Monday, January 31, 2011

Proposal for Indie Authors

(self-published and small press)

What if you could promote your book at conventions, but not have to go yourself?

Here are my thoughts on why such a thing might benefit authors. For one, I've seen authors at conventions selling their books. Yet, I've also heard that most self-published authors' sales are very modest. I know from my experience selling jewelry at conventions that it can be touch-and-go as far as breaking even for the cost of the convention and a hotel. And that's with a popular, successful artisan. I can't help but wonder how many of the authors I see are actually losing money to promote their work. What if they didn't have to?

Additionally, I've learned from artisans that success often requires convention hopping. That means going to different states, to many different conventions, throughout the year. Similarly, many authors tour book stores in a flurry of promotion around the book's release date. These things require being able to travel - perhaps, not having a day job, or not having toddlers to look after. Touring represents significant expenses that might not be justified by actual sales.

Assuming that other authors have run into these problems, I think there might be a solution that we can work together on. I'd like to spearhead a non-profit organization that goes to conventions and sells several indie author's books, without each author having to go each time. Kind of like a mobile indie book store. If you live near DragonCon, you could run a table for us there, while other members run tables at other conventions you don't want to or can't go to.

Money wise, authors would provide the books. When those books sell, that author gets their overhead back plus some profit. Overhead might include having to ship the books between conventions, which could be a disadvantage of having multiple sellers. Also, personally, if I were running a table, I'd like to be compensated for either my badge or my time. Compensation would greatly expand what conventions I could go to for the group. But, that money would have to come out of the profits from the books, so we might have to start with that work being volunteer work. Once we've done several conventions and built up a reputation as an organization, hopefully we would have a more stable business model and be able to compensate our sellers, too. That way members don't have to worry about who is doing more, going to more conventions, and who is doing less.

Alternatively, sellers could buy books from the authors at a low price and keep any profit. I could see that working for sellers who plan to go to a couple of conventions every year and can hold on to unsold books between conventions. Or, the organization could represent the sellers by buying the books and organizing seller compensation and transfer of books between sellers.

Possibly, there could be a yearly membership fee that is waved for members who run tables that year. We would also ask for donations, of course.

These are all just ideas right now. What I need to hear from you, my fellow authors, is if you would be interested in participating, and what you think such an organization should look like.

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