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R.I.P. Pronoun

In 2014, I started getting targeted ads about a new “publisher” that wanted to shake up the industry. One that offered it’s authors 100% of the profits. They were also very anti-Amazon. Yes, it sounded too good to be true but when Pronoun came out shortly after, I signed up out of mere curiosity. How could this business model survive? Are they getting money through advertising? Higher end package sales?

Great name, by the way.

Their business model changed right before they went live. Authors did not get 100% of the profits but the percentages that Pronoun took were slim compared to publishing your e-book on Amazon and Bn.com yourself. Yes. It turns out all Pronoun really did was publish your e-books for you on multiple online retailers, something you can easily do on your own. The site was difficult to navigate and I was disappointed that there was no print publishing offered, so I bailed.

Pronoun just announced that it will be no more as of January 15th and writers who have used their services have till that date to store, save, and/or download their information from that website, HERE.

I’m surprised. Macmillan, one of the largest real publishers in the world was funding it. Pronoun is (was) an official sponsor of this year’s Nanowrimo. They also had a really cool portal on their site that gives you access to creative types you can hire. Such as book cover artists, editors, graphic novel artists and the like. That was their biggest strength, in my eyes.

Last winter, Pronoun reached out to me for feedback regarding their website and product. I wrote back:

Hello Seema,

I found out about Pronoun because many booksellers self publish and it’s a conversation commonly had during work. Shortly before I left B&N, someone brought up Pronoun which was not yet available to the public. They said they came across the website when researching self publishers. I was drawn to the philosophy of Pronoun. I was excited for them when they partnered with Macmillan because this is such a highly  respected publisher. I like that Pronoun gathered professionals in the industry and promote their services.

I have self published many books before, on Kindle and BN publishing platform.

I am always researching publishing. Please see my blog articles on self publishing:

https://nicolinatorres.com/self-publishing-101

https://nicolinatorres.com/self-publishing-102

I will probably not be publishing with Pronoun but it was not for lack of trying. I filled out everything needed and then spent half a day (probably longer) trying to download files (turning it into docx etc) that easily uploaded to KDP and B&N self publishing. So I just published with them, again. It was very frustrating. I even downloaded the Kindle app on my computer (this is a sin, as a former BN employee) because it was supposed to help with the downloading process but the book still showed up on screen garbled and looking like HTML code.

The site is cool looking, forward thinking with bright colors. I can see Millennials really being drawn to it. Nothing else out there looks like it. One page (I’m putting on my user experience cap) was so distorted with colors, my eyes are unable to focus on one thing. The background colors on this page need to go, but keeping the colors in bold font would be fine. The thin fonts used throughout the site are a major issue. It reminds me of a legal site, Legaler, and their light blue, thin fonts…many users can’t see the words on the screen.

 

 

This didn’t keep me from pressing forward in the process but we’ve found that the longer a user spends trying to figure out one page, the more likely you are to lose that user.

With thin fonts and bright colors, my eyes are having trouble resting on anything but You’re, Just, Away, From, Releasing:

 

 

I really like the site’s intentions but it’s very busy and most pages have different forms of animation (side fly in menu, pop ups) so it’s not consistent. It would be a neat looking blog but it has to be usable for services. Pronoun may be hard for less computer savvy people to understand and many of my old BN customers who self published, scaled older. You need young authors but you also need the older demographic. I like that there is a GET HELP button on the bottom of a the screen. I’m a big fan of those. No one can miss it.

I would recommend Pronoun depending on the age and tech skill set of the author I’m speaking to. I would warn anyone I recommend it to, ahead of time, that the file upload is messy and doesn’t always work.

 

Seema was very gracious and thanked me for my feedback but the site is still a thin font nightmare:

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And check out this page. Is that yellow blinding you? Yeah, me too.

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I’m sure there’s more to their troubles than the look/function of the website. I’m just expressing my gripes. It’s upsetting to see them go. Pronoun jumped into the publishing world with the best intentions. What a shame it is, that a company that took such a big risk failed and I hope that other companies like it are not scared off. I also hope that Macmillan will be absorbing Pronoun’s staff. Any publisher would be lucky to have employees who are so good at thinking outside the box.

Nicolina Torres
Nicolina Torres

When not working, Nikki is building websites and writing. She is the author of This Red Fire and Young Nation. She prefers to live in the country and is a new aunt to a potential bookworm.

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