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DECISION TIME

'One more time Huck, I'm gonna have to question your decision to bring the beaver.'

‘One more time Huck, I’m gonna have to question your decision to bring the beaver.’

ATTN: All Writers Co-op members (and potential members. 🙂 )

Two proposals have recently been discussed that deserve follow up.

Peer Review
The first is to add Peer Review page(s) of book reviews written by authors. Amazon tends to prevent or delete peer reviews. Writers Co-op could allow authors to post such reviews and link to the book’s sale page.
The argument for includes that it’d be a useful and easy service to offer, we’d just set up the page(s) and grant the authors’ permission to post there. The argument against includes the need to have a real person to manage and monitor those pages. Any volunteers?

Anthology
A Writers Co-op Anthology for 2018 has been mentioned and the feedback was positive. So, what do you think? Should we proceed towards publishing one? Who’s in? What themes would you want for the anthology? Do we even need a theme? We can publish a Writers Co-op Anthology if we cooperate in all aspects and contribute stories.

So speak up now!

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47 thoughts on “DECISION TIME

  1. Hey, guys – Considering the trouble I’ve got with posting ANY review on Amazon due to (apparently) the simple co-membership in the same FB group, I’d say the peer review is a fine idea, just not on Amazon. Maybe not anywhere outside the FB group itself.

    Anthology: I’m interested, but I’d rather avoid the theme bit. I’m one of those who just doesn’t come up with ideas based on a theme. I’d rather see an organic variety of tales.

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Thanks for the input, Bonnie! Personally, I’m with you on Peer Reviews, by people who have read the story and can comment in depth because they have an appreciation for what it took to create that story. Readers will not be mislead by a review written by a knowledgeable person if the fact’s disclosed, e.g.,
      – Review by Bonnie Milami, Author of Home World, Winner of the 2016 International Evvy Award in Science Fiction
      It is arrogant for Amazon to believe that people can’t be trusted to think!

      I’m also personally not in favor of the theme bit. I’d rather write from inspiration than on command. Maybe, “The Best From Writers Co-op 2018” – or some such?
      But, we’ll see what others want & go from there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mimispeike says:

    I’m fuzzy on this. “Book reviews written by authors.” Authors reviewing their own books? In other words, promotional pieces? I’m not against it. Or reviews by readers? Great, if only as a tool to attract new participants.

    As for the anthology. Would it be of fiction?

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      I vote for an anthology of fiction short stories.
      & no, Peer Review is not for Authors reviewing their own books. Other authors or publishers, editors, etc. write the reviews.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I like the idea of book reviews though I think it’s difficult to implement with a reasonable degree of credibility. What counts first on Amazon in influencing both potential readers and their own algorithms is quantity – a book with 500 reviews is more likely to get noticed than one with five. We wouldn’t be in the same league in that respect – is there any way of highlighting quality (of the reviews, I mean, not the books reviewed)?
    Re the anthology, I agree a theme isn’t really needed.But it can sometimes help a writer to focus, avoid the anxiety of the blank page. It happens to me – a prompt will suddenly suggest an idea I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Perhaps a couple of general themes could be given, while specifying that they’re not compulsory. But although that’s an important question, a more crucial one is the submission process. Who decides what’s to be included or not?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Y’know, Curtis Bausse brings up a good point: I’ve seen any number of indie anthologies where the person doing all the work of putting it together was apparently unwilling to exercise his/her right to tell a submitter that a story just doesn’t work, or at least not well enough. Maybe I’m weird, but I believe that anything an anthology puts out should hold the same professional caliber as any mainstream mag or publication.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. So basically, are we envisioning a short story contest anthology? Are we planning to sell it? Will there be judges?

    Curtis, how much work are we generating just to create the product?

    As for reviews, how would one book receive 100 – 500 reviews without authors begging for them from people they know?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My first thought at the suggestion of a Writers Co-op Anthology was that we each would contribute a story/essay/poem/political-rant/Letter-to-Santa/sketch-comedy or whatever, to showcase our formidable talents. My innocent presumption was that each contribution would naturally attain an admirable level of quality. Of course, everyone benefits from an eagle-eyed editor, but who is our audience? Again, my innocent presumption is that we would be entertaining each other, and maybe a few friends and family members who will purchase our work even if they never intend to read it. Especially if we don’t ask for a review.

