Shubin: an unbending planet from the outback

    All the most interesting and important, as usual, goes unnoticed. Meanwhile, a real breakthrough occurred in Russian crowdfunding: with the help of public investment, a serious popular science book will be published for the first time. 32-year-old Kemerovo citizen Pavel Shubin, a subtle and deep researcher of all the ups and downs of space exploration, carried out a rapid crowdfunding campaign on Boomstarter, collected almost a million rubles and is now preparing his work “Venus: Indomitable Planet” for publication. And this is only the first book from the conceived trilogy!

    The words “breakthrough”, “for the first time” and “serious” that sounded in the insert are not a stretch (correct us if we are mistaken). Next to the brilliant scientific volumes published under the supervision of the Dynasty Foundation, it will soon be possible to put no less remarkable, no lessreal book. The only difference is that it will be published not by a professional publishing house, but by an unknown mathematician from the hinterland. And the money for it was collected by techie readers who were hungry for good popular science literature. We talked about Pavel Shubin (@shubinpavel) about how the crowd campaign took place , what preceded it, why several dozens (!) Of publishers did not notice the book. Without forgetting, of course, ask him to share tips with academic authors who are just eyeing crowdfunding.

    Pavel, although indecently late, but with all our heart we congratulate you on a successful crowd campaign. In our opinion, you have performed a miracle. Or maybe even a breakthrough). (Here the word “breakthrough”, by golly, is much more valuable than a “miracle.”) Or are equally successful crowd campaigns related to serious popular science literature not rare for Russia? You, getting involved in this battle, have probably studied everything, you know everything about crowdfunding in our country ...

    Quite a flattering assumption. But before the start of my project, I studied in detail only what was on the Boomstarter. That was enough for a decision. In particular, crowd gathering for the publication of the books Simple Science: Exciting Experiences for Children and Being a Dolphin ended in success.". Both projects “raised” 800 thousand rubles or more. Serious money! But I understood that my fees could be much higher. At least because “Venus” is noticeably more voluminous than “Simple Science”. Finally, these books became one of those “experimental” with which I assessed the dynamics of income.

    At the same time, I also realized that my selection would not necessarily be characteristic of this site. The mechanics of Boomstarter are such that it is easy to find successful projects here. And the failed go to the archive; they, of course, can be found through a search, but estimating their number is not easy. That is, I did not know how many unsuccessful starts fall on these two projects. However, I did not find anything really interesting through the search ...

    "The planet"Also studied, but did not notice successful non-fiction books. Maybe I was looking badly. In addition, there is a separate niche at Boomstarter - Scientific and Popular Science Literature. So, anyone who is interested in such publications will definitely look at this page and, possibly, see my project. And with a limited collection time, this is important.

    Introducing your book, you wrote: “... large publishers abandoned my project or suggested cutting the manuscript several times, discarding science. Partly they can be understood ... ”How can they be understood, at least“ partly ”? Are worthy books not something that “major publishers" should fight for? Or maybe the shops are littered with good science and space reading?

    I just understand very well how it looked from the side ... A completely unfamiliar person appears who has almost nothing behind him and offers a rather serious book. Moreover, in order to assess how “true” it is, you need to put in a lot of energy. I give rare facts, and I need to make sure somehow that they are real, not invented. A person-in-topic, of course, is able to evaluate and verify, but he still needs to be found.

    “Near Space” many very specific people revolve. Ufologists, authors of their own theories of relativity, admirers of the "conspiracy theory" (as for other planets), etc. And they, unfortunately, also write books.

    For example, already during the crowdfunding campaign I received three books that mentioned Venusian projects. Two of them I can recommend. This is “Cosmonautics of the USSR / Russia” by Karfidov (unfortunately, it was withdrawn from sale due to problems with rights) and the work of Marov and Huntress “Soviet robots in the solar system”. But this is not scientific. In fact, this is the implementation of my original idea of ​​a pure reference literature. And in that capacity they are good. As for the third book - “Under the sign of the comet of Venus”, the situation here is different. According to the description and table of contents, it was not very clear what it was; probably there were a lot of oddities, but there could also be something interesting. Alas!

