pound Project for their third installation of the project. I immediately was intrigued and as soon as I read more about the project, I was hooked:
The Pound Project is a professional publishing company that puts writers and readers first.
Each month we publish a beautiful new short story online, in audio, and in print.
We campaign one pound at a time. And when we meet our targets, we pay our writers.
This is central to our mission, because too often their talent goes unrewarded.
We also hold writing workshops and work with educational institutions to help other writers hone their craft, and run reading events where we share our exceptional content live.
I signed up for Dolly’s book, Hopeless Romantic, and when I got my digital copy (for a mere £!) it was so lovely that I was really bummed I hadn’t bought the print version. (Lucky for me they did a special Christmas reprint and I was able to get one for just 5£!)
I was so impressed I had to learn more. And once a journalist, always a journalist, so I reached out to founder JP Watson and was beyond thrilled he was up for answering a few questions I had about the project:
What initially inspired the inception of the pound project?
I'm passionate about the value of writing. As consumers we're so willing to shell out for passing fancy - a bag of crisps; a chocolate bar - and yet increasingly many of us expect creative content (in myriad forms) to be free. How has this happened? The hours and skill and beauty that goes into the creation of arts warrants fair payment, even if it is just the price of a treat, so that it is sustainable. Otherwise where will we be? Isn't a good story worth it?
How do you approach writers to participate? Are they generally pretty open?
It is a mixture. As our exposure increases, more and more writers are coming to us and pitching their ideas. What we're trying to encourage is talented people to come to us with an eye on a brilliant story, but also on the entrepreneurial side of the process - why do people need to read what they have written? Why does their story speak to the world now? How will they spread the message? Those questions are part of surviving as a creator. We also approach writers we love, who we believe have the same principles as us, and we take it from there. Beyond that it is all top secret...
What are your future plans for the pound project? Any chance for international projects?
To build our reader base, to make a mark in the industry, to spotlight some brilliant stories and talent. We also want to go in to Universities and the like to help new creatives look at the business/startup side of things, so we can help spread the idea that creativity can and should be a sustainable industry. We are more than open to international projects - our supporters already stretch around the world and we want to work with as many voices as possible. Art is a worldwide language.
The Pound Project has offered such a disruptive take on traditional publishing, how has this been received by readers and industry leaders alike?
We want to focus on what we're doing. One story and one writer at a time. We aren't criticising the way others do things, far from it, rather we're trying to be innovative where possible and hope there's room for us to do that. We recently won The Bookseller's FutureBook Tech Startup of the Year Award, which was an amazing vote of confidence from peers in the industry. In my experience, people who work in the book/publishing/content industries are open to new ideas. It's also incredible to hear from our readers how much they appreciate our straightforward approach. Surely we all want to industry to be more representative and valued?
Thanks so much, JP, for taking the time to answer these few questions! And I can’t wait to see what cool endeavors the future has in store for you and The Pound Project!
In a time where data is as valuable as gold, the way you present it can be just as much of a treasure — and these winners from the 2018 Information is Beautiful Awards are the crown jewels.
Simulated Dendrochronology of U.S. Immigration 1790-2016 by Pedro M Cruz & team with Northeastern University & National Geographic
What happens when your brand tries to stay exactly as it was in its glory days of say, 10 years ago? Nothing good, that’s for sure. Look no further than Victoria’s Secret for the perfect example of incredible self-destructive brand stubbornness and what happens as as result.
“It takes an extraordinary amount of ineptitude, laziness, and sheer disregard to make a show as stultifying and lifeless as the Victoria’s Secret one,” Givhan wrote. “Greater diversity would be welcome, but it can’t save Victoria’s Secret from its own self-destruction.”
Did you know… a Spanish bakery will install a thermal breadbox to your house for free & deliver fresh bread daily to you? Or… that the average viewer’s age for Viceland TV is 42? OR that 54% of Chinese born after 1995 chose “influencer” as their desired profession? Well now you do! Plus 49 other fascinating facts from consultant Tom Whitwell.
A fairytale for self-critical women everywhere, I am sure there are loads of lessons for me to learn in Amy Kean’s book, The Little Girl Who Gave Zero Fucks. She sat down with The Drum to discuss the book’s conception and reception.
“Years ago, a more senior female at an agency I worked for said to me: “you have two options: you can be yourself, or you can progress in your career.” I’ve never forgotten it and know so many people who’ve been told similar. Being a woman in marketing is tricky because there’s so much personal critique: you’re too loud, too enthusiastic, too informal, too emotional, too nice, too hard on people, too overpowering, not enough gravitas, too much cleavage, clothes too frumpy, A bitch. The amount of times I’ve heard people say about ‘stern’ female bosses: “Oh, she just needs a good shag.” What’s worse is this is often women talking about other women. We’ve forged strict templates and regulate each other’s behaviour in a way that men don’t. The book is the fruit of my frustrations and encourages women to be themselves no matter what, personally and professionally. It’s about how we should support each other more; we don’t always have to agree but we can stop pushing other women down as we clamber for the spotlight. There’s room for all of us to succeed, and for a multitude of diverse, powerful characters.”
