There’s a new organization for indie authors in town: The Alliance of Independent Authors. The website has been up for a few months, but the organization recently held a launch at the London Book Fair. Here’s a video taken at the launch:
There are some familiar names on the Advisors list, including Mark Coker (CEO of Smashwords), Joanna Penn (check out her blog, The Creative Penn), Dana Lynn Smith (one of the better book promotion gurus—check her out at The Savvy Book Marketer), and Victoria Strauss, who’s been warning writers about potential scams for years at Writer Beware. All good people.
I’ve been keeping my eye on the website, and though I’ve been tempted to join, I haven’t. The annual membership fee ($99) is a bit steep compared to that charged by other writer/publisher organizations.
Having said that, the list of membership benefits is the primary reason that’s holding me back from joining. If you want me to join your organization, give me specifics about what my membership will do for me. Right now, the benefits page sounds more like a list of goals than a list of concrete benefits.
Examples from the Benefits page:
Benefit from our growing reputation and connections in the literary and publishing worlds.
What connections? List them.
Creative collaboration, cross-promotion and co-advertising makes it so much easier to self-publish well. Members also get together to share the cost and work of book launches and literary/publishing events.
Again, specifics. Give me a testimonial. Which members have collaborated with each other? How have they shared the costs and the work? How does the organization facilitate this?
We speak to booksellers, wholesalers, agents, trade publishers and media, expressing your practical and creative needs and the self-publishing writer’s position on the most important debates. We also advocate for your best interests.
How do they know what my creative needs and interests are? Self-publishers are an independent bunch. We all have our own reasons for self-publishing. Some are in it to make money; others simply want to be read. Some write for large markets; others write for niche markets—that’s why they self-publish. Some take great care to produce a quality book; others don’t. Some desperately want their books in brick and mortar bookstores; others are happy with online bookstores and couldn’t care less about brick and mortar. Publishing our work ourselves is the only thing we all have in common.
The organization needs to spell out what it advocates, so people can evaluate how closely its positions align with their own.
We negotiate great discounts on behalf of our members with printers, designers, editors and proofreaders, PR and marketing agencies — and also for literary and publishing events. Through these, our members save on their subscription fee many times over.
What discounts? Why aren’t they listed? For $99/year, I expect some discounts to already be in place. Tell me what they are.
I believe that an organization like this could be of great benefit to self-publishers, if it brings self-published authors together to accomplish as a group what we can’t accomplish on our own: group discounts, selling our books in venues that normally don’t accept a one-author publisher or require 50+ titles in the publisher’s catalogue, having a presence at fairs and conferences, etc.
Since the organization is new, I’d drop the $99 to something more reasonable (definitely less than $50). A new organization needs an influx of members to raise the energy and buzz level, to build a reputation, and to turn a list of goals into a list of concrete benefits with testimonials.
As it stands now, I think the organization would be of most benefit to writers who have little or no experience self-publishing and would feel more comfortable learning how to do it with a panel of advisors backing them up.
For those who are already self-publishing, the benefits need to be spelled out in greater detail.