Tuesday, April 15, 2008
How, exactly, would you define co-operative publishing and its difference from third-party ("traditional") and self-publishing?
Maria: Co-op publishing is a more democratic form of self-publishing where, as well as managing the production of their own books, participating authors have a say in, and contribute towards, the running of the site. This requires sensitivity and trust from all the authors. Co-ops are also about authors being willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in with whatever skills they can bring to the pot.
Eve Asbury/Gayle Eden: It's a gathering of authors who are willing to go that extra mile. Though it requires more work and time making the book. We all feel the effort is worth it, for our stories and for the other authors. We view Alinar, and what it represents, as our personal responsibility. The ladies who do the tech and business side make everything as simplified and self-administrating as possible, and in the first year we've been guided through it with only a few hitches. The contract is simple; the author understands the control you have in a co-op comes with responsibility and the mutual goal of the overall co-op. Maria is always available for questions, and the authors themselves exchange ideas or discuss ways to present and meet the expectations of the reader/consumer. We all agree the story comes first, and the more effort we put into delivering that to the reader, the better the quality. That in turn translates into a name (Alinar) the readers can depend on.
Jude: Author input and control of your product. You choose the cover, the release date, the price—all the things that are stripped out of your hands with a traditional publisher. I’m a control freak, I guess. I wanted to choose as much as I could. Self-publishing is a completely solo effort to get your work out into the market; a co-op allows you to market with a group. Safety in numbers and all that.
What attracted you, as an author, to co-operative publishing in general and Alinar in particular?
Maria: Felicity and I wanted Alinar to be a place where authors would benefit totally from their hard work. Personally, I like the support you get from other authors in a co-op. I like that we’re all on the same page as far as our aims for the company go. I love that at Alinar I work beside such a great group of talented authors.
Eve Asbury/Gayle Eden: I was attracted first by the dedication of the authors already talking about it. Their love of writing. Secondly it was the freedom and the control, because I had so many negative experiences from all sides of e-publishing. I was completely frustrated with editors who didn't know POV, or ones who had no knowledge of the craft or skills. Having studied NY print and been on writing boards for years, I expected (editor and publisher) to mean an informed and skilled professional. I didn't encounter much of that. I've had it all: bad covers, bad contracts, terrible edits, and dealing with that publisher/writer ego that ran amok to the point you're pimping the publisher who doesn't meet their end of the contract, or one who puts out books to serve their own ends. Lol, I've seen the dark side, and, after years of that, I jumped at the chance to pick my editor, my covers, and put any investment, money or otherwise, where it would do the most good. I love the writing, the stories, but if you see it all undone by the publisher, for whatever reason, you learn eventually that, no matter how dedicated you are, how many hours you put in pimping it and the publisher, it's doomed on many fronts. I'm not competitive at all; I'd rather write good stories and give them a fair chance to rise or fall with the readers, on the merits of the story, not the lack of professional skills at the e-house. With Alinar, I can at least lessen the negative input. It has the same chance among readers as any other book out there, and that's all I strive for.
Jude: I was introduced to Alinar just as they were starting up. It was my first foray into the e-book world and I was impressed with their organization and openness. I had no clue what I was doing (and still don’t!) but they are very patient with me and have walked me through a number of challenges. I’ve learned quite a bit, and plan to keep going.
What type of author would be best suited to publishing with a co-operative?
Maria: You need to be a people person, as you’ll find yourself working closely with other authors. Be willing to give back and contribute time and effort to the project. And be good at negotiating and willing to compromise. You need to enjoy being an active member of a group and not afraid of responsibility. It helps to have been previously published so you have knowledge of how the industry works.
Eve Asbury/Gayle Eden: Dedicated. I say that a lot. But you have to respect and trust your fellow-authors, be willing to meet your responsibility in delivering the books… and in the format required. You have to be somewhat of a risk-taker, because we have no real model for a writing co-op. You have to have vision that includes the whole group as well as yourself. I think it takes a serious writer, as some of us are working 16 hrs straight on that, others juggle it and jobs, life. Expect the unexpected, too, when you're trying something new like this. See the standard as very high and be continually working toward that. Utilize your skills for the overall co-op and never, ever, forget that building reader and consumer faith and trust, delivering your best efforts, comes first. Also being open to adjusting what you're doing to meet either market or industry changes. It's evolving and, like any new venture, it has its growing pains. An author who is willing to see the big picture, be a part of shaping it, that's an ideal member of a co-op. Oh, and no egos, lol. There's no room in an equal partnership, no matter how big, for prima donnas, dictators, or grandstanders. All writers are equal; their strengths or weaknesses in writing or business are their personal challenges. Everyone benefits from strengths, every writer understands weaknesses. In a co-op you work together and still have the advantage of seeing your efforts rewarded; your work get that fair shot.
Jude: You have to have a good sense of organization, determination, and self-reliance. Taking charge of your creation isn’t always easy, and a number of writers just want to throw it into someone else’s lap once it’s written and say, “Here, now go sell it for me.” That doesn’t fly with independent publishing.
See part 2 tomorrow!