Rookie is the child prodigy of digital editorials. Though I’m a bit older than the its founder, Tavi Gevinson, I did grow up looking to Rookie as one of my blogger idols. It’s a brilliant example of experience not always being staple ingredient for success, and the hope and joy and exciting energy young creatives can breathe into a space. Rookie had an incredibly successful run, and it acted as a spark that ignited thousands of young people’s creativity — and to end on such a poignant note, wow. Bravo, Rookie. You will be missed.
“Now onto the celebrations. To everyone who has bared their souls through their writing and art on Rookie, making us all feel seen, heard, connected, and inspired; making Rookie better, smarter, and more human: Thank you. It has been an absolute gift—I don’t know how else to describe it—to see you interpret Rookie’s monthly themes in your own work. To learn about you through your art. I will really miss that exchange of ideas and experiences. And now I am actually starting to cry, thinking about how much love and vulnerability have gone into the thousands of articles, essays, poems, advice, stories, interviews, photos, illustrations, comics, collages, playlists, and videos on Rookie. Thank you.”
There’s no doubt were living in the Golden Age of Podcasts. I’m a dedicated listener at least 5 a week (you can read about my favorites from 2017 here), and I am always on the search for new gems.
“Short Cuts: Short documentaries The Radio 4 show offers “brief encounters, true stories, radio adventures and found sound” and each one is a self-contained gem. Josie Long presents the long-running series packed with observations on themes from sibling rivalry to mortality, and just about everything else in between, so you never know what you’re going to get.”
Cartoon of the Week
Nearly as inspirational as the women it showcases, ELLE magazine’s editorial introduction of the Freshmen Congresswomen to the United States House of Representatives is excellence in digital journalism.
The most diverse class to make up the House in its 230-year history, Elle poignantly presents the women of this historical moment through riveting photography, reporting, and editorial work. The hopes and aspirations captured in this piece are conveyed so beautifully that I can’t help but beam with pride of having these women represent us. (Included below are a few excerpts, however I implore you to read the piece in its entirety at Elle.com.)
Note: So proud to have Congresswoman Davids representing my home state of Kansas! — Did you know Kansas was the FIRST state to vote a woman into public office? Susanna Salter was voted mayor April 4, 1887, only months after Kansas women were granted the right to vote — 33 years before women of the United States were granted the right to vote nationally.
Should we even be surprised at this point that this exists? I’d venture to say no… but I am wondering how Med students manage to find enough hours in the day… and the ethical issues are a whole additional layer of issues:
“The uncharted ethics of social media are already confusing, and that’s before you add in the influence of outside interests, many of which are ready to take advantage of students’ ability to offer some stamp of medical authority to the general public about a product or idea without asking too many questions.”
I distinctly remember a life-size cutout of a Kansas City Royals baseball player (no idea who) that was prominently displayed in our kindergarten classroom circa 2004 — in fact, I can’t remember a time in which a ‘Got Milk’ poster wasn’t displayed in one of my cafeterias during my school years…
“Research by Goodby Silverstein & Partners revealed an alternative. When discussing milk consumption, consumers kept returning to the idea that running out was a source of frustration. While they may not have longed for milk as a rule, the times they could have used it—in coffee, for cookies, for cereal—and didn’t have it gave them a fresh appreciation for the beverage. When the agency put a hidden camera in their own offices to capture their staff's reaction to running out of milk, they noted it was one of disappointment. (And sometimes expletives.)”
A fascinating read on the “Supply Cloud” and why we should continue to see “shops” hock free watches, knock-off designer goods, and more — equal parts absurd, disturbing, and especially important for the eCommerce industry to understand:
“These new retail sites are also creatures that could only exist in our current economy. They are a reshuffling of the same fast-fashion infrastructure that powers H&M and Zara. West Louis and Folsom & Co are a new a front-end for the Asian factories that make stuff. Stumble onto one—or more likely—find yourself targeted by such a brand’s ads, and you open up one of many highly disposable faces of the globalized economy. It’s just that with companies like West Louis, the seams show, literally and figuratively.”
Books, cheeky gift guides, and shopping for friends, this article features a few of my favorite things:
“The most giftable books are the ones that your recipients will want to talk about long after they’ve finished reading. Below you’ll find some of the best books of 2018 from a wide variety of genres, arranged with consideration for friends with specific needs. Read on for the best book to buy your friend who recently had a baby, your friend who loves old movies, your friend who’s a workaholic, and more…”
As a proud Kansas City native, finding it on the latest of National Geographic’s best trips guide left me over the moon. Kansas City, I love you.
“To me, West Bottoms speaks to the history of Kansas City: the stockyards and trains and commerce moving through the middle of the country,” says KC native Chris Goode, CEO and founder of Ruby Jean’s Juicery. “But no matter where you go in Kansas City, it will feel like home. The city just has soul.”
Though I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of the term #girlboss — we don’t call men “boybosses”—, I am a huge fan of the Girlboss community, whose mission is “to redefine success for millennial women by providing the tools and connections they need to own their futures.”
Sign me up, indeed.
They compiled a list of poignant quotes from the various panelists, & here are a few that really spoke loudly to me…