Since my last post I have been challenged as to what an author’s cooperative might look like.
Now this could, in my naivety, turn out to be the greatest work of fiction I have ever created, but here goes:
The biggest problem I face running a business as a lone indie author is not having time to write new book because I am too busy marketing the ones I have already written.
The second biggest problem I face is momentum: I simply cannot publish books quick enough to give the brand sufficient momentum to keep it in the public consciousness or more importantly, in the consciousness of my readers, who rapidly move on to other books and authors.
The third biggest problem is cost: To market successfully I need to pay annual fees which I am not guaranteed to earn back through book sales.
The fourth is ineffective marketing: Whilst I am happy to do the work, I really need an expert to tell me what to do. However, everyone requires an up-front fee, which doesn’t actually guarantee any sales and which I am not guaranteed to earn back in book sales.
So my ideal business model would be: a marketing expert who sets things up, tells me what to do, and who takes a percentage of each sale; other authors to help give a niche brand/imprint real momentum and keep costs down by splitting annual fees; less time spent marketing and more time spent writing new novels.
I may be wrong, but successful businesses on the internet seems to rotate around either around having loads of money to create a big brand, getting very lucky by having the right idea at the right time in the right place, or very narrowly targeting a small niche. As I have no money to create a big brand and believe in creating my own luck by working hard, I follow the niche model.
So this is my niche cooperative idea: Six authors, who all publish in the same niche, come together to market their books. Each author has had their work edited, proofread, formatted, and cover designed. In other words, they have created the best quality product they are capable of producing.
Central to the cooperative is the seventh member of the team: the marketing director. This is the person who gets a kick out of marketing and knows how to market books. They create a WordPress website for the niche/imprint from where all the author’s books are sold; they arrange the book tours, guest blog appearances, research content for the blog/website, organize the book launches, and pull together the marketing strategy for the niche/imprint. Basically, this person tells the authors what to do and what content/articles to produce. In return for this key role, they get 40% of every book sale; the authors get 10% each.
Here’s an infographic of what I envisage:
Why six authors? Apart from making the math easy, assuming each amateur/part-time author takes a year to produce a new book that means the niche/imprint has a new book launch every six to eight weeks – now that is the sort of momentum a brand really needs. Also, if Paypal is used as the payment platform they have a six person parallel payment limit (see below).
Each author would be free to still market their own books individually, however they like, (including titles offered through the cooperative) outside the cooperative and publish on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, B&N etc. Books in the cooperative arrangement would be sold purely from the niche/imprint website. Each author would publicize the niche/imprint website, the cooperative titles, and the cooperative website content/blog, via their chosen social media platforms in line with the marketing strategy devised by the Marketing director. Each author would take 10% of the profit from each ebook sold via the website, regardless of whose title it is, and the Marketing Director would take 40% of each sale.
There are of course two weak links in this business model:
The platform: A purchasing merchant services app would be required that could automatically divide up payments. If Paypal were used as the main payment system, they have two options: Parallel payments (maximum 6 recipients) and Chained payments (maximum 9 recipients), either option which do the job. To run such a system the cooperative would need to pay an annual fee for a WordPress.org website and pay for a Paypal Business Account.
The fan/reader would have a steady supply of new titles in their niche of interest.
For the armature/part-time writers, scaleability through the cooperative comes from time freed up from marketing to write more book titles in a series.
For the marketeer, scaleability would come from building up expertise and expanding to form additional niche imprint cooperatives:
This business model is based on everyone putting in hard work to earn a living wage: it is not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme for anyone.
The best way to set up such a cooperative would be for the Marketeer to set everything up and pull each niche cooperative together. Will this business model make enough money for the Marketeer? Does this business model interest any Marketeers? Is there anyone out there who sees possibilities in such a business model? Is there anyone out there will to give it a go?