Given publishing is a tough business and it is the hardest it has ever been for a writer to find a publisher and/or agent, why on earth would writers want to form groups? Surely they should focus on their own books?
Ironically, it is because the world of publishing is so tough, that writers forming co-operatives is (a) becoming more common and (b) a fantastically sensible thing to do.
The truth is writers, whether self or traditionally published (and even more common these days, when so many do both), all have to do their own publicity and marketing. The big publishers save their budgets for the big name authors knowing they will get their money back (and then some!). They won’t take the risks on the unknowns (even though they might become the big name authors of the future).
From a pure accountancy viewpoint, you can see why the publishers would do this but it doesn’t help new authors or even those who’ve been writing for some time and who would count as “mid-list” writers. That means their books sell gradually over time and are usually consistent in sales. What it means from the mid-list writer’s viewpoint is they run the real risk of being dropped by their publisher (who will want to focus on the bigger names and even, sometimes the new author. It is easier to launch a new author than one who has, ahem, “been around the block” for a while. Rotten fact of life but true).
And even those who are traditionally published sometimes decide, for a variety of reasons, they would be better off “going it alone” and so buy their own rights back. A classic example of this is our own Richard Hardie with the Authors Reach company, consisting of Shani Struthers, Gina Dickinson, Sarah England and Richard himself.
So it does make sense then for writers to band together and to do what their publishers won’t or can’t do.
In my case, as with all small independent presses such as Chapeltown Books, writers need to support them as much as they support us in publishing us in the first place and naturally their budgets are more limited. Sometimes this can be a good thing. With a limited budget, you do have to use your resources wisely and more imaginatively.
I have been very grateful for the support Chapeltown have (and continue) to give me but this is not the case for every publisher/author relationship, unfortunately, another reason why many writers become independent authors. (“Indies”, as they often known, have to accept all the costs but on the plus side they receive all the rewards too).
The reason I’m writing this post is because there is a new writers’ co-operative called the Chandler’s Ford Writers’ Hub.
There is a Facebook page (which is a closed group) and the Hub meets every so often to discuss marketing and to share useful links.
I’m not going to list every member of the Hub here but those who mainly get to the meetings include Catherine Griffin, Maggie Farran, Karen Stephens and Sally Howard (authors of Secret Lives of Chandler’s Ford and their follow up book, More Secret Lives of Chandler’s Ford).
Other regular attendees include Nell Raven, Richard Hardie, YA fantasy writer of Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords, and Mike and Brenda Sedgwick (the latter being the author of Marriage, a Journey and A Dog).
What are the aims of the Chandler’s Ford Writers’ Hub?
To raise the profile of all Chandler’s Ford writers in the Hub.
To show the community there is a good writing community here. (This may also encourage lone writers in the area to join the Hub. All writers need support – and writing friends who understand exactly the love of writing, the pitfalls of publishing, the delights and otherwise of marketing!).
To be able to hold competitions/have special events no single author could or would do on their own. More on this later.
To promote the love of reading and writing. (Again more later).
For members of the Hub to support each other with tips and ideas on marketing and promotion. (No one person ever thinks of everything!).
To be able to join in other existing events as a group where this would be very difficult for one author to do alone. Again more later.
By working together, costs are kept down, are much more manageable as a result, and this makes the difference between holding an event or not.
Encouraging the love of reading and writing
Children’s Poetry Competition
The Chandler’s Ford Writers’ Hub will be holding a children’s poetry competition in conjunction with Hampshire Libraries. There will be two age categories – 8 to 11 and 12 to 15. There will also be prizes! I hope to write with more details, including the theme and entry requirements, in a later post.
The idea behind the competition is to (a) raise our profile and (b) encourage children to try writing poetry. We hope, if the competition is successful, to do this on a regular basis but, as I’m sure you can imagine, the work needed to get something like this off the ground would be difficult for any one author to do alone. (Also when talking with people such as the Library service, it does carry far more clout if a group of writers are behind the proposed event). Posters will go up advertising the event in various places too.
I’m delighted to say some of us will be manning a stall at the Hiltingbury Extravaganza on 17th September 2017. As with all the other stall holders, we’ll be hoping for good weather. Again, I hope to write more on this nearer the time but I will say now, do come over and see us. It will, I think, be something different for the Extravaganza as well.
On 28th October 2017 at the Age Concern Centre in Brownhill Road, there will be a Book Fair run by the Hub. Several of us will have stalls there with our books etc on. Buy early for Christmas! It will be an excellent opportunity for us to show you what we write. Given the wide range of genres and age ranges covered by us, hopefully there will be something you find is right up your street for you, family or friends.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.