Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On debut author groups

"Should I join a debut author group?"

Authors gearing up for their first book launch often ask this question, and as an alumnus (alumna?) of four such groups, I sometimes get consulted personally.

And yes, you read that right--four groups, though I didn't intend for that to happen. The situation evolved! When my first book was scheduled for publication in 2009, I joined both the Class of 2k9 and the Debut2009 groups. I bonded with the members, participated in the planning, and then, right before Christmas 2008 ... my book was moved to 2010.

It happens. A lot. In fact, each Class of 2k__ is usually built around a nucleus of people whose books got moved back from the previous year. So I ended up being a member of the Class of 2k10 and The Tenners also.

There are some differences among the groups. The 2k classes generally charge dues, have officers, and are more formally organized with more explicit promotional goals. Debut2009 and the Tenners did some promotional things for fun, but there were no dues and less of a formal structure.

All of the groups, to some degree, functioned as debut author support groups. I found it incredibly valuable to know a group of writers who were going through the same experiences at the same time I was. Yes, some of us got more money or attention, some of us lost our agents or editors suddenly, some of us had personal crises going on while others had smoother sailing, but we had certain things in common. The excitement of getting that first copy ... the sting of the first bad review ... the questions about what kind of information you can expect from your publisher ... the mix of excitement and fear in approaching a second book. Publishing is a world with its own (sometimes crazy) set of rules, and it really helped to have people with whom to compare notes, and share the ups and downs.

As far as promotion: I know that I got certain signings and found out about conference panels and anthology opportunities that I never would have known about otherwise. My fellow class members inspired me to come up with a reader guide for my first book. I joined in on a group book trailer when I never would've attempted a trailer on my own. Although I don't think of my interaction with my fellow authors as "networking," exactly, because the camaraderie is genuine.

If I were a debut author all over again, knowing what I know now, I would definitely join a debut author group. Whether anyone else should depends on that person's inclinations, goals, expectations, and needs. But I thought people might be helped by hearing a bit about my experience, FWIW.


  1. Wow, interesting stuff. I didn't know there were dues and officers, but it makes sense if there's a website, etc. Thanks for pulling back the curtain a little.

  2. Kelly: The groups that have dues use them for common promotional expenses (e.g., website, trailers, ads, etc.), and they vote on where to spend the money. A lot can be done when writers pool their money!

  3. You're right. This is good to know. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I love the debut author groups! Makes the road to publication far less lonely when you have a bunch of people flailing along with you.

  5. Absolutely, Lynne! They saved me so much heartache, so many times.