« Editorial

Authors Find Marketing and Publicity Strength in Numbers

Some 50 established authors jointly launched the Fiction Writers Co-Op — part support group, part self-promotion platform.

MJ Rose

Editorial by M.J. Rose

“If they ever existed, the days of any novelist sitting at home letting their publicists and editors do all the work are so over!” Author Carleen Brice

There’s almost no author alive who isn’t weathering the tumultuous changes in the publishing industry.

Whether its being told your marketing budget will based on how many friends you have on Facebook and followers you have on Twitter, finding out there’s no press coming for your book, or discovering the agency model for e-books might not be the best thing that every happened to your bottom line . . . there’s just not a lot of good news floating around out there.

“Despite the effort my editor, publicists, and agent put into teaching me the mysterious sect that is publishing, I am far from being their only client and I could only beg out a few shreds of wisdom at time. Indeed, I’ve often felt like one more in a long line of Oliver Twists, each of us begging, ‘Please, Ma’m, can I have a little more.’” – Author Randy Susan Meyers

More and more (if it is even possible) we are feeling the pressure to promote and market our work even when it means delaying writing our next books — or writing them faster — or spending an ever greater portion of our advances on marketing and PR. (Or all of our advances.)

“When my second book came out, in 2005, the publisher wanted me to have a website. When my third book came out, in 2010, the publisher wanted me to be on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook, to maintain my own blog, to write guest posts for other blogs, to reach out to other writers with a strong online presence. It’s very clear that a lot of the impetus for marketing our books is now on us. This gives us more control, I guess, but can also make you feel overwhelmed and alone.” Author Leah Stewart.

Smart authors, faced with storms, chose to create umbrellas. That’s why a diverse group of authors banded together to create The Fiction Writer’s Co-op’ which will work to find innovative ways to promote each other’s work and cheer each other on in a very competitive field.

“The idea of starting the co-op came to me when author Catherine McKenzie asked me if I had any great ideas for supporting the upcoming release of her latest novel,” said Cathy Marie Buchanan. “I was already making daily book-related posts on my Facebook author page and knew I would post about the release of her novel, but I wanted a bigger splash. I expected there were plenty of authors on Facebook, with large followings of readers, who would be more than happy to post about new book releases and in turn have their releases supported in the same way.”

The Fiction Writer’s Co-op has 51 members from celebrated NYT bestsellers to promising newcomers and a waiting list. In addition to posting about each other’s releases, getting group discounts on marketing efforts, inviting each other to do essays on our blogs, our most recent effort is a list of book club picks written by authors who love to Skype and do phone chats.

We’ll all be posting the list and making it available to all our friends at Facebook and Twitter as well as inviting booksellers and librarians we know to download the list and offer it to readers.

“The whole publishing system is crazy today but it’s not just them; it’s the publishing ratio to ratio of available media. Publishers are throwing far more books out there than a quickly shrinking media can accept. Most novelists are basically introverted; they retreat inside themselves to create worlds and from this come their beautiful books. It is hard to become a PR person, which is an entirely different nature.” Author Stephanie Cowell

Members of the Co-Op will bring a printed version of the list to book clubs when we speak to them — also when we do bookstore visits and library talks. We’ll be attaching the list to thank-you notes after we speak to clubs and sending it to clubs we’ve already spoken to.

“Many authors have been struggling for a while in a top-heavy publishing structure and will continue to face tough choices in the future. We’re pressured by our publishers to find ways to both engage our readership and publicize / market our work on our own. Ten or twenty authors working together can accomplish a lot more than one — and the Fiction Writers Co-Op is proof of this” – Author C.W.Gortner

Even though the Co-op began as a promotion vehicle, it’s turning into something even more valuable for it’s members: authors helping authors at every step of the way. “The Co-op is like a power shot of caffeine, practically, but even more so emotionally,” said author Sandra Gulland

What’s more, it’s a way for younger writers and veterans to work together and learn from each other.

