We all know that 2020 was a rough year. And that's putting it mildly. But we thought we'd try to look back at it and focus on what went right, rather than on what went wrong. So here's our list of good things that happened last year:
Thinklings Books was originally started as a writing group. We three founders knew that writing, especially in the day of social media disconnect, was a lonely career. In addition to the solitude, writers (unlike companies with many—or even a few—employees) don’t have other people’s skills and strengths to fall back on when our own don’t suffice.
My name is Christopher Light, and I’m in charge of acquisitions here at Thinklings Books. Unlike the Bosses, my background isn’t in fiction writing or in editing, but in literary criticism—you know, the field in which clever nastiness is lauded for its hilarity.
We answered the question "What is speculative fiction?" pretty quickly, but another question that seems to be coming up often is: "What kind of publisher is Thinklings?" We haven’t actually put a name to the type of publisher we are because there isn’t anyone else out there like us. But, since people like to be able to name things, and often use the established systems to do so, people often call us “indie” or “small press.” Thankfully, no one has confused us with the predatory vanity presses, which are publishers who have ads on TV (or elsewhere) trolling for unsuspecting writers. Everyone knows we aren’t traditional, so that must leave one of the other two: indie or small press.
But...we’re not either of those.
Thinklings completely understands why big publishers want authors with platforms. The world is a noisy place, and getting your voice heard is a challenging endeavor. From my experience helping dozens of writers develop their platforms, I know how tricky it can be. And how time-consuming. It’s much easier, and cheaper, to find people with existing platforms than to advertise them through the marketing department. Even if a publisher finds a book they are in love with, they may not publish it if the author has no presence online.
So what is a writer supposed to do? Put aside her writing time to work on publicity? Not sleep? Give up leisure? Stop spending time with his family?
Fortunately, Thinklings has come up with a solution. We call it “Platform in a Box.”
Yesterday I started talking about how we at Thinklings do things a little differently in regard to how we get our income. Today I’m going to go over how we keep our expenses lower and how we cut down the normally expensive aspect of publishing.
Thinklings is not a normal publisher . . . in so many ways. But we do have some common restraints and complaints that the big publishers also have. Primarily regarding profit. Publishers don’t turn large profits. Never have. Anyone who wants to go into publishing to become wealthy has another thing coming.
Back in their days at Toccoa Falls College, not only were Jeannie and Sarah roommates and fellow mischief-makers, but they were also members of a writing group called the Inklings Too. The handful of us met in the library on Thursday mornings to read and discuss the books, poems, or short stories we were crafting. Our illustrious mentor, head of the English department, was Dr. Don Williams (a.k.a. Gandalf). Another member of the group was author Mark Carver, who also writes as Michael Winstell.
As we’ve said elsewhere, Thinklings Books is named in honor of the Inklings, the writing group that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were members of. Not only were the two of them colleagues—as professors and as authors—but they were also good friends. Although in their later years, they had a falling-out over a personal matter, “Tollers” (Tolkien) and “Jack” (Lewis) both shared the same passion and vision throughout their life: a deep love for fantasy writing, as well as a standard of quality above all in literature.
Merriam-Webster defines quality as: “degree of excellence; superiority in kind” (2a, 2b).
So what does it take for a book to be considered excellent and superior? You could Google that question and receive a million—or more—different answers. That’s why we at Thinklings Books thought it important to create our own list of criteria, so that anyone submitting a manuscript to us (or anyone simply curious) can have a reference guide, rather than be left hoping and praying and searching endless web pages.