My writing career really took off when I started working with other authors. It was a little thing that started it all. Sally Harris, author of the wonderful Diary of a Penguin-napper, suggested we got together to do a promotion of the first chapter of our books in a volume called Love Middle Grade Actually in February 2013. Through that I got talking, and made friends with, a dozen other authors. I’d not really done much blogging then, not like we do now, joining in challenges with other bloggers, doing blog hops and the like. And it takes a bit of nerve to approach someone you don’t know (and maybe think is so much better than you, and so much more knowledgeable).
The way we worked together on a project, being brought together by Sally, made me want to do it again.
Eighteen months later I felt we should do another. And because I’m the sort of person that runs projects better than doing marketing stuff, I decided that I’d ask around and see who was in. Remarkably, thirteen of us pulled together to do a Christmas promotion, everyone posting something on his or her blog, with guest posts, interviews and a shared giveaway. The interview between Stanley & Katrina (dog and cat), Max (cat), and Fred and George (guinea pigs) was especially memorable! We styled ourselves the MG BookElves, since we all wrote for the children/middle grade genre, and it was Christmas.
The following year we launched a volume of short stories. Not everyone could take part; commitments, both our own books and other things got in the way, but seven short stories hit the press in the form of the BookElves Anthology Volume 1. I loved the optimism of the volume 1 bit!
These things take a lot of pulling together. You need to start early (at least six months lead time), have someone who’s really willing to pull the schedule together, get authors’ agreements, chase people to for support (we did a round-robin of proof-reading each other’s stories, for example), and put the whole thing together. I learnt a lot that year about removing styles from people’s Word files in order to get things that the ebook converters would accept. If you prepare your own ebooks from your manuscripts, you’ll know what I mean. Just treble it.
We obviously enjoyed the experience, because we went on to do Volume 2 last year, with eight authors, half of whom had also done book 1. It’s a hard thing to do if you’re also putting out one of your own books, but at least two managed to do that as well! I admire their industry.
Our aim is more to showcase our writing than to make money, so although we’ve only almost covered our costs (thanks to the very special rates that my cover illustrator Danielle English does for me), we still keep the ebooks free of charge. Although we also made them in paperback, and you can enter Goodreads Giveaways for them in October and November.
The best thing about it is making friends and sharing the writing ups and downs with a diverse set of strangers, from countries across the world. I’m glad I did it, and look forward to bringing out a Volume 3 some time when we’re all less busy with our own series!