Happy Monday, SeekerVillagers! For those of you in parts of the country where bitter cold was an unexpected and unpleasant guest, I hope things have warmed up, that you have power and water at your house, and that you didn't suffer too much damage. For those of you like me, who live in the frozen tundra of the north, it's nearing the end of February, and spring will come! Who was it who said, "Winter doesn't last forever, no spring misses its turn."?
Or better yet:
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat, summer and winter,
day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22
During the rough weather in the middle of February, you should have read the emails flying back and forth amongst the Seeker-sisters. Reporting in safe, inquiring as to conditions, giving advice, prayers, information. With Seekers scattered from New York to Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, Texas, Minnesota, DC, Arizona, Indiana...who am I missing? there were lots of varied experiences with the weather. And each SeekerSister was right on the ball with doing what they could via prayer and advice to help.
Which got me to thinking about our writing communities and how we need each other. We are not alone in our triumphs or troubles when we have a strong writing community of friends. (Wouldn't that make a great tweet?)
I've been noodling this idea of collaboration and community recently. I have taken part in several collaborations throughout my writing career. Sometimes I've collaborated on a writing project, like the Seven Brides for Seven Texans novella collection. Seven authors, writing about one family of seven brothers, the stories all taking place over one calendar year. That was a lot of collaboration!
Then there is the Seekerville collaboration. As mentioned above, it's more than the blog, it's the community we've created, both with each other and with our faithful readers. (That's YOU, by the way!) Collaborating on the blog means that no one person has to provide the content every day. It means we share responsibilities both on the blog and behind the scenes. We also share ideas, guest posts, and more. We also promote the blog posts on our various platforms. I love that we support and care for each other, that there is always someone available with writing advice, life advice, and the occasional "Pull yourself together and get on with the job" advice that I need. (Looking at you, Ruthy, on that last one!)
There is also the marketing aspect of collaboration with other authors. As you know, authors are called upon more and more to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing their books. Which can get tough, especially on a budget. But when you collaborate with other authors to promote your work, it suddenly can become much easier. And here's why:
1. Shared cost. Marketing can cost you some dough. Whether it's placing ads, running giveaways, acquiring swag, the costs can add up. However, if you join with other authors who write the same sorts of things you do, you can share costs. I recently collaborated with a group of Christian fiction authors in a Love Through The Ages promotion where the prize was a set of EIGHTEEN books. And there were TWO Winners. My portion of the prize is two copies of one of my books. If I was to run a contest where I had to provide and mail THIRTY-SIX books, that would be cost-prohibitive, but I can provide and mail two books, no problem.
2. Shared work. Not all authors have the same strengths. Some are great at making graphics. (Looking at you, Pam Hillman.) Some are great at coming up with unique marketing ideas. Some are great with spreadsheets. Some are great at putting together ad copy. Some are great at coming up with just the right prize that will have readers eager to jump onboard. There are a lot of details to consider when you want to do a promotion, and no author is an expert in all of them. When you pool your abilities, more aspects can be covered that you might not have thought of on your own, and no one author has to be in charge of everything. You are all links in a chain that stretches farther (further? Farther? Sigh. My constant struggle.) than a single link could on its own.
3. Shared information. Did you know that Mary Connealy is possibly the best in the world at finding useful book swag? Hairbrushes, jar openers, cutting boards, letter openers, chip clips...these are just a FEW of the amazing things she has found for reasonable prices that enable her to promote her books on something that readers will keep and use. She lets us know her sources and we kick around ideas for what would be good to purchase in the future. Some authors are more up to date than I am on where good places to advertise might be. How to promote posts on FB, or buy ad space on amazon or get a post in a magazine publication. We each possess bits of information that can and would be useful to our collaborating authors, and sharing it means more people hear about your work.
4. Shared reach. The number of people in your newsletter list, your FB friends list, your Instagram friends, etc. is known as your "Warm Reach." These are the people to whom you have access, and that you can inform fairly easily about your books. But here's the thing, Winnie Griggs has people in her 'warm reach' that I do not. The same with Mindy Obenhaus, Missy Tippens, Debby Giusti, and Beth Erin. When we collaborate on a promotion, marketing, giveaway, whatever, the information about their books and services reaches people on my list that otherwise wouldn't know about it, and vice versa. I call it 'cross-pollination.' The above Love Through The Ages collaboration resulted in several HUNDRED new email subscribers for me that I would have had no way to reach otherwise, and those new newsletter friends came as a result of the seventeen other authors promoting the giveaway to their 'warm reach.'
5. Shared fun. Face it, writers like to talk to other writers, and to brainstorm, and to be creative. Twice last year, author friends Julie Klassen and Michelle Griep and I collaborated on a fun promotion called Regency Bingo. We invited folks to choose Regency-themed words from a list, email their chosen words to a third party, and then Julie, Michelle and I filmed ourselves drawing words from the Top Hat of Awesomeness, three words each day until all the words were drawn. The first person to have their chosen words pulled from the hat, emailed the third party with a BINGO, and won a prize. The response to the game has been phenomenal. Everyone has a great time, including us. If you could see us behind the scenes when we're filming...it's a load of fun! We'll do the promotion again, and each time we'll add a new twist to keep it fresh.
Now, not all collaborations are created equally, and you need to evaluate the ROI. Return on Investment. Some collaborations will cost you very little, but they might bring you a nice return. Ultimately, you're looking for each promotion you do to result in a wider audience for your books. Whether that is through newsletter contacts, social media reach, or even better, new friends, you are hoping for some return on the investment you're making. Some collaborations might cost you a lot in time. You must choose whether you feel the time invested in the collaboration will give you a decent return, or if your time might be better spent another way.
You'll learn from each collaboration, and you'll teach others, too. And you'll find that working with others toward a similar goal means you will be 'greater than the sum of your parts.'
Have you collaborated with others to increase the effectiveness of your efforts? Do you feel it was successful? Did you learn a lot?
FYI, Book 3 in the Serendipity & Secrets series drops in just about one month! Do you have your copy pre-ordered?
Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life--especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero's dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man’s grieving fiancée and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.
When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.
Sophie is surprised to find she isn't opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed's elderly mother, and she's already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she'll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.
It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he's come to mean to her. Now she'll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.