View Full Version : Local authors banding together to form a mobile co-op

Norman Mjadwesch
02-13-2019, 06:22 AM
In the area where I live one of the local authors had an idea to gather all of the works of our writers together in one place. Instead of individuals spending time and money sitting at the occasional weekend market stall trying to sell copies of just a handful of books (a lot of us have done it!), now there was one person doing a different market every weekend. That meant a collective saving in insurance, rental, fuel, snacks… and time. Yes, not only did all of us who were part of that co-op (c.40 writers) not have to fork out money to sell our work, we now had more time to stay at home and write.

The bloke was dedicated. He read every book that he had stocked so that he could answer the questions of any prospective buyers. He was generous to those of us whom he represented, and only took his share of earnings out of actual sales (he wore the expenses) and for any author whose work had sold during each month, funds were deposited into bank accounts.

You are all wondering how such an initiative went? Forty writers, with 70+ titles between them all lumped into one convenient travelling bookstore (one of the monthly-visited towns had no dedicated bookstores remaining – the one where I live – so was something of a target-rich environment for us). Well… a few weeks ago I received an email from our champion and it said this: “In [the last] two years, [our co-op] hasn't generated enough profit to pay its costs.” Forget profit: costs. The co-op is no more.

Just a nice depressing tale for those of you who still ply your wares in the weekend markets and then go home wondering when you’ll win a trick. Hey, I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but I did feel as though some of you would like to know that you aren’t alone in the world. And maybe… maybe if some of you know other writers in your area then you could give this strategy a go? Sure, it didn’t work out for us, but some things are worth attempting in any case. I suppose it’s kind of a metaphor for writing in the first place.

For me, I didn’t crack the big time, but I did get to meet a like-minded spirit and we are supposed to be meeting up in a few weeks for dinner so that he can return unsold stock. LOL, I hope he is being bought dinner by the others that he represented as well, because he deserves the appreciation.

02-13-2019, 08:27 AM
Oh, that's a shame. Especially for the bloke who did all the work.

Norman Mjadwesch
02-13-2019, 09:06 AM
LOL, no offence taken! We all did a lot of work!

I know what you mean, though. He really did put in the hard yards and when I spoke to him he said that sending the email informing us of his decision was one of the toughest things he had done in a long time.

02-13-2019, 09:27 AM
we are supposed to be meeting up in a few weeks for dinner so that he can return unsold stock. LOL, I hope he is being bought dinner by the others that he represented as well, because he deserves the appreciation. Seconded.

What a lovely initiative, though. I'll bet it would have worked in somewhere with a bigger population. And as you say, it will have been a lovely way of getting writers together.

I wish it had worked.

ETA: Whereabouts in Aus was it, if you don't mind telling me?

Norman Mjadwesch
02-13-2019, 09:36 AM
NSW north coast, approximately Ballina to Grafton. Like you said, not a huge population compared to metro areas, but not nothing either.

I did like the idea, but unfortunately too many other people said the same thing to him without buying anything. He gets an A for effort, though. Top bloke.

He really hoped that the idea would catch on and that co-ops in other areas would pop up. If you want his contact details I can PM it to you, he has already said he wouldn't mind.

02-13-2019, 09:40 AM
Did he try for or get any press behind him? Local, or Guardian Australia or anything? It's such a good idea.

Norman Mjadwesch
02-13-2019, 01:45 PM
I know he had a Facebook page and was friendly with some of the regional libraries. Other than that, I'm afraid that I don't know. I was one of the last arrivals on his wagon (I'd known him for about a year) and was in the process of tracking down other authors who were just out of his normal range of operations, and then the dreaded email arrived in my inbox...

He did say that he was quite happy to discuss possibilities with anyone who was interested in doing the same, and giving them pointers of the things that worked for him and the ones that didn't. All academic now, though.