Monday, February 22, 2021

The Beauty of Collaboration

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?




Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she is married to her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

 FYI, Book 3 in the Serendipity & Secrets series drops in just about one month! Do you have your copy pre-ordered?


Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business--or will it turn into something more?

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 fiancĂ©e 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.



Pre-order today at: amazon  or ChristianBook or B&N or ChristosBookCenter (This last one is the local Christian bookstore in my town. If you're wanting to support local, but you don't have a local bookstore, give Erika Kelly a call at Christos. She will lovingly serve and get you just what you need!)


21 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post, Erica!!!! The realization that this job is easier with a community is so stinkin' true. It can be a lonely existence so the wonderful thing about technology is how it brought all of us together... first the original Seeker group, many of whom are retired now... and our Second Generation: The Journey Continues crew who bring their own wisdoms to the table for us and for our readers.

    WE ARE SO BLESSED!

    I'm smiling here and ready to jump into edits on a book... and I love editing, putting that final polish on a story... but I'm so glad I slipped over here first and saw this. Thank you, Erica!!!

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    1. Good morning, Ruthy! You are right. We ARE Blessed beyond belief! I'm editing today, too! :)

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  2. Collaboration was a topic I spoke about to a group of AP English students a few years ago. I don't have any published stories, but I co-write screenplays with a friend. We started collaborating a few years ago and it turns out that we both have strengths in different areas. He's a great plotter and very imaginative. I'm much more analytical and a stickler for grammar and punctuation. Plus, he's more outgoing, so looking for investors and actors was definitely more up his alley. All that to say, I love working with a partner for so many reasons.

    This is another great post, Erica!

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    1. Glynis, it sounds like you have a wonderful collaboration partner, and isn't it great that you have different strengths and can utilize them individually to make the entire project better?

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  3. Excellent post, Erica. And a great reminder. Writing can be a lonely endeavor and we sometimes forget there are others just like us out there, wondering how to promote their books. I love your collaborative campaign!

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    1. :) Morning, Mindy! I hope you're thawing out down there in TX. We're rejoicing up here in MN that it's going to be above freezing! We got another few inches of snow yesterday, and everything looks pristine!

      I am always happy to join in on a collaboration, but I'm rarely the one who originates the idea. There are other, very creative people out there who sometimes let me join them! :)

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  4. Great post, Erica. I feel the sense of community just being here as a villager in Seekerville. It is great to have the encouragement of so many.

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  5. This is great, Erica!

    I love seeing what you, Julie, and Michelle have done in your marketing collaboration. I've been watching, learning, and taking notes!

    While almost every group I've been in for marketing, blogging, etc. has been a great success, a couple of those efforts haven't been. As I've tried to figure out why those things didn't work, I realized that the participants didn't have a shared vision for the project. It's important to have clear goals!

    And, of course, my favorite collaboration is when you and I decided our children should meet each other. Now that was a successful collaboration!

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    1. I believe our collaboration was so successful, we can rest on our laurels there! :) They came over for lunch yesterday!

      It's important to know what your ROI is, but yes, it's also important to know what the individuals see as a successful campaign. If you all want different things, it's hard to coordinate efforts.

      Julie and Michelle and I are having a blast with the bingo videos and growing our FB community. :)

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  6. So interesting, Erica. I enjoyed reading this.

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  7. I loved those Seven Brides collections.
    And the Indebted Earl. :)

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  8. Thank You Erica I so enjoyed the post Blessings To You!

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  9. What a fun post, Erica! I enjoy seeing all the different ways authors can collaborate to promote their books and those of other authors. You're all so creative!

    I've enjoyed your Serendipity and Secrets series, and I'm looking forward to your new book. I've got it on my wish list.

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    1. Hi, Winnie! We're ONE MONTH away from The Indebted Earl's release! Finally! Woohoo! :) I hope you enjoy it!

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  10. You know, I do get a kick out of collaborating with others... my Guideposts mysteries are a perfect example. 8 or 9 authors, each one writing 3 books and working together for two years... We have so much fun! And we work with some of the best editors because working with 8 distinctively different authors has got to be like herding cats. :) And I say that in the nicest way possible!!!!!! They make it work.

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    1. I think having great leaders/editors is key to a good experience when collaborating on projects. Because each writer is so different, different voice, different experiences, different techniques...and yet they need to homogenize into a whole. :)

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