SpecFicNZ 2021 Roundup

2021 is coming rapidly to a close—not a moment too soon for many of us. SpecFicNZ has been busy in spite of the restrictions and uncertainty the year has dealt us. Here’s a roundup of our year.

Virtual Professional Development

Covid restrictions meant we couldn’t hold in-person workshops, so we organised monthly virtual workshops, with presenters from all over the world. Workshop topics were wide-ranging, including world building, blurb writing, marketing, author school visits, self-publishing, social media, and how to write fight scenes.

Our two-day workshop in June, funded by CreativeNZ, gave members the opportunity to meet with and pitch to overseas publishers and agents, and to discuss indie publishing with overseas experts.

Workshops were well-received, and provided much-needed opportunities to connect locally and further afield during a difficult year. With our membership scattered throughout New Zealand, we expect to continue offering virtual workshops in 2022, regardless of the status of Covid in our communities.

Here’s just a taste of the great things members said about our virtual workshops:

“It got me thinking! There was a great balance of lecture and writing activities, the speaker was knowledgeable and approachable, the workshop was engaging and very on point.”

“So impressed with the calibre of guests. They really know what they’re talking about.”

“Overall, I thought it was excellent and an invaluable insight into the state of the publishing world. Super well done for organising this.”

“Got me thinking more clearly about how I go about structuring my work.”

“The use of Zoom is brilliant. It makes information like this workshop very accessible.”

“Very down to earth, practical advice. I immediately went back to my current WIP and used the info to sharpen it up.”

“It was nice to see some SpecFicNZ faces I have not seen in so long!”

“I think the workshops SpecficNZ have run this year have been fantastic value and I’ve enjoyed all of them I’ve attended. A big thank you to the organisers!!”

“These workshop series have been brilliant. Not everyone will love every workshop – but please keep running them.”

“It was so well organised, really professional.”

Anthology

A few technological hiccups slowed down the production of our upcoming anthology, Aftermath, but editing is underway on a fabulous selection of stories submitted by our members. We hope to publish the anthology in early 2022.

Wright-Murray Residency

Once again, SpecFicNZ administered the Wright-Murray Residency, which attracted an excellent number of high quality applications. The judges selected AJ Ponder of Wellington as the recipient. She will use the residency to work on the first book in her epic fairy tale series, Into Brocéliande, based on the Arthurian realm of magic and inspired by the New Zealand landscape.

Membership growth

In 2021, we reached 200 members—a great milestone, and one we hope to sail past in 2022. Unfortunately with increasing member numbers, our ageing data management systems have come under increasing strain. 2021 seemed to be a year of dealing with data problems. We created a catalogue of members’ books, and then struggled to make it function properly. Our membership system broke, so we’ve been limping along doing it all manually. But the problems have inspired us to hire a professional to sort out our data management woes to free the Core members up to do more of the fun stuff members want to see us doing. We’ll be working with them to update our website and membership systems, and improve the functioning of the catalogue. We’re also upgrading our accounting system in order to reduce errors, decrease the workload, and streamline all the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into making the organisation work.

Other cool stuff

To help members spread the word about their awesome writing, we published three reviews of member books, and purchased a full-page ad in the Kiwis in Print catalogue in 2021. The members-only Facebook discussion group buzzed with news and opportunities all year.

Although it was a strange year and we wish we could have brought members together in person, we’re pleased with what we were able to do to keep our members connected and engaged with new learning and opportunities throughout the year. The upcoming year is likely to be just as strange, but we have plenty of ideas for new initiatives. Thanks to all our members for supporting SpecFicNZ during 2021!

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