If you’ve clicked this link because you want to volunteer to be a “Visiting Author” at an upcoming No Safeword Writers Group workshop … we’re not trying to be rude, but we probably won’t approve your request.
Why not? Well, the answer is two-part:
1) We are a WORKshop group. We don’t sit around for two hours twice a month talking to each other to kill time, wishing we had someone new there to entertain us. We WORK! We have several working novelists in the group as well as short story authors and role-playing video game developers, so we almost always have members who have pieces of writing ready, who want/need us to workshop their pieces for them as soon as possible. Those members are also sitting at our table month-in and month-out, meeting after meeting, donating their time to workshop other people’s work, too. They ALWAYS get top priority over total strangers who contact us out of the blue and want us to give up our time for them.
On the rare occasion that we don’t have anyone in the group who’s ready for workshop, we also have a growing list of writing exercises we’ve been talking about doing as a group for forever! Those exercises get second priority, because they’re also things that people who support the group–again, the people at our table month after month–have requested that we do eventually when we have time. Those two activities form the bulk of our mission to the erotica writers in our area. That’s what we’re here for!
2) There’s a growing trend in the publishing world, where all these new self-publishers (some who spring up almost weekly these days, often started by industrious people who self-publish for themselves first .. who then think “with places like Amazon and other Print-on-Demand companies, tell me again why I’m paying a publisher? And why don’t I have other authors working for ME, TOO?!?!”) who tell their newly-minted writers: “One of the great ways to sell your books and promote yourself as a new author is to contact local writers groups, and volunteer to give them a talk on self-publishing!” And, again, I’m not trying to be rude to you personally here, especially if you’re new to all this … but I’m going to say it:
This is one of the biggest scams in the self-publishing industry today!
Why do I say that? Well, first and foremost–and they won’t tell you this … but they know it–most writers groups are full of starving writers just like you, people who probably don’t have the money to buy a copy of your self-published book from you at the meeting you just talked your way into, offering to give a talk about publishing. Heck, depending on how far you have to go to get to one of these meetings–and in case you haven’t already figured it out for yourself by seeing it happen over and over again in your own experience, too–you probably won’t make enough to cover your gas money at most of them!
Why not? Well, it’s not because you’re a poor speaker or a bad writer, though–after your publisher’s fervent assurance that this is a great way to sell books and build an audience for yourself and your writing–I can understand why you might doubt yourself and all the rest of it, too. It’s also not because we’re just some sort of snobby writer’s group who hates on other people to amuse ourselves. Nope! It’s because your publisher’s reason for sending you there is NOT so you can sell your books, despite what they tell you. It’s so you can practice talking to groups of people … which–don’t get me wrong–is an important skill for a working writer to possess … but they’re also sending you there to SELL THEIR SELF-PUBLISHING SERVICES to the other authors at the writers group. Yup, that’s right! They want you to expend your own resources of time and money to go to writers groups and give this glowing talk about how wonderful your self-publisher has been to you: how easy their tools are to use, how great they are to work with as people, how wonderful your percentage is with them, blah, blah, blah … all in order to make them money through the potential new business you’re generating for them. In other words, they’re making you an unpaid salesman for them, their business model, and their services … all under the guise of claiming to be teaching you how to sell your own work. They’re also doing it in a way that–most likely–isn’t going to make you a plug nickle. It’s just going to cost you time, gas money, and maybe even a bit of goodwill with many of the other writers and writers groups you approach that way.
How do I know this? Sad experience, unfortunately. As of January 2015, I’ve been running No Safeword Writers Group for nine years now. In the beginning, I gave up lots of potential workshop time to every self-published author who contacted me with this same sales pitch, volunteering to be a “visiting author” for our group. We kept hoping that each one would be different, too … but very blasted one of them came in the door with books, expecting to sell lots of them. Note: the reality is, only one person sold one book–total–out of all the “visiting authors” we allowed in the first two years. I bought that book mtoo, yself, simply because *I* felt sorry for the first guy who came through like that … who lined a dozen books out on the table in front of him and asked the four people at the meeting, excitedly, “Now, who wants an autographed copy? They’re only $18.00!” … and no one moved. It’s also something I stopped doing with the next half dozen or more who came after him with the exact same approach, simply because–bluntly–I can’t afford it either! Plus, 95% of their talk promoted their publisher each and every time–far more than their own work–and the sad part of it was … most of them were nice, sincere people who never realized they were being used like that. They came in with big smiles on their faces and gave us their publisher’s sales pitch like it was their own … and then walked right back out again after wasting an hour or so of everyone’s time, often disappointed and upset with *us* that they didn’t sell a single book at our meeting … when it wasn’t really our fault in the first place. It’s their publishers’ fault, because that’s the source of their totally unrealistic expectations.
Further, if someone in our group needs a publisher … there are self-published authors in our group already, along with other folks published by more traditional companies, both old and new. They’re also people who attend workshop on a regular basis, who already talk about their experiences with their publishers, who answer any questions other members have about the publishing industry in its various forms, and who also consistently donate their time to other people in the group in other ways. That means we have resources right in the group to rely on already, and experienced authors who can help newbees research their own goals, too.
So, instead of trying to attend a meeting of No Safeword Writers Group in order to give us a one-off sales pitch, why not join us as a regular member of our group? We’d be happy to workshop your future publications around our table, and to get experienced feedback from you on our work, too. Plus, if you were sitting at our table when someone asked “who’s a good publisher?” … of COURSE we’d be happy to hear about how great your relationship is with yours! If you’re a long-standing member of the group, people would put a lot of weight behind that recommendation, too!
In other words, why not come see what we do first … before you try to sell us on what you and your publisher do 🙂
One final note: despite the strong statements above … every once in a great, great while we do have a visiting author at No Safeword Writer’s Group. But when we have one these days, it’s almost always because we invited them ourselves 🙂