Sent by Nicole Evelina
Part 1: Associations and “Seal of Approval” Groups
Many prospective self-published or hybrid authors may be afraid to take the leap for fear they will be doing everything alone. As a self-published author, I can tell you that is far from how it has to be. It only takes a little effort on your part to become part of the community, and the rewards are great.
Every self-published/hybrid author should have a strong creative team helping them with things that most writers cannot and should not do themselves: cover art, editing, proofreading, and layout. If you choose to produce your book in audio format, you’ll likely want a professional narrator as well. But this team is only part of the community that can help you succeed.
In this series, I’ll introduce you to resources that I have personally found useful. (No, I’m not getting paid for mentioning any of these companies.) As with everything in life, your mileage may vary, so take this only as my opinion. I advise you to do your own research and do what feels right for you.
This first article will introduce you to associations for indie authors and groups that are trying to showcase the best of the best of self-published writing.
There are several associations out there that self-published, indie and hybrid authors can join to be in community, ask questions and learn from one another. Two of the most reputable are the Independent Book Publishers Association and Alliance of Independent Authors.
IBPA is a not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. They are also the largest publishing trade association in the US. IBPA welcomes independent publishers, self-published authors, small presses and mid-sized publishers, with rates based on employee size. (Individual members pay $129/year.)
What are you getting for that fee?
- Significant discounts with dozens of major companies such as Netgalley and Ingramspark
- Online education/webinars (discounts for members) – two recent topics were working with libraries and how to get your books into Costco/Walmart/Target. They will email you a recording if you can’t attend at the time of the webinar.
- Access to catalogues seen by readers, librarians, bookstore owners, universities and schools
- Discounts to trade show/book fairs such as BEA, the Frankfort Book Fair, and the American Library Association Annual Conference. (You can purchase shelf space for your books even if you won’t be there.)
- Their annual conference: Publishing University
- Discounted entry fee to the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, which are sponsored by IBPA
- A monthly e-newsletter and print magazine
ALLI is a global nonprofit association for writers who self-publish. They have three membership levels: Associate: $75 (unpublished/student), Author: $99 (self-published), and Professional: $139 (must earn your living as an author-publisher).
Included in your membership are:
- Daily emails with self publishing advice
- Frequent guest columns by successful indie authors
- Weekly online roundup of self-publishing news
- Every member gets their own author page
- Access to the member’s showcase where you can share your news (releases, awards, appearances, etc.) with other members
- Frequent, low-cost workshops
- A free private Facebook group
- Free guidebooks for authors on how to sell foreign rights, how to choose a self-pub service and how bookstores can work with indie authors (additional subjects to come)
Where Writers Win, Winner’s Circle
I also want to mention the site Where Writer’s Win which has all kinds of writing/publishing advice. If you join the Winner’s Circle ($65/year, but they offer frequent discounts through IBPA and ALLI), you get access to:
- Vetted and rated book review sites by genre
- An interactive map of live book club contacts
- Linked indie bookstores in every state
- Calendar of conferences, festivals and contests
- Free online author marketing tools
- Discounts on services and conferences
- Templates and tutorials
- Section for indie and hybrid publishers
- Blog directories
- Media section
Get involved in the writing community
It’s a great idea to become involved in whatever group fits what you write. For example: The Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, The Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Horror Writer’s Association, etc.
These groups not only help you find your tribe and are great for networking; most hold conferences and have newsletters. Some sponsor contests and offer reviews. There may still be a few that don’t allow self-published authors to join, but that is rapidly fading away. Sometimes indies have their own “section,” while some groups no longer make a distinction.
Stamp of Approval
One of the biggest complaints about self-published books is that they inferior to traditionally published works, primarily due to poor editing and bad covers. While that is getting better, there are a handful of groups working to try to develop a way of distinguishing the best of the best, those books that are on par with traditionally published works.
This division of Library Journal helps connect indie/small press authors with libraries. Authors around the world can submit their books and libraries across the United States participate by stocking their books. It’s fee to submit your book for consideration. If you’re chosen for Self-E Select, your book is designated as one of the very best indie e-books. You get a badge for your web site, an online Library Journal review and possibly a print review as well. You’ll also be invited to join their ambassador program, which gives you opportunities to speak and spread the word about Self-E.
They also sponsor the annual Library Journal Indie Ebook Awards for romance, sci-fi/fantasy, mystery/thriller, general fiction, and YA books.
B.R.A.G. is an acronym for Book Readers Appreciation Group. It’s a private group that evaluates books based on a “report card” that is available on their web site. Take it from someone who has been through it, their review process is VERY stringent. (Despite all the awards my first book has won, it didn’t get the Medallion, not even close.) They will only consider one book from an author at time and each submission is $50. There is no guarantee if you submit your book that you will get the B.R.A.G. Medallion, but every author gets a copy of their report card from the reviewers.
In the next installment of this series, I’ll give you some books, websites/blogs, and social media groups that I think are helpful. Then we’ll conclude with the third installment on how to get reviews and contests you may wish to enter.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nothing brings me more joy than receiving an email from a librarian and educator who’s guiding young people toward a life as a writer. Thank you, Barbara Lincoln, for your service and Amelia (and your mom!) for sharing this new resources with us.