Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Author Co-op

I recently had a post up on the Savvy Blog about the author co-op I joined.  In case you didn't get over there, here it is again.

An Author's cooperative is a group of like-minded Indie authors who work together to promote, market, and invest in one another’s future. 

A Co-op concept is that all authors share the burden of the work, lending the skills they have to others, and sharing the costs. As one who likes to help other writers and join forces to learn how we can each improve our writing and our sales, it was a logical move for me.

As a cooperative, we all add our collective talents to the pot when discussing the above mentioned goals. And to reach those goals, Melissa Yuan-Innes and I hopped on Maggie Jaimeson’s tail and joined her dba Windtree Press. This is a website where we, the Coop authors of Windtree Press, sell our books and add the Windtree Press logo and information to our books when we format them. It’s one small step at making our Indie book look more legitimate in the eyes of the self-publish biased reader. 
By having a place that people can find our books to purchase in the most popular formats; mobi, epub, pdf, and print, we bring the masses to our respective books and draw on the reader data we receive to market our books to the people who are reading the same genre. 

We all have a say in what happens at Windtree Press, and we all pay the expenses of monthly hosting which pays for the database backend processing of the e-commerce site, including book selling, credit card processing, PayPal merchant integration, customer management, and marketing. As a new member joins, the cost will be divided again equally. If we decide to hire a part-time digital assistant, a marketing person, or a technical programmer the cost will be shared by all members. The costs are paid upfront each month whether we sell or not. 
Bringing in new members has to be agreed upon by all the current members. A new member has to have the quality of writing and presentation that fits with the quality already at the Co-op. They also have to participate fully in running the press and making decisions. To make the Co-op work and be cohesive the current members have to trust that the person who comes to the group has a well-edited book with a quality story and presentation. Every book can’t be quality checked by every member. Once a member is in the Co-op, it is up to them to keep the quality up in their work. The new member also shouldn’t need to be reminded they are to participate in quarterly meetings or do their fair share of work. This is a coop, and all members must be involved in all decisions. 

Which brings the question: Does everyone in the Co-op have to be a friend? No. I knew Maggie from our local RWA chapter, and we are fans of each other’s writing. But I had never met Melissa until our first Co-op phone conference. During that meeting, we learned we are all on the same page as to how to get our books out to the public and that we all want to have as much say in our careers as we can. 
While the Co-op is a collective of ideas and work, each author is responsible for writing, editing, cover designs, formatting, and the uploading to vendors (i.e., Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks etc.) outside of Windtree Press on their own. The Press does NOT offer any of these services, and all book development costs are paid by the individual author. 

With direct marketing, I have control over the metadata that is indexed and put on the web. This increases my books being discovered. The press website provides metadata for my book and its relationship to other books on the Windtree Press website. 
The benefits I saw in being part of a Cooperative were; giving more legitimacy to my work by putting a logo and press on my books to make the reader take them more serious when browsing the millions of possible books to purchase, and by having a website where my books can be purchased and I can gather information on who is purchasing my books, I have the chance to garner more readers by using that information for marketing. Another bonus to having our own e-commerce website is getting paid full value for our books rather than give a third party a part of the money. 

As stated above, when I was approached to join the Windtree Press Co-op I had to first say, “What is that?” After visiting with Maggie and Melissa about the Co-op and then reading more articles online about other successful Co-ops, I didn’t hesitate to jump on what appears to be the new wave of Indie publishing. Just like the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”, I believe it takes a group effort for Indie authors to lift their books to the cream of the book industry. 
I hope you will stop by and take a look at http://windtreepress.com .

1 comment:

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

This sounds like a great idea, Paty! I'll be interested in hearing how this works out for you!