Home News Getting the words out: The 3percenters writer’ collective

Getting the words out: The 3percenters writer’ collective

How seven authors, one editor, and a chance meeting led to a thriving group partnership.

My involvement began with winning the 2016 Dalkey Creates Short Story Prize, after which I joined the writing group that met on Thursday mornings, mentored by Ferdia MacAnna, which evolved into the3percenters – with Ferdia becoming the sharp and incisive editor of the Sins series.

From the beginning we wanted to do the best, most professional job we could. Self-publishing would demand an investment of up to €5,000 with no certainly of payback, so, it seemed to us that we should take a long view, share the financial burden and commit ourselves to producing a series of publications. We chose crime fiction as a genre we all enjoyed reading and writing it, and one where there was room for a collection of new crime stories.

We were lucky to have Adrian Taheny among us, who agreed to take on the task of managing our venture. His research, through Vanessa Fox-McLoughlin and the Inkwell Group brought us Adrian White as publishing consultant and Bernadette Kearns as copy editor. We also acquired the services of Adrian’s brother, Tom, whose innovative design gives the Sins series its distinctive visual imprint. The investment in a professional team pays off through giving the best possible representation of your work. No matter how clean you think your copy is, or how clear you think you’ve been in the writing, you are not your own best editor.

Through the process of publication there is a lot of work and it’s a fun, and sometimes fraught, process. And it always ends on a high. It’s a good feeling holding that finished piece of work, reading your words to an audience, having readers say they enjoyed what you put out there. In the internet age, the written word, whether it be journalism or fiction, is rarely a paying proposition. One recalls former days, when Atlantic Monthly paid F Scott Fitzgerald, $10,000 dollars for a short story, which is about $140,000 in today’s terms.

In October 2019, the 3percenters published Sinful, a second collection of crime short stories. Our first collection, Sins, lost money, we expect Sinful to break even, and over the course of the series we may make a small profit. Interestingly, so far, sales of the physical book have outperformed e-book sales. So, a special word of thanks is due to the bookshops and libraries of Ireland – a hugely important, and mostly unsung part of the ecosystem of writing in Ireland. Sinful is on the shelves of libraries in Dublin and elsewhere and Hodges Figgis and Dubray have taken both collections. The independent bookshops have also been open to what we are doing, Gutter Bookshop in Dalkey, Hanna’s Rathmines and Bridge Street Books in Wicklow, The Castle Bookshop in Castlebar, Bridge St Books in Westport and latterly, Farrell and Nephew in Newbridge.

Yet a month after the launch, it is already back to work. We are on a schedule to produce the stories that will form the third, as yet unnamed, collection in the series, which all going well, will be launched about this time next year.

The 3percenters and the Sins series have been a core part of my writing life for the last two years. It’s been a shop window for the group, Caroline Bale and I were both finalists in the 2018 Novel Fair, and Caroline has gone on this year to have her crime novel I will make you pay published by Jonathan Joffe. the3percenters are Caroline Bale, Mark Bastow, Martin Keating, Alix Moore-O’Grady, Susan Rodgers, Adrian Taheny and Jenny Wright. Caroline Bale and Adrian Taheny will be speaking at this year’s Dalkey Creates writing festival on 28 to 30 November.

Martin Keating