    In a word, publishers sometimes have a very difficult choice to make. Now, if Bazilevsky or Xanfomality brought this book, the situation, I think, would be different. Moreover, I am sure that they would write better than me. Just do not write for some reason.

    I’m also sure that publishing houses don’t get into what’s mailboxes, and getting lost in this stream is probably easy. Well, at one time I tried to break through directly (which, it seemed, was a mistake), but even at the same time to reach out to some publishers is completely impossible. So, I can congratulate AST on a high level of security. The site had information that the reception of all manuscripts was discontinued, except for technical literature, but the address to which it was proposed to send materials did not work. How all the specified phones did not work. And it’s more difficult to get to their stronghold in Moscow City than to the headquarters of the Space Forces or to the space communications station. By the way, I'm not joking. The headquarters is in the same building as the Space Research Institute, and at first I mixed up the "entrances", but in order to be in the territory of the Center for Long-Range Space Communication,

    Or "Dynasty." Serious fund! Under his supervision, many interesting books were published. But how easy it is for them to lose everything ... First I remembered the form, described everything, made an additional file, sent it, received confirmation that everything had successfully gone and completed, and I would get an answer within a few weeks. I called through these very weeks, and it turns out that nothing came, I need to repeat the procedure. Sending, receiving confirmation by phone. After a few weeks, they tell me that they will answer "within a few weeks." In a word, they didn’t answer ...

    I sent the manuscript to several dozen publishers; I visited many myself. Only Peter was partially interested (if I am not confusing anything). The editor called and said that the idea may be good, but “everything is complicated” and can I simplify the text, reduce it, and also add information on other planets to put everything in one book. The publication will be standard, with ordinary printing, that is, only two-color illustrations and schemes are acceptable. Throw out the most interesting from the book? This is very, very bad, but I agreed. Breaking, not building! After all, the original can still be tried to print ... However, then Peter changed his mind.

    But all the non-fiction publications that I asked for information about the start of the project at Bumtarter held me right away. These were “Science and Life”, “Trinity Option” and “Knowledge is Power”. I am pleased to thank them again!

    By the way, what is “serious non-fiction” in your understanding? Who can you single out (not only on “your” topics)? Who to look up to? Whom to read? You can start with Soviet books :-). And - do you have time to follow non-space ones (we are again talking about science)?

    When they ask a similar question, you start to frantically delve into the memory, but still you forget something. If you start from the Soviet era, then, in my opinion, one of the most characteristic examples is the Children's Encyclopedia of the 1960s. It was top class! For some reason I always understood that this is a very good publication. And when he studied the interior kitchen a little, he completely ceased to imagine how much this project cost in production. Beautiful illustrations, diagrams, explanation of technical things at the highest level ... It seems that there could not have been a single author below the doctor of science ... The encyclopedia is good thanks to two things, which, in my opinion, should be in any popular science literature. The first point is connected with Rutherford’s famous statement: “If a scientist cannot explain to the cleaning lady who is cleaning his laboratory, the meaning of his work, then he himself does not understand what he is doing. ” Exactly! Take the same physics: it is quite simple and only looks complicated from the side.

    And second: do not neglect illustrations. Just because with their help it is often much easier to explain many things. Perhaps modern book publishers therefore do not undertake a worthy scientific study? They already have a good idea of ​​how expensive a full-fledged popular science book with all its “pictures” will be in production ...

    I really like V. I. Shklovsky’s book “The Universe, Life, Mind”; Pavel Amnuel's works are good (X-ray Sky, etc.). From relatively fresh, I will highlight, for example, “ SETI: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence ” by L. M. Gindidis. From the biological one recalls “Animals Build” Freud, a very beautiful and interesting publication.

    If we take mathematics, then in addition to the obvious Perelman or Gardner, I will mention the old book of Sergei Bobrov, "Archimedean Summer, or the History of the Community of Young Mathematicians." In my opinion, it is unique. A very, very serious scientific work on the history of mathematics is hidden under the Detgiz cover, which presents such moments and such historical geometric solutions (for example, squaring the circle) that I have not even seen in the specialized literature.

