I fell in love with a spider when I was very young, the first time I read Charlotte’s Web by the great E.B. White. Even at that age–I think I was four–I loved stories. My imaginary world didn’t stop with Wilbur the Pig, though. It expanded with every book I read, every world I entered, every character I met.
I played Quidditch with Harry Potter, solved mysteries with Trixie Belden, walked through magic wardrobes with the Pevensies, felt the wind in my hair astride the Black Stallion, and traveled in a covered wagon with Laura Ingalls.
I imagined Hamlet’s melancholy (just bought the DVD with David Tennant and can’t wait to watch it, actually) and MacBath’s rage, and I pictured the silent awe in the courtroom when Portia delivered her soliloquy on mercy.
I laughed till I cried at the antics of Stephanie Plum and bawled like a baby when Edward abandoned Bella for 364 pages. I wanted to be Elizabeth Bennett’s sister, Jane Eyre’s best friend, and Hester Prynne’s neighbor.
I’ve spoken to elves and hobbits and dwarfs, witnessed the glory of Minas Tirith, the terror of Mordor, and smelled the homey comforts of Bag End. I’ve journeyed the Aiel Waste with Rand Al’Thor, marched into battle beside Richard Rahl, and I’ve seen the far distant Earth from the back of a dragon of Pern.
I’ve never met a story I didn’t love in some way. Even dark, terrifying, damaged Lisbeth Salander has my undivided attention, in spite of the fact that the rest of that strange, demented book is as dry as sawdust.
Stories have always made up a huge portion of my life, and I have always wanted nothing more than to be counted as one of those magical people who can put pen to paper and change the world with their imagination.
The publishing industry has changed a lot in 20 years
It’s not like it used to be. I have friends who bought houses and cars with the advances they got when they were published in the ‘90s. Now? Well, now an author is fortunate to get enough of an advance to buy a plane ticket, assuming he’s fortunate enough to get published at all.
Most major houses have tightened their belts, and that’s understandable. With the economy the way it is, it’s a wise business decision. Circle the wagons. Protect what you have. Hunker down until the storm is over. But because of that decision, no one is willing to step out and take a chance on an unknown with a weird perspective on the world.
And that’s me. I write stuff that doesn’t fit the mold. When I write, I don’t just think outside the box, I ignore it completely. I don’t see why story has to be shoved into a preformed pattern like a McRib sandwich. Gag me.
For the longest time, I thought I was alone in this way of thinking, but over the last few years, I’ve encountered legions of Christians who write “weird” stuff. And I’ve met even more people who read it. There’s a need for thrilling stories with a message of hope and love through Christ. There’s an audience for them, whether they’re adventure or action or romance or speculative. People are tired of phony predictable formulaic writing. If you can write a beautiful story with exciting characters and plenty of action and still craft it so that it shines with Christ’s story, I could guarantee you that lots of people would love to read it. I would!
But who’s going to publish it?
To quote my friend Hamlet: “Aye, there’s the rub!”
Let’s be honest. If you’re an untested, untried, unpublished writer with a story that doesn’t fit a mold, it’s going to take a miracle from God to get your manuscript published traditionally. It’s not because your manuscript isn’t good. It’s not because you aren’t a fantastic writer. It’s because publishing is expensive and a publisher wants to make sure that they can earn back what they spend on you, and in the current publishing climate, that’s not likely. That’s business. That’s life.
In the past, you only had one choice. Self-publish. Not a bad option, especially if you know what you’re doing and you’re willing to drop some money in the process. But recently, you’ve got another option that has popped up.
You can submit to a small press
Independent and usually genre-focused, small presses are cropping up all over. With Print-On-Demand services from companies like CreateSpace, production costs for manuscripts are minimal, and with the ever-increasing popularity of ebooks, a small press doesn’t even have consumables to deal with.
The difficulty with small presses is that they’re small. Submit to a small press and it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to make a bundle of money and be able to retire early. But you can get your work out there for people to read. Usually your royalties are much larger too. The trick is finding a small press that is willing to publish what you write.
For example, if you’re a science fiction writer who likes to write from a Christian worldview, you don’t have a whole lot of options. And, with the recent sale of Marcher Lord Press without its mature imprint Hinterlands, if you are one of those bizarre Christian writers who produces very edgy speculative fiction (*cough-cough-like me-cough*) you now have no option.
Well, next January that’s going to change.
Are you ready for the big announcement?
I’ve been hinting on Facebook for a while. Here it is: In January 2015, a new independent small press is going to open for business. Crosshair Press will accept fiction written from a Christian worldview, but we will only consider stories that incorporate both high action and a moral/spiritual question. We have no limits on genre; we’ll take anything—action, science fiction, adventure, political drama, thriller, fantasy. Literally anything. It just has to fit inside our crosshairs—high action and spiritual dilemma.
This is probably one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been able to be a part of. And, don’t worry, it’s not just me behind this! It’s me and three of my very best writer buddies! We’ve been operating our own critique group for about two years now, and we’ve all helped each other so much, we thought it might be time to up the ante a little.
I will announce more information as we are ready to release it. At the moment, we are really just working to build the foundation of the company and prepare for what’s coming. But we have the novels we’re going to release first lined up. We’ve got a couple of graphic designers who are going to chip in. And I happen to know two brilliant bankers who can give us some superb financial advice.
The plan at this point is to launch with four titles (romantic comedy, political drama, mature science fiction, and microfiction anthology) at the beginning of next year. At that point, we’ll see how those titles perform. Then, we’ll open up for more submissions.
That’s all I really can say at the moment, but it’s been torture having to keep my mouth shut. So now you guys all know! I hope you’re as excited as we are.
We have created a Twitter feed, which you can follow: @crosshairpress We keep it updated, so every time there’s something new going on, we’ll put it on there. We have a web site in process, but it’s still in bits and pieces at the moment.
Keep your eyes peeled for updates, and by the beginning of next year we’ll have a romantic comedy novel, a political action novel, a mature science fiction novel, and an anthology of microfiction available!
It’s so exciting! I’m learning how to use hashtags! #happydance