Welcome to another episode of the Writing Family series, where we spotlight various aspects of how the “ordinary” is transformed into the extraordinary through the storytelling passions of the greater writing community. Today’s guest is Laura James, who heads up indie press J. A. Mes Press with fellow writer (and previous Writing Family interview-ee) Marissa Ames.
Part of being a writing community means finding ways to give back – including independent small presses like J. A. Mes Press. Here’s what Laura had to say about their endeavors, their writers, and what it means to be part of an international writing community:
What prompted you to set up J. A. Mes Press with fellow scribe Marissa Ames? Moreover, how do you two make it work when you not only live in separate time zones, but on separate continents?
I can’t take credit for the idea as it was Missy who first broached the subject of working together. We had both been active in the flash fiction circuit and through the various writing friends we had, realised that there was some difficulty in publishing if you were an unknown. Also there were some seriously great writers of flash fiction out there who may never be published so J.A.Mes Press was born, with the sole purpose of sharing great works of flash fiction by various authors that may not have had a chance otherwise.
With regard to working with Missy – all I can say is that it’s great and easy. I’m in the UK & Missy is in the US but with the wonders of tech it’s just not a big deal. We’ve arranged skype calls, message and email each other frequently. Of course we are similar minded when it comes to writing and what we want J.A.Mes Press to achieve and we each have our own skill set when it comes to the projects. For example Missy is an excellent editor and has a good eye for spotting a great tale whereas I’m a bit OCD when it comes to collation and organisation of the submissions.
I would also like to take the time to give a shout-out to our creative partner Blue Harvest Creative. Without them providing design expertise and knowledge of marketing, something both Missy and myself have little experience, all for free I might add, the anthologies J.A.Mes Press have produced would not be as awesome looking nor do I think would we have attracted so many great authors. Even adding yet another time zone into the mix, we all manage to keep in touch (the wonders of tech again) and share the same vision.
The marvelous lady herself, Laura James.
Your mission statement states that J. A. Mes Press exists to enhance writers’ careers “through professionally published works, while donating all royalties to charity.” This, to me, is a remarkable approach to small press publishing – and one that should be imitated more often. Even so – why charities? How does J. A. Mes Press determine the recipient of proceeds for any given project?
When we first set up J.A.Mes Press we were both very clear that we didn’t want to profit from other people’s work so giving all profits to charity made sense. For our first one we wanted to help promote reading, so a library seemed the obvious choice but as we were unknown, going with a school in Missy’s home town seemed to be a safe choice – no red tape also helped.
Our first anthology was so successful and had so many writers from around the world that we felt our second charity should be an international one. Choosing which one was tricky but luckily Missy was familiar with Mothers Without Borders and we knew that what ever money they received would be put to good use. As far as choosing charities in the future we are open to suggestions but rest assured research will be done to ensure that we help make a difference.
According to the website, J. A. Mes Press has set its publishing focus on promoting anthologies, instead of individual works. What is it that draws you to thematic collaborations from multiple writers?
I’m primarily a writer of short flash fiction tales, I find that writing a complete tale in less than 1500 words very satisfying so of course anthologies made sense to me. Also I feel that in this day and age people sometimes don’t have the time to read long epic books, they want to be entertained in small bites. Anthologies give people the joy of reading in small doses with no pressure.
Anthologies also gives the new, sometimes terrified writer, a platform to showcase their work. I’d like to think that J.A.Mes Press provides a non threatening platform for writers to stretch their wings, test the market and possibly even venture out and publish something longer in the future.
J. A. Mes Press cohort and fellow writer, Marissa Ames.
As with the founding of J. A. Mes Press, those who write for these anthologies usually represent a wide international spectrum. What do you think it is about your anthologies that draws such a varied cast of contributors?
Has to be a combination of things I think. The fact that Missy and I are on separate continents encourages a world wide audience, by that I mean that we are already an international press so stands to reason that we would attract an international set of contributors. I also believe that with the Web and technology the world is no longer such a vast place, so where an author is based no longer needs to affect where they are published.
What has been your favorite anthology to date from J. A. Mes Press?
Our recent Halloween launch – In Creeps The Night. Not only does it have an awesome cover (designed by Blue Harvest Creative) but it is filled with my favourite genre. I only write horror myself so being given the opportunity to read so many horror stories was just brilliant. I’m a great believer that every writer has a little horror tale just waiting to be told, this anthology proved me right in so many ways and was so much fun to put together.
Is there a current call for submissions? (And if so, where do we go for more details?)
At present there is no current call for submissions but we hope to make a decision soon and when we do will be shouting from the roof tops. You can like our Facebook page (J.A.Mes Press page – https://www.facebook.com/JAMPress), follow us on Twitter (J.A.Mes Press @Jamesanthologys) and of course keep checking in with our website (J.A.Mes Press website – http://jamesanthologies.com), where I hope to have subscription facilities setup shortly.
To learn more about J. A. Mes Press, its crew and publications:
J.A.Mes Press @Jamesanthologys
My personal website – http://www.officemango.com
J.A.Mes Press website – http://jamesanthologies.com
Marissa Ames website – http://marissaames.com
Blue Harvest Creative website – http://www.blueharvestcreative.com
We can be found on Amazon UK & US. Our current publications are Tales by the Tree and In Creeps the Night.