    Modern science-fiction books not related to space? .. I really liked the work of Svetozar Chernov (, Stepan). If we continue the historical theme, I note the book of “ Trials of Witchcraft ” by Nikolai Bessonov (yes, this is really a science, but by no means children's; it is better to keep the book away from children). Or here "Incredible zoology ”by Vitaliy Tanaysichuk, and also“ Lord of the Abyss ”by Andrey Ostrovsky ...

    You wrote: “... the support of the publication will mean much more to me. Venus was originally planned as part of the trilogy. There are also books about the Moon and Mars. And if it turns out that this story is really interesting to readers, it will be much easier for me to finish the remaining parts. ” This passage is interesting not only because we, God grant, get a couple of excellent volumes, but also with this: in fact, you are talking about the potential appearance of “professional readers” - who sponsor certain books at the stage of their semi-readiness and thus breathe . Do you only try on yourself? Or can it become something universal, so to speak, the norm? (Of course, we are talking only about Russia so far, because you haven’t mediated on Kickstarter yet.)

    Initially, a slightly different point was meant here. Yes, I was “sick” with this topic, worked through it in detail, but at the same time I perfectly understood that this work would not affect many. This is normal, people are different, as are their interests. But I would very much like to know how curious she would be. Moreover, I really wanted to believe that in Russia there are many people who are interested in astronautics, astronomy and the history of science. At the same time, they tried to convince me that I was mistaken in my hopes that in reality there were no more than five hundred such readers in the whole country.

    Oddly enough, this is a fairly common opinion. We see this even if only by what and in what quantities it is published. A rare modern scientific or popular science book has exceeded 1,000 copies. Meanwhile, professional publishers have much more experience than mine. In all likelihood, they have a detailed analysis of the market, because such estimates should be based on something?

    I hoped that all this was just an ordinary reinsurance, that the real audience of such literature was much larger. I really did not want to believe that this was true! And so, the crowd experiment seems to have confirmed my point. Even if I managed to unite almost 500 people in a month, what can be expected from professional publishers with their advertising capacities!

    If it turned out that the people are cool to the topic and the critics of the project are absolutely right? .. Then I would finally leave this work to the soul and move on to other, socially useful things. However, Venus would probably have been published anyway. Next year, at his own expense, in a small print run. But the work on the "Moon" and "Mars", I think, would freeze for another ten years.

    Actually, the fact that in such projects you can pre-evaluate the audience, in my opinion, is one of the biggest advantages of the crowd scheme. Moreover, which is nice, the audience is real, ready to actually support the project. Thanks again to everyone!

    As for the Kistarter ... I have not thought about this yet. An attempt to translate “Venus” into English (in order to later promote the electronic copy) is in the plans. But first you need to deal with the translator, figure out how to control the translation. Transferring scientific and technical literature to another language is a very complicated process, there can be problems when translating “forehead” ...

    Let us digress for a second from the general. A private, but, we think, interesting question for many: how long and how hard do you write? How much did you carry Venus? How many books, articles were studied before it became clear to you that you can’t write?

    Part of the answer to this question can be found in this video:

    ... And also here:

    Moreover, not everything is represented on this picture. There are no books that have "remained" in the library; there are no abyss articles from magazines like Space Research. In addition, NASA's diverse technical reports were used.

    The earliest file that I found at my place dates back to May 2005. But, in my opinion, the work began a little earlier. In general, I believe that this year Venus turned ten years old ... Well, initially the book was planned as a guide to interplanetary stations, outlining their designs, a story about flights and a brief description of what they did. But after a while it seemed to me important to focus the text on the scientific side of the issue - in order, for example, to understand exactly why we (like the USA) threw stations at the cost of hundreds of millions of rubles / dollars onto Venus. Unfortunately, there were quite a few non-fiction books. From a certain moment only scientific monographs, quite difficult to understand, began to appear. But the idea to deal with it captured me; I began to order books and magazines, periodically visit libraries,

    In any case, the idea of ​​reformatting the book was correct. There are similar directories. Examples have already been mentioned, in addition, NGO them. Lavochkina issued a Talmud with a detailed technical description of almost all of its stations. But no one went into the science of the question, as far as I was aware.

