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Old 06-17-2013, 07:56 PM   #1
teh603
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Time for a Self-Pub Writers' Guild?

Forking it out of THIS thread, because I don't want to hijack it any further.

I got to thinking that back in medieval times, there used to be guilds that would help standardize products. Newbies would come in as apprentices and learn the trade, then become journeymen and some ultimately master craftsmen.

So what comes to mind is that someone ought to start something like the SFWA, only for serious self- pub authors. Have a trademarked logo that members can put on their ebook covers as a mark of quality, an application process in which prospective members can submit published or unpublished works and either be accepted as members or given probationary membership and paired with a mentor, a news-PDF, and all that.

Anyone else like the idea?
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:27 PM   #2
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Sounds interesting. How would you define self-published though? Just through a writer's own website? Via a site like Amazon or Smashwords?
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:08 PM   #3
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What about people who use vanity presses - do they qualify?
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:41 PM   #4
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I like this idea. I think it would be hard to pull off well, but if it did, it be great.
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Old 06-18-2013, 02:08 AM   #5
Andy Farman
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The problem is that in order for make such a claim, in order for it to have value in the eyes of the public you would need to have a regulating body to justify the 'Quality' claim. And suddenly it is not an independent guild but a publishing house.
The readers are quite cynical due to the number 'Awards' for literature some unscrupulous Indie writers claim to have.

Fortunately writing is not as subjective as art. (Having had to attend many meetings and functions at Tate Modern, I am a solid 'Real Art' supporter as a consequence.) If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck etc etc
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:22 AM   #6
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I like this idea. I think it would be hard to pull off well, but if it did, it be great.
This. Also I'm pretty sure there are some fledgling beginnings of this kind of thing.

We in much chaos in the publishing world right now. I expect to see more organized epublishing many years from now, particularly once the BPHs fully buy in or get out of the way.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:08 AM   #7
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The problem is that in order for make such a claim, in order for it to have value in the eyes of the public you would need to have a regulating body to justify the 'Quality' claim. And suddenly it is not an independent guild but a publishing house.
The point is that the guild would be the regulating body, but not a publisher itself except for its own newsletter. It would be more like an Underwriter's Lab.

The application process could work thus: A prospective member submits an application, and several pieces of fiction they've written to the website. A panel of members chosen to evaluate applications can then read each piece of fiction and rate it. If all the prospective member's fiction gets a good rating from a certain number of members, then he's approved. If some of it gets a good rating and some a meh rating, then he gets probationary membership, and paired up with a member who will help him get his writing skills up to par. If none of it gets a good rating, then he's rejected for a period of time (three years?) but can reapply later.

So yes, it could be open to vanity self-pub authors if they can get approval from the evaluators.

I'd also add that evaluators should only be allowed to serve for one year at a time, and then have to wait a while before they can serve again; and that members should be required to keep submitting material every now and then (3 years? 5 years?) to maintain their membership.

Edit: Litfic would need its own separate review board, based on my experiences in college. The standards for "good" litfic and good genre fiction are so vastly different, that I wouldn't want to risk cross- contaminating the two.

Last edited by teh603; 06-18-2013 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 06-18-2013, 11:32 AM   #8
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Don't paw at me with your dirty little guild.
I don't wanna join your goddamned union, all right?
Loner. Lone gunman. Get it? That's the whole point.
I like the lifestyle, the image. Look at the way I dress.
Look, this is a one-on-one business. The minute you start relationships, bad things start happening

Oops! Sorry about that. Those are quotes from the movie Grosse Pointe Blank that rang through my head when I read the title of this thread. I've obviously watched it too many times.

For this to work I think the association (instead of "guild", to stop Martin Blank chattering away in my head) would need to support a "guest" membership open to most writers. Without that I think potential participants may never get to see any advantage for them, especially early on. Full membership (with rights to advertise as part of the guild etc.) would go through the sort of vetting procedure you've suggested.

There are so many author associations and writers' groups already that I think it would be difficult to "sell" the advantages of another. On the other side of the argument: many writers do seem to be "joiners", if the number of existing groups is anything to go by. Since I'm not really a joiner (my report card says I don't play well with others) so I don't have first hand experience of what happens in such groups (MobileRead is something of an exception for me).

You have already noted the potential need for separate reviewers for litfic, I suspect you may find need for even more divisions - although I suppose that could grow over time as the need revealed itself.

The association would have to be very strict in its standards. Such an association would only be useful and effective if it gained a reputation for only allowing high quality work through. Such a strict regime is certain to generate a lot of internal heat, and that will make it difficult to hold it together. The key, I believe, would be to make sure that strict standards are clearly stated and relate to the quality of the work presented rather than story content or style. The association must be a gatekeeper, but not in the sense of what sells, but in the sense that any work approved through the association must meet high language standards and specific technical requirements (formatting and so on).

