Tuesday, 22 January 2013

All Roads Lead to ALLi

By Christine Frost
Twitter: @Shahrazad1001

Not long after I began my journey as a self-published author, I realized how important it was to find some sense of community online. The self-publishing endeavor is about more than selling books; it’s about establishing a brand, developing a reputation of professionalism, and avoiding lures set by people who seek to take advantage of authors who haven’t done their research. I joined a variety of groups on social media channels and built up a following on Twitter. As much as I enjoyed the interactions, I sought a more unified community. I researched professional organizations for writers and publishers and found many did not welcome indie authors. A few did, but a degree of reticence was palpable. Through many hours of navigating the world of self-publishing online, I discovered many reliable resources providing guidance on a range of topics from formatting ebooks to best practices on blogging.

The voices I came to rely on for news and advice coalesced, under the leadership of Orna Ross, into the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). As I compared the benefits of the myriad organizations for authors, the fact that ALLi was founded solely for self-publishers had immense drawing power. The advisors and literary community builders were comprised of people I had interacted with individually or knew by reputation. The impressive range of expertise offered by this group prompted me to join without hesitation.

The organization also appeals to me from an academic perspective. As an editor who works for a large university, I often attend events where the state of the publishing industry is discussed. At a conference about the future of the book in the fall of 2010, an idea for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) formed. Their mission is the democratization of access to knowledge, and the group’s founders seek to make a vast ebook collection available worldwide. The DPLA and self-publishers deal with the same issues: DRM, discoverability, and for some who have published traditionally in the past, access to books that are out of print yet the rights are not available. Invariably, the question of self-publishing comes up at these events and I often brace myself for the negative reaction. Yet more and more, the idea is welcomed and people are eager to learn more about what self-publishing has to offer. It speaks to innovation and with the increasing emergence of highly publicized stories about indie authors who crafted their own success, there are many inspiring examples to see.

ALLi celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit and is built on the unique challenges faced by indie authors. The alliance offers a wealth of information in their newsletter and through groups on social media. Their programs to arrange book giveaways on Goodreads and invitations to engage in discussions have introduced me to other authors and book enthusiasts, and my network has expanded in the few months since I joined. I no longer feel like a rogue who shyly admits to how I produce my books. I feel empowered by the amazing resources I’ve found here. This experience has helped me shape my approach to how I work on my novels and present myself in a positive and professional manner. As a result, I feel I have gained valuable marketing savvy and the opportunities I find now help me establish myself as an author who is focused and dedicated to the craft of writing.

Having the author membership badge on my blog makes me feel good about how far I’ve come in this journey. It reminds me of the supportive community I can turn to with questions. I was recently asked to be part of an author’s panel at the school where I received my master’s degree. Not being especially experienced in being on a panel, and knowing I will be the only self-published author on it, I take comfort in knowing that as the date approaches, I can reach out for advice on how to prepare for the event.

As this nascent organization grows, wonderful programs and opportunities emerge to help authors succeed in an industry that is changing rapidly. In the January 2013 newsletter, I was pleased to see ALLi announced the launch of a campaign called “Open Up to Indie Authors” to encourage traditional establishments such as stores and book festivals to welcome self-published authors. And with ALLi’s culture of excellence and professionalism, I believe they will serve as a persuasive force in opening these doors. I’m glad to be a part of it, and hope to contribute to the group’s success as much as I can.

For more information visit The Alliance of Independent Authors website.

Christine Frost    www.herravendomain.com    Twitter: @Shahrazad1001 

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