A new organization is being formed which is aiming to give a voice to indies – the Indie Author Support Network. The idea was proposed by indie author Marie Force, and it’s still at the very earliest stages, but what I’ve heard so far is very promising indeed – particularly that it will be exclusively focused on high-level advocacy and interfacing with retailers on issues which concern indies.
I’m not a member of any writer organization. I joined one here in Ireland when I first returned home, but didn’t renew after they wouldn’t even take the most basic stand against a local publisher who wasn’t paying his authors.
I know people join organizations for lots of different reasons, whether that’s continuing education or competitions or even just the social/networking aspects at conferences, which are desperately needed in such a solitary profession, and I think those needs are pretty well met with the various genre-focused organizations out there, and NINC too. However, advocacy has always been of most importance to me and I think there is a critical need right now for a very focused group which specifically speaks to the rather curious set of issues that indies are dealing with in 2018.
And most of these issues stem from, or are exacerbated by, a lack of representation. We are a huge chunk of the market now, but we don’t have a seat at the table or a voice in the room.
While I’m a huge respecter of the work Victoria Strauss and the rest of the Writer Beware team have done on behalf of all writers (and the SFWA in setting that up and its partner orgs in helping with logistical support), as well as the work that the Alliance of Independent Authors has done in building an all-encompassing indie writers’ organization, I think there is a very specific gap right now for a group exclusively focused on high-level advocacy for indies, one where institutional energy is all directed towards that one task.
Over the last couple of days, Marie Force has been gathering expressions of interest to form just such a group, one that would interface directly with retailers. She has already spoken with KDP about dealing directly with the group on issues of common concern, and they seemed very positive about the idea.
Despite some rumors flying around, there is no specific agenda in place yet – the organization is still being formed and that conversation is yet to be had. That said, there are a whole bunch of issues right now that such a group could conceivably tackle.
(These are my own personal opinions/priorities/preferences, of course.)
A lot of the issues today stem from Kindle Unlimited. I’m not pro- or anti- KU personally. My books are wide, but I manage marketing for someone else who is all-in with KU (and does very well out of it too). But there’s no doubt that KU has had a dramatic impact on the market and raised issues which need to be addressed.
There is a chronic lack of transparency in the program – leading to issues like authors getting page reads retroactively reduced, with Amazon refusing to furnish any kind of reasonable explanation for same.
The compensation system at the center of KU is a relatively new model in publishing, and it has had many unpleasant side effects such as making the Kindle Store a giant target for various scammers, and Amazon’s response seems to vary between doing nothing and allowing things to spiral out of control, to nuking from space and hitting a lot of innocents.
Amazon’s TOS also needs to be a whole lot clearer on a range of things, so authors have absolute clarity about what is permitted and what isn’t. And there needs to be some kind of proportionality in any sanctions handed out – right now we have the crazy situation where an author who openly admitted to clickfarming his way to #1 gets the same sanction as an author who did nothing wrong but was targeted by a third-party.
The one-size-fits-all punishment of rank-stripping seems too onerous for the latter and too light for the former (IMO, YMMV).
On a personal level, I feel like many of these issues were flagged by the author community when KU first launched, and if we had a voice in the room back then, perhaps many of them could have been avoided too.
There are a lot of organizations out there already doing great work in various fields, but this feels like the right idea at the right time, something that isn’t necessarily in competition with the likes of NINC or RWA or anyone else, but a really focused group exclusively dealing with indie author advocacy.
And if you are interested too you can join Marie Force’s Facebook Group – the Author Support Network – or express your interest at IndieAuthorSupportNetwork.com. Marie Force is looking to gather expressions of interest from 1,000 indie authors before April 30 to see if this idea has legs (and she was halfway there after just 12 hours).
I’m excited to see where this goes.