I mentioned previously that The Faith and Fantasy Alliance will have two pursuits, the first being an event where we can gather and do all things writerly and artistic together. The second goal is aimed specifically at making sure we sell more books, which will involve creating what the business world is calling an Author’s Cooperative.
Most of us churchy-types who write fantasy and science fiction do so for small publishers. Small publishers have many excellent qualities, but rarely is wide market reach one of them. That means if we new authors are going to sell more books, we need to work harder at it than authors who are getting big print runs done by conglomerate publishers and seeing their books on the center tables of the local Costco.

How will this Author’s Cooperative Work?

What I plan to do is to bring together authors from across many publishers and take their books to live events for the sake of sales–specifically, homeschool conventions and sci-fi/fantasy cons. Why homeschool conventions? Homeschoolers love books, generally, and many of them are the quirky types who also love speculative fiction. The homeschool conventions will present buyers that significantly overlap our current sphere of influence, and it’s always good to get in front of your known audience as much as we can.
The first such event I’m angling to attend is the CHAP homeschool convention in Harrisburg, PA, which runs the Friday and Saturday before mother’s day each year.

As for the sci-fi/fantasy cons, these are far riskier, but have better potential to raise wider awareness of the existence of speculative fiction written with a Christian worldview.  I sincerely believe we need to be reaching beyond our echo chamber to find those readers who would like what we write, but have no idea we exist. I was one of those people six years ago…shocked to learn there were Christian publishers who produced fantasy books at all. The convention scene will be a bit of a wild card…but for those who are willing to attend as volunteer representatives of the organization will have an opportunity to interact with a huge number of potential fans. This won’t be for the faint of heart, for certain.

Wait, what? Volunteer representatives? What’s that about?

As with all grass-roots organizations, the people who want to see it work will need to be willing to put in some sweat equity, though it won’t be without potential profit. Say you’re an author who wants to sell your books at ConnectiCon…if you are one of the people who goes to ConnectiCon to work the Faith and Fantasy Alliance table, the sales of your own books would be exempt from the sales fee the organization would charge. (This fee per book will be very small–not for making profit for the organization, but simply to cover the costs that come with having your work at an event in front of buyers.)

Once we’re established in the marketplace, I anticipate we will also be able to get our members on panels and provide teaching at these events, which will offer volunteer representatives an excellent boost in sales.  The beginning will be about exposure and establishing reputation, and although I foresee it will be hard, I also sincerely believe the end result will be a wider audience for those who invest in the effort.