Be a Catalyst for Your Own Author’s Group

Ever since Emblazon got its start last summer, I’ve been bombarded with requests to join. Unfortunately, membership is limited, or communication and administration would quickly get out of control. So I thought an honest post about how and why I initiated this group and the benefits members derive would be in order in case some of you would like to form your own group.istockphoto

So how did Emblazon begin? It evolved slowly, starting with my own experience writing a teen and tween book review blog. Then last year I ran across the Indelibles, a website administered by 20+ young adult authors, which got me thinking how beneficial it might be to team up with other tween authors. The idea fomented as I drafted my first Taylor Davis novel. After its release in the spring, I started brainstorming ideas for a blog based on the Indelibles model.

I actually designed the blog—the name, the mission statement, the monthly meme, the first pages, the posting timeframe, member expectations—before I began pitching it to other authors so they could see exactly what I had in mind and make a well informed decision about whether they would make a good fit. And I wanted them to have an idea of the level of commitment membership would entail. You can see the early Emblazon Membership document I drew up here. Then I began inviting authors.

My book blog gave me a great place to start. I’d reviewed countless books over the last few years and had a list of about ten or twelve indie authors I’d been highly impressed with. Some joined, some didn’t. It wasn’t enough to fill the 15-20 slots I hoped to start with, so I asked for recommendations from the other members. If they had read a particular author’s work and recommended them, that author automatically received an invitation. If they were merely suggesting someone they had not read, I dug up one of that author’s books and made a judgment call based on the writing skill and tween appropriateness I found there.

This branching out marked the first instance of shifting control from myself to the group, and it was a little scary. I didn’t know who I was getting. But as we spent the first part of the summer getting to know each other and preparing for our July launch, I was delighted with each and every one of them. We’re wonderfully varied, with different skills and connections. Fortunately, designer D. Robert Pease was an early member who offered to improve our blog’s appearance. We have two more gifted designers, small press authors, a leader in the New England SCBWI chapter, bloggers, and Twitterers. We have a best selling indie with a real head for the market. We have thinkers, administrators, volunteers, cheerleaders, teachers, supporters, encouragers. I had envisioned such a group. I was thrilled to watch it become a reality. And seeing that we shared a vision made it easy to hand over power to others who could manage their areas of expertise much better than me. We’ve truly become a cohesive, democratic team.

Our launch was a little crazy. As we settled into a routine, however, I realized my vision had been very small. I’d wanted a blog where we could increase our visibility, help other writers succeed, and build a supportive tween-centered community. I soon found that when this many authors put their heads together, things are going to happen! Apart from the blog—behind the scenes where readers can’t see—we’ve generated many, many ideas to push each other toward greater success. Just a few of them include exploring the benefits of and obtaining Lexile scores, procuring ready made MARC file for the convenience of librarians, creating an email list of educators and librarians, issuing a biannual catalog—it’s fabulous; you’ll see it soon!—joining NetGalley, and a hundred other ideas. The power of a cooperative group is amazing!

In conclusion, Emblazon has far exceeded my expectations. I may have been the spark that ignited the group—the idea, of course, was borrowed—but it was this fabulous team of individuals who have pitched in and made it what it is. Our membership isn’t changing quickly. If you had an interest in joining us, your chances of getting in are very small. But you can be the catalyst for a new author group. It isn’t that hard. It just takes some planning and initiative. (If you have specific questions, drop me an email.) Once it gets running, everyone contributes. And I think you’ll be amazed at what your team comes up with!

Image courtesy of stock.xchang.

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0451111Michelle Isenhoff writes adventures for kids up to age 79 (so far). She’s the author of the popular Divided Decade Trilogy and more recently, the humorous Taylor Davis series.

When Michelle’s not writing imaginary adventures, she’s probably off on one. She loves roller coasters and swimming in big waves. She’s an avid runner. She likes large dogs, high school football games, old graveyards, and wearing flip-flops all winter. Once an elementary teacher, Michelle now homeschools two of her three kids and looks forward to summer break as much as they do. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Youtube | Email

 

About Michelle Isenhoff

MICHELLE ISENHOFF has been reader-nominated for a Cybils Award, the Great Michigan Read, and the Maine Student Book Award. She’s also placed as a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review Book Awards and been named a finalist in the kid-judged Wishing Shelf Book Awards. A former teacher and current homeschooler, Michelle has been lauded by the education community for the literary quality of her work, which is regularly purchased for classroom use.

14 thoughts on “Be a Catalyst for Your Own Author’s Group

  1. As one of those honored with an invitation, I’d encourage everyone out there to make an effort to connect with others. For me, Emblazoners is like an inviting library, with warm, comfortable chairs, where I can sit down, relax, and share ideas and problems with a fun group of people who are in relatively similar positions in their writing careers as I am. It’s a tremendous help to have a support group with such a wide variety of experience and ideas. Thank you, Michelle, for blazing this path.

    1. It’s been a great experience. Thanks also to Sue and the Indelibles for a great model. I hope others consider forming their own groups. In the meantime, I love interacting with all the tween authors out there right here on Emblazon.

  2. It has been an amazing ride, and it goes so fast because of the caliber of authors you invited. Some of them don’t just write, they are wizards in the whole indie publishing world. It’s been a pleasure to rub shoulders with them.

  3. Wonderful post, Michelle! Being invited to become part of Emblazon has been a huge blessing to me. I love this group, have learned so much, which seems to be an ongoing benefit. Someone is always posting a link or sharing the latest news in the industry. The support is awesome. Emblazon rocks and I’m looking forward to getting to know all the members better and read their books as we continue to move forward. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Lynn. You’re right. The support and info sharing is so helpful. I’m picking away at our list of books, too. And so are my kids.

  4. I can’t tell you how honored I was when Alan Tucker referred me to you, Michelle. Though I’m still learning the ins and outs of being a published author and how to market and promote, I feel I’ve been blessed with a supportive team of authors and friends. Thanks for blazing the Emblazon trail! Hugs!

    1. Sharon, I think you’ve been especially effective at sharing your methods and suggestions with less experienced writers. You have a gift for that.

  5. Thank you so much, Michelle, for including me in the Emblazon group. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and being part of such a tremendously supportive collaborative has helped me become more confident in my own skills, and more aware of the diversity of talent that others have. I’m so proud and fortunate to be part of this group.

  6. I’m glad you’re a part, Cordelia.

    I think you guys are illustrating my point for me, lol. If anyone was doubting the benefits of an author group, they won’t after reading through the comments. 🙂

  7. It’s interesting to see how things came about for Emblazon. I think it is a great idea! Wishing you all the best as you move forward. I am sure it will continue to be a wonderful success!

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