No, not the Web Error 401. This is post number 401, meaning, 400 blogs have been posted to date on the Writers Co-op. So let’s look at post number one and judge how we’ve done. Here it is, from APRIL 26, 2016, by Curtis Bausse. How do you think we have fared over the years?

co-op stuff

The first post. And to me has fallen the honour. Seriously, it is an honour. Firstly, because it’s a vote of trust from my fellow co-operators, secondly because this post is the first of a long, rich and innovative series (no point starting a blog otherwise, right?). As more posts come, this one will slip out of sight and mind, but it will always remain the first, the one in which the Writer’s Co-op became public. So thank you, Amber, Atthys, GD and Mimi for putting your trust in me.

Let me begin by explaining. The five of us ‘met’ on Book Country, a website where writers post their work for peer review and critiques. Though lately it’s become very sleepy, it’s not a bad site, and it has a discussion board where I’ve found many a useful piece of advice. And some time ago a thread was started by GD Deckard, in which he wrote the following: I’m thinking of a site that new writers can use to promote their books. How, exactly, depends on what the writers themselves want. Writers are creative people, so together we could come up with creative ways to help one another that we might not think of on our own. How would you like to see a Writers’ Co-op work?

Well, it took us a while, but here we are – The Writers’ Co-op. Five people who write in different genres but who all share a similar commitment to the craft and the graft of writing.


The craft…

Building Stonehenge

and the graft

But why come together? What can this site do that a personal one can’t? Well, as GD says, for a project like this, many minds are better than one. And the method is in the title – cooperate. This is a site where we swap and share news, opinions and experiences about writing, from first paragraph to finished product and beyond. Especially beyond. Because who wants to write a book and then not promote it? That’s like a painter working for years on a picture, then turning it to the wall. So here in the Co-op we try things out, see what works and what doesn’t, and tell each other about it. And not just each other, obviously. We happen to be the five that started it off, but we don’t intend to stay whispering in our corner. The Co-op welcomes anyone who’s willing to invest a little time and effort into promoting books worth reading.

What can you expect to find here? Since there’s nothing new under the sun, I do admit the innovation bit could be a challenge, but we’ll try our best, I promise. There’ll be anecdotes and analysis, thoughtfulness and humour, awards and recommendations, opinions, rants and wackiness. We don’t expect to work miracles and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But what we do take seriously is writing itself. Which means we’re also keen to help writers explore whatever path might lead somewhere interesting, and help readers find good writing. If that sounds like a programme you could tune in to, you’ve come to the right place. Drop us a line, tell us what you’re up to. Maybe we’ll end up travelling the path together. Whichever one it turns out to be.


35 thoughts on “401

  1. GD: This was fun to read! Sort of like reading 1938 Action Comics issue #1 featuring the first appearance of Superman in 2021. (I was not part of your original founding crew; it took me a while to find you guys again post-Book Country.)

    I believe we’ve lived up to this part: “There’ll be anecdotes and analysis, thoughtfulness and humour, awards and recommendations, opinions, rants and wackiness. We don’t expect to work miracles and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But what we do take seriously is writing itself. Which means we’re also keen to help writers explore whatever path might lead somewhere interesting, and help readers find good writing.”

    I think we’re getting better: more relevant, active, published. (Thank you Sue, Tom, GD, Curtis, Athhys–et. al.) Leastwise, I certainly hope so.

    One thing I do know: More to come. . . .

    Liked by 4 people

  2. One thing occurring to me as I re-read that old post, is that writers are reluctant to promote their own books. Among other things, this was supposed to be “a site that new writers can use to promote their books.”

    So, writers new or old, whatever your selling or working on, admit it. Put a blog about your book here in the “Drafts” section and I’ll happily post it. I post every Monday, on a first come first served basis. If I get many posts, I can also post a new blog on Thursday. If your book has a specific release date, nobody minds being bumped so that your post can appear on a timely basis.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. mimispeike says:

    You know that if you give me carte blanche permission, I’m gonna take it. Sly and more Sly, Maisie and more Maisie, and I have other major works percolating, substantially written, but needing extensive art, that I haven’t had time to work on. Because of Maisie and Sly.

