Getting the Author Collective off the Ground …
The three of us began by hammering out a philosophy founded on three principles:
- High quality writing
- Professional presentation
- A strong sense of place
To brand ourselves, we chose the triskele as our logo, with its three independent, yet connected,
circles. We had already designed our marketing materials when we realised that the triskele symbol is also an identifier for the BDSM community. What the heck, we thought … all welcome, BYO whip and chains!
The question of finances arose next. Even though each author retains her own rights and profits, for Triskele Books to get off the ground, there had had to be a certain financial commitment. We voted in our cash-savvy member as financial manager, she opened a bank account and we all deposited an initial float to cover website, promotional material, design and initial launch. She sends out bank statements for all expenses and, as and when we need to add funds, we all chip in equal sums.
Our biggest mistake in the beginning was everyone trying to do everything. After losing a website, dragging books across London on a hot Saturday afternoon and putting noses out of joint by forgetting to use “REPLY ALL” for emails, we soon learned it was better to assign tasks to individual strengths. Each had a skill, and we should focus on that.
So, our admin girl now draws up monthly workplans, assigning each member –– based on her particular skills –– certain tasks, which the others know will be done to the best of her ability.
The Nitty-Gritty of our Author Collective…
For the actual book-writing aspects we basically hold each other’s hands throughout the process. We critique, edit and advise on each other’s drafts before they go for final professional proofreading. You might think that four editors could be counter-productive, but we all try and keep in mind what the author wants to achieve, and how we can help her to get there.
For marketing and promotion, we share the workload. In today’s crowded marketplace, an author has to shout pretty loudly to be heard over all the other voices, and it’s hard to keep thinking up new and witty things to say. Being part of a group means there is no lone wolf crying into the wilderness; we take turns out there, spreading the word, which leaves more time for actual writing. We argue. Not often, but we do. However, among five voices, we always find a solution.
Each writer self-publishes her own books. Choices regarding print and/or e-book, distributors, exclusivity or otherwise, translation rights, etc., are all up to the individual author. So far, we have all shared the same designer, but that’s not mandatory. Of course, we examine and discuss all the options together, but it’s as simple as that.
We have come to rely on each other for all these things, and take comfort in the knowledge that these mammoth tasks are far less daunting when shared. Not only that, but the pressure not to let the others down is even more of an incentive.
Tips for Writers Considering an Author Collective …
- First and foremost, we believe you should look at quality, or level, of writing. Don't join with someone who can talk the talk and has a thousand Facebook and Twitter friends, but who lacks the skill, or ambition, to match your level of writing.
- One of the main reasons many people self-publish is to maintain absolute editorial control. All members of your Collective should be dedicated to quality and making each book the best it can be. It’s a good idea to say that all members must unanimously agree on any decisions concerning the Collective, and that you will never publish a book that does not have the full backing and agreement of the others.
- Look at diversity of skills. Who can do what? Who has business sense, financial nous, organisational skills? Who can market, and where?
- Don’t collaborate with anyone you do not like as a person. You might adore their writing, but if the very sight of them irritates you, it’ll never gel.
- Ask yourself if you would be happy to go into business with these people. Because even though this isn't a company set-up in the strict sense, the commitment is identical. There’s a lot of work and energy involved in self-publishing, and no ship can afford to carry unseaworthy passengers.
- But the most vital question is: who is reliable? Basic trust has to be the foundation stone of a workable Collective. You need members who can be honest about every aspect of the game; who are not afraid to tell each other the unpalatable truth. You also need people who are trustworthy on an emotional level. The route to independent publishing is bloody hard work, so someone will always be hyper, another despondent and another neutral. Whenever one hits a wall, she needs to be able to rely on the others to prop her back up. And of course, you have the slightest doubt that any of your colleagues might high-tail it to Rio with the Collective booty, best not to consider working with them.
Founding a Collective is not something to be taken lightly, but with a team of like-minded, motivated people, it is becoming a truly viable option in today’s publishing world.
Our Author Collective Two Years Down the Line …
Eighteen months after launching the first three Triskele Books, our strategy seems to be working. In addition to practical advantages such multiple critiquers, editors and proofreaders, not to mention the emotional benefits of being able to crow or cry to sympathetic ears, the key gain has been the mutiplying of our marketing network.
We have launched our titles in sets of three or four, every six months. Each book carries an ad in the back for the others in its set, as well as a complete list of all Triskele titles.
People seem to respond more positively to the concept of a Collective rather than just another self-published book. Our sales are on the rise, we have supportive and enthusiastic readers, books ready to publish through to 2016, and a queue of authors
lining up to jump onto the Triskele team.
We’ve gained valuable advice from successful independently-published authors, swapped marketing and networking opportunities. We’ve grown to depend on each other whilst retaining our individuality.
Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves and letting out books stagnate on a hard drive, we have taken on the publishing industry, our way. Independently publishing novels to a professional standard has proved to be hard work, frustrating and exciting. We’ve shared the angst, the uncertainties, the mistakes, and learned a lot in a short time.
In conjunction with our latest release of Triskele Books at the Chorleywood Literary Festival, we’ve collated everything we’ve learnt –– our mistakes, our successes, our experiences ––into a short eBook titled The Triskele Trail.
Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years. When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her husband and three children for twenty years.
Her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France
Magazine and France Today
She has completed four novels and one short-story collection, and is represented by Judith Murdoch of the Judith Murdoch Literary Agency.
Spirit of Lost Angels
is the first in the historical L’Auberge des Anges
series set against a backdrop of rural France, and published under the Triskele Books
label in May, 2012. The second in the series –– Wolfsangel
–– was published in October, 2013, and Liza is working on the third novel in the series ––Midwife Héloïse – Blood Rose Angel
–– set during the 14th century Black Plague years.
Liza reviews books for the Historical Novel Society
and Words with Jam
Contact and Other Information:
Book of the Week
Once upon a time, there were five writers.
They believed there was a third way of publishing, somewhere over the rainbow. So they packed their books and set off to explore. This is what happened on the journey.
The Triskele Trail is a true story. About a writers' collective who made some mistakes and some smart decisions; who discovered opportunities, found friends and dodged predators in the independent publishing jungle.
Fourteen books later, here are the lessons we learned.
This is not a How-To book.
This is How-We-Did-It.
This is The Triskele Trail.
"Triskele stands out in the world of indie authors as
an author collective that is focused and mindful of their writing, publishing
and marketing processes. In this book, you'll learn their views on the
fundamentals of being an indie author, as well as the benefits of a collective,
who to trust on the journey, plus tips on time management and researching
historical fiction. The Triskele Trail is a smorgasbord of useful tidbits and
the book will definitely help authors make decisions in this rapidly changing
publishing environment." ––
Joanna Penn, Author of #1 bestseller How To Market
A Book. www.TheCreativePenn.com
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Dark Continents Publishing's Guns and Romances anthology
. They're looking for previously unpublished short fiction from 3500-9000 words. Any genre as long as there's a tough protagonist, weapons, and... at least one reference to music. Sounds interesting. Payment rate is a one-off of $20 per story plus a percentage of the ebook royalties. Publication estimated in late-2014. More info on the website. Closing date for submissions is February 28, 2014.