When I wrote my first book, I knew nothing about publishing or marketing, and as a result, I paid a lot of money to get it released by a vanity publisher. They had several ‘packages,’ some of which included editing, cover design, formatting, uploading, and marketing. I needed help with everything but had to scale back to a cheaper package. I found a wonderful cover designer and paid separately for an editor.
Once the book was published, I was happy with it until I realized how limited the support was. The books I purchased from them were expensive, and they kept calling me to buy more ‘services.’ All they did was publish the book and send me a couple of promotional posters. I thought I had paid for some marketing, but they explained I paid for instructions for promoting my own book.
I self-published the next two books. I uploaded them to Amazon, which cost me nothing, and all the information I needed was available on the internet for free. Why should I pay for what I can get free? Why should you?
You can watch free videos, get some basic training, and post book promotions you design yourself on all the social media platforms you have access to. Have a question? Google it. Need a program to help with editing? Get a free version of it. Need a website? Create one yourself on a free version of a website builder. Free is better than paying money for something, right? Sure, if you remember the adage: you get what you pay for.
In my searches, I ran into some supportive websites for authors, both published and aspiring. Not all were alike in their offerings, but they each had elements I needed. Some were run by best-selling authors with years of experience and a gift for sharing what they had learned. Others were collaborative, with members supporting each other. They had one thing in common; they were not free. They were, however, much less costly than the vanity publisher.
What ARE you paying for when you join an online writers’ group that requires an annual or monthly fee? It depends upon the group, of course, but in every case, you are paying for the collective efforts of others whose experience and knowledge can make your life as a writer easier. Rather than diving into a whirlpool fed by a firehose of constantly changing information, you can swim to calmer waters and soak in what the group has to offer, and all for a nominal fee.
How do you find a good fit for your writing needs? Here, again, is where your favorite search engine is your friend. Look up Writers Cooperative and Online Writing Groups. If you type that into Google and scroll down the first page, you’ll see www.seaquillwriters.com along with a short description. You will have plenty to choose from, but I can tell you quite a bit about SeaQuill Writers (SQW), what it is and what it is not.
SQW offers exposure to readers with a website that lists all the member books, every member writer/author, published or soon-to-be published, featured authors, and new releases. Think of the advertising!
The books are listed by genre and by author. For those who write flash fiction, short stories, essays, poetry, and articles, SQW has a Creations page and an official blog, Quill Tips. These pages are open to interested readers. By sharing the website with others and pointing them to your book and/or your author page, and asking them to share on their social media, you are effectively advertising your books, and at no additional cost than the membership fee.
Members have their own private Co-op pages, as well, which include a repository of information and recommendations of vetted services, articles of interest about the craft of writing with tips on editing, publishing and marketing, a publishing imprint for those who want ISBN numbers they can use wherever they choose to distribute their books, and a member forum for discussions.
SeaQuill Writers has been designed to grow within the USA and Canada. It does not replace local writers’ groups or critique groups for two reasons:
- Its purpose is to make life easier for authors no matter how many members join. Critique groups should be small so those critiquing are not overwhelmed, and those who are asking for critique can get focused attention.
- SQW encourages its members to get together with other local writers. In local groups, writers have a chance to develop friendships and have conversations with people who understand them and whose company they enjoy.
Is it worth the money to join an online writing co-op or group? It has been for me and for others I’ve spoken to.
If that kind of community, or the services they offer interest you, do your homework and find a good fit for you. As a satisfied member of SeaQuill Writers Co-Op, I recommend it. At least look at what it has to offer. www.seaquillwriters.com