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My potential pipe dream... would it be possible?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Reece Bridger, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Reece Bridger

    Reece Bridger Dreamer

    I've spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about this; I recently became disillusioned with the idea of Twitter marketing when I realised that about 95% of my followers were other authors also trying to market. The other five percent may or may not be readers or people who wanted to read books, and if they were, they didn't notice me. I once likened it to a stock exchange; everyone shouting about the same thing, but no one listening to anyone else. It got retweeted a couple of times, but my concerns went on. My feed is filled with black and red text, (red being the colour that I set my Twitter to display hyperlinks in,) and a few people spurting random quotes with the promise of giving free books to people who can tell them who said them. There's no personality in them; it's just people shouting quotes and links at me. Even with the e-marketing service currently tweeting out quotes from my book and reviews on five different accounts; are they reaching any actual readers? Or is it just other writers?

    I don't know; maybe I'm just doing it wrong.

    But it got me thinking; out of almost 2000 followers, maybe 1900 of them are other authors or indie services. I had a moment of clarity: 'Why are we just promoting ourselves? That's almost 2000 possible partnerships! Even more, that's a network! Don't think of them as just a number of people; they are other people. They each have their own skills, talents, proficiencies, penchants...' My semi-philosophical rant haunted me for days, even in my sleep.

    I made a plan, inspired by websites like Fantasy Faction and Mythic Scribes, as well as some of the stuff I'd seen on amateur voice acting forums like Voice Acting Alliance. I imagined that I could create my own alliance of indie authors, designed specifically to create partnerships and networks between indie authors so that, instead of going in alone aside for the occasional like or retweet, they can team up, quid pro quo. I'm not the best at expressing it like this, so I'll break it down in bullet points, one per ideal aspect I've thought up. I'd call it 'The Indie Spider Web', (in a perfect world...)

    Website: an open book of a site, with log in and sign up capabilities. No sign up cost or membership deals; completely non-profit or donation-funded. People wanting to join up would have to prove that they already have published or self-published works. There would be spotlights based on activity, articles on an open-entry blog, and a separate wing for literary agents, scouts and publishers to track users with the most activity, perhaps leading to connections and contracts being made. All emails from the site to the users, be they newsletters, updates, etc. would be opt-in, not opt-out.

    Blog: As already stated, the website would feature an open-posting blog for all users to post their own articles, with links to their own blogs to encourage a wider audience; these posts would be open for members and non-members to read on the front page of the website. The posts would be strictly to offer advice or experiences, with no spam or advertising or self-promotion, (that's for the forums, not the public blog; links to their website would be fine, but not posts strictly devoted to 'Buy My Book!' content).

    Profiles: Public profiles for all authors to link to their own websites, showing published works, biographies, career histories, blog posts, opened threads and forum posts, any upcoming projects... The works. With additional profile content including other talents and hobbies, and their location if they so desire, they can connect with other authors. With links to their published works on Amazon or wherever, these profiles would be able to put a name to a book easily, making a handy-dandy cheat sheet page for general use by the authors to make their web-presence easily accessible by readers, other writers, and publishers.

    Forums: Standard, yes, but very effective. The forums would be visible by all but postable/editable by members only. With a search bar to search for individual topics, items and tags, wading through them all to find what people want/need, as well as 'favourite' and 'subscribed' threads for quick access, as well as a stream of new posts and threads by the minute. Users would have signatures to appear under each of their posts, but they would adhere to strict guildlines regarding image size, character limits, and links. The forums would be split into a number of subforums for individual threads, including but not limited to:

    • Self-promotion: Threads devoted to authors publicising their works, putting up reviews, links, promo material, etc. This would be where people went to attract attention to themselves from readers, other authors, maybe agents. Pretty standard, right? Still, with genre tags, demographic tags and others, you'd quickly be able to find something for the TBR pile.
    • General discussion: Threads where people can talk about anything and everything; gaming, their favourite authors, even what they had for dinner. There would be a separate subforum for writing techniques and questions.
    • IC Character Development: An experimental idea. Threads for hot-seating characters in-character to further develop them and expand upon them, even being critiqued by other users; a good way of attracting attention to works.
    • Author/Author connections: This is a tricky idea. This in itself would be a place for authors to connect with other authors directly, be it over their own works, genres, writing styles, or locations. This is what the website is all about: bridging the gap between other authors so they can become connections in everyone's own individual networks. For more on why this is so important, I'll put another bit underneath the subforums about the crux.
    • Author/Publisher connections: The same basic thing as the A/A subforum, but aimed more at publishers and agents looking for fresh talent, and authors looking to present themselves to such people. This would be a subforum where publishers/agents would be the primary posters, and authors respond to them, rather than t'other way 'round.
    • Public Projects: You know those official anthologies that people and sites like FF make, with contests for writers to submit their own works? Don't you hate when you've missed the deadline, or it's not in your style or genre? And you have to wait until next year? Why wait? Why not start your own campaign to make an anthology? If someone wants to, they post a thread about the project in the subforum, and people can answer it or support it. I imagine a lot of crowd-funded projects would be started here. This is where people can take their own initiative and start something rather than waiting for someone else to start one. Who knows? If an anthology shows potential, maybe a publisher could pick it up and help out.
    • Crowd-sourcing Projects: Like the Public Projects, but focussed more on individual needs. Like Crowdspring, someone can post a project, for a logo or a cover design, and people can submit their ideas for consideration for any monetary reward or quid pro quo favours in return. You got a talent for designing and need something to do? You could come here!
    • Skills/Talents: We're writers, but that's not all we are. I'm a bassist and a voice actor as well. This subforum is inspired by some of the things I've done on VAA; I wanted to make a trailer for my first book, and I posted a project about it for voice actors who wanted to have one line each in it. One line each, for seven characters. Over the month or so that I had it open, I had over forty people auditioning, over seventy individual character auditions. Why should it stop there? If you wanted to do something, but didn't have to skills to do it yourself, then you would be able to search this subforum for someone who could. You want promo art drawn of a character? There may be an artist willing to be commissioned, or work quid pro quo for something else, like bartering. You want someone with experience in making trailers to make one to advertise your book? I'm sure there'd be someone here willing to do it! Musicians for soundtracks, voice actors or real actors, editors, proofreaders, beta-readers, web-designers, number-crunchers, organisers, every additional facet and talent could be shown here for someone to knock on your door! Maybe you'd give them some money for it, or you'd do something in return. We all grow together and offer each other helping hands.

    The Crux: What would I want to see come out of something like this? I would want it to prove that you don't have to wait for other people to give you opportunities to further your own careers; you don't have to part of someone else's network. You can make your own! I would love to wake up one morning to find that two members of this potential site had banded together to do a cross-promotional mini-con or event because they had discovered they lived close to each other on this network. I would love to see an author/comic artist commissioned to do a brief strip or a standalone comic adaptation for an author/musician who had composed a short music track as a background for a recorded reading in return; quid pro quo. 'Indie' means 'independent'; this would be the focus of this proverbial network. Just because you help each other out doesn't mean you stop being independent. You don't have to wait for an opportunity to present itself, when you can band together to create your own opportunities. We're all looking for a break, for an angel to present us with the chance of a lifetime. Why can't we be each others' angels?

    ...And that leads me to the question I've been waiting to ask at the end of this wall of text. Would something like this be possible? Does one already exist? Or is this just the fanciful dream of a kid with too much time on his hands?
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