Sunday, March 13, 2011

#6 Do You Play Well with Others?

Is something you might want to decide when you are self-publishing. I’ve had a few people mention poor sales for anthologies, and I have so say—I don’t see it. The anthologies I’ve put out for December Ink don’t seem to sell any worse (or better for that matter) than anything else. But I digress! The point is, do you want to do an anthology or a “bundle” or a collaboration Do you want to work with other writers? Can you get along?

For the longest time I said no, no, no! I often say no to things that make me nervous. For about two years I said no to writing paranormal, now it is damn near my bread and butter—so go figure. The point is, don’t listen to your fear when it talks. Listen to what you want to try out and be brave enough to do it.

On a whim one day I put out a short call—it started on twitter. What resulted was not one—because I had too many for one—but two short anthologies (Dirtyville: 13 Tales of Small-Town Dirty and Kinkyville: 13 More Tales of Small-Town Dirty). Dirtyville has hung out a great deal on the Kindle Gay/Lesbian Erotica Anthology list. It was just there this week. Almost a year later both are still selling and I still get to pay out writers (though small bits because it’s a 26 way split!). I also still get to see us pop up on random lists here and there. We were even a top seller on All Romance ebooks in the beginning.

Doesn’t that sound exciting?

Now here’s just a few of the things you need to consider when working with others. I learned these along the way and am still putting out fires from time to time.

1. Editor? Yep, that would be you. Unless you go ahead and ‘hire’ someone else. I did the two anthos but once I had done my three million reading run throughs, I sent the pdf’s to the authors and asked them to read their own work. Once in a while you get some really good eagle eyes reading who will send you general errors they spotted in the whole book. And then once you fix all the reported issues—yep, you get to read it again.
2. Paperwork: get their permission in writing to use the author’s work. Even if it is one paragraph that basically says: ______is legally mine to sell, I am the sole author of this work, I agree to let ____________ use it for_____________ amount of time at the pay rate of_________________. And then their signature and date.
3. Pay out with a flat rate out of pocket or pay out a percentage of the work? That is the question. With no one bankrolling you but you, flat rate payouts may be iffy. I go with option number two because it saves me from having to put out money up front and in this instance, I saw the ‘ville books as “our” books. A group effort. So to me, contributors were getting just as much or just as little as me, it seemed only fair.
4. Paperwork is quarterly or however you spell it out in your agreement. I do quarterly because most of the vendors I use (ARe, Smashwords, Bookstrand, 1 Place for Romance…) pay out quarterly. So my antho writers don’t get paid until I do.
5. All the other stuff. Questions, emails, spreadsheets, paypal addresses, juggling. It can be a lot and often I still feel overwhelmed when I sit down to do it. Which is why you see that DI isn’t swimming in multi-author works. However, it is also awesome to share the success of those little books with a group of people and I adore having put something together that included lots of orchestration, time and love.

So what about you? Do you play well with others?

As a final note I’d like to add, take a look at the anthologies in your own possession as models. And follow the direction! Meaning when you put these works up on sites. Smashwords is a prime example of spelling out the copyright page and all that jazz. They put the rules there for a reason, use them. Most of all, have fun!



  1. I love the ease with which we can publish now :) I'm having great fun hunting out random indie books that are floating away in the ratings of obscurity *grin* I use them for my Wednesday reviews. Would I consider what you're doing? Probably not ;p it's not that I don't play well it's mainly due to discovering rather a few others who don't play well *sigh* always disappointing..

    The Arrival, Book 1 of the BirthRight Trilogy available now

  2. that brings up a great point. i lucked out. the twenty-odd folks i got to work with i 'knew' through networking and whatnot. so you do have to be careful you don't pick up some high maintenance princesses along the way LOL, so to speak.