Red Lemonade

by Marcus Williams

– “Bringing the alternative to the mainstream by any means necessary.”

How do they do this?

By moving the publishing industry into the cloud. By creating a community of like-minded individuals who are eager to read, write, and ascertain feedback publisher Richard Nash (formerly of Soft Skull press) hopes to make Red Lemonade’s mantra a reality.

How do they do that?

By using the web-based platform Cursor, which consists of web sites, services, software applications, and networks that allow for reading, commenting on, discussing, and disseminating digital content and for authorized download and distribution of written digital content and commentary over the Internet.

Red Lemonade members are free to read any of the other user’s manuscripts. Through the Cursor platform they are able to annotate any given manuscript by commenting on the page, highlighting a single word, sentence, or full paragraph and leaving your notes. There is also a selection of “Featured Books” which are manuscripts that have been picked for publication by Richard Nash with the community’s input that are available to be read in their entirety for free on their platform, and purchasable through trade paperbacks, digital editions, and special, limited editions from their online store. They also offer excerpts from the Evergreen Review, an influential cultural magazine of the 20th century, written by Samuel Beckett, Frank O’Hara, Marguerite Duras, and others to help contextualize their efforts in creating and supporting 21st century independent publishers.

What do they publish?

 Red Lemonade pursues the publication of fiction and highly narrative non-fiction particularly “risky, socially charged, misbehaving stuff.” Red Lemonade is for the writers other publishers are afraid of. Richard Nash wants Red Lemonade to be a wholly new platform, combing the best of editorial judgement, “publicity moxie” with community input into acquisition and promotion.

How do I get published by Red Lemonade?

 To submit a manuscript, you must be a registered member and then contact Richard Nash on your “Write Now” page that you’ve got a manuscript that you would like to upload. Eventually every member will be able to upload their manuscripts whenever they like, but the site is still in beta. However, it is up to the user to make an impact on the Red Lemonade community. Just like in life, the more you contribute the community the more the community will recognize your name and be interested in your own endeavors which will increase the feedback and recognition for your own work.

In lieu of the traditional publishing style there are no official “rejections” by Red Lemonade so users can continually use the community feedback like a writing group whether or not they acquire a book deal with Red Lemonade.

Moreover, if you post a story on Red Lemonade, it is an “open” submission. Which means you are free to pursue other avenues of publishing concurrently, which doesn’t bother Richard Nash in the slightest. He argues that the value that a literary journal or publisher adds to the work is in the selection of it, not making it available. Making something available is only relevant when there is a “cost” to it AND when it’s “scarce.”

How will authors make money if everyone has already read their book before its release?

On “free” reading: Nash argues that if a reader is so moved by someone’s writing that they’d spend 15 or so hours reading, commenting, and discussing it that they’d be excited to buy it when it comes out in print, that they would tell their friends through infectious enthusiasm which will convince their friends to buy it as well. Posting the full text here increases exposure and your audience and increases your chance of publication in other formats.

On regular books, Red Lemonade and its authors “lose” money. Red Lemonade pays for the printing costs and authors don’t make as much as they would through other retailers. However, Red Lemonade distributes their books to sites like Amazon and creates special limited editions to offset these costs.

Won’t my great ideas get stolen?

“No one can stop anyone from stealing ideas. Ideas aren’t covered by copyright law. The power is in how exactly you express your idea, and that is what’s covered by copyright law.” – Richard Nash.

He goes on further to say that the impulse to write is from a desire to communicate something y personally known, and to steal from others grants no satisfaction.

Nash also argues that in the book world it’s quite settled that editorial intervention doesn’t give rise to copyright ownership, otherwise every MFA student and copyeditor and acquisitions and development editor would be suing everyone.

Where can I sign up?

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