The Tabulit Manifesto

Last year March, James and I were sitting in an izakaya in Vancouver, talking about a web-publishing idea that gives a large share of the revenue to writers. We wanted to set up a system where writers could predictably earn a good income solely from their writing, thereby enabling them to focus on their craft.

A year later, here we are, and we still believe in that world happening, only that we now know much better about what our beliefs actually mean, and on why we made Tabulit. To be exact, there are four parts.

First, is fairness. This is where we will reverse the tide of not paying writers their due worth. Would it have made sense if James Dyson ended up poor, after pouring all that time into inventing the bagless vacuum cleaner? Even Steve Wozniak got a good share of the Apple riches alongside the infamous Steve Jobs. Writers are where everything begins, and yet they generally aren’t the principal sharers of whatever reward that books generate.

The current state of pushing writers toward accepting less and less is ridiculous, to the point that a Huff Post editor-in-chief can proudly (yes proudly) say that he doesn’t pay his writers. There are talks of exposure instead of actual pay, talks of being asked to do free work in exchange for vague and empty promises of ‘promotion’. This is folly. Yet it is becoming more and more of a standard, like interns being asked to do unpaid work because it adds to their ‘experience’.

Excuse me, no one can buy a thing with exposure, and the last time we checked, writers were people too. They need income to, well you know, survive.

So we are going to change this. We are going to try to spark the momentum of fairly paying writers. We call it Fair Trade Literature (#fairtradeliterature).

Ever heard of fair trade coffee? Well this is exactly it. Fair trade for the writers. This is why our royalty is set at 72%. That is higher than Amazon’s self-publishing program, yet we act like a publisher as well, editing all works, designing covers, making sure the works are all receiving exposure. We recognize the value of writers in the big picture, and we wish to begin the trend that will start to compensate writers fairly.

Second, is innovation. While we are a publishing company, we are also a technology company. While oligopolistic online sellers have purportedly shaken up the publishing industry, we still believe that they haven’t done much other than just putting the bookstore up on the internet. There is so much we can do outside of that. In fact, through setting up a flexible and accessible system of buying and reading stories, we’ve already cut costs in the publishing process without lowering the quality of the stories.

Video has gone through the technology revolution. Music has also received much benefit from technology. The journalism industry has been shaken up by new firms launching ambitious technological projects. With Tabulit, it is fiction publishing’s turn. We will use technology to the fullest to make fiction more engaging, and more accessible.

Third, is diversity. No matter what kind of books they write, where they come from or live, what they look like, whatever they are, the identity of the writer matters less in relation to what stories they write. Even in terms of whether we host new, or established writers. The only thing that should show how good a writer is his or her skill in telling a story. This is about ensuring that we represent everyone, from everywhere, making sure that all good writing get a chance, and celebrating the differences in perspectives.

Lastly, we care about quality storytelling. Editing is important, and we’re not talking about self-editing either. It was only when Max Perkins, the editor of Fitzgerald, told the young writer that he needed to revise the draft, that Great Gatsby became what it became. Everyone needs a keen set of eyes that are not their own. Yet we are coming to an age where editing is becoming a luxury. Books are being hurried through in order to meet production deadlines.

Self-publishing hasn’t helped this. Like I said before, even the finest writers need editing and advising to make the story as best as it can be. Of course, self-publishing may give the control back to the writer, and along with that a higher royalty, but it also forces writers to forfeit so many things that are vital to making a book great.

You see, what we have laid out here is a cycle. Fairness is what enables writers to concentrate and focus on producing great works. Innovation is what enables us the publishers and the distributors to secure that fairness to writers. Striving for quality by editorial efforts is what supports that innovation to actually be effective. Diversity allows us to identify quality works from anywhere, anyone. Then fairness to writers allows diversity among writers to be nurtured. It is virtuous cycle of positive feedback that we are trying to give life to.

Our staff: James, Amal, Kristy, our developers, Alex (the other Alex), Stephen and I, have made a commitment. Our writers, have also made that same commitment. Together we believe that Tabulit can make a difference.

So, if you believe in what we do and why we should do it please join us at www.tabulit.com and spread the word. We can make storytelling better together.

Support us in our mission, by visiting our site and reading the stories our writers have written for your enjoyment. In the end, this is for writers and readers alike. This is for stories.

We are Tabulit, and this is our promise.