    Of course, constantly studying a book was difficult, because you need to work. Therefore, "Venus" went through periods of, so to speak, informational take-off, and the time when everything related to the book was relegated to the background. But the work was still going on, and the mosaic gradually evolved into an ever more complete picture. Do not forget that I was digging in all directions: in addition to Venus, there is also the Moon and Mars. Just "Venus" was previously completed.

    “Here you will find information that has not yet been published in popular science literature,” you say in the preface to The Indomitable Planet. Can you briefly list these highlights? (Except the fact that your work, apparently, for the first time gives the general public comprehensive information on the "Venusian question.")

    Examples of highlights are in this fragment . So, as far as I know, the story of the discovery of carbon dioxide is mentioned only in the Kuiper collection “Atmospheres of the Earth and Planets” (1951). The discussion on the level of carbon dioxide was reflected in the next edition of this work, but it was not translated into Russian. We have also forgotten about balloon probes ...

    Or here's the story that the English radio astronomer Lavell managed to get a signal from Venus-1 when the station flew over the planet. In Russian sources there is not a single word about her. I found it on the site of the Jodrell Bank radio telescope. Actually, it turned out to have certain consequences; in the book, this episode is slightly expanded (compared to the demo fragment).

    In my opinion, the highlight is the “battle” of the ionospheric theory with the “greenhouse” theory, with a description of the one who put an end to this issue. My story of Venus-4 is described in great detail: it tells about canceled projects, both ours and American ones.

    However, in any case, I was in a winning position. There are really very few non-fiction books on this subject. According to the general approach to the presentation of the material “Venus”, in my opinion, it is closest to the book “Planet Venus” by Patrick Moore (1961). But the most interesting thing in Venusian history happened after 1961 ...

    Now let's turn to your crowd practice. She is no less interesting and even ... mysterious. Look here: your goal is to publish a real book, not an electronic one, for the money of readers. Preparing a publication for publication is a difficult, responsible and very expensive work (we leave the actual printing behind the scenes for now). We cannot say the same about a purely electronic publication; it is much simpler and cheaper; in fact, this is an intermediate technical stage. However, the list of sponsor rewards includes exclusively electronic publication. It turns out that by doing so you reduce the cost of the cost of the printed version - and this, by the way, is wonderful, because you do everything right at once. This, I would say, subtly :-). But this is only part of the question. At first, as I understand it, you refused a 400-500-ruble reward for the e-version of the book, believing that this will lead to a “shift in the peak” of donations from the “standard” thousand rubles and, therefore, will affect the total amount of the collection. But then they revised their views and already during the campaign they introduced the 500-ruble electronic “Venus”. Question number one: how did this affect the process? Has the peak shifted? Which way? If the “right” question is number two: you are a mathematician, an analyst, probably a good strategist; Was there a late announcement of the 500-ruble sponsored e-book at the reception, pre-design idea? In general, did it spur the campaign? How did this affect the process? Has the peak shifted? Which way? If the “right” question is number two: you are a mathematician, an analyst, probably a good strategist; Was there a late announcement of the 500-ruble sponsored e-book at the reception, pre-design idea? In general, did it spur the campaign? How did this affect the process? Has the peak shifted? Which way? If the “right” question is number two: you are a mathematician, an analyst, probably a good strategist; Was there a late announcement of the 500-ruble sponsored e-book at the reception, pre-design idea? In general, did it spur the campaign?

    The electronic version appeared already at the very end, and it is hardly possible now to evaluate how the picture would have looked if it had been originally.

    And for an example, I think, you can look at real schedules for various Boomstarter projects:

    These books have approximately equal amounts of fees, and the dynamics are sometimes different. In particular, at Nauka, due to the peak shift, the total number of sponsors significantly exceeds other projects. My two sponsorship rewards were incorrectly evaluated. They are clearly knocked out of the schedule: 400 and 1,500 rubles. In both cases, the error, after the fact, is obvious. However, the schedule itself turned out to be symmetrical, similar to the Gaussian distribution, which, it seems to me, shows that the general approach to rewards was correct.

    We can also conclude from this that the total number of investors who prefer the golden mean is usually one third of the total number of users, but their total contribution is about a quarter of the total. However, this pattern will only be in projects like mine.

    After this interrogation with an addiction, it will probably be natural to ask: your mistakes? What are you particularly guessing at? What can you recommend to writers who are eyeing crowdfunding?