But despite those reservations, I do like the idea. If it could be made to work it might be a way for quality work to find distinction from the slush pile that has so many disregarding self-published works out-of-hand.
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Old 06-18-2013, 11:58 AM   #9
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You have obviously put some thought into this. I am not being negative so please excuse me talking like a cop, but how though are you going to stop bogus 'Guild' membership claims? I only have experience of Amazon and CreateSpace and they don't seem to care about quality of content, only the bottom line?
I think you would need a solid assurance from them and an agreed code of practice in place for authentication.
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Old 06-18-2013, 12:15 PM   #10
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You have obviously put some thought into this. I am not being negative so please excuse me talking like a cop, but how though are you going to stop bogus 'Guild' membership claims? I only have experience of Amazon and CreateSpace and they don't seem to care about quality of content, only the bottom line?
I think you would need a solid assurance from them and an agreed code of practice in place for authentication.
The best way I can think of, would be to have the seal of approval trademarked, with authorization granted for members to use it on their covers. Course the guild would have to be ready to litigate unauthorized users, but that comes with any seal of approval.

On the issue of "joining," I see a difference between someone who signs up on the website and gets an account on the message board, and an actual member.
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Old 06-18-2013, 02:29 PM   #11
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There would also (I would think) need to be a procedure to follow if someone had a grievance against another member of the guild. And maybe a procedure to appeal if someone is probationary or rejected in order to not seem too strict. Otherwise someone might raise the claim of elitism or something. In other words a check in order to make sure that things are kept strictly impartial. It is possible to have a bias without being aware of it on a conscious level after all, and even editors at traditional publishing houses can have bad days.
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Old 06-18-2013, 02:57 PM   #12
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There would also (I would think) need to be a procedure to follow if someone had a grievance against another member of the guild. And maybe a procedure to appeal if someone is probationary or rejected in order to not seem too strict. Otherwise someone might raise the claim of elitism or something. In other words a check in order to make sure that things are kept strictly impartial. It is possible to have a bias without being aware of it on a conscious level after all, and even editors at traditional publishing houses can have bad days.
Oh I agree, the chance of a little power brings them out of the woodwork. Beware those at the head of the queue volunteering to be panelists.

Three years between failed submissions is an awfully long time by the way. After all is said and done the Guild mark should, in my humble opinion, only guarantee that the book has been proofed for punctuation, grammar, typos, and to a limited extent that any requirement to suspend reality is minimal. It shouldn't aim to be a filter for potential best sellers. Remember that Harry Potter was rescued from a selectors bin.

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Old 06-18-2013, 04:52 PM   #13
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Beware those at the head of the queue volunteering to be panelists.
But be even MORE ware of those like Bruce Willis' character in "The Siege" who acts like he doesn't want power but secretly manipulates things so that the power is thrust upon him.

So pick from the middle of the line.
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Old 06-18-2013, 05:18 PM   #14
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But be even MORE ware of those like Bruce Willis' character in "The Siege" who acts like he doesn't want power but secretly manipulates things so that the power is thrust upon him.

So pick from the middle of the line.
I'm trying to remember the name of a book I read years ago where American Presidents were selected, not elected, and the only way to get out of office was to do a good job in their first term.

Obviously a parallel universe )
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Old 06-18-2013, 06:59 PM   #15
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I'm trying to remember the name of a book I read years ago where American Presidents were selected, not elected, and the only way to get out of office was to do a good job in their first term.

Obviously a parallel universe )
I'd note that with regard to formatting, anyway, this already exists: http://qed.digitalbookworld.com/

Now, Joshua used to offer it as an included part of his formatting at eBA. Since Firebrand bought him, I don't see it on his site any longer, but I don't know if that's coincidental, or..? Anyway, we would have cheerfully participated in this, but it's $125/book, for freak's sake. Obviously, because JT was affiliated with them, he was getting (or giving?) the QED to his books for nada, or for such a greatly-reduced price that he could. (This isn't to be taken as any slight toward JT, or any implication of anything wrong, etc., but what bookmaker can pay $125 out of their fees per book, really?) But obviously, we can't. I mean...how do you do a $200 or less book and pay DBW $125 just to review it?

I'd be thrilled to see an affordable "Guild" that would have some type of approval on well-written or at least, edited books. Proofread, formatted. I'd be happy to help support something like this, within my limits. But you have to beware the power-hungry. I mean...what you're discussing is a bit like an exclusive HOA (Homeowner's Association) or non-profit volunteer organization, and this type of thing can get very ugly very fast, in my experience. My experience in this is pretty substantial, and I have yet to see one not go sideways due to abusers of power. FWIW.

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