I'm a fan of Indie Author Cooperatives: I've been in the Indelibles from the start in 2011 and joined the Emblazoners (Indie MG) last year. And, of course, I run an indie author cooperative on NetGalley. In the last year, I've joined several (closed, private) author groups on Facebook, where authors of like minds (by genre or experience) gather together to share information.
But a group of four indie authors (Stacey Longo, Dale T. Phillips, Vlad V., Ursula Wong) are doing something cool I haven't seen before: working cooperatively to help each other with editing and covers, as well as support, knowledge, and marketing. They reached out to me, so I asked them to write something up about their unique group and how it works.
Once upon a time, there were four writers, each struggling on their own to get their stories out to the world. And it was tough. Each writer needed editing, good covers, more knowledge, and had to market each work individually.
Then Vlad and Dale met at the New England Author’s Expo, a perfect venue for networking. Dale had some books out with small presses, and Vlad had just self-published his first book. They discovered a like-mindedness, and a dedication to quality work and professionalism that soared far above the norm for self-publishers.
They started sharing information, and ventured to a nearby writer’s group, where they met Ursula. She hadn’t published anything at that time, but her talent was apparent, and her work improved by leaps and bounds. She carefully considered feedback, and each draft was so much better that it didn’t take long before she published her first story, and then another. Soon she had written her first book, and was seeking information on how to publish.
They realized the writer’s group didn’t offer the help they needed as their work progressed. So Vlad, Dale, and Ursula joined forces. Soon, they were collaborating on more and more projects. Everyone had to step up their game, because their editing of each other’s work was fierce, the kind of structured, forced story critiques that might sting at first, but are necessary for growth. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it is better to hear it from a friend who will help you improve the material, than from a bad review by a disgruntled reader.
They carefully studied techniques for improving not just the writing, but the packaging and selling of books. They shared a superb, affordable cover artist, started working bookselling opportunities together, and improved everyone’s reach in the market. They communicated mostly via email, but got to know each other over home cooked dinners.
Vlad and Dale soon met Stacey, who owned a bookstore and was a long-time writer and editor. There was instant chemistry, and Stacey joined the group, adding her prodigious editing skills and industry knowledge. Of course, bribing her with gourmet chocolate might have influenced her decision to join.
Each person brought something wonderful to the mix, adding skills and abilities that made the whole better than the sum of its parts. Since we’re a co-ed team, we can scan both male and female characters for believability, which is a huge boon to rounding out rough edges. Each person reads with a different eye, and picks up something that would have been missed otherwise. So far, there hasn’t been any clash of egos, because we realize we’re all rowing this boat in the same direction. We want to succeed in getting quality work published and sold to as wide an audience as possible.
The four of us have broad reach in different states, different genres, and different story lengths, which extends our collective reach. Every one has book projects that now move along faster with help and support. We work four times faster, and four times harder. We get the answers we need without slowing down.
Stacey says “I know that when I send out a story to our group of four, I will get in return valuable, high-quality feedback on content and storyline that will ultimately make my writing better.”
Most of our collaboration is informal. Each of us work and publish as separate entities, although we are collaborating on our first collection of short stories (Insanity Tales, due in October 2014). Because we are sharing the writing, we have contracts formalizing the business aspects such as copyright, allocation of profits, and responsibility.
So consider working collaboratively. Finding like-minded writers in classes and workshops, and forging new relationships can make the road easier for both new and established authors.
Even loose collaboration saves time, reduces cost, and improves the quality of books. As Vlad says, “collaborating can be the solution to keeping your Indie fire stoked and white-hot.”
Personally, we think of our collaboration partners as family, and in a good way.
Will this story have a happy ending? We sure hope so – and so far, the odds are good.
For a further discussion on the benefits of collaboration, see the guest post on the site of Joe Konrath, Giving Our Way to Success by Dale T. Phillips and Vlad V.
Who We Are
Stacey Longo (http://www.staceylongo.com)
Stacey is the author of Secret Things (a collection of horror) and the editor of Wicked Seasons. Her novel Ordinary Boy is due out in early 2015 from Dark Alley Press.
Dale T. Phillips (http://daletphillips.com)
Check out Dale's story collections listed on his website: www.daletphillips.com or the latest Zack Taylor mystery, A Shadow on the Wall.
Vlad V. (http://thevlad.net)
SALE! All of Vlad’s ebooks are just 99 cents for a limited time! Buy The Button, Brachman’sUnderworld, and Yorick at rock-bottom prices!
Ursula Wong (http://ursulawong.wordpress.com)
Purple Trees (Haunted Mystery)