    Before starting the project, I formulated several rules for myself, which I followed. Say, although the word "sponsor" is the official term of the site (which, of course, there are many charitable projects), but the term "investor" seems to be more appropriate. I decided to specifically make the rewards as serious as possible so that whoever believes in me, no matter how much he pays, would definitely get something in return.

    As the central contribution (which, presumably, the peak was supposed to fall), I chose the book itself “in full set” (with an autograph and delivery around the country). In my opinion, in terms of "price - quality" it was the optimum and the most interesting offer. And so it turned out. Then I tried to distribute the rewards so that each next installment was more interesting than the previous one. It seems to me that this is the most correct option. It is necessary to strive for the distribution to be such that later on the general schedule there are no failures or take-offs.

    In addition, you need to remember that with the beginning of the project, everything is just ... beginning. It is necessary immediately to work as closely as possible with the media, blogs, etc. Although, of course, it is better to start this work earlier, before the start of the project. At the same time, you need to understand that most of the recipients will ignore you, but this is not scary, the main thing is to go out to those who support you.

    One more tip. No need to give up! There is nothing worse than the author of a project that does not believe in the result. Actually, they tried to “please” me every now and then that the project failed, and for the first time it sounded on the third or fourth day after the launch, since by default it was believed that the main contributions came in the first days. To which I replied like this: I am ready to admit victory or defeat only on August 1, 2014, on the day the campaign ends.

    Advice on the requested amount. Still, it is desirable to minimize it! Perhaps even to the detriment of their plans. This should be done not so much in order to get the full amount, but for collecting it as soon as possible. Why? - If the project is completed, if it is successful, there are many people who are ready to support it. Agree, this is not at all when the project is at the very beginning of crowd life with its vague prospects.

    Finally, it is desirable to make the project as long as possible. Yes, despite the fact that the same "Boomstarter" recommends limiting itself to 30 days. Meanwhile, the pocket in time does not pull, and during the campaign, anything can happen.

    Actually, these are pretty obvious points. But if someone before the start of the project told me about the last two points, I would be very grateful to him.

    July 28, three days before the end of the project, you hung in the balance. The book lacked about 280 thousand. You spoke, one might say, with a post of despair: “the market assessment was wrong”, “could not provide proper advertising” ... And on the 30th - a new post, happy: we crossed 780 thousand! First, please tell us what happened. What kind of miracle happened? Because ... you are a mathematician :-), you know everything about numbers. And they just do not fall from the sky. Due to what did the second wind suddenly open (was it?)? .. Secondly, let me get attached to these very “erroneous market assessments” and “lack of advertising”. What, as it seemed to you, on July 28, were you estimatedly mistaken? What was included in the pre-project list of “due advertising”?

    How interesting this question is to everyone! Meanwhile, for the past week (and this will probably seem strange to you), I was completely calm, even serene.

    I myself remember and wonder! Yes, the dynamics of the project was not very good, but it was positive, it was collected about half a million, and if I had set it for 60 days, I could have pulled everything out. But the main thing is different: I found out that my “Venus” is really interesting to people, and my assessment of the audience was correct. Moreover, the shortage was too great; I myself could make only a third of the remaining amount. Therefore, was it worth it to worry about what was not in my power! It is better to do what is possible in this situation. And I did by launching an alternative project; in fact, in my profile on Boomstarter his draft is still hanging.

    But a couple of days before the end of the campaign, a friend of mine made me an offer, which is very difficult to refuse: he wanted to pay the remaining amount. It's great who would argue, but there are also disadvantages. So, there were harsh conditions regarding the terms of the return of money (I did not know how efficient the transfers of “Boomstarter” were); I would also receive in my hands an amount that is 23% less than that collected on the site (in addition, the bank will charge for the transfer), and you need to return the debt from this money. As a result, there will be much less left on the book than I expected. But, after thinking, I agreed to this proposal.

    There were other consequences. To return at least part of the money, I had to urgently sell valuable things for me (for example, a SLR camera and an astronomical mount), but this is already particular. The story ended well. I returned the debt, and the money in the account is waiting for when I deposit it for layout and printing at the printing house.

