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Guest Post: How Author Collectives Boost Self-Publishing

Triskele Books is a team of six, three of whom are publishing books this summer. We Indie Authors self-publishing as collective Triskele Booksall have day jobs and different skill sets but what we share is that  we’re all writers.

Together, we make one hell of a team.

The motivation behind the birth of Triskele came after a series of online conversations over a few months, culminating in a meeting in a posh London hotel to decide if this idea really had legs. We'd known each other online for about six years and although we lived in different countries, we were all firm friends, comfortably part of a closed critique group, Writing Asylum.

It became clear we'd all reached a similar level with our writing: of a publishable standard or not far away. Gillian and Liza both had agents who were putting in a lot of time and effort into not getting deals, while Jill banged her head against the agent wall, facing excuses from ‘the economy’ to ‘the writing’s too cerebral’. Traditional publishing seemed to think we were too risky.

That's where the idea started. If Jill wanted to be cerebral, Gillian wanted to cross genres between crime and paranormal, and Liza to tell the story she wanted to tell about revolutionary France – then we’d have to go it alone.

Alone but also as part of a team of six.


From the off, we were determined our brand would shout quality. We did not want to be associated with the poor image of self-publishing that had given us all serious doubts for many years. So, from our website to our promotional material, from our editing to our interviews, everything would be shared, agreed, proofed, reproofed and then checked again. Nothing would represent Triskele without being seen and vetted by people whose talent and commitment we trusted. Thanks to the remarkable creative design skills of one of our members, Jane Dixon Smith, we had one huge box ticked.

Having a team hell-bent on the highest standards is what has made Triskele Books a success. It's early days, and we are only just about to launch our first three books – Behind Closed Doors by Jill Marsh; The Charter by Gillian Hamer and Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat – but already we have one eye on the future. Second books are planned, taking new writers onboard is under discussion, and being able to publish what we want to write rather than what suits the current marketplace is what drives us forward.

We have put in a tremendous amount of work, both in getting the books to the best they can possibly be, and the endless rounds of networking, promotion and online publicity required to spread the Triskele word.

But there is already a huge sense of satisfaction that we have turned negatives into positives, and instead of feeling sorry for ourselves and letting our books stagnate on a hard drive, we are doing it our way. This is probably the biggest motivation for each of us – actually seeing a book we love and which has been such an intrinsic part of our lives out there in print and looking damn fine.

And for any other writer in a similar position, if you're lucky enough to be surrounded by people you respect and trust enough to be in business with (and be clear this is very much a business commitment) then give it a go. Sharing the workload whilst retaining the profits, not to mention the invaluable support in the highs and lows of being a writer, make collectives a truly viable option for future publishing decisions.

Guest Post By Gillian Hamer, one of the Triskele authors. Gillian, Jill and Lisa are now, all three, members of ALLi. For more information about their titles, launching this weekend, contact Triskele Books.

Author: Gillian Hamer

Born in the industrial Midlands, Gillian's heart has always yearned for the wilds of North Wales and the pull of the ocean.

A Company Director for twenty years, she has written obsessively for over a decade, predominantly in the crime genre. She has completed six full length novels and numerous short stories.

After completing a creative writing course, she decided to take her writing to the next level and sought representation. She is a columnist for Words with Jam literary magazine, a regular theatre goer and avid reader across genres.

She splits her time between Birmingham and a remote cottage on Anglesey where she finds her inspiration and takes long walks on deserted beaches with her Jack Russell, Maysie.


This Post Has 17 Comments
  1. I had the privilege of attending a workshop which included presentations by Triskele members in London late last year. They are doing famously well. Good work with intelligence and integrity.

  2. We did exactly the same thing last year with Mandrill Press, a co-operative formed by writers who knew each other and valued the input each could bring. Although we are very different writers (as shown in my interview “You don’t write about sex” which is on the Mandrill Press website) we have found working together to be a great booster.