    However, I think expanding submissions to the interested general public makes more sense. Then it’s a contest, and requires at least one judge, and bearing in mind what Curtis has said about his Book-a-Break Short Story Competition, someone who is willing to expend extraordinary effort to make it happen.

    Might it be more reasonable for each of us to commit to promoting Curtis’s contest?

    As for the Amazon reviews question, I am attracted to the theory Amazon blocks reviews of some authors, but not of others. Whether it’s a function of their incomprehensible algorithm or some back room deal to trade payment for Unlimited Reviews from Every Friend the Author Has, I am not about to guess.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. atthysgage says:

    I think both ideas are worth pursuing. I want to reiterate my preference that we not use any sort of rating process, numerical or otherwise. I’d be most interested in seeing various authors tell us why they liked (or didn’t like) various books by various other authors. More of an appreciation, perhaps, than a review. But we can call them reviews if we want, just to avoid confusion. I wouldn’t mind helping out with overseeing it. We can come up with some standards as far as use goes — no spamming, no reviewing your own stuff, no trolls. Beyond that, they should meet a certain standard. I think they should be formally written to be read as reviews, not a few ungrammatical lines tossed off on someone’s cellphone. It could get dodgy making those choices, but let’s cross that bog when we come to it.

    As far as an anthology, I agree, we don’t need a theme. As far as editing and choosing stories, no one knows more about this than Curtis. My guess is that we can err on the side of being inclusive, but we do want it to have a professional feel, so we will need an editor or two. Again, potential dodginess ahead, but I think we can cope. Worst case, we hurt somebody’s feelings, but we’re all basically nice people. In questionable cases, we can put it to a vote.

    Liked by 3 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      I love the specter of various authors telling why they liked (or didn’t like) various books by various other authors. But then, I never could look away from a dog fight.
      You sure you want to oversee that?

      Liked by 2 people

      • atthysgage says:

        You could be right. If things got too ugly I’d probably just abandon the whole thing. But my guess is most people are going to post appreciations for books they actually liked or admired, whatever reservations they might have. I wouldn’t want to limit it to that, but that’s actually what I’m anticipating. If the thing grows beyond our tiny litlle allotment, it might get hairier. I don’t know. I’m more offering to be an overseer (as far as minimum standards being met) than a referee.

        Liked by 2 people

        • GD Deckard says:

          Yeah, if we do this, most people are going to post appreciations for books they actually liked or admired.
          & if there is a problem, well, I’m sure we all would trust your judgement, Atthys.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. It seems that the anthology idea is cheerfully dividing into two different philosophies: those for whom writing is a hobby, and those for whom it’s a profession, either real or desired. For the hobbyists, the quality of the storytelling takes a backseat to the camaraderie of the project. For anyone thinking in professional terms, it’s the opposite. Perhaps we’re really looking at two different, concurrent projects here: one to be put together as time allows as a gift for families and friends; the other a intended-for-profit (however unlikely that may be) collection of professional caliber stories. In the latter case, there’s no room for a vote, or contest. The folks putting in the time and effort to edit, format, & publish it need to have the yea or nay say. And, yes, that means telling some folk that their stories just don’t cut it.

    Or am I off in never-never land?

    Liked by 3 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Don’t worry. 🙂 As you come to know us better, you’ll see that this group combines the camaraderie with the professional. If we publish an anthology, it will be a collection of professional caliber stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Perry Palin says:

    I would probably not participate in peer reviews, but I would submit for an anthology.

    Responding to Bonnie Milani, I am doubtless in the hobbyist group, but I have had two short story collections published by a small traditional publisher and have sold stories to several print periodicals. Anthology submissions from this group will come from several genres, and they’ll be stories well told.

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Hy’as Perry 🙂
      Hopefully, we can set up pages for Peer Reviews and and allow authors to join Writers Co-op and post their reviews of books and link to the book’s sale page. The only work for us would be to oversee the reviews so that we could delete any that obviously needed to be removed. Atthys has volunteered to do that oversight. Personally, I trust Atthys to do it & wouldn’t worry about it. All this is to say that once Peer Review is set up, it could run pretty much automatically.

