Friday, November 14, 2014

Introducing Word Posse

Take a talented group of writers working together with the goal of publishing their work and you have Word Posse. This band of seven authors is a critique group that just entered the world of self publishing. Word Posse consists of members Thomas Drennan, Laurell K. Hamilton, Marella Sands, Sharon Shinn, Mark Sumner, Rett MacPherson, and Deborah Millitello, authors who write in a variety of styles and genres.

I asked them how they came up with name "Word Posse". Marella said, "I was making a list of possible names, and thought, well, we work with words, and we’re friends, but of course Words With Friends is already taken. So I looked in the thesaurus under the “friends” entry and found posse. Then I checked to see if and @WordPosse and were available and they were. Everyone liked the name, so we grabbed the domain, the Twitter handle, and the Facebook page and that was that."
Members of  Word Posse have worked together as a critique group for some time. It started when Laurell K. Hamilton and Debbie Millitello met at the NameThatCon writers workshop in 1988. Mark Sumner then ran into Laurell at Archon, but accidentally handed her another person's business card that he had just received instead of his own. Somehow they managed to make contact and Mark joined the group. Marella Sands got into the group after sending a story to Mark, who was editing the magazine Fresh Ink, while Sharon Shinn was a published author with Ace and had the same editor as Laurell. Laurell and Mark were doing a book signing at Walden Books where Rett MacPherson was working. Laurell, who frequented the store, knew that Rett wanted to be a writer and told her there was an opening in the group. In order to join, potential members had to submit two pieces of work, not to find out how good they were, but, "mostly to see if they could finish something...and see how they reacted when people commented on their stuff." No one was quite sure how Tom Drennan became a member. "I think I met some of you folks at Archon one year." (Archon is a Science Fiction convention in St. Louis.)

Just recently, the group decided to form their own self publishing venture. Mark had been thinking of it for some time; wanting to do something with a backlist of out of print books and also get new books out there. Debbie had also been thinking about it for over two years. Rett was wondering how to get her books up on Amazon and asked the group if they knew how. After seeing article after article about self publishing, the group decided it was something they could do together. As Marella said, "Print on demand has changed lots of things because you don’t have to be sitting on thousands of copies in your basement." "And digital too, has changed everything," Sharon added, "because it can be in print forever." Doing it together is less daunting as members can pool their knowledge and figure things out together. As Sharon said, "Whatever you need to know, somebody will know."

I asked the group if they will solely self publish or continue to seek out contracts with traditional publishers. Rett replied that she will continue to seek out traditional publishers. Sharon, in her readings, has found that writers today actually need to have several fronts-traditional, self publishing, and online. "Because the more places you