Why Returning Authors Need to Opt In

To be part of Authors for Indies, new authors Sign Up and returning authors Opt In.

I know. It's a bit confusing. We're trying to get the word out that if you signed up in 2016, you still need to tell us (by opting in) that you're interested in being part of AFI this year. Why? How about a brief history? [And if you're not interested in history, just skip down to Conclusion, below]

2015: We built the first Authors for Indies website using a very simple website tool, which ended up being very labour-intensive to maintain. Every store, every author, and every change to a list - we had to type in manually. Afterwards, we got comments from booksellers about what they’d like from a website to make their lives easier and it was clear this website was not going to do the job.

2016: We invested in a new, technically sophisticated website. It’s programmable! It’s got a database! Password-protected accounts! Lists that update automatically! Private messaging that doesn’t expose author emails!

And we asked authors to SIGN UP. Because once you did that, you were in the database, and it saved us a lot of work. A lot of work.

2017: This year, we have two kinds of authors:

  • new authors who sign up and are automatically registered on this year’s Participating Authors list
  • authors who signed up last year and are already in the database, but ...

… and therein lies the problem. Just because last year’s authors are already in the database, should we assume they are automatically a Participating Author? Remember cable TV and negative billing? 

Conclusion: 

The Participating Authors list is what booksellers look at to see which authors they can contact this year. Would authors get annoyed if they're not participating and get contacted by booksellers? I think the better question is: do we want booksellers to waste their time contacting authors who aren't planning to participate? 

Therefore, I think returning authors need to OPT IN to register on the Participating Authors list. If you don't opt in, nothing happens. You're still in the database, just not on the PA list.

Here’s another thing: if you haven't opted in but agree to volunteer at a store, the store sends us your name. We find you're not opted in, we go ahead and opt in for you. It’s manual, it takes time. But sigh, it’s less work than contacting you, bugging you, and finding the store listing again to update it after you’ve opted in. So clearly, if you opt in yourself, it saves us work. It’s a couple of minutes on your end once a year; it’s several hours of our time if we have hundreds of these tweaks to do. Last year, for one reason or another, we tweaked 130 authors.

So if you’re a returning author, please OPT IN to register. Sorry if it seems as though we're pelting you on social media to opt in, but we're learning that the sooner authors get on the PA list, the sooner booksellers contact them and the sooner everyone gets their marketing plans in place. We really appreciate your cooperation. -- Janie Chang