Friday, April 25, 2014

Author Cooperatives - Part 3: The Realities by Maggie Lynch

Therese & Morgan say: In this third and final installment on author cooperatives, Maggie discusses the realities of being part of a co-op.

Maggie Lynch says: 

An Author Cooperative is Not for Everyone - Too Cold? Too Hot? Or Just Right?  

There are disadvantages to being part of a cooperative. The biggest one for independent publishers is that you are no longer fully independent. Depending on how the group is set up, there may be rules for what you can write, the book formats they encourage (some are ebook only), the distribution recommendations or requirements, and even rules about perceived quality of your books and covers. For many self-publishers, submitting to this scrutiny goes against the entire reason they are self-publishing.

Also a cooperative means that you are now part of a group of people who are counting on you to help them as much as they help you. All co-ops have a required commitment that takes you away from your writing and your personal goals. In a marketing/promotion cooperative these commitments mean using your blog, facebook, twitter, and other social media network to talk about every members books, not just your own. Depending on the size of the membership, this can be daunting. In a publishing cooperative it means committing to take on a major effort that is needed by the press. It may mean you edit other members’ books. It may mean you are the one in charge of all the twitter postings for the press, or the one to coordinate and write the newsletter each month. In other words, if you are already having difficulty with time management to get your books done, adding additional time to your day to benefit the cooperative may not be the right choice for you.

Sometimes the direction the group decides to go is not the direction you would have chosen on your own. Sometimes a new person joining the group, or someone who has been there a long time, may rub you the wrong way and make it difficult for you to communicate effectively. In these instances, you need to determine what you are willing to give up/give in for the good of the group versus what return you see on your investment of time and money that moves your career forward. Most cooperatives have a means for separation. Determining when to exercise that can be difficult, particularly if the members have become personal friends.

Author Cooperative Advantages Can Be Tremendous

The advantages of joining a coop are obvious: marketing and promotion; practical and emotional support; opportunities to participate in anthologies and boxed sets; being part of a professional press. An author cooperative can be significantly greater than the sum of its parts. Reader reach is magnified. Shared knowledge and experience generates returns that cannot be quantified, but that members can see moving their career forward.

Every founder of an author cooperative does it with the belief that when like-minded people gather together for a common cause they will rise together. If you believe that too, you may find that joining a cooperative is the right answer for you. I founded Windtree Press because I truly believe that we can achieve greater heights together than we can separately. I believe that in helping others to do well, I will do well myself. Am I sometimes frustrated by the commitment it takes? Absolutely. Do I find myself having to give up writing time to help others? Yes, that is the nature of cooperative efforts. But in the end, for me, it is truly worth it. Not only in sales, but also in friendships, in gained knowledge, and in knowing that I am not alone on this journey.

Author Bio
Maggie Lynch has never missed a chance to learn something new. With degrees in psychology, counseling, computer science, and education she has had opportunities that have taken her around the world, including Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Her current publishing credits include five non-fiction books, a number of science fiction short stories, and seven novels. She has scheduled five more novels to be published this year.

Now able to spend full time journeying into her imagination, Maggie writes romance and science fiction under the name Maggie Jaimeson, and young adult fantasy under the name Maggie Faire. Her non-fiction is written under Maggie McVay Lynch.  

Do what you need to do before the signing. Booksellers don’t like telling customers, “Yes, the book signing was supposed to start now, but the author is having a smoke/going to the bathroom/buying a soda/calling home.” Take care of everything in advance and be at your table ready to go at the scheduled start time for the event.

1 comment:

  1. Again, thanks for the opportunity to share information about cooperatives. As I'm sure people can tell, I really believe in them. However, it is critical that you find the right fit--one that meets your goals as a writer and provides you something you can't do for yourself or don't do well. Also make sure that it is one where you see how you can give back to the others in the group. What is your unique skill or passion that you would be happy to provide others in exchange for what you get from the coop?