    For thirty years, art has been my roadblock. I always saw my stories in full-color, painterly terms, not in the line work that is my natural drawing style, that got me a full scholarship to Syracuse University. I am finally proficient with a certain look, via Photoshop. I don’t say I’m an expert in Photoshop, I’ve merely found the way to achieve a certain look, and that’s good enough for me. The result I show is all created with the clone tool, and with manipulating tone and transparency. The clone tool, set at two or three pixels, gives a more nuanced stroke than you get out of the pen or pencil tools. Or maybe I just don’t know them well enough. I haven’t touched the paintbrush yet. I will explore that, but, honestly, I’m thrilled with what I eke out of the app now.

    P-Shop is also a superb teaching tool. I can try approaches out, and undo them in a minute. If I worked in oil I’d have to scrub off a layer of paint. If I worked in watercolor it would be even more time-consuming. I tried colored pencil thirty years ago, loved what I got with it, but abandoned it because of the amount of labor involved.

    Photoshop is magic! I was afraid of it for a long time. I thought I had to learn to use the brush tool. No! Not at all! I have my bag of tricks, and they work swell.

    Be careful what you ask for GD. I’ve held back, not wanting to wear out my welcome.

    This new Showcase feature is perfect for me. Between all my screwball characters, I can work up something that fits any prompt.

    The best stuff, new info about characterization especially, may eventually end up in the final story. This is not a distraction for me. I’m treating it as a workshop, developing new ideas.

    Thank you, Susan, for implementing Showcase.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. (Not sure where else I could post this)
    Fun with A.I.

    While just now checking the shipping progress of an Internet radio I’d ordered on line, I was interrupted by a chat-bot.

    “Hello, I’m the UPS Virtual Assistant. I see you tracked a package. Let me know how I can help.”

    I responded with a line from James Joyce’s Ulysses.
    “Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls.”

    The A.I. answered, hopefully.
    “I understand you need to change your address. To help you, I need to ask a few questions. Which option applies best:
    I’m expecting a package
    I’m sending a package
    It’s freight”

    To clarify, I continued the quote.
    “He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices filled with crustcrumbs, fried hencod’s roes.”

    The A.I. attempted understanding.
    “Perhaps you meant…
    Where was my package delivered?”

    Encouraged, I finished the quote.
    “Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.”

    Now the A.I. became haughty.
    “I might be able to find an answer for you if you rephrase using fewer words.”

    I agreed with his analysis of Ulysses and left.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Very funny, GD! Highly amusing! Extremely comical! Distinctly droll! Decidedly waggish! Authoritatively blithe! Fascistically nonchalant! Totalitarian cool cucumber! (Damn thesaurus led me astray again! With every successive suggested pair of synonyms I strayed further and further from my original intended meaning, until such profligate word-list delving offered up . . . ) Hitler carrot!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. mimispeike says:

    I have found what looks like valuable advice on medium.com. It talks about the Amazon algorithm and how it might work (or not work) for sales of your book. Maybe you all know this stuff, but I didn’t. Preparation prior to hitting ‘Publish’ is key.

    Work on assembling an email list of followers, who would hopefully buy a book immediately. If you sell a certain number of books in (the article says) the first hour, an algorithm kicks in that gives your book extra exposure, shows it to more people, something like that. Here’s the link:


    Liked by 6 people

  7. I don’t know the secret to successful book marketing but I do know your book is not a commodity, like beer. Nobody buys a six-pack and comes back for more copies if they like it. I “think” one way to start would be to promote it to groups that might naturally be interested. There is a Facebook group of people who shared the life lived by the characters in my WiP and that’s where I’ll first promote it. In your case, Mimi, I wonder if historians might get a kick out of reading of Sly’s adventures?

    Liked by 4 people

    • mimispeike says:

      Last week in a doctor’s office I reconnected with someone I used to work with, who had been a good friend. We shared a passion for gardening. We lost touch due to some immature behavior on my part. I had repeatedly invited her to tour my garden and she never came. I got pissed, and dropped her. I do regret it. I have explained and apologized to her for it. We plan a long visit this Friday.

      She is (apparently for years) a tarot reader. I do not buy that stuff, but this advantages me in two ways.

