December 15, 2015
Crowdsourced Taylor Swift book announced, latest in a grand publishing tradition
by Liam O'Brien
The Associated Press recently broke the news of a major event in celebrity-focused crowdsourced publishing:
Simon & Schuster will publish a crowdsourced book on Taylor Swift that fans will help create.
The publisher announced Sunday that it will hold a contest where fans can name the book, which will be an oversized and illustrated volume “with the feel of a scrapbook.” The book will collect magazine profiles and other various writings on Swift over her 10-year career.
Simon & Schuster is looking for “one super-Swiftie” to serve as “honorary author” whose name will appear on the jacket. Passionate fans can upload a video of three minutes or less to make their cases. The winner will be paid $10,000.
A third contest will also be held to design the cover.
The book is set to include pieces on Swift from a variety of big name writers, including Sasha Frere-Jones, Chuck Klosterman, Ann Powers, Lizzie Widdicombe, Jody Rosen and Jada Yuan. However, regular old (young?) Swift fans will get the chance to see their writing included, too, by submitting photos and pieces at www.SwiftFanBook.com.
While the website makes it clear that Swift is not involved with this book, or its forthcoming publication, in any capacity, it carries the bold declaration: “WE ALL LOVE TAYLOR. SO LET’S MAKE A BOOK BY FANS, FOR FANS.” It also includes a dedicated page where S&S employees describe their personal Swift fandom.
Per S&S’s official press release, which touts the project as the “first crowdsourced book about Taylor Swift”:
“I’ve loved Taylor Swift’s work from the first song she released in 2006,” says Jofie Ferrari-Adler, the Senior Editor at Simon & Schuster who is overseeing the project. “Like many of my favorite artists, she is first and foremost an extraordinary writer, and I can’t wait until she decides to publish her own books. But until that day arrives, I hope that other Swifties around the country will want to get involved and help us make this book a worthy celebration of her first ten years. Think of this project as a very elaborate mash note.”
We’ve previously written about a slew of crowdsourced books, and even crowdsourced book editing—and while this may be the first crowdsourced book about TSwift, it’s decidedly not the first project of its kind. As the researchers at MobyLives discovered, here are some crowdsourced musician-focused book projects that you may have missed.
1) HUNG ‘EM HIGH: A Crowdsourced Tribute To William Hung, from HarperCollins
In 2004, Newscorp‘s book publishing division entered into an exclusive relationship with Friendster to gather fan testimonials about the American Idol no-hit-wonder. This project remains ongoing.
2) HEY NINETEEN: The Steely Dan Fan Plan, from Random House
At the now-defunct domain www.SteelyDanFansBookProject2002.com, fans of the seminal jazz-rock group were encouraged to “reel in their years” of fandom to create a book on which they would want to “spend the last piaster they could borow (sic).” When the marketing budget was drained by MTV interstitials and a bizarre Superbowl ad featuring Eminem, the project was abandoned.
3) THE SHAGGS: That Awful-Sounding Band Your Ex-Boyfriend Liked, from Coffee House Press
This well-intentioned attempt at bringing the cult anti-rock band into the mainstream was halted when Coffee House realized that 99% of content submitted was actually about R&B recording artist Shaggy.
4) MR. BOOMBASTIC: Shaggy’s Biggest Fans On The Record, from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Same problem as #3 but reversed.
5) KEEP ON ROLLIN’, BABY: Limp Bizkit’s Moshsourced Nookieversary, from Riverhead
Published to coincide with the band’s tenth anniversary in 2004, the book features a foreword by Michael Schaub. Despite the fact that all references to the book have been mysteriously scrubbed from the imprint’s website, Nielsen Bookscan reports that the title has sold over 200,000 copies.
6) WE’RE NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP: Fan Letters To Rick Astley, from Hunley Press
Despite a groundswell of in-house enthusiasm and several high-profile contributors, Brooklyn-based Hunley Press was forced to close its doors in April 2008, a week before this project was set to go to press—and right before internet enthusiasm for Astley spiked to historic levels, ensuring a hefty payout for all involved.
7) CROWDSOURCED HOUSE: Crowded House From The Audience from Melville House
Don’t dream, it’s over—or is it? (Submit your Crowded House memories to me at [email protected], I’m pitching the editorial team tomorrow.)
Liam O'Brien is the Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.