The preparations went relatively smoothly. We divvied up tasks such as creating a website (www.madeinlawriters.com), printing postcards, gathering prizes for a contest that would net us the beginnings of an email newsletter subscriber base, and more. Individually, we worked on getting posters, bookmarks, and other components to display in the booth.
But during the course of these preparations, it became clear that we were embarking on an effort that would extend beyond a single event: without much forethought, our little ad hoc group shifted in the direction of an author collective.
Over two days at the LA Times Festival of Books, we chatted with hundreds of book lovers who stopped by our booth. We talked about our writing, sold books, and described our nascent author collective. Many were intrigued: were we local writers or were our stories based in L.A.? We learned without a doubt that there’s a market for L.A.-based stories. In addition, we received much encouragement from readers as well as interest from writers who were attracted to the concept.
Several authors asked whether we accepted submissions. One literally shoved his manuscript into my hands, which I returned with a stern, “I’m not going to read it.” He then said I was bad at marketing. From his perspective, I’m sure that’s how it looked: I wasn’t doing a good job marketing his writing. J Be prepared to deal with many book lovers and with some characters that appear to have leapt from the pages of an engaging novel.
While the Made in L.A. booth was ongoing, we also heard from a few writers who were pinning their hopes on finding an agent. I have to say, it felt great to tell them our story and to encourage them to explore the indie route.
If the message isn’t clear yet, let me underline it for you now: collaborating with other authors is preferable to working alone. It extends your reach and capabilities, it provides support and pushes you more quickly toward your goals. But don’t take my word for it: I asked my fellow authors about their experience and what wisdom they would pass to other authors thinking about banding together.