Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Authors Can Work Together to Achieve Success

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy

Part of the Indie Author Series

The perception of self-publishing is that you’re working alone. And you are, but it doesn’t have to be that way all the time. In fact, I believe the future of successful self-publishing is in working together as allies with other authors rather than viewing them as your competition.

Before I dive into some of the ways I see authors successfully teaming up, though, it’s important to cover the harmful and/or dishonest ways that authors sometimes work together. I want to be very clear that these aren’t things we should be doing.

Two Ways Authors Shouldn’t Team Up

Exchanging Reviews

With Amazon cracking down on competitors reviewing each other, this isn’t as big a problem now as it used to be. Essentially, this is where authors do a review exchange, usually with the understanding that if you positively review me, I’ll positively review you. This is shady, and it’s something we should never do. The reviews on our books and the ones we give should be honest.

Exchanging Facebook Page Likes

This isn’t wrong per say, but it’s completely worthless. Exchanging Likes means we artificially raise our numbers through people who aren’t actually interested in our material and will never return to our page again. This damages our engagement rate and makes Facebook less likely to show our posts to fans because all Facebook knows is people aren’t engaging with us.

Two Excellent Ways for Authors to Work Together

Form a Publishing Co-op

Many independent authors set up their own company to publish their books. It gives a more professional look. If, however, you know other independent authors in your genre whose work you admire, you can band together to all publish under the same imprint.

This benefits everyone involved in that the publishing company looks bigger (since it publishes multiple authors), but the benefits go beyond that. Authors can swap editing, formatting, and cover design services depending on their individual skills. They can include the first chapter or a blurb page for each other at the end of their books, thereby increasing their potential to reach new readers. They can share a blog and work together on promotional events.

Each author maintains their own private sales and receives all the profit from their own books, but they still have a stronger support network than if they were completely independent.

Run a Joint Event

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of taking part in a joint promotion event where 20 authors reduced their books to 99 cents for one day. Everyone involved in the event participated in spreading the word to their audience, which means the reach of the event magnified beyond what any of us could do on our own. We also took turns interacting with readers on the day of the event on a communal Facebook page and offering giveaways (two other important elements for success). Our books dominated the charts for the day.

The key to making an event like this work is to bring together authors who would already have a similar readership. For example, it wouldn’t work to do an event where you included mystery authors, fantasy authors, and romance authors. You want to stick as closely together in terms of genre or topic as possible. All romance authors might work, but all paranormal romance authors would be ideal.

In the new publishing paradigm, we’re not each other’s competition. The competition is everything that vies for the attention of readers and makes them want to do something other than read. We’re allies, and when we work together, we all have a greater chance of success.

What other ways have you seen authors working together?

Marcy Kennedy is a suspense and speculative fiction writer who believes fantasy is more real than you think. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance fiction editor and teaches classes on craft and social media through WANA International. She’s also the author of the Busy Writer’s Guides series of books. You can find her blogging about writing and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth at

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About Grammar for Fiction Writers: A Busy Writer’s Guide

The world of grammar is huge, but fiction writers don’t need to know all the nuances to write well. In fact, some of the rules you were taught in English class will actually hurt your fiction writing, not help it. Grammar for Fiction Writers won’t teach you things you don’t need to know. It’s all about the grammar that’s relevant to you as you write your novels and short stories.

Here’s what you’ll find inside:
  • Punctuation Basics including the special uses of dashes and ellipses in fiction, common comma problems, how to format your dialogue, and untangling possessives and contractions.
  • Knowing What Your Words Mean and What They Don’t including commonly confused words, imaginary words and phrases, how to catch and strengthen weak words, and using connotation and denotation to add powerful subtext to your writing.
  • Grammar Rules Every Writer Needs to Know and Follow such as maintaining an active voice and making the best use of all the tenses for fast-paced writing that feels immediate and draws the reader in.
  • Special Challenges for Fiction Writers like reversing cause and effect, characters who are unintentionally doing the impossible, and orphaned dialogue and pronouns.
  • Grammar “Rules” You Can Safely Ignore When Writing Fiction


  1. Really interesting stuff here, Janice. A lot to think about with regards to joining forces to publish. Your posts are excellent. Thank you!

  2. Good ideas of what to do and what not to do. I'd add just being supportive of each other, whether it's meeting at a coffee house to chat about publishing, or helping to promote other books, or exchanging beta reads. In short, kindness goes a long life and in publishing!