An interview with: The Pound Project founder JP Watson
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!