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Southern Sass Publishing Alliances was never even at the bottom of the list of things I thought I might do before I die. As a traditionally published author since 1998, I never once thought about self-publishing, much less starting a business of my own.
As a newbie to the writing world in 1998, I needed help. Sure, I could write stories. I knew good writing from bad. I knew good books. I took classes, workshops, studied creative writing in school. However, breaking into the establishment then (and especially now) was incredibly difficult unless a beginner had a helping hand. Fortunately, I had help in the form of an introduction to an editor at one of the BIG FIVE. No agent, no publishing credits. Just a good story and one helping hand. My first book sold without much effort or angst.
But between then and now, the publishing business changed dramatically. The search for agents and publishers grew more and more difficult for writers, whether experienced or new, and with companies and staff changing almost on a daily basis, forming a lasting partnership with one of the giants of the business was down-right almost impossible, unless you were, like, J.K. Rowling or somebody.
I found myself spending more and more time on the business side of the desk rather than on the writing side. I did publish more stories, contributed to anthologies, wrote feature articles for magazines. I worked hard to build my platform. But then two of my new publishers cancelled their contracts and shut their doors. I was left with a book due out in a mere three months and no hope of getting it out for another year and half. (The wait between contract and book release with most traditional publishers ranges from 18 months to 2 years.) That’s a long time in a writer’s career especially in the era of instant gratification.
Also because the cancelled book was an anthology and ready to go to print, I felt an obligation to the contributors who had plodded through the wait with me, so part of the push for starting SSPA grew out of that. And after a lot of prayer, thought, and research, the idea of Southern Sass Publishing Alliances took hold.
Over the last twenty-something years, I have taught writing workshops, spoken at conferences and schools, judged contests, read EVERYTHING I could across most genres. I worked as a freelance editor, a contract editor for an on-line publisher, a developmental editor, and a ghost writer while writing my own stories. In addition, I personally knew so many incredibly good writers—some of whom had been traditionally published by the BIG FIVE and some newbies—all of whom had fantastic stories to tell—yet they weren’t getting published.
And so, Southern Sass Publishing Alliances came to be. It is my small way of lending a helping hand to newbies and supporting more experienced writers who want faster, yet more personalized publishing experiences. And yes, I have decided to publish my own books as well.
I am so thrilled that I began this journey.
The SSPA debut collection, His Mother! will be released September 1, 2016.
I see this new venture as another opportunity, to learn, to grow as a writer and lover of stories, and to lend a helping hand to other writers. We may not get rich and famous (although that would be nice, of course), but hopefully, we'll use this opportunity to share our craft with a few people who love good writing and beautiful stories. Because for me, it’s all about the story.
"Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood."
John Green, Author of The Fault in Our Stars