Happy Second Anniversary,
By Jeff Salter
publishing houses, I’ve been awed at how much influence they’ve wielded in the
universe of letters. Some of them go back a century or more; most were already big names in publishing long before I was first aware of books ... nearly six decades
All that is only to say: each of the most famous publishers you’ve ever heard of ... began with a concept, an investment, some sacrifice, a marketing plan, and a good story to print. At some point, every one of these big name publishers likely started with similar general circumstances — someone recognized a need that was not being met or believed they could do a better job at meeting the needs and desires of readers / buyers. Or perhaps they thought they could publish potentially great books that were falling through cracks left by the other publishers currently operating.
But they all started with the first functional day, that initial manuscript query, the starting round of edits on their very first contracted book.
And all this leads me up to the second anniversary of Astraea Press, the brainchild of
publisher Stephanie Taylor, who saw a need not being met, believed she could assemble ‘clean’ stories which readers wanted, and knew there were great books falling the cracks elsewhere.
It took vision, concept, investment, sacrifice, good stories, faith ... and lots of guts. Stephanie has admitted that several people tried to talk her out of trying and others (who knew she was forging ahead anyway) tried to discourage her. Yet she prevailed. I won’t attempt to represent the numbers here, because those statistics will be surely
be covered elsewhere during this anniversary month, but Astraea (in two short years) has collected some 150 authors and published well over 200 titles. Some have won awards and some have appeared on prominent best-seller lists.
Having just completed my seventh (unpublished) novel manuscript in the summer of 2011, I realized I was at a crossroads and struggled for insight into WHERE that story should go.
I wrote down my goals (for writing and publishing) and listed the pros and cons of continuing a search for the perfect agent. I analyzed the pros and cons (as well as the mathematical improbabilities) of ever reaching the ranks of the Big Six publishers. I actually (no kidding) noted the pros and cons of achieving fame and fortune as an author. Yes, there ARE cons to that status.
During and after all that deliberation – and with a great deal of prayer – I realized it was more appropriate for me to seek one of the smaller digital-first publishers ... of which there are MANY. But one of the troubling issues was how my Christian witness might be affected by aligning myself with a publisher which also produced some very racy material. How comfortable would I be telling my church friends to go to the site of Publisher ABC ... where they would also find material which could make all of us blush?
So my new prayer was: “Lord, help me find a publishing outlet which will not reflect badly on my Christian witness.” And the converse: “Lord, help me find a publishing outlet which will be a GOOD reflection on my Christian witness.”
Several years of networking among authors, writers, agents, publishers, bloggers, etc., had set into motion a series of contacts which led me to a very short list of potential publishers. On that short list, the SOLE publisher which published only ‘clean’ books
was ... Astraea Press.
To make a long story short, I submitted this seventh manuscript to Astraea. The result was a lengthy, personal reply from the CEO, expressing praise and encouragement for my story and indicating potential acceptance if I was
willing to revise and resubmit. Which I did.
Exactly one year after being inspired to write this novel, I was proofing the galleys for the romantic suspense novel which resulted. And it was only possible because of Astraea Press.
Stephanie and her crew have built a wonderful sense of community and mutual encouragement among the A.P. authors: when good news is shared, we cheer for
each other ... when it’s not so good, we commiserate and console. There’s a healthy
sense of competition, but I believe all of us recognize that when any Astraea
title or author does well, it makes things potentially better for all of us.
As I’ve told Stephanie, I feel I have found a home with A.P. and sincerely hope to publish many other novels here.
So, during the anniversary month, I dedicate this blog column to Astraea
Press and to its Founder / CEO Stephanie Taylor, who had the vision, faith, and courage to launch a company to publish clean fiction. Also to the A.P. staff I’ve had the great fortune to work with, including Kay Springsteen Tate, Opal Campbell, Cheryl
Grey, Traci Pollitt, Elaina Lee, and Stephy Smith.
Happy Second Birthday, A.P.!