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This is a poll - Public or private or just not interested?

link this post written on 08/04/2011
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I agree with the private "start small" group in this thread. More focused projects at first are more likely to be successful.
link this post written on 09/04/2011
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I'm not one for manifestos but one of the reasons for starting Fictionaut was precisely the dissatisfaction with current models that the initial thread talked about. I've been attending a number of publishing events & conferences lately, and it's been fascinating to see how little the actual writers -- whom the entire industry is presumably built on -- figure in the picture. Fictionaut was an attempt to start from scratch and see if the Internet and social media specifically might not make new models possible. (I recently told a roomful of publishing professionals that "the only two people I'm absolutely sure you need in publishing are the reader and the writer." I didn't quite mean it, but it's a good place to start thinking. Still can't believe they didn't run me out on a rail.) It's like Margaret Atwood said in her TOC keynote: the anchovies are getting restless -- the anchovies being us.

So, writers organizing in some way strikes me as a logical next step, just like I hope Fictionaut can provide exposure for writers and eventually grow into something that may be able to pay them (provided they want to be paid!) To me, the question is what, exactly, we can do in practical terms. All the rules are currently up for grabs, and it's a great time to try things out -- so when we say "advocacy", what do we mean? Start another journal? Provide a group blog? Retweet each other? Or something more? We live in a world now where anyone can publish physically and digitally with a push of a button, and the difficulty isn't publishing as such, but spreading the word and what they call "discovery." Through the community recommendations, Fictionaut is supposed to begin solving these problems, but there's much work left to be done. (We've also been thinking about optional pay models -- digital subscriptions? print-on-demand? apps? micro payments? -- but so far nothing has gelled.)

Guess what I'm saying is that in order to truly make a difference at this point, we need fresh ideas, and the guts to try things that may fail. I don't have to tell any of you that there's a great world of independent presses and small magazines, as well as many worthy self-published writers -- but when you go buy a book, you're probably not going to find them on the front tables of one of the vanishing brick-and-mortar stores or on top of the Kindle bestseller list. What specifically can we do to change that -- either just for us in this group, or for all writers?

I'll stop now before this turns into a manifesto after all.

link this post written on 09/04/2011
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I'm loving the response so far ... just loving it.  Keep it coming until we hear from all of you.  Then we'll go to the next phase.
link this post written on 09/04/2011
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loving this discussion, too.

i've begun teaching, double load no relief this term, so i'll be less present than i'd like to but hopefully i can feed debate and group nevertheless, with me hobnobbing with publishers and all...i think to start with a small group and slowly acquire mass is fine. my experience with communities is that as long as something happens, even if it's only a handful of people who keep stoking the fire, it won't go out. not enough to get to action, i know but as i read through the forum posts, i realise that we could still do with more information, more gathering. 

good gathering news: since a few days - as i can see via google analytics - this site gets an average of 100 readers per day. with only 26 members or so (GA does not count people who return within one day) this means word's getting round slowly but steadily. 

picking up on jurgen's last interesting point: personally, i'm getting better and better at understanding what it takes for literature to be found by readers on the net. next week, i'm going to hold a workshop for my writers group on blogging (meaning: getting readers to your blog and via your blog to your fiction) and as i'm preparing it i realise how much there is to be known (to market writing online really is an undiscovered place of continental size) but also how much i already know about it. admittedly, i've been in the business of networks & communities for almost a quarter century. but all i know about it everybody could know about it. 

more specifically: even just collecting this information (possibly in a written form-a guide even?) and being a place where people can go to discuss publishing & the balance (i'm being optimistic) between publishing and writing is an attraction. 

link this post written on 10/04/2011
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I agree with Jurgen - marvelous pic by the way - all that is needed is a writer and a reader.  It worked for Han-shan.  Some mistake him for the perfect symbol of a writer in solitude.  That's the wrong view to take.  If he'd only wanted solitude, he would never have nailed poems to trees in the valley.  He wrote for himself - not for the world ... but he did write to the world.  If it worked for him - it can work for WAG.


Agree with Marcelle - no sexism, racism or discrimination.  Yes.


Also, agree with the penguin - keep the fire stoked ... even if the flame is small.  Keep the fire stoked.

The author has edited this post (on 10/04/2011)
link this post written on 10/04/2011
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I'm hoping that more people will be responding to the poll.  It's been almost a week since I sent messages to all the membership, 25 people other than myself.  Of those, 11 have since responded and posted here.  Not even half.  Responses are mixed but with only 44% of the people offering opinions ... not much to go on.

link this post written on 10/04/2011
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In a semi-response to Jürgen, when I say advocacy, I don't mean a zine or an anthology, I mean an organization that supports the best interests of writers.

I think of the things other writing organizations and guilds do, how they take positions on issues like copyright and profit rights and ebook royalties, and there is, as far as I know, nobody is doing those things for independent writers. How do you join an organization that requires you to have a contract from a big publisher in the last eighteen months if you've decided to self-publish your books? You can't. Or if your "sales" have been token, at best, to small literary magazines, rather than publications on an approved list? You can't.

More than that, though. In my own weird DIY world, I think it could be a powerful tool for organizing writers together, helping each other achieve disparate individual goals. (I think this is part of the reason why a collective does not sound so good to me. I already have a tentative trajectory.) Like, for example, Marcus says, "I want to organize a European book tour." I can say, "There's a shop in my town that does readings, I'll get you their number, and I've got a spare bedroom." A dozen or so of those replies, and he's got places to read, places to stay. (Sorry, Marcus, for making an example of you.)

These kinds of things are important to independent writers and writers with small presses that don't have much budget or a marketing machine.

I think it is impossible to list all the things that an organization might do for writers; the possibilities get wider every day as people push boundaries in different directions. Maybe the best thing it could do is support writers in exploring those boundaries and pushing them further.

The more I think about it, the less I like the idea of involving the writing in the organization via zines or anthologies. There are other avenues for that, like (I think it was) Jürgen said. There are already many places that offer artistic communities, the real need I see is (for a lack of a better term) a business community.


The author has edited this post (on 10/04/2011)
link this post written on 12/04/2011
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Starting a smaller private group and slowly gaining ground. A smaller group can be more focused and driven on the individual level, meaning promtion of the group's writers themselves, and I think support and promotion is pretty vital is a writing commmunity; promoting writers within the group via twitter, blogs, etc. Perhaps even doing something like "featured" writers (could be up to 2-3)per month and we all promote them various ways. Support is crucial, whether it be some of us offering criticism/or editing support, or networking/promoting maybe even design layout, whatever. Also like the idea of readings as well and maybe a mag could come later. 
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