A few podcast episodes ago, we discussed a group of self-published authors that are coming together to form Sigil Independent. Founding member M.D. Presley (he claims no relation to Elvis) was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about what Sigil Independent is and what readers and self-published authors alike can expect from them.
What is Sigil Independent?
We call ourselves a guild mainly because it sounds cool, but upon doing a bit more research into guilds, we’re missing some of the most basic aspects like paying dues and being controlled by the organization (although we do have a very extensive induction ritual). So, in effect, we’re more of a collective of similar self-published fantasy authors who have come together to pool our resources and… ugh, I sound so corporate marketing
department here… brand. Although we’re all self-published authors, we believe we operate on the same level of quality as traditionally published authors.
So our brand (ugh, the word still tastes bitter in my mouth) is the highest quality self-published fantasy you can find. Everything is professionally done, and we think when audiences encounter our work they’ll recognize that fact. So the guild/ collective/ Sigil is really a sort of seal of approval: If you’ve read one of our members’ work, you can know our other 40+ books are of equal quality and feel free to check them all out without fear of getting burned.
What led to the creating of Sigil? Was there a particular event or discussion that lead to its creation?
I joke that Sigil came together because I was in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off bracket of death over at Fantasy Book Critic against Benedict Patrick and eventual finalist Alec Hutson, so I recruited them rather than face a foregone defeat, but the seeds of Sigil go a little further back than that. D. E. Olesen and I met on some fantasy forums a few years back and found that we could pool our promotional efforts on a long-term basis. Most of the other authors in Sigil know each other since we all sort of run in the same online circles, and many have done short term promotions together in the past. Sigil was just the next logical step.
Because, and a lot of authors need to realize this, self-publishing is not a zero-sum game: Just because someone else wins doesn’t mean I lose. Traditionally published authors have a distinct advantage because they have a team working with them for each release. Sigil is our attempt to create that same sort of team while maintaining our independence.
How many authors are involved right now?
We have ten awesome authors (well, nine and myself), all of which were at least semi-finalists in SPFBO: Dyrk Ashton, Ben Galley, Rob Hayes, Alec Hutson, Michael McClung, D. E. Olesen, Benedict Patrick, M. D. Presley (me), M. L. Spencer, and Phil Tucker.
Plus, if you’re really in the know, you might find our 11 th unofficial member in Meatzo the Meatzarian.
What is the Sigil Sampler?
A great way to both put together a free 500+ page book and skirt Amazon’s rules on how much you can give away. Essentially, it’s a sample from each of our 10 authors of approximately the first 10% of their books. For free, much in the same way heroin dealers give away the first hit…because we know once you sample our
wares you’ll be hooked for life.
But, to add a bit more sugar to the already-formidable recipe, we added a Choose Your Own Adventure into the prologue that, after a few choices, will drop you right on the doorstep of the book we think will most likely align with your personal tastes.
The whole Choose Your Own Adventure to pick a book to read is absolutely genius. How did that come about?
The idea of a questionnaire/ quiz to connect readers with the book they’d most likely enjoy was already live on the site (though the site wasn’t yet live) and was born from those Facebook quizzes that inundate us daily. But as we were putting the sampler together the idea of order suddenly sprang up. Many people never read anthologies all the way through, which meant that whoever was at the front of the sampler would have an unfair advantage over the authors towards the back. To be fair, we drew names out of a hat (literally) for the order, but we still wanted to level the playing field somewhat. But to do that we’d need a book that people didn’t read in linear order.
So, like Reese’s two great tastes that taste great together, we combined the ideas of a quiz and non-linear order into the prologue, which quickly morphed from another quiz to the CYOA. Because, deep in our hearts, we’re all nerds here.
What are the ultimate goals for Sigil Independent?
World domination, plain and simple. But until that fateful day, we’ll be content with applying a lot of traditional publishing best practices to our own books. Most of these things will remain behind the scenes, but hopefully the results will be obvious to anyone who reads any of our books.
We’d also like to burnish off some of that stigma that clings to us self-published authors so audiences won’t automatically dismiss a book out of hand simply because it didn’t go the traditional route.
And, you know, selling a few books along the way wouldn’t hurt either.
If a reader wanted to keep updated on what’s going on with Sigil Independent, what should they do?
Please also visit our site www.sigilindependent.com, where there are all sorts of free downloads to accompany the protagonist quiz. And, if you dig a little deeper, there’s a few hidden goodies you might unearth…
Thanks again to M.D. Presley for taking the time to answer our questions! Make sure you check them out and try out their Sampler Book!