So after years of thinking about it and months of gathering information on what such a group might actually do, I’ve finally made my own writer’s group on Meetup.com called London Indie Writers.
So far it has two other members: they’re both ladies, one writes romance with a high level of success, and the other writes ‘cli-fi’, or climate fiction, or science fiction about climate change. Both of them pass the group requirement of one book out with at least reviews. I’m looking forward to meeting them and talking shop.
Why make this group?
Because there’s strength in numbers. The goal is for writers in the group to teach and learn what they know about marketing and sales, and even work together in cross-promotional efforts.
How it’s different from almost every other writing group?
Most writing groups revolve around roundtable critiques. These are critiques of craft at the sentence and paragraph level- rarely at the level of long-form plot/narrative which I’m most interested in now.
Typically- writers submit their 4,000 word story/chapter, the other members read it in advance (though some groups do bizarre things like make the writer read it aloud, like it’s a poetry slam), then they sit in a circle and go around giving their critique.
These can be useful, for proof-reading errors and even to remedy persistent problems in the writer’s voice, eg: the way they describe things, how they set up a scene, etc.. They can also be destructive and self-absorbed, serving the narcissism and bullying instincts of the louder, more confident members.
They’re also predominantly stocked with writers who want traditional publication. That’s fine. they also tend to focus on getting that first work out at all. But the indie writer who self-publishes has a whole other range of concerns to think about- basically how to market and sell the book, as well as how to turn out good book after good book at a fast pace.
A lot of a book’s sales appeal comes down to ‘passive marketing’, ie the packaging of the book, which means title, cover and blurb. There’s also mailing list newsletters, promotions, blogging, and everything we need to do to ‘get visible’ in a crowded marketplace.
Box sets of multiple authors have been a big thing in the last year or so. Cross-promotion and getting blurbs from well-known authors is another. These are goals the group can consider.
So what will we do, if not critiques?
Here’s the group’s sample agenda:
– Roundtable introduce/catch-up on all writing projects, promotional efforts, sales data and any other info members care to share.
– Discussion of any hot news topics or tips in the indie/self publishing world.
– Roundtable critiques (there are critiques!) of marketing materials, such as title/cover/blurb, newsletter emails, website, blog posts (not line by line, but on the whole), and promotion plans.
– Discussion of upcoming cross-promotional efforts (no obligation).
– General discussion.
The first meet-up is in a week. I’m excited. It’ll be good to meet other indies and be able to talk about being indie without feeling like we’re being rude to those in the group aspiring toward traditional publishing.