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How to Set Up and Run an Indie Author Collective

Headshot of Catriona Troth

Indie author Catriona Troth, a member of the Triskele collective

Every ALLi member knows there is power in authors working together. Whether it is through large organisations or small groups, one-off projects, or long-term ventures, collaboration can reap huge benefits. It can also be a challenge. The Triskele Books author collective, established in 2012, has published twenty titles from its five core members plus associates. Here, Triskele member Catriona Troth discusses some of the tools authors need to plan their own cooperative ventures.

A Toolbox for Author Collaboration

Author collaborations come in many sizes and shapes. But each will face some of the same challenges. Thus collaborators must ask themselves similar questions, both before starting and as the project evolves.

Deciding on your objectives / Choosing your travelling companions

When you work with other authors, everything you do and say reflects on the group, and your success depends on everyone playing their part. So choose your travelling companions carefully. Avoid difficulties later by agreeing clear objectives.

Ask yourselves:

  • Why are you getting together? What do you want to achieve?
  • Can you describe, clearly and succinctly, what brings you together – your common identity?
  • How will you know if you have achieved your goals? What is your measure of success?
  • Do you know and enjoy one another’s work? Would you be proud to see your work on the shelf next to theirs?

And here’s a really tough one:

  • Do you trust one another?

Sharing the work / Making a plan / Ensuring it’s watertight

Photo of Triskele authors packing goody bags

Sharing the donkey work – packing goody bags at the first IAF event in 2014

Once you have determined what your collaboration is about, you will need to decide how to work together as a team.

What needs to be done, when and by whom? How will you make decisions? If one member of the team is providing a service to the others, how will they be compensated?

Make a plan. What do you want to achieve in the next year? The next month? What do you need to do NOW to achieve that?

Don’t just write the plan and then bury it in a bottom drawer. Make sure you revisit it regularly and keep it fresh!

Even the most informal collaborations will at some point need to consider a few financial and legal questions, such as who holds rights, whether you have shared funds, how income is to be distributed and how shared services are to be paid for.

You may be happy operating on trust, but if you ask each other some hard questions up front, you can avoid being taken unawares later on.

Montage of Triskele books and authors

Making a bigger splash together – the Triskele Books cooperative

Spreading the word / Keeping it fresh / Building communities

One of the biggest reasons for working collaboratively is to make bigger splash than you can as an individual.

How can you spread the word about your venture? In what sort of environment (virtual or real) do you operate most effectively? How can you use your shared story to garner interest? What are your priorities – e.g. To make a big impact around a particular launch? To build interest over a longer period?

Once your project has been running for a while, it’s time to look back at your initial intentions and take stock.

  • Have you achieved your goals? Wholly? Partially?
  • Can you pinpoint anything that has been particularly successful?
  • What hasn’t worked so well?
  • What obstacles have there been that you didn’t anticipate?

Make sure you get everyone’s opinion, because you will all see things differently. Get a perspective from outside the group too, if possible.

Finally, there is the question of community. At Triskele, we have learnt that everything we do to build links with other authors is repaid to us many times over. The connections you make will stand you in good stead all of your writing life.

As part of a collaborative project, you’ve already built one community. But you are also well-placed to reach out to other authors. Don’t forget to think about how you might do that.

For more information and inspiration about Author Collectives

This post is only a sample of what is inside Triskele’s Toolbox for Author Collaboration. To delve further, please visit the articles on Triskele Book’s blog, of which the first part is here.

Catriona Troth and fellow ALLi author member Jane Davis (not part of the Triskele group) will be speaking about author collaboration at the Get Writing! conference in Watford, Englad, later this month – more information about their event is available here.

Group shot of Triskele authors

The present Triskele line-up

OVER TO YOU If you have any top tips on how to collaborate with other indie authors, please feel free to share them in a comment. Catriona will be happy to answer questions, too.

#authors - how to benefit from collaborating with other writers by @L1bCat of @Triskelebooks Click To Tweet

 

 

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5 Responses to How to Set Up and Run an Indie Author Collective

  1. Catriona Troth September 5, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

    Thanks, Helena. And PJ, do get in touch. Our email address is triskelites[at]gmail[dot]com

  2. PJ Boox September 5, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    Good article! I think that this is at the core my new indie author bookstore. I’d love to talk with you about getting the collective in the bookstore if you are interested — http://www.pjboox.com

  3. Helena Halme September 5, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    Cat, thank you for this excellent article. Being part of a co-operativ has been on my mind for a while, and now I’ve given up my 9-5 job, I’m revisiting this issue. Your post is very timely and I’ll visit your blog for more info. Helena

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