Members of a small writing group wanted to share their work with family and friends. The obvious way was to self publish an anthology of their writing.
Manawatu Women Writers is a small group of writers in Palmerston North, New Zealand, whose members meet monthly to share and discuss each others writing. Experience within the group ranges from those who’ve had work published over many years to new writers just starting out. The common thread is a passion for writing.
A range of talent: Within the group there are poets, short story writers, novelists, travel writers, personal essay writers and writers for children. While most writers specialise in their favourite form of writing, they all venture out and experiment with different genres. By writing in a way that is possibly out of their comfort zone from time to time, members extend their writing skills. Each month a homework topic is set and writers approach this in any way they wish. The results of the monthly writing topic are shared and discussed at the next meeting. Constructive feedback benefits all the members, often motivating members to do further writing. By giving and receiving feedback, writers learn what works and what could perhaps be improved on. Many group members don’t restrict themselves to just the group topic, but write from personal motivation throughout the month. During the coming year the group intends focusing on memoir writing. Interest for this is running high.
The advantages of self-publishing: The aim of most writers is to have their work read and appreciated. It was decided that, as getting work accepted for publication becomes increasingly difficult, self-publishing may be the answer. One member had recently received a self-published anthology from a friend across the other side of the world, and the group became excited about the prospect of doing the same. Enthusiasm ran high, and the process began.
A huge learning experience: Fortunately for the group, two members took on major roles of making sure the book actually got to publication. The writing and selecting which work would be included was the easy part. Choosing a publisher was an interesting experience. Getting the book ready to be sent for publication took longer than expected. Many people gave up hours of their time and worked voluntarily towards the finished project.
‘Red Alert’ was launched: Eventually, Red Alert was published and launched at the local library in April 2009, in time for the book to be given as gifts for Mothers Day. The title of the book had been chosen from a poem by one of the writers. Book sales have been pleasing. While members obviously purchased several books each for their own distribution, local book shops also stocked the book and it was advertised within the community.
Although self-publishing can seem a daunting prospect at first, it is definitely an option worth considering. Writing is meant to be read. One way of having your work appreciated is for it to be contained within the covers of a book. Readers still enjoy holding a book in their hands and turning the pages. And, an anthology such as ‘Red Alert’ means readers can turn to their favourite pieces time and time again.
The following picture is of two of the writers and a friend, at a private function before the book launch.