      Like

  10. I wanted to look over posted comments before chiming in with my two cents. I’ll keep my reply short: (1) yes; let’s do a review section, and (2) I heartily concur and applaud the notion of a Co-op anthology of non-themed stories. Huzzah! It’s about time. I nominate for editorial duties: Curtis and/or Atthys Gage. (Trust me, folks–these are professional-caliber people with acknowledged editorial skills.)

    I would contribute my short story “The Zoo: A Story of Sunlight & Birdsong” toward the anthology (if we’re leaning toward literary fiction) or a more commercial-minded product if the focus is genre. I would let “the old guard” advise me as to which story they might consider.

    Onward and upward!

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      YaY! It appears we might actually do this.

      I could set up a trial Peer Reviews page this week or next, invite some writers from my Facebook groups, and see how it goes.

      After we’ve received more comments about the anthology, I could distill out a proposed plan and we could all add & modify (or delete) it until we have an anthology plan that we are comfortable with.

      Like

  11. victoracquista says:

    My two cents:

    Yes to a review/book commentary by authors without an actual rating system.

    I’m good with an anthology (themed or not); however, how will the work of formatting be accomplished and how will rights and royalties be handled?

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      Maybe, set up rights and royalties the same way as for The Quantum Soul?
      Or, since Curtis Bausse has volunteered to do the formatting & publishing work for us, we could even have the proceeds donated to the charity(s) that his Book a Break anthologies donate to. This would be my preference.

      Liked by 3 people

      • atthysgage says:

        I agree. It’s not going to be a lot of money (I’m sorry to say) and dividing it between authors and distributing it would, I’m guessing, be far more effort than it is worth. If I’m wrong and the whole thing starts making bajillions of dollars, I’m sure we’d all want a share, and I’m sure we could do that too.

        Liked by 2 people

        • With both of you there. Atthys – you were the one that first pointed that out to me, something I hadn’t even thought of at the time. And for the reasons you mention, you were perfectly right. Sales of the second anthology have so far brought in about £110, so splitting that between 34 authors and actually getting it to them is pretty pointless. But that sum has bought 140 mosquito nets, protecting an estimated 190 people. So paltry as it would be to us, it makes a big difference in Africa.
          I’d guess that a good half of the sales were to contributors themselves, and most of the rest to their friends. How to gain a wider readership is of course the ongoing challenge, whether for the anthology or any of our books.

          Liked by 2 people

  12. mimispeike says:

    GD, Atthys: Remember those short verses I wrote a few years ago, scenes from Sly’s childhood? Would that fit here? If not I’ll try to think of something else.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Some great input – both ideas moving forward. Thanks, GD, for nudging us!
    To answer Sue’s good questions:

    “How much work are we generating just to create the product?”
    It’s quite manageable in my view. The first year I did it, I had to learn a lot about formatting etc, and that took ages, but I’m much quicker now. I also made a slight mistake the first year in selecting stories based on the potential I saw, rather than as they were. As a result, there were a few that required a lot of editing work. The second year, I resisted that temptation and the work was less. Both times I sent the stories out to a few selected contributors for a second edit, and that worked pretty well.
    I’d be happy to continue along those lines, maybe with one or two others to correspond with when decisions are borderline. Indeed, if the Book a Break anthology morphed into the Co-op anthology, I’d be delighted, as this year will be the last Book a Break and to be involved in something that takes its place would be nice.

    “So basically, are we envisioning a short story contest anthology? Are we planning to sell it? Will there be judges?”
    That puts it more on the professional side than the hobbyist, to use Bonnie’s distinction. And that would be my preference. If it’s a contest, though, there has to be a prize which incites people to submit. Many offer a cash prize, some just publication. A cash prize means people pay to submit, so I guess at first it would just be publication, without a winner of anything (unless it’s just the right to be called the winner).

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Hey Y’all,

    As usual, late to the party but happy to be here. I don’t really have a feeling one way or the other about the peer review other than striving very hard to be fair to everyone who participates unlike Amazon and transparent so that everyone can tell that the comments were from real people and not bots. Personally, I am not bothered by trolls because they are little people that can be easily identified and there presence means that we are generating a high volume of traffic. So kill the bots, don’t feed the trolls,and welcome everyone else.

