We had this idea, what if we democratized the process of getting published and allowed people to choose what they want to see published?

Deep down, we all consider ourselves to be authors. Think of all the times you’ve read somebody else’s work, privately sneered at it, then spent the next week telling your friends and family how much better you could do (side note — I know you’re doing this right now, and it angers/offends me greatly).

Of course, the main problem isn’t the act of writing, it’s finding someone to publish your work. Before my many compelling talents were recognized by Beehive Startups, I was just a humble sprinkler salesman cracking jokes on a blog read by approximately four people. Sometimes you weave together the perfect blend of words and phrases, put it online, nobody reads it, and you end up feeling like a clown. The point: it’s hard to get published.

That’s where Dreamling Books enters the picture.

“The publishing industry is extremely inefficient, extremely hard to get published, and has huge overhead costs,” co-founder Benjamin Ehlert told Beehive Startups in a recent interview. “Publishers are struggling to make money on most of their books. We had this idea, what if we democratized the process of getting published and allowed people to choose what they want to see published, while also allowing anybody to submit a story to be reviewed by his/her peers, get feedback, and then submit it to be voted on to get published?”

Ever traveled to Kenya and fully comprehended your hopes and dreams in life? Me neither, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still happen. Faced with heavy decisions about the future, Ehlert went to Africa and chose the road less traveled: creating Dreamling Books, a crowd-sourced publishing community dedicated to children’s books.

“I was preparing to hopefully get a job in management consulting, I wanted to work for a big-name company,” Ehlert said. “As I was preparing for that, it didn’t really excite me, to be honest. And then I had somewhat of a life-changing experience on a trip to Kenya, where I realized that I would rather do something that I felt was more meaningful, for myself and for others.”

Because we live in America, we realize democracy is awesome. This extends to all things, be it government or the art of publishing books. Dreamling Books has taken this concept and started to run with it, creating an environment where anyone can submit a children’s story/illustration, anyone can provide feedback, and the ultimate act of getting published is left up to the voice of the masses.

“You come to our website and create a profile, through your profile you can upload written stories, they can be rough ideas or full manuscripts that you’ve spent a lot of time on, and then you create a critique group,” Ehlert said. “You can add friends that you trust to come and view your story, give you feedback, help you make your story stronger, and people can also like and comment on stories. We open it up for people to submit stories they want to see published, people can nominate and vote for those stories, and the stories that rise to the top are the ones that we publish.”

Their first published book, The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth, is currently on Kickstarter and has already doubled its financial goals. Written by surf and adventure photographer Chris Burkard, illustrated by Disney Interactive artist David McClellan, The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth is only the beginning.

Dreamling Books is seeking to change the way publishing occurs. If you submit your work and enough people like it, you’re on your way. Democracy wins again!

“If your story is selected, we enter into a contract with you as the author,” Ehlert said. “We provide professional editing help, bring on a designer, commission the right illustrator for your story, and then we print and distribute your book.”

Published 3/24/2015