A swathe of comments on my recent post about publishers behaving badly, along with a considerable bag of DMs and direct private emails from people wanting to offer support but uncomfortable with the prospect of doing so publicly, got me thinking about support networks for ELT authors.
There is little doubt in my mind that a series of negative or unfortunate (depends on who's doing the spinning) experiences I had with ELT publishing may have had a lot to do with the fact that I was recruited into ELT writing with relatively few role models or more experienced contacts to learn from. I also have little doubt that there are other new ELT writers coming into the fold out there basically with "eyes wide shut."
Since then, things like the blogosphere and Twitter have opened up the potential to establish good contacts in the ELT publishing sphere considerably. I am enormously grateful to the likes of Ken Wilson, Lindsay Clandfield, Barbara Hoskins-Sakamoto, Simon Greenall, Marcos Benevides, Patrick Jackson and even Scott Thornbury (who of course is not readily identifiable with ELT coursebooks, but has been an amazingly good sounding board and source of pragmatic advice) for their pearls of wisdom in this field - pearls I had absolutely no access to or awareness of when I was first 'elevated' to the role of ELT author. If there is one thing I have really learned to appreciate through a network of contacts of this calibre, it is that most all ELT authors - irrespective of fame or experience in the field - are very down to earth people with a great attitude towards helping other ELTers. In my experience, the contacts I mentioned above have also been instrumental in reinforcing to me that - while undoubtedly not perfect - there IS a lot of good happening in ELT publishing, and it can be a very rewarding and ethical area to work in.
Oh, how different some things might have turned out had I known some of these people before I signed on the dotted line...!
Now, there is the Society of Authors, which could be a valuable support network and resource for ELT writers. But I do actually believe that ELT publishing is its own peculiar sort of beast, and it possibly merits having its own particular association. Or at the very least, some sort of informal gathering space that can be readily found by new writers coming into the field.
What do you think? Should there be some sort of association for ELT writers, for sharing and support in what can be a very tricky (a-hem...) industry?
Or do we have enough to cater to this now, through things like Twitter and Facebook oriented PLNs, and the transparency of personal blogs?
Interested to hear your thoughts.