    I think an anthology is the perfect path for a group of writers like us. We are every way professional but just not discovered and anything that gets us out into the writing world is a very useful tool towards our individual goals. I think it should be on the author to have their work professionally edited and not on one of us. If anyone wants Curtis or Atthys to edit for them, then that should be worked out between them because the sign of a professional author is to present publishable material. If the rules clearly state it must be ready for publication before submission, that should help weed out most of the amateur writers on the front end.

    Second, I like the idea of the free form anthology but a suggestion is to identify the time of year that it will be released and ask that the stories fall into that season. Summer time is still very open ended while gives the author an starting point. Halloween or Christmas or snow or spring or whatever give us all a general common starting place and it gives the reader an idea of what the stories will be about.

    Third, no cash prize to anyone. Being in the anthology and having a published story is the prize. All proceeds should go towards the cost of publication and the left over amount should go to the cost of the next anthology. Any start up money should be collected by the authors selected to be in the anthology. If we need five hundred dollars and there are ten authors contributing then fifty dollars from each type thing. And you sale it on this website as well as the contributing author’s websites with a very open accounting process.

    I have found in life that nothing makes people go crazy like the thought that they got cheated out of a nickle. The accounting process needs to be very transparent for the sanity and protection of whoever leads this endeavor.

    rob

    Liked by 5 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Ha!
      If I had a bar, the slogan would be:
      “Kill the bots, don’t feed the trolls, and welcome everyone else”

      Hy’as, Rob! You make good sense. Thank you for your contribution.

      Liked by 1 person

        • GD Deckard says:

          The first drink’s on me 🙂
          Oh, and you made another excellent point, Rob. I never thought about it but, book reviews posted by bots? LOL. No wonder Amazon goes off the deep end deleting reviews.
          Which gives us an edge worth touting: “Authentic Peer Reviews.”

          We could strive to keep everything positive. “Don’t review a book you don’t like. Go read another one.”
          This would be a screen for quality: Only books the reviewer thought well of would qualify to be Peer Reviewed.
          “Peer Reviewed by Writers Co-op” could become an Award to help promote a book.

          Like

    • Thanks for the comments, Rob. Yes, fully agree that a statement stressing that submissions should be ready for publication is useful. Though that still wouldn’t preclude the need for some further editing suggestions.or tidying up.
      Re the publication cost, it’s actually zero if we do the editing and cover ourselves. That’s how I’ve done it so far, as I knew I’d be unlikely to recoup any expenditure. I got some (unpaid) help with the covers and put two very different proposals to a vote – the one chosen polled 51%. (But that’s democracy for you – at least it didn’t go through an electoral college).
      A seasonal theme? Hmm… Not sure if that’s really needed if we decide against any other theme. We’ll see what everyone thinks.
      Transparent accounting – absolutely. I’m not sure if it’s possible to set up a Createspace or KDP account in the name of the Co-op. Something to look into perhaps.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. mimispeike says:

    We should have a theme/title as soon as possible, to start our thinking. I suggest: Out Of Our Heads. Sets a tone, I believe. Anything by Carl would certainly fit in here.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. mimispeike says:

    ‘Out of Our Heads’ might be trite. I stole it from the Rolling Stones. But something that gives off a whiff of ‘weird tales’ would encompass a lot of approaches.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Riffing on your starter suggestion for an anthology title/story focus:

      Weird Tales from the Co-op
      Unexpected Stories
      Strange Tales
      Shock and Aww . . .
      Seasons: a Co-op Anthology
      Penumbra
      Of Light & Shadow
      Howl
      Mad Gods
      Whispers
      Midnight Dawn
      Blink: 12 Stories You Didn’t See Coming
      Behind The Door
      Mother May I Monster
      Mixed Signals
      Other Voices
      Out There
      Shadowlands
      Interstitial
      Bearing Down: 16 Stories That Are Closer in Mirror Than They Appear
      Dark Harvest
      Bone & Flesh

      Liked by 3 people

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