It all starts with a dream. A notebook, a pen, and perhaps a laptop. A lot of time spent staring out the window. Characters, dancing like sugarplums within writers’ heads.
Then, somewhere between giddiness and reality, writers realize they have talent! They receive accolades that are from people other than their mothers. Fans return for more. The writers get exited and starry-eyed with possibilities. Then they panic.
Where do they go from here?
Do they jump first into a novel? Build an author platform? Freelance a little and get clips? But who is going to accept their work, and actually pay for it, if they’ve never before been published? And, in this world of independent publishing and a broad arc of costs, can any of these authors really afford that first jump into publication?
What if they are published, but seek outreach? Four novels later, they need to expand without paying for expensive advertisements. If only they could submit to a publication that hosts forty other authors, and get their work to the fans of those authors.
J.A.Mes Press has jumped in to help with these concerns. Started by two independent authors, Laura Jamez and Marissa Ames, the new publishing company creates anthologies to help with author outreach. This is not a paid project, even for the editors and publishers. All proceeds go to selected charities. Even their creative partner, Blue Harvest Creative, donates its time so all money can be allocated to better causes. J.A.Mes Press is completely non-profit.
So if the authors are not paid for their writing, how do they benefit? For independent authors, and even authors seeking representation or publication, networking is everything. Outreach is everything. To be able to say you are published, in a tangible book, carries a lot of clout. Sometimes, even the act of being published will drive an author to go further.
Authors testify of the boost they received by writing for the anthologies. “Me!” says Sorcha O’Dowd. “It gave me the boost I needed to get more serious about my WIP, and reminded me why I love writing. Whilst I haven’t published anything else since, it made me serious about writing as a career.”
Eric Sproles told us, “My first publication, it shows me the process does not need to be overly complicated to get one’s work out there. This is something I hope to put in practice in the release of my RPG and perhaps further short stories in the future.”
J.A.Mes Press started in December, with Tales by the Tree, a collection of seventy-five stories by over forty authors. Topics range from Family Friendly to Noel Nightmares, and all stories range between 300 and 1000 words. Authors wrote whatever their whims dictated, with only two stipulations: All stories had to be PG-13 rated or lower. And, though religious stories were encouraged for the Christmas anthology, no story could bash another religion or belief system. Tales by the Tree went live on Amazon on November 24, 2013. It has since sold 225 print copies and 37 eBook copies, in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia. Authors also received free eBook copies.
“It was my first publication,” says Theresa Miller. “The first time a lot of my friends knew I write.”
Beth Avery, who has two stories within Tales by the Tree, says, “It was a reboot for me. Several years ago I published some pieces in a now defunct zine called Mad Lovin’ Mamas, but when it went dark, I stopped publishing. It definitely was a boost I desperately needed. I have a hard time justifying writing without any venue for publishing.”
The anthologies consist of flash fiction: Stories between 100 and 1000 words. Each anthology has a theme, and author interpretation of that theme is vast. Authors need no special credentials to contribute. The anthologies aren’t just thrown together, though. Each story goes through a round of edits by an accomplished writer. The only images used are provided by Blue Harvest Creative, which has over 20 years experience in graphic design. And through Tales by the Tree consisted of 75 stories, future anthologies will be capped at the 50 best tales submitted to each project.
Authors are not asked to spend any of their own money, unless they wish to buy print copies. Because J.A.Mes Press publishes through CreateSpace on Amazon.com, anyone (including authors) wishing to purchase print copies must comply with Amazon’s pricing. This has allowed Tales by the Tree to raise over $375 for Mount Rose Elementary School in Reno, Nevada.
“Blue Harvest Creative is excited to be working with J.A.Mes Press as their official book designers,” says a representative of the design company. “Their vision of creating anthologies featuring new authors as well as seasoned veterans and giving all profits to charity is amazing and matches our vision of bringing indie authors the opportunity to be recognized for their extraordinary talents.”
With her very first publication ever in Tales by the Tree, Mary MacFarlane now believes that she can, and will, someday have a book with all her own work. She tells the other authors, “So my mom is pretty impressed with our stories! She was just asking me the other day if any of you guys have books published she’d be interested in. Also, will J.A.Mes Press be doing another collection like this anytime soon?”
Why yes. And yes.
Each contributor to Tales by the Tree received a spot within the “Author Bio” section, where they spoke briefly about themselves and provided links to blogs or Amazon author pages. Fans of Rebecka Vigus may read A.D. Trosper’s story, look for her within the bio section, and proceed to buy one of her Dragon’s Call novels.
Jeffrey Hollar, who wrote several rather gritty stories within the anthology, said, “Not my first publication but it was nice to add to my catalog of publishing credits and, of course, fun and enjoyable hanging out with all of you throughout the whole process.”
J.A.Mes Press has two anthologies planned for 2014: This spring, they will orchestrate an anthology based on springtime and new beginnings, with all proceeds going to a charity that brings awareness to stroke victims. In October, writers and readers can expect a horror-based anthology that has many people excited.
Angie Trafford, who wrote one story for the anthology, loved the whole experience. Leslie Fulton, a journalist, had been published before, but never within the flash fiction genre. A longtime author, Rebecka Vigus, had never before tried flash fiction, nor had she written for children. Now she has new markets to explore. Authors Jean Booth and Lara Hays received additional outreach for their published novels.
Would you like to write for a J.A.Mes Press anthology? The next collection will feature the 50 best stories contributed, and will allow each author to present a bio and a link where readers can find their work. Follow the project at their blog or Facebook page.
And happy writing!