This is a guest post from author P.D.R. Lindsay. Self-publishing can often lead to feelings of being alone, isolated, and more. Luckily, in self-publishing, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. P.D.R. shares a great way for authors to work together to achieve things they are simply unable to do alone.
A kind London agent, whose critique was the reward for being short listed in an unpublished novel competition, opened my eyes to the realities of traditional publishing. It is a numbers game. He received around 6,000 queries a year, about 300 would be publishable and marketable, but he often did not sign up a new writer. “Agents need to get ten books out of an author so you,” he said very kindly, “are too old and too far away in New Zealand.” So now what?
Well, if my work was to be read, it would be because I published it myself. I knew I had a good publishable novel for it had been assessed, passed on to agents, and been short listed in two competitions, but how to beat the ‘Great Amazon slush pile’ as the traditional publishers rudely call it?
Partnering with Other Authors
What about a co-operative or collective of like-minded authors who had quality novels, believed in beta readers, using social media, full editing and proof reading, and would help each other produce the best possible novel and promote it? For me it made sense. A group is much more noticeable. As a group writers can share the work, especially time-consuming things like PR. As a group, writers can support each other, cheering each other through that interminable editing process to a better book.
Where to start? With writers’ groups.
I went to an online writers’ group I had belonged to for some years. Down in the historical section I put the group idea to my colleagues and found soul mates. Writer’s Choice was born. And we are not alone. We have made contact with other groups and we support and promote their work as they do ours. I like the idea of indie groups linking up and helping each other. A group equals people power which should result in book sales!
Here are some of the group we partner with:
- Five Directions Press – A group formed when members decided to pool skills. They work together to ensure quality control, so that writing and production become a collective effort.
- Triskele Books – an international group like ours which operates in a similar way. Each author retains her own rights, is responsible for publishing her own books, and commissioning her own quality design, but with the co-operation of her colleagues. They recommend keeping the co-operative/collective as a small tight group.
- Indie Visible – a ‘powerhouse collective of independent writers who use joint resources and collaborative social media to deliver quality books to the masses.’ This group have a formal contract and are ‘reinventing publishing so that it works for us, and for our readers.’ Members of the collective individually publish their own work, with collective support in the forms of marketing, feedback, accountability, and hand-holding. Each collective member agrees to publish on a schedule that allows for the maximum amount of promotion time. This group is almost a Small Press.
Whether you decide to have a formal contract or be more flexible just beware. Group power is only powerful if all members are committed. Avoid people who want to join but who expect that other people will do the publishing work whilst they write their next book. Also avoid writers who want to use the group PR power to get good sales so that they can attract an offer from a ‘real’ publisher.
Writer’s Choice has a logo which makes a promise to readers of quality fiction and we work hard to ensure this. For us communicate is vital. We live in different time zones so emails are the best communication system for us. Emails can be tricky because they are only words, without all those visual and tonal qualities we use to understand what is said. We quickly learnt to spell out exactly what we meant, and to check with each other if we were not sure. In fact we are quite blunt at times in our emails, but we do always add a chatty bit to keep the personal touch. For us a good member is one with the same high standard of production who is dedicated to the group ethos.
The new analysis of indie book sales from Hugh Howey’s AuthorEarnings.com shows that their percentage of all sales is considerably more than previously reported, and those sales are growing. Indie writers are here to stay. Just make sure you are an Indie writer whose books readers find and read. Group power can help you do this.
P.D.R. Lindsay is a writer member of the writers’ co-operative, Writer’s Choice. You can learn more about her and her works on her website, www.RowanLindsay.co.nz.