by Marcus Sakey
I’m a new writer. My debut, The Blade Itself, comes out January 9th (notice the subtle plug?), and so I’m in the thick of the marketing and self-promotion jungle.
I’m setting up signings. I’m planning a launch party. I’m expanding my website. I’m also doing something new that’s quickly becoming the norm—I’m partnering with other writers.
More and more often, groups of authors are working together to accomplish what might be tough on our own. Take this blog: sure, we like each other’s work, we write in the same genre, and we’re all in Chicago, but I’ll let you in on a secret—the real reason we formed The Outfit is that we’re too damn lazy to run our own blogs.
Working together, we can create a forum for ideas and discussion without having to worry about the time blogging takes away from novel writing. It’s a good arrangement.
Sean and I are also part of another group, Killer Year. It’s a collective of suspense novelists with debuts coming in 2007. I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I joined, I figured, hell, why not? I imagined that while it probably wouldn’t do much good, it also wouldn’t take much work.
As it turns out, I was wrong on both counts.
It’s a lot of work. Even deciding what to do takes a long time when there are fourteen people with vested interests.
However, it’s paying off. Killer Year was adopted as an official program of International Thriller Writers. We each have an ITW mentor to guide us through our debut year (mine is David Morrell, creator of Rambo and the godfather of the modern thriller). We’ve chipped in to print a collection of our first chapters and ship it to several hundred independent booksellers. And in the biggest news yet, we just sold an anthology to St. Martin’s Minotaur. Edited by Lee Child, it will feature work from all of us and some of our mentors, including contributions by Laura Lippman, Duane Swierczynski, and Ken Bruen.
All of which is very groovy, and I couldn’t be happier. But the reason I bring it up is because I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the benefits—and limits—of authors working as a group.
This is a hot topic. Group blogs are popping up all over the place (without any thought at all, here’s one, here’s another, and a third). Authors are teaming up for signings and hitting the road together to bring down the cost of tours. We’re co-writing, link-seeding, and critique grouping.
Is this the new way of doing business? Or is it a phase?
Some aspects, like group blogs, make such obvious sense that I think they have the legs for the long haul. But will our traditionally solitary business now be about working as a team?
And if so, how far does that go?
I can imagine a day when in addition to individual writers, there are collectives, with shared characters, plots assembled by committee, and quarterly releases. You go to the store and buy the new Good Girls Kill For Money novel.
Good? Bad? Improbable? What do you think?