    “It will be difficult to assemble at the current pace,” Victor Abramov wrote on your Boomstarter wall on June 30. What was the pace, Paul? When did you "connect" to the Habr campaign? Following the advice of Mr. Abramov? “Top cosmoblogers” somehow helped? Tell me damn interesting!

    Drawing hundreds of words is dearer to us ...

    The graph of the total amount depending on the day is rather boring, but the first derivative (that is, an increase per day) is much more characteristic. X axis - the day since the start of the project. Y is the contribution for this day. I removed the decisive contribution from the chart so that the standard dynamics could be better viewed.

    From this it can be seen that the overall dynamics - somewhere around the 36th day - is very stable. There were ups and downs in it. The average amount can be estimated at 10 thousand / day. That is, at this pace, the collection would last about 78 days. At the end you see two peaks. The peak of the 37th day appeared thanks to Zelenyikot ( Green Cat) - for which thanks again to him! The peak of the last days arose after collecting the required amount, when people changed their psychological attitude to the project (I spoke about this above). I'd like to know what would happen next if Venus lasted another ten days ...

    As for Habr. My post was deleted after a couple of days, as it violated the internal rules of the community, namely the ban on collecting money. I posted a message on the 21st day, and deleted it on the 23rd. Just from the 21st day, the “platform” begins on the chart, apparently obliged to Habru.

    What else can you learn from here? Although the start always brings a very round sum, with a detailed operation, surges can occur in the future. And much higher than the original! The main thing is not to be lazy to disseminate information. New people see an interesting project and also decide to support it.

    “People sitting on the fence,” that is, they noted the project as interesting, but did not give money — at least immediately, did you manage to “untwist” them? How to work with them at all?

    I have a suspicion that you mention a certain internal mechanism of ... My situation was a bit different. So, many wrote that they really like the idea, but they will contribute the money a little later, after the salary. Many helped non-monetary. For example, they sent articles from foreign magazines or their illustrations, suggesting they be used. I am grateful to everyone for any help. Actually, I didn’t specifically press anyone, I didn’t ask anyone for money; Moreover, I think this is wrong.

    439 people believed in you. Is it a lot or a little? Who are these people? Where are they from (what is geography)? What sites did they come from? What was the impetus for them? By the way, on the day of triumph, you wrote: "I am glad that serious popular science literature is in demand in our country." Do you think that it is in demand?

    In the final layout of the book, I want to put a map representing the geography of investors. In the meantime, the information, however strange it may seem, is fragmentary. Only about two-thirds of the sponsors sent me their coordinates. But the geography is still very vast. In addition to Russia, there are investors from the Republic of Belarus, Germany, Estonia, Israel, Japan, the United States. However, taking into account the current situation, investors from Ukraine pleasantly hit me the most.

    Ten 9 thousandth sponsors ... Two sponsors of "20 thousand each." Impressive! Can you tell something about these people? And one more thing: this is your proposal to the twenty-thousandths: "... to take part in the work on the next books of the trilogy ... the author's manuscript ... inconsistencies ..." Is it interesting to them?

    I’ll dodge the details, because I don’t know their reaction to the disclosure of such information. If in general, then these are two very different people. One is my friend, since childhood, we studied together at the Lyceum. And the second is a large leader who manages a process automation company.

    By the way, I have not yet handed over the proposal for the manuscript to them, because it still has a very working look, it will undergo scientific and technical editing, and I will correct the comments and it will be possible to send.

    Pasha, were you really in all these space museums in all this urban breakthrough that sounded in the Boomstarter project presentation? You are the only one! However, now I seem to begin to understand why you won :-) ...

    Not. I was not in Krasnoyarsk, although even for me it is amazing (I still can’t connect the visit with a trip to this city); was not in Dnepropetrovsk. But the collections of these collections through the Internet represent well. In any case, these museums are in my plans, and sooner or later I will be there. And, if there are those who wish, I will conduct a tour for them ... The

    conversation was conducted by Igor Isupov ( This Is.Pro ).

    PS Fired up a book? Do you want to get it? - Write to Paul at this address: You can peer into the pre-editorial (handwritten!) Demo fragment of Venus here . But Pavel, when he has time, looks here and here .

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