Monday, 23 April 2012

Are Electronic Authors’ Co-operatives the New Force in Publishing?



Marketing books has always been a grand lottery. Millions of titles are hurled out into the market in the hope that enough will catch on to support the majority, which inevitably sink due to weight of numbers and the lack of reading hours in anyone’s lifetime, breaking the hearts of their authors as they go down.

Now publication is accessible to anyone with a computer and broadband connection, but there is still no magical solution to the great marketing dilemma – how do you get your book talked about and heard about when there is so much competitive din going on all around?

One growing trend is the rise of electronic author cooperatives, where groups of writers combine forces to get one another’s, (and of course their own), work in front of potential readers.

“Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?”  (http://authorselectric.blogspot.co.uk/ ), for instance, is a group of twenty eight authors, all experienced in different genres. We each blog on an assigned day each month and a diligent core of this band also works tirelessly, and extraordinarily successfully, to promote the site and the books therein and to advise and support one another on the technicalities and tribulations of e-publishing. Guest bloggers fill the other days.

“Awesome Indies” (http://awesomeindies.wordpress.com/ ) is the brainchild of fantasy and magical realism author, Tahlia Newland, where she selflessly reviews and recommends other indie books and authors who she thinks will appeal to her followers. (Here I must declare another interest since Tahlia has given a glowing review to my own indie e-book “The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer”, which is the vehicle through which I have been discovering this magical world of mutually supportive authors).

At the beginning of June three authors who are involved with the hugely successful on-line writing magazine “Words with Jam”, (www.wordswithjam.co.uk), Gillian E. Harmer, JJ. Marsh and Liza Perrat, are launching Triskele Books with three of their own titles.

Is this not how many of the oldest and most venerable publishing names first started out, with groups of writers huddling together for warmth in a vast and chilly ocean? Is it not a hugely encouraging and inspiring model for the future?







10 comments:

Suzanne said...

It's very encouraging to the market. With thousands of self-published books being put up for sale each day, this will help those who have quality work. Good job being mentioned in The Guardian as well!

Jan Needle said...

Interesting piece, thank you, Andrew. I'm a member of the Authors Electric gang, and gave away four of my own books as part of their World Book Day jamboree a couple of weeks ago. In terms of publicity it worked wonders. Afterwards my thriller Kicking Off went from practically nowhere to Number One in the PAID for section of Amazon, and the other books also shot ahead. I was dubious about a giveaway, but it gets over one of the hurdles you mention - putting titles under people's noses. I went indie after years of commercial publishing, and if the big boys get bankrupted I can only think they asked for it. Hail freedom!
If anyone wants to know, Kicking Off is 99p - another snook cocked at Roop and his boys. It's at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0077VORDG

Dave Trowbridge said...

Another example is Book View Cafe (www.bookviewcafe.com), founded in 2008 by genre authors including Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, and Judith Tarr and now comprising about 40 authors and releasing about a book a week. We're all both cooks and bottlewashers: my first book from them was proofed by Judith and formatted by Vonda, while I've formatted books for Sherwood Smith and Julianne Lee, and am helping build our new online bookstore. Of course we also help each other with publicity and much more.

One area that all such cooperatives should be actively pursuing is library sales. The attitude of the majors towards libraries is opening up a lot of opportunities: we're already in with a good-sized public library in the U.S. and a major library distributor in Australasia.

R. E. Hunter said...

That makes a lot of sense. There needs to be some sort of curation to sort through the noise, and personally I don't think Amazon and GoodReads reviews (which are easily gamed) cut it.

Carol Frome said...

I can easily see authors' cooperatives serving multiple good purposes.

1) Entree into a respected cooperative that puts out good books may well, in the future, carry the cachet of traditional publishing. (Of course that could also backfire if co-ops go the way of so many publishing cliques where nepotistic relationship pop up like mushrooms).

2) The work of marketing could become scalable, so instead of one author plugging one book at the expense of writing, we'll see many authors working to plug a whole list in addition to their individual works. That would be a blessing.

3) Same thing with editorial and production work.

It's good to be alive in 2012.

tomynate said...

Excellent article. Teamwork always has and always will be the answer.

Blessings,

Tom Blubaugh, Author
Night of the Cossack
http://nightofthecossack.com

Lorilyn said...

I started the John 316 Marketing Network almost two years ago and we have about 200 Christian authors now. We help each to launch books as well as lots of other marketing activities.

To get an idea of who our awesome authors are and the breadth of what a network can do if the authors help each other, I hope you will visit our blog hop which starts on May 7. Several of our members are sponsoring two free Kindles, and 55 authors are participating, offering free gifts on their blogs.

To visit and experience the best marketing network in the world, go to http://john316mn.blogspot.com.

Patricia said...

I just joined Do Authors Dream. Looked like a great blog site to read. Thank you.
Patti

The Editor Devil said...

Those are small author groups compared to the ones on Yahoo groups, like Indie Authors Forum and Indie Romance Authors. Those are growing fast, and they share tips/tricks and support on each others books in ways that is impressive and has real $ results.

Thanks for the post--tweeted it!
Christine

digireado said...

Really interesting post. As someone who works with authors and publishers the key concern these days is discoverability (I know it's a naff word but it sums it up).

For readers, it is also about knowing who of the indie authors are worth funding and reading. Sadly there are some who need to put more work into their book before creating their ebook (eg editing) so I think a way to curate all the content being created is important. Would love to see something like this for Australian authors - as far as I know it doesn't yet exist (I could be wrong of course!). Thanks again.