“I simply believe we all need to give up-and-coming authors a leg up. You’ve got to pay it forward, and the Fiction Co-op presents the perfect forum for this. We’re a wonderful mix of established and debut authors — and I hope, collectively, we can rock each and every one of our members’ books!” – Author Claire Cook

Writing is a very lonely business, and I just so appreciate finally having others to talk to that “get” it,” added author Ernessa T Carter.

Perhaps Julianna Baggott summed it up best. “I’m not part of any other group of novelists who are as actively publishing and engaged with readers as this group. There’s real camaraderie. I got in for the shared resources, but I stay for the conversation.”

Some of the authors participating in the Fiction Writers Co-Op include Karen Essex, Stepanie Cowell, Sandra Gulland, Jon Clinch, Melissa Senate, Tatjana Soli, Julianna Baggott, Heido Durrow, and Tasha Alexander. You can find the Fiction Writers Co-op on Facebook.

In 1998, M.J. Rose was the first author to use the Internet to release an e-book that was picked up by traditional publishers. She is also the owner of the ad agency, Authorbuzz.com. You can read more about her latest novel, The Hypnotist, and her other works, on her Web site.

DISCUSS: Are Authors Too Naked in their Self-Promotion?

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  1. Posted March 23, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Great idea! And very generous and helpful for newbies!

  2. Posted March 23, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    There are many other similar groups, both formal and informal, springing up everywhere. I look forward to seeing how this plays into the ongoing changes int eh industry. More initiatives – and power! – in authors’ hands!

  3. donaupiratin
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Can’t find the list of authors. Help?

  4. Edward Nawotka
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Sorry about that list…our first link was non-functioning, but I’m working to get a live one. Ed Nawotka, EIC, Publishing Perspectives

  5. Posted March 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Being a self-published author, I had been vilified for even daring to make an end-run around the traditional publishing model. I went alone, and while I am a very private person my soul is put into my work. But lately I have noticed that the problem with so many “support” groups is that they end up as promotional venues only for the admins, while many authors who join get the “benefit” of the admins’ words while not being able to ask relevent questions and getting answers. I social network on all the mentioned sites but can scarcely get any traction for my hard work, and I have put off completing a book which should have been published last year to publicize my other books. My work is continuous, because it’s my living, not my second job or a hobby. To slack off is not in the game plan. I applaud the idea of a “real” support group for authors but, for the most important reasons, I am not much of a joiner.

  6. Posted March 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful idea. I’m not yet published, but it’s great to know when I am that there’s great support out there.

  7. Posted March 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Hi MJ. As a new indie author myself using all the various tools out there to spread the word and build a readership is a fantastic opportunity. The rise of eBooks is truly an exciting opportunity to get your hard work out there and find your readership – interesting times, and very much a shift in the traditional model.

    We’re launching a new website to for writers unpublished work; to upload, sell, receive valuable ratings & reviews direct from readers to help them prove and improve their work. It’s about providing a platform for writers at whatever stage of their journey, and for readers looking for something new.

    It sounds like we have some aspects in common with the Co-Op – it would be great to explore if their is something we could do together?

    All the best

    Adam Charles

  8. Edward Nawotka
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I added the link to the Fiction Writers Co-Op Facebook page, which you can find here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fiction-Writers-Co-op/203493263013635

  9. Kalenski
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    This is a *great* idea but I’m dying to know who is being told that their book’s marketing budget depends on the author’s number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

  10. Posted March 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    What a fantastic idea! I’m an aspiring writer and started a group for us on FB. We’re helping each other build our online platforms, but we don’t really have much in the way of books to promote yet. We’ll get there soon enough though. For anyone interested, the group is called Thursday’s Novelists.

    Kalenski — I have a few writer clients for my social media business, and one of them told me that her potential publisher would not even consider signing a contract with her until she had an impressive number of followers on twitter and fans on facebook. That’s why she hired me. She is writing a non-fiction book, and I believe the online platform is even more important there.

  11. Posted March 24, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Support can make all the difference, as a new author myself I know how overwhelming it all can be-this is excellent.

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