Tag Archives: leadership

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