By Jordan E. Rosenfeld (@JordanRosenfeld)
If you’ve never heard of writers’ collectives before, or if you know about them but wanted to learn more, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this terrific article by Jordan Rosenfeld.
You’re interested in self-publishing because you’re ready to go it alone, so it might seem a little strange for me to suggest that you go it alone—with other people. Say what? Bear with me, and I’ll lay it all out.
More than a year ago, a writing friend of mine (who lives in another state) and I were both considering self-publishing our novels, but we felt a lot of trepidation at launching into this bold new world. I’d been traditionally published by both a fairly large publisher (Writer’s Digest Books) and a one-man small publishing operation (Kulupi/BeijaFlor Books) for my books on writing.
I’d had two agents, and a number of “close calls” in mainstream publishing with my novels (e.g., editors who liked the books but didn’t feel they could effectively convince a pub board to publish them). I will not lie—I was among those who looked down my nose at self-publishing in its early stages. That is, until my friend Chelsea and I began talking about how, after years of working hard, we were tired of waiting for the gates of publishing to open to us.
My hesitations about self-publishing were manifold and included everything from a fear of finding a market to producing a book that looked “real” enough to not be an instant tell that I did it myself. Then there was the fact that I didn’t have much of a clue how one went about producing, marketing, or getting a book into bookstores, if that was even possible.
But Chelsea and I soon realized that we knew lots of talented writers with other skills (because all writers soon realize they need a backup plan): graphic designers, photographers, editors, marketing pros, social media experts, journalists, and so on.
What if we came together to support one another, and cross-traded services? And what if we created an umbrella collective with its own mission and logo? And, best of all, cross-promoted one another so that when any one individual person’s platform or base experienced success, we could all benefit. Thus, Indie-Visible was born.
I want to make it clear that while we share resources and have the option to publish our books with the “I.V. Ink” logo, we are all independent publishers of our own work. We own the rights to our work and do not share profits with one another, though we do offer each other free or bartered services.
In our year-plus of operations, here are the top reasons I remain convinced that being part of a writers’ collective of independent writers is superior to “going it alone.” (There are other hybrid collectives in which writers put money into a pot and the collective does the work of publishing.
There are variations, such as the magnificent SheWrites Press by which you can pay to have them produce your book and share in the organization’s reputation, and yet more variations).
Oversight: When you go it alone you leave yourself open to mistakes that you make because you don’t know you’re making them. In a collective you have people to edit and proof your work, give pointers and advice on your cover, help you brainstorm ideas, and tell you honestly what needs work.
- Resource & Talent Sharing: In a collective you’ve got a hub with many spokes, all contributing information that you might not find on your own. In fact, you can customize your collective by inviting in writers who also have the skills you desire.
- Moral support: It’s tough out there for a single writer. Things are shifting so rapidly in the new frontier of indie publishing that to go it alone is like trying to take a rubber raft into the ocean. You can get discouraged and overwhelmed all too easily. We use a Facebook working group to share tips, encourage one another, and set tasks.
- Joint Promotion: Who has a huge budget for marketing these days? And since the bulk of unpaid marketing is done through social media, what better strategy than benefiting from the collective marketing power of your fellow indie authors with their networks.
- United Front: In a writer’s collective you’re going beyond self-publishing into co-publishing, and you stand to get a better reception because you’ve already been approved by a collective of people willing to join forces with you and who support what you write.
- Professionalism: I firmly believe that working with other people doing who do what you do holds you to higher standards and pushes you toward making more professional choices.
- Creative brainstorming: In a collective you are more likely to come up with new ideas together than you would all by yourself. Plus an idea will get tossed out there, and then it picks up energy and rolls through the group, getting bigger and gaining traction.
- More to offer: Over time, a writers’ collective can become more than just a self-promotion machine. With more “person power,” you can actually offer something back. IV is going to be putting on an annual indie publishing conference and teaching webinars. We also have a collective blog.
- Success by Association: Associating yourself with other writers of a high caliber automatically joins your work in the minds of readers.
Jordan Rosenfeld is the author of the novel Forged in Grace, and the writing guides Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time, and Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life (with Rebecca Lawton). Jordan’s essays and articles have appeared in numerous magazines, and she teaches via online writing courses and webinars. She has two writing craft books soon to be released with Writer’s Digest Books: A Writer’s Guide to Persistence: A Toolkit to Build & Bolster a Lasting Writing Practice (Spring: 2015), and, with Martha Alderson, “The Plot Whisperer,” Deep Scenes: Plot Your Story Scene-by-Scene through Action, Emotion & Theme (Fall, 2015). Her first romantic suspense novel (pen name J. P. Rose) Night Oracles, releases Spring, 2014. www.jordanrosenfeld.net