Reference publisher Ilex Press has created what it describes as a "proving ground" for new writers with the launch of Ilex Instant, a community website for writers that will offer access to Ilex's publishing services.
Under the terms of the deal, authors who have their content accepted for the site will receive no advance but a "generous" royalty rate. Each submission will be assessed by editors at Ilex before they are turned into e-books, and if the e-book is successful it will be turned into a physical book.
The site is the brainchild of associate publisher Adam Juniper, who runs Ilex's photo list. Juniper said: "Authors who come to us will be able to get their concepts across through our unique e-book publishing system, taking advantage of real human editors and design —essentially all the good parts of publishing —and get their ideas out quickly."
According to Juniper, Ilex will use the site as a testing bed for books, with e-books that attract strong consumer interest to be turned into print books. "Many people tell me their idea is 'breakout' or 'a bigger niche than you think'; I see this as a way of helping people prove their point and get themselves a big royalty in the meantime. If they're right, it'll make getting to a final book all the smoother." Feedback won't just come from sales, said Juniper.
The site has a Pinterest-like appearance, a rating system, and the beginnings of a social media site, meaning authors can comment on others' work and ideas. The website will also sell bespoke content chapter by chapter, culled from Ilex's photography list. Juniper added: "The very economics of modern publishing, and the fact many in the industry's chain are as nimble as an oil tanker, meant that we've not been able to publish all the books and cover all the topics that we've wanted to, turning down people with great ideas because we know that bookstores will see them as 'too niche'. Well, no longer."