Nethergate Writers – Annual General Meeting – 11th January 2017
Present: David Carson (Chair), Tom Jennis, Abby Lyons, Aileen Cook, Colin Donald, Richard Gillies, Ray Kinsman, Craig Mudie, David Frances and Rosie Baillie.
Apologies: Sue Baxter, Susan Proctor, Roddie McKenzie and Fiona Pretswell.
1. DC welcomed everybody to the meeting. RB volunteered to take the minute in FP’s absence. DC proposed that the minutes of the previous AGM were adopted with no corrections, this was seconded by CM.
2. Matters Arising:
DC questioned the quorum for the group which was previously set at 10%. The group agreed that this was quite low and after discussion agreed to reset the quorum at a third of the membership. This was proposed by CM and seconded by AC.
DC reminded the group that at the previous AGM they had decided to plan a social event for the group. The event had not taken place and DC wondered if the group should try again. The group
agreed to hold an annual social event going forward and AC agreed to organise it.
ACTION: AC to arrange social event to take place in Jan-Feb 2017.
3. Treasurers Report:
RB circulated an account summary to the group. RB had gained access to the bank account in June 2016 and had recorded all income and expenditure since then.
RB highlighted main expenditure as being on web hosting and the Scottish Association of Writers membership. She forecast that these costs would recur on an annual basis. RB also highlighted the small but regular income from Amazon. RB explained the situation with the Amazon account which was still held under our former tutor’s personal Amazon account. It was agreed that RB would contact both her and Amazon to try and transfer management of the Nethergate Writers account to herself. The group agreed that it was worth maintaining the Amazon account.
Once in control of the account it was agreed that the remaining stock would be added as another mechanism to sell it.
ACTION: RB to arrange transfer of Amazon sellers account, and add physical stock to be sold alongside the e-books.
RB also presented the stock list to the group and asked for a decision on what to do with it all. The group discussed various options, but agreed for the moment to keep the stick with the hope of selling it via Amazon. The group also agreed that free ‘marketing’ copies could be given to local hotels or cafés. It was agreed that contact details etc would be updated.
ACTION: All members to ask RB for a ‘marketing’ copy if they identify a suitable venue.
ACTION: CM to publicise the various books on the website, e.g. spotlight on a different book each month.
The group also discussed how the money might be used to further support the work of Nethergate Writers. It was agreed that it could be used to support a future publication(s), with the possibility of a pamphlet to coincide with 2017 Dundee Literary Festival. AL also reminded the group that there was a final ISBN available to the group for use on a future publication. It was also agreed that we may need to use the funds in future to pay for a venue to meet in, if the link to Dundee University was lost.
DC suggested that, going forward, members of the group could pay £2 each time they attended a Nethergate Writers meeting; and that this was a method to bring in a regular income. The group
agreed and further clarified that new members would attend their first meeting for free, but that on becoming a member they would be asked to contribute. The group also agreed that members would not be expected to pay the sum if they did not attend a meeting.
ACTION: RB to arrange receipt of payments going forward.
ACTION: Group to review this arrangement at next AGM.
4. Webmaster’s report:
CM confirmed that the website had been running since June 2016 and that since then it had received 494 unique visitors and had a bounce rate of 48%. (Bounce rate is defined as where visitors to the website land on the front page and then do not peruse the sight any further.) There are on average, 6 posts per month, and to date there had been 2 comments in response to posts. (184 spam comments had been removed).
The group thanked CM for his continued work in support of the website. They went on to discuss how the website could be further developed. The following suggestions were made:
i) add ‘call to action’ points at the bottom of each post, e.g. ‘if you like this, you might like…’
ii) requirement for more prose posts (as opposed to poetry)
iii) serialise longer prose pieces
iv) members on Facebook should like and share all Nethergate Writers posts which will increase coverage, and encourage their friends and family to follow the site
v) at the end of each meeting, the group should agree what pieces could be added to the site to assist CM in populating the site.
vi) remove the ‘new’ from the opening banner as the website was essentially no longer new
vii) delete ‘next meeting’ posts each time a new one is added to remove confusion
viii) for Facebook posts, always add a striking image as this will encourage readers to stop and engage
ix) on a monthly basis, a different member of the group to answer 4-5 standard questions about themselves and their writing – a ‘spotlight on’ series.
ACTION: CM to take forward the suggestions mentioned above.
5. Chair’s Review of the Year:
2016 had been a successful and busy year for the group, with 19 meetings (average attendance = 8).
The meetings had been enjoyable and varied, with never a shortage of writing to discuss. The group agreed that the recording an informal minute of the meetings should continue and it was unanimously agreed that DC would continue to do so.
DC congratulated Roddie McKenzie and Rosie Baillie on their successes in 2016 (Roddie with publications in Lallans, Seagate and the Irvine Museum; and Rosie in the Breathing Space Competition).
6. Election of Office Bearers:
The existing office bearers were all happy to continue in their roles and the group unanimously agreed. There were no objections and no other volunteers. Office bearers for 2017 as follows:
Chair: David Carson
Secretary: Fiona Pretswell
Treasurer: Rosie Baillie
Webmaster: Craig Mudie
It was agreed that FP would email those members who had not attended (or rarely attended) in 2016 to ask if they would like to continue on the mailing list.
[Post meeting note: DC to take on this task in Fiona’s absence]
ACTION: DC to email members and ask for confirmation that they wish to remain on email list.
8. Future meetings
The group agreed to hold monthly meetings during term time, and fortnightly outwith term time. FP to request booking from February onwards.
[Post meeting note: RB to take on this task in Fiona’s absence]
ACTION: RB to make room bookings.
The group discussed future plans, on the basis that the University may not continue the evening classes beyond Spring 2017. Suggestions for new venues were discussed, and also the option of the group paying a tutor in a private arrangement. The group were open to all suggestions and agreed to revisit as and when required.
The group also agreed that they should consider inviting speakers to their meetings going forward.
ACTION: All members are invited to consider possible speakers and seek to make arrangements for their attendance at future meetings in liaison with the secretary.
At forthcoming meetings, the group will discuss engagement with the Literary Festival and possibilities for an accompanying publication; alongside plans for possible Pecha Kucha appearance.
ACTION: Roddie to make contact with Dundee Literary Festival to ask about possibility of some sort of involvement in 2017.
ACTION: AL and RB to make plans for Pecha Kucha having volunteered to present at the event if chosen.
[Post-meeting note: slot at next Pecha Kucha confirmed (28th Feb).
9. Meeting concludes: CM thanked DC for his chairmanship of the meeting and his ongoing input to the group.