Help me welcome Màiri Norris and some of her author’s group! For the next 3 days we’ll be talking about the ins and outs of starting your own author’s group – is it easy? Nope. Is it worth it? Read on to find out!
The world of publishing has changed so much in the past five years many experts believe the only way for an author to survive, whether traditionally or ‘Indie’ published, is to join with other authors. When we at Romancing Yesteryear were asked to post about starting a new writer’s group, my first instinct was to say, “don’t even think about it unless you’re willing to deal with stress through the roof”. It was a bit like childbirth—we quietly cussed all the way through, but when it was over, we forgot the pain and enjoyed the wonderful results. It was worth the effort.
Expect the process to take several months. Even when the group is complete, allow time for adjustment, and then growth. It can take a year for a new group to reach full potential.
Exchange phone numbers with core [beginning] members. There will be times when email won’t meet contact requirements.
It may seem superfluous to say so, but core members should agree in advance on the basics of what is wanted/needed. The opinions, perspectives and ideas of each will be critical to success.
Aspects to consider:
- Identify core issues such as the group’s purpose, goals and parameters. As an example, the purpose and goals of Romancing Yesteryear were/are:
Increase awareness in the romance readership of our individual names and brands.
Increase our readership/fan bases via direct and indirect engagement.
Provide group support and promotion for each individual member. [This can include the exchange of critiquing/beta reading, emotional support, the sharing of technical knowledge, social media exchange—realistically, nearly any support vital to success.]
- Seek new members who agree with the group’s core purpose, goals and parameters. We began by compiling a list of author names and researching their websites, various author pages and published works.
- Choose a name that best expresses the group’s identity/brand. This may seem the simplest part of putting a group together, but ‘unique’ is the keyword. Type possible choices into two or three search engines to insure they are not used anywhere else in the world of publishing. [Include Amazon. One of the first names we considered was also the title of two different novels!] To rank high in search parameters, the name should not only tell/intuit readers who you are and what you write, but be unique.
Another thought here is to match the ambience of your group name to the banner you choose for your web pages. Both should evoke the same message to readers.
- Number of members—our research indicated 8 to 10 to be the optimal number, but we studied successful groups ranging from 4 to 14.
- Financial obligations—realistically, each member should be able to afford their share. Usually, the biggest expense is creation of the group website, but be aware that later on, others [e.g., expensive Facebook party ‘grand prizes’] may also be in the works.
- Coordinator—someone to keep track of all the various aspects of the project, remind everyone what needs to be done and by what time and act as a mediator between the group and outside individuals [such as your website designer]. This person or another may be chosen to continue in this function after the group is together.
- Outline group parameters. Though not a requirement for success, most groups also decide to agree on issues beyond those that are core. Some to consider:
Genre [ours is romance], and sub-genre [ours is historical romance]. Decide how specific in the sub-genre to get [e.g., while American western is technically historical romance, it is so large a sub-section in and of itself we chose not to include it. We did agree to include time travel, paranormal and fantasy romance].
‘Heat’ level. In romance, this ranges from sweet to erotic.
Realistic expectations of individual involvement within the group.
Independent or traditionally published.
- Prepare to compromise. There will never always be agreement on everything. Each member has equal say, but majority rules.
Every new group will face its own challenges. Step back, access patience and prepare for a process that while frustrating can also be fun and ultimately, very rewarding. For example, apart from the obvious professional benefits, it’s not unusual for various group members to become very good friends outside the publishing world. Who can argue with that?
RU Writers, have you ever thought of starting an author’s group?
Join us tomorrow for part two of Starting a New Author’s Group with Barbara Bettis
Bio: Màiri is a USN vet who lives in Virginia with her USCG retiree husband and three cats. She loves to read and travel-especially to England and Scotland-and make dollhouse miniatures when she’s not busy writing. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, Chesapeake Romance Writers and Clan Donald, USA. A lover of history, she also loves to read (and write) historical romance. You can visit her author’s group website at Romancing Yesteryear.