  3. I’ve just noticed this post is two years old! I feel kinda foolish for posting on this thread now. I’ didn’t notice the dates first time.
    Why is this on the ALLi Indi Authors Daily Jan 13th 2014. That’s a bit weird is it not?

    1. Hmm, good question, David! I’ll investigate… But don’t worry, people comment on older posts all the time, as they rise to the top in search engine searches. While sometimes the information is a little out of date (not least because our business changes to quickly), there’s a lot of good stuff tucked away there too!

  4. You set my head spinning. I LOVE this idea, if you don’t back down on quality for friendship. Sometimes it’s hard to tell people they must write “better” but it can be a necessary evil. Strong writers will understand that. I’m thinking now about how the World Literary Cafe can help you gals promote, complicated on one hand, not so much on the other. Super smart thinking either way – congrats! Love the power of people working together

    1.  Thanks Melissa. To answer the friendship/quality question, I think all six of us would agree. We respected one another’s critical opinion first, which is why we became friends. We met as writers online. No face, no voice, just constructive criticism. We’ve clashed, sure, but we know that the only agenda here is making each other’s work better. You’re right, it’s a complex dance of intent, ego, understanding, genre and style, but ‘meeting’ via words has certainly worked for us.
      Thanks so much for your support!

  5. Thanks for the thumbs up Dan and John!
    John, as Jill said, we shared equally, the cost of the launch, promotion, website design, posters, bookmarks, etc.
    We each put a lump sum into the joint account and discuss/agree with each other when and how these funds are spent.
    We have each edited and proofed each other’s ms, as well as bringing in outside help.
    Luckily we have a designer who, we all agree, is fabulous, and takes care of covers, websites, artwork and typesetting.
    Pleased to talk more if you have any more questions!

  6. Hi everyone and big thanks to Gillian for the post!

    Jill (JJ Marsh) here, another Triskelite.

    You asked about how we worked the finances.
    The key issue regarding Triskele is that we’re a group of indy authors who retain our own rights.
    We share costs for promoting the brand but retain any individual profits from our books.
    We pool our skills and cooperate on marketing.

    We each chose how much we wanted to spend on copyediting, design and advertising.
    The only requirement was to make our books the best they could be.
    We supported one another in terms of proofing and copyediting, while some of us also chose to pay a pro.

    Collectively, we each contributed an equal chunk of cash to cover website design, posters and bookmarks, launch event and other costs to promote the Triskele brand.
    We trusted our financial whizz to handle the banking.
    We trusted our design whizz to come up with tailored images for the books and an identity for the collective.

    But the key thing is that we trust each other as writers.
    As Dan says, we haven’t “gone into business”.
    We’ve simply pooled our strengths, our work and our personalities; our networks, our ideas and our support.

    We’re launching this weekend and will share our experiences. Thanks so much for cheering us on.

    1. Thanks Jill — inspiring stuff! — we’d love one of you to blog a diary of the launch — if you had time/space to do that.

  7. Hear hear!  Author collectives like this are the way of the future for many indies, I’m sure.  Gill, do you guys want to share GDs about costs, service hire etc?

    1.  A propos this – and Gill’s comment about having different skill sets – when I started the Year Zero Writers collective in 2009, the original plan was for us to use a barter-based credit scheme to pool our skills. I still think if you get the right people together this would work really well. I grew up in Stroud, a hippy mecca and one of the first towns to develop a fully-functioning LETS system (http://www.gmlets.u-net.com/home.html),  and ever since it’s struck me as a really good basis for collectives to work on

  8. A fabulous initiative that has the feel of many of the high quality very focused small presses emerging – the mix of quality and ruthlessly pursuinga  niche is a killer combination – very very best to you!

  9. Amazing. Just looked at the website and the books. Very refreshing to see this level of quality. I’d be really interested in hearing how you worked the finances between you? Did you all invest the same amount etc? How you hired in copy and proof editors? 
    Really looking forward to reading these. 

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