When I was at the Novelist Inc conference a couple weeks ago one of the hot topics was marketing and promotions. Because the industry is shifting so fast publishing houses are scrambling to find what works and what doesn’t. I found it a bit amusing that they kept repeating that Author Co-ops seemed to be the big marketing thing now, because I feel like they’ve been around for a long time.
The Allure Author’s were formed when one author, Lisa Renee Jones, reached out to a few of us, and asked if we wanted to be part of a promo group together. We all wrote spicy/erotic romance, and the goal was to cut down on costs with group promotions and ads, and to help promote each other online.
Now that I think about it, maybe groups like this are mostly common within the romance genre? Or is it simply that these are the only ones I know of? (If you know of other genre groups, let me know in the comments. I’m interested)
Not all groups are created equal though. I was part of the Wicked Writers for a while, but left for personal reasons. I was also part of a group known as the Muses, that lasted less than a year. The one that has always remained strong for me is the Allure Authors. For several years we thrived, we got close as friends as well as associates, and as a group we wrote two anthologies for Avon, calling them Alluring Tales. It’s funny how we can be so close at one time, and so far apart at others. Writers are ordinary people, and we grow and change, and so does our writing. Several of the group members shifted focus, Sylvia Day broke out as S.J Day with her Urban Fantasy, Vivi Anna took off as Tawny Stokes, writing screenplays and Young Adult. Myla Jackson began to focus more on her Elle James Romantic Suspense books and Cathryn Fox became half of Taylor Keating with some sci-fi/paranormal stories. Me, well I took a step back completely from writing for a while. Several months would go by with none of us talking or emailing, and there was even a time or two when we talked about disbanding. Yet, we never did. Every now and then someone would send out a question to the group, and we’d rally to help them figure out whatever they were going through. Our group had stopped being about promotion, and had become a family of sorts. We argued, we disagreed, but we were always there for each other, to help and support, even though we’d gone our own ways as far as writing and careers went.
Then things started to shift again and self publishing became a way for authors to do what they wanted, when they wanted, how they wanted. When we noticed that Alluring Tales: Awaken The fantasy had been a $1.99 kindle book for a while, we starting talking about how much fun it was to write those books, and we decided to do another one. Only this time, we’re doing it out way, and Alluring Tales: Night Moves was born.
Each AT (Alluring Tales) collection is made up of 7 short stories. Stories that range from 12-15k to combine a fair sized print book. We’re still doing that. Only this time we’re releasing each short story separately, a week apart, in digital form. Then in 6 months or so, if the sales are decent, we’ll put it together for a print collection. Night Moves stories all have a paranormal twist to them, and we hired a fabulous cover artist to create similar/yet different covers for each of us. (And most authors will tell you, getting good cover art is one of the joys of being an author. LOL ) We picked the order we wanted them to be released in, something that worked for all of us and our schedules, and we put together some group promotion like the banner you see above.
The thing is, as excited as I am about the AT: Night Moves books, I’m most excited about the fact that even though the seven of us all sort of went off in various directions with our writing and careers for a while, we can still all connect and do something together. Like a family.
I’ve been part of several author co-ops and groups over they years, one completely disbanded, I left the other because of personality differences, and I’m still part of a different one. Walk on the Wild Side Books is still fairly new as a group, but it shows a lot of promise to me as becoming more than a promotional tool. It’s another group where, behind the scenes, we’re talking and sharing knowledge and supporting each other. And to me, that’s where the real value in an author co-op lies. It’s great to help promote each other, and share word of mouth, but in reality what *I* get from these groups is a sense of community, of family, that any traditional writers organization I’ve joined has lacked.
In my mind Genreality isn’t really an author co-op because our purpose isn’t to promote. Our goal from the start was to create a place that would become known as a knowledge base for all things writing. Those of us who have been in this industry for a while know how the lack of realist information out there can make writers feel alone, and often disheartened. I think we do that. In a way, Genreality is bringing the behind-the-scenes support I talked about above, out in the open by sharing the lessons we’ve learned, and any tips/advice we have, with everyone.
So, my advice to you about author co-ops is this. Give them a try, but understand that if a group is only about promotion, it’s unlikely to last. Be sure to group with people you can respect, and grow with. I’d suggest finding some likeminded individuals, and trying to build something that will last. After all, you’re in this for the long haul, right?