Sometimes we writers have tough decisions to make. We want (need) all the information, support and promotion we can get. But most of us have limited funds. Or – let’s be honest and admit that most of us are broke. If you’re not one of “us” then thank your lucky stars, kiss your wallet, and knock on wood that your good fortune may continue. We’re not jealous, but do envy you just a tad. The rest of us have to think carefully about where we spend our cash. One of those decisions may be about which promo, support and author help sites will be the most advantageous and whether or not paying for a membership will benefit us in the long run. Today, I’m taking a look at some sites, both paid and free. You can decide which ones are the best fit for you.
Indies Unlimited. It goes without saying that you would be wise to follow Indies Unlimited right here, first. After all you have nothing to lose, not your money (it’s all free, done by volunteers) or your mind (because we’re just so supportive and nice). And you stand to gain a lot. We offer tons of information, update readers on what’s new and what’s changing, and post tutorials and like-fests to help you expand your following – all in the interest of assisting you in your struggle to become the next bestselling sensation.
MasterKoda. Another group that is very supportive and helpful on their free public Facebook group is MasterKoda (https://www.facebook.com/groups/masterkoda/) The admins there are dedicated, generous with information and happy to answer questions. They also do a lot of Facebook and Twitter media promotion for members there. In addition, they have a publishing company and a marketing branch that charge for various services. These are separate from, but affiliated with, the Facebook group, featuring some of the same people on their staff.
The Book Designer (http://www.thebookdesigner.com/) is another site that offers excellent free help and information in the form of blogs, written by Joel Friedlander, the owner, or his affiliates. In addition Friedlander has books available on self-publishing and promotion which are excellent. He also offers one-on-one consulting for a fee of one hour for $350.00 or 30 minutes for $175.00. His reputation is stellar.
ALLI, or the Alliance of Independent Authors (http://allianceindependentauthors.org/) is a paid only membership organization. For authors the annual cost is $99.00 U.S. They offer no free services or information. Their Facebook group page is open to members only. However the group does share information, answers questions and posts information from other sources, as long as it is not considered “promotion”. I still have not figured out what that means judging from what I see on the page. When I tried to share information on predatory publishers my first post was deleted. Members are eligible for discounts at events, fairs and on advertising opportunities. Their website has tons of valuable information available to members – if you can find it – including three “help” books for self-publishers. Still, I find the site so complex that I have difficulty getting to where I want to go. (yes, I paid for a membership recently) ALLi is based in England and the majority of its members are on “that side of the pond”, though they also have members from North America and other areas.
The IWWG (International Women’s Writing Guild) (http://www.iwwg.org/home) is a paid membership only group with an annual membership fee of $55.00. They have a member only Face Book page similar to other sites where they share information and answer members’ questions. Their members’ books are listed on a public site. Discounts are offered for conferences as well as on opportunities to promote their work in their own magazine. They also have a listing of agents who welcome female authors. As I am not a member this information was gleaned from their website.
SavvyAuthors (http://ce.savvyauthors.com/) has both free and paid memberships. The free membership includes authors’ books and blog feeds displayed on Public Author Pages, and a weekly newsletter. For a $40.00 annual membership fee, many other features, resources and services are added, such as workshops, events, writing groups, on-line resources, and discounted contest entry fees. I liked the layout of their site, which I found easy to use.
Booklife (http://booklife.com) is a site that offers free membership which includes a listing of all your books and an option to request a free review of your books. In order for them to read your book for a review you must register it as a “project” and from there request a review which will be published in Publishers Weekly. If it is chosen for review they will let you know how to submit it. Though there is no guarantee they will read and review your book, one member of the IU staff has obtained a review from them. They also offer a free newsletter with information of value to writers and self-published authors and a list of paid publishing, editing, and promotional services. Their site is straightforward and they answered my e-mail question promptly. Melinda Clayton wrote more about Booklife here.
Pubmatch (http://www.pubmatch.com/) has both free and paid memberships. This site is quite different from the others I’ve mentioned as its aim is to facilitate relationships between authors, publishers, agents and other service providers around the globe. There is also information about buying and selling of authors’ rights internationally. Pubmatch is affiliated with several major book fairs such as Book Expo America Network and The London Book Fair network. The paid annual fee of $79.99 gives access to a number of added features. I found the site dense, with a great deal of information, and somewhat difficult to understand, but this may be due to the focus on networking internationally as opposed to writing and publishing.