      1. I am looking for a way to work tarot into Sly. Now I have an expert to bounce ideas off.

      2. She read several chapters of Sly when we worked together, and loved it. She is eager to read more. And, she has a Facebook page for her tarot-reading business with, she says, 4000 followers. She offers to promote it on her page when it’s ready to go.

      I figure folks loopy enough to go for tarot are loopy enough to love a wise-ass talking cat. At some point, I’m gonna find out.

      Liked by 7 people

  8. mimispeike says:

    Why do I love this site? Scribophile, that I sometimes visit, is too big, and too specific. Too many choices, unless you have a particular question you need to research, in that case many-many members are a plus. But they don’t shoot the shit there. They get to the point, and keep to the point.

    Us here are way more fun. This is a place to hang out.

    Liked by 5 people

      • That comment, as phrased, diminishes both my writing and my person. (I trust the playful energy that prompted it but not the final form your words took.) Ten years of poetry, short stories, blog posts and contributions to discussions and all it sums to in your mind is “number one shit-shooter”? Think about it: If that were the epitaph on my gravestone I would come back from the dead and ghost-piss on your cat book.

        Tell ya what: If you delete that comment, I’ll delete this response. Fair? No harm; no foul. Sometimes things don’t come out quite the way we intended . . . God knows I’ve put my foot in my mouth (a very odd, startling, somewhat fetishistic metaphor, wouldn’t you say?) from time-to-time.

        Or leave it up. It may amuse the drive-bys. . . . (Anything to drive site traffic, right?)


  9. mimispeike says:

    I’ve read through Sly: The Rogue Decamps, and have made comparatively minor edits. I’ve removed thirty +/- sentences that didn’t need to be there, and have fiddled with sentence structure. That’s about it. Nothing else annoys me.

    The story is tell-heavy, not nearly as much dialogue as with Maisie in Hollywood. But this is a topsy-turvy (though not too removed from the historical reality) sixteenth-century world. It takes a good bit of explaining.

    I do try to break up the telling. I cook my book as I would cook a stew. A dash of this, a dash of that. I check in with one group of numbskulls, then another.

    For those who object to the amount of exposition, I am counting on the ingenuity of my plot and my screwball point of view to carry the day. I haven’t looked at this for close to two years. (I’ve been busy on Maisie.) Honestly, I had forgotten a lot of this stuff. My intricate tale makes perfect sense to me, and I’m chuckling my head off.

    I am considering writing a critique of my elaborate telling, defending my methods. Look for it in a weekly post fairly soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We need a new approach.

      Marketing like traditional publishers is impossible for a lone author. Publishers that pay royalties and advances have a system. They list your book in their “release ad” in Publishers Weekly and other magazines and provide tip sheets and advance selling materials to their sales forces, who go out into the field and talk to booksellers and librarians; send catalogs to libraries, bookstores, specialty outlets & schools; put your book on the web; send out review copies to review sources and advance reader copies to booksellers; and show your book at conventions for librarians, booksellers, and teachers. They provide metadata about your book to Amazon and other online bookstores, as well as getting it into the pipelines of wholesalers. Most promote new books on social media. They may even take out ads, create giveaways, help organize online or physical tours, write and send press releases.

      We will require a different approach.

      Liked by 4 people

  10. mimispeike says:

    We’re all at the point where we need to think more about promotion than composition.

    One woman is building a ‘Linked In’ style site for authors. It may not help much, but it can’t hurt.

    “This Founder Created A Social Media Platform For Authors That Aims To Disrupt The Publishing Industry” Here’s the link:


    Liked by 4 people

    • Interesting link there, Mimi, thanks. The originality seems to be that readers can engage with authors while they’re reading the book, which could be helpful. Getting the word out and building that initial readership remains the main challenge, but a site like that would allow for more focussed interaction than is currently the case, where authors have to spread themselves around half a dozen different sites. Something I don’t do now because I’m too busy writing, but could envisage doing if the feedback is stimulating.

      Liked by 3 people

      • mimispeike says:

        This is what happened with Hugh Howey. He talked to readers whilst writing his series of small installments (that, I believe, turned into the full-length ‘Wool’), they made suggestions of what they wanted to see, and he incorporated some of them into his manuscript.

        This is what I’ve read, anyway.

        Liked by 3 people

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