Katherine Roberts and I started this blog in 2011, because although it’s a fine thing to be an indie-author, it’s quite another to be an indie-author who’s known to exist by anyone outside their own family.
Amazon stocks over 2 million books, and has a world-wide market. You have to wave hard and jump up and down a lot to get noticed in a field that size.
So Kath suggested getting a group together, so we could all wave and jump at the same time.
What I didn’t foresee – though I should have – is how quickly our bloggers would become a tight little community.
I should have foreseen it because both Kath and I are members of the Scattered Authors’Society (SAS), where exactly the same thing happened. Cindy Jefferies set up the SAS’ posting forum: e-mails buzzed to and fro; personalities soon emerged and on-line friendships formed. It’s one of the most supportive, helpful, wittiest groups I know.
Some of our Authors Electric were recruited from the SAS, but most were, initially strangers. They have, in a year, become friends, albeit friends whose voices I’ve never heard and whose hands I’ve never shaken. But their personalities emerge so clearly from their writing that it hardly matters – and isn’t this the ideal? To appreciate someone for their spirit alone, regardless of their gender, age or appearance? As Pauline Fisk said on this blog last month, there is nothing ‘virtual’ about these friendships.
Last month we co-operated on a ‘give-away’ of our books, to further publicise ourselves. Many people worked heroic hours, for nothing, and in terms of making the blog better known, it was a great success. I think it’s time people were named and praised.
Take it away, Debbie Bennett! Debbie wrote the dark, gritty and thoroughly gripping Hamelin's Child, but was also my advisor and helper in building the Authors Electric website. It’s largely down to her techie knowledge that the site looks as good as it does. We spent hours in tedious cutting, pasting and mouse-clicking, but she was admirably prompt and efficient in getting the work done – all in addition to her own work, not only as a writer, but at her proper, grown-up job. She also keeps track of our guest bloggers, and puts up their posts – and having read and admired Hamelin's Child, I want to read her collection of short stories, Maniac.
|Lynne Garner and 'Tasha|
Now calling on Lynne Garner, our Tweet Deck Queen. The blog is about letting readers know that we’re here, and one of the most effective ways is to tweet. Lynne took time out of her busy life to learn to use Tweet Deck, and generously, tirelessly, tweets for those of us too technophobic to do it themselves. She also gave hours of her time to organise the blog for our April 23rd ‘Book Giveaway’ – and still manages to look after poorly hedgehogs and produce books like Anansi: Trickster Spider!
And here’s our double-act, our charm-offensive, Dennis and Dan. They have worked as a team at several conferences recently, spreading the word about Authors Electric – and Dennis often drops in on Dan’s poetry events. It all helps to spread the word. Dennis’ medieval mystery recently reached Number 1 in the mystery category in America, when publishers had told him the Americans wouldn’t be interested – and Dan puts tremendous energy into promoting other indie-writers and poets.
|John A A Logan|
Step up, John A A Logan, who galvanised us all with his blog on how he spent 22 years struggling with publishers and agents, who raved about his book, The Survival of Thomas Ford, but wouldn’t publish it. He finally brought it out as an e-book, and it’s a best-seller on Amazon. With his very first post, he both inspired us and increased our audience – so thank you, John.
John seems to have joined forces with that excellent writer, Catherine Czerkawska, to form a fast-response team, which replies to the trolls who pop up in the comments of on-line forums. The trolls will have it that all e-books are rubbish, published by self-deluded hacks. Catherine and John are living, self-published proof that it isn’t true! Catherine also set up our Facebook page and has given us some great posts. I can personally recommend her books, Bird of Passage, The Amber Heart and A Quiet Afternoon In The Museum of Torture. (But all our authors' books are excellent in their different ways, because that's the point of this blog: to flag up some excellent books among the thousands out there.)
Here’s Roz Morris, who suggested the April 23rd Book Giveaway, which doubled our monthly hits and our US audience – hello to our American readers! Her posts are always lively and popular, and I owe her personal thanks for the help I’ve had from her excellent book, Nail Your Novel. I’ve been struggling to write the (extremely knotty) third Sterkarm book and, thanks to Roz, I think I’ve nailed it.
And Cally Phillips, folks – Cally, who speaks to us like an oracle from her Scottish fastness, and keeps us focussed when we get over-excited and start to run round in circles. Cally, almost overnight it seemed, set up the excellent Indie ebookreview – something there’s a real need for since newspapers and magazines mostly refuse to notice e-books (because they’re all rubbish published by self-deluded etc). Cally’s site features peer-reviews of the very best e-books for your reading pleasure. Cally also volunteered to gather and collate the data on the free downloads we gave away on April 23rd, providing valuable insights for the group to use in future. This was unpaid, took hours of her time, and we’re very grateful. Her books and plays can be found here.
|Susan Jane Smith|
Step up Susan Jane Smith, a retired psychotherapist who knew little about epublishing, blogging or tweeting when she joined us. She has enthusiastically learned much about these new subjects, and is one of our most valuable and industrious tweeters, generously sharing business contacts and hunting down newspapers to approach with PR. Not to mention that she's written books full of down-to-earth, practical advice on how to change your life and be happier!
And take it home, Sheridan Winn! Sheridan’s one of our newest members and, as she came through the door, was stripping off her coat and taking on the job of collating and producing a very professional press release. With help from others, especially Sue Smith, she organised the sending of the PR to local and international newspapers. She is the writer of the Sprite Sisters series.
I wish I had space to mention everyone because I’ve been impressed – and delighted, even awed – to see how quickly and willingly the group has gelled, and how effectively they cooperate. It’s organisation on a voluntary, cooperative basis: anarchy in action.
All of our members - including me, Susan Price - can be found here, on the website what Debbie and me built.