Authors have many options available, some paid only, some a mix of paid and free, and some totally free. Aside from Pubmatch, which has a different focus from the others, I think your decision as to which offers the best support for authors will, in large part, depend on what the author can afford to spend. Most writers have limited funds at their disposal. In the end my research suggests that you are as likely to get the same information from free sites as from paid ones. The only good reason I can see for joining a paid group would be the discounts they offer for conferences and promotions and advertising. Again, for many of us, it comes down to whether we can afford to pay to go to conferences or to pay for promotions in magazines, etc. in the first place. If that is your goal, and you have the funds, then a paid group may well be worthwhile.
22 thoughts on “Paid Memberships for Author Groups: Worth It?”
Thanks for this. I was considering joining ALLi, since I sympathize with their campaigns and they have some great names on the staff, but I honestly couldn’t find much that would suggest a return on investment there, especially since I don’t want to publish via Ingram at this point and I’m not traveling to England for meet-ups. I tried hunting around for recommended cover designers and found a number of the ones they listed were either nowhere to be found or not in my genre (though Damonza.com is there, and they are excellent). Frankly, the annual membership fee is breathtaking. It seems rather out of touch with the reality of indie economics.
Although I haven’t gotten around to it yet, I have been planning to join the Women Fiction Writer’s Association, which is different than the one you list, appears to be open to indies, and has a reasonable dues of $48 per year. Women’s fiction writers might want to check it out: https://womensfictionwriters.org/ (and if anyone wants to give me feedback on that group, please do!)
Awesome Indies is still-developing group that tries to curate the best indie fiction submitted to them for review, offers some promotional opportunities (some free, especially if you are a volunteer), has no membership fee, and has a FB page for authors. It’s still early days for that group, I suspect, but it’s worth checking out. I volunteer there at least partly because I have been impressed by their unusually in-depth reviews and not-for-profit cost structure: http://awesomeindies.net/
Thanks for those tips, Sandra. 🙂
Thanks for all the excellent info, Yvonne! I appreciate the research you conducted to provide this helpful summary.
You’re welcome. 🙂
Great info, Yvonne, thank you! To clarify Sandra’s comment on IWWG, all are welcome to join. You can participate in their events as a member or non-member, although non-members pay a slightly higher admission fee. The Women’s Fiction Writers group looks really interesting, though.
Good to know, Laurie. Thank you.
Yvonne, I’ve come to a conclusion similar to yours: most, if not all, of the offered support is available for free, especially right here on IU. Why pay for less when we’ve got the best?
Thanks, Melissa. I think so, too.
Thanks for the list, Yvonne. I pretty much concur with your assessment of ALLi, unfortunately.
Another group is Broad Universe. It’s for women authors of speculative fiction, both trad-pubbed and indie. Membership is $30/year. Most of what they do happens at various conventions — members organize Rapid Fire Readings (members take turns reading from their work) and sponsor a sales table in the dealers’ room — but membership has some other benefits, too, including a cut rate for NetGalley listings.
Thanks for that lead, Lynne. Alli does have a lot of info but I think you need money to get your money’s worth from it.
Thanks Yvonne, this is really comprehensive. I was wondering whether I should join Alli but given that I already get their emails, couldn’t see what exactly it was that I would be paying for – and it’s not cheap. Based on your article and Lynne’s comment I think I’ll be giving it a miss for now at least.
Thank you, Mel. I think that’s probably wise unless you have money for ads or events so you can get discounts.
Thanks for the info, Yvonne. I’ve been wondering about ALLi and I hadn’t heard of MasterKoda at all. I’ve learnt a lot from the tutorials and info from IU though.
That’s what we’re here for, Dale. 😀
What an amazingly helpful and informative post! No wonder Indies Unlimited is my favorite “writers’ group.” Thanks for all you do!
Glad it was helpful, Linda.
A useful post with some interesting websites to explore. Thanks for the heads up. I hadn’t come across any of these before. Must refine my research techniques! 🙂
Research isn’t my forte either Ian. 🙂
Great post, Yvonne, thank you. I’m going to check out Booklife and maybe a couple of the others. Great to have a list with pros and cons.
You’re welcome. I hope it helps you find what you need.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences. I’m definitely a fan of the first two (IU and MasterKoda) and hadn’t considered any of the others. When I first published I did belong to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators), but I let my membership lapse. The local meetings were okay, but not super informative and getting out of town for a meeting is hard for me. I too have trouble making the return on investment case for paid sites (I did pay for one site that didn’t work out and ended up winning a claim against them via PayPal, but that’s a different story). Leveraging a new resource whether for sales, networking, or whatever takes a lot of time, which I just don’t have in abundance. Maybe if I paid for a site I’d be more inclined to use it, but I’m not so sure.
You’re welcome. Sometimes it’s hard to know where our limited funds will do the most good. If this helps a bit I’m happy.
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