The digital era is changing the face of publishing.
You hear that all the time, right? Traditional publishing houses are dying out. A new marketplace surging with indie authors and e-books is the turbulent ocean trying to sink that very old ship. And right now we’re in the murkiest, most volatile of waters.
It’s a very exciting time to be a writer. The playing field is closer to level now than it’s ever been—maybe than it will ever be again, once trends start to really solidify the course of publishing. No one quite knows what will happen yet although a good many theorize about it. And good for them—let’s all throw our guesses out there. Now’s the time, if ever. Small steps and minor decisions now might mean a drastic flip later.
Don’t Go It Alone
My ideas about the future of the publishing industry morph as time passes, as I talk to more people, read more articles, and witness more peers becoming successful. I don’t have any definitive answers. But I do have a few guesses. Lately I’ve been seriously considering the ways authors can help each other out on the path to success and seeing that this could be a vital element.
If you’re an author you may view other writers as your competition. But that type of cynical outlook does nothing to advance yourself—it only alienates you. Instead we should support other writers. If we work together there’s the opportunity for a great synergy among us.
How to Team Up With Other Writers
Okay, so it’s all good in theory, but how should you actually go about doing it? I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, and I’ve come up with some great ways to team up.
- Writing collaboration
The most obvious way to access that synergy with another writer is to collaborate on a project. If you co-author a book, you’re automatically promoting another author through marketing and sales.
- Provide mutual feedback.
Getting other opinions on your work is valuable and it’s something most writers crave. Sharing your work with another writer can get you specific, constructive feedback you might not get from family or friends. Trade stories and agree to proofread, comment, and suggest edits for each other. Another benefit of helping someone edit his or her work is that it helps you grow in your own writing.
- Marketing support
The word “marketing” covers a LOT. Here are the ways I’ve thought about trading/combining efforts with other authors.
- Giveaways—Instead of doing a solo giveaway, how about joining forces for a contest? The prizes could be books from both authors. By working together you can spread the word much further.
- Reviews and endorsements—This is a great, tangible way to support fellow writers. Positive reviews are appreciated by all authors. The important thing is to keep your review honest. If you don’t like to give negative reviews, it’s better just to pass on a book. Respect the readers; don’t leave dishonest reviews no matter what.
- Guest blog posts—I’m assuming that as a writer you’ve already launched an author blog. (If not, you should start NOW.) Think of your blog as a place to share about not only your own work but other authors’ work as well. Consider a regular feature where you highlight a book or author, or ask a writer who inspires you to write a guest post. (If you’d like to be featured on my site as a blogger or author, check this page for more information.)
- Triberr—If you haven’t heard of it yet, this is a great way to gather a group of online friends and easily tweet each other’s posts. Triberr is a you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours type of thing, so it works best when everyone in your tribe is equally committed. A word of advice: Triberr is big on trying to spread their reach further. You can easily join and invite other non-members to your tribe for free, but if you invite a preexisting member, it will cost both parties a good chunk of their “bones” (Triberr currency) to connect. I found this out the hard way when asking people if they wanted to be on my tribe and quickly ran out of “bones.” If you verbally invite someone and they create their own Triberr account, they are THEN considered a member and CANNOT join your tribe for free. (It’s a bit of a headache to deal with, so make sure you warn you friends not to join until they get your invite.)
- Form a collective or cooperative
I can see this as being a massive wave of the future. In a world where the big publishing houses can no longer bar the gates against indie writers, there will soon be a surge of books on the market from unknown authors with no credentials. (There are already quite a few, but we’re in the early stages. It’s not fully saturated yet. Imagine how it may look five or ten years from now.) Despite how it sounds, this is a goodthing. The only problem is, with more and more books being released, it becomes difficult to tell the good ones from the error-ridden, unprofessional ones. Currently ratings and reviews are the main ways for reader to navigate the waters of new authors. Another way to help guide the reader’s search is through a collective imprint. Imagine how much easier it would be to find a good indie-published book if you didn’t have to look any farther than the logo on the spine. This would be a great way for a handful of high-quality, experienced authors to unify and brand themselves, thereby lending credibility to each other. The key in making a collective imprint effective is to ensure that you have have professional-quality books, several of which are getting many positive reviews. Forming a panel of writers and requiring them to approve each book would be a good way to ensure that what the collective puts out is worthy. If you’re a newbie writer and want to be a part of something like this, you’ll need good authors with a few popular books on your team to help it succeed. A friend of mine, Anna Howard, is putting together just such an organization. Check out Elder Tree Books for more information.
On my road to discovering what it looks like to support other authors, I’ve met and been inspired by a handful of great people in the writing community, Here’s a shout out to the other writers who’ve supported and help me carve out this philosophy in my own life. I’m looking forward to deeper friendships and more opportunities to help each other succeed. Follow them on Twitter and check out their websites.
This is my take on the synergy of writers, but I’d love to hear yours. Which of these aspects have you put into practice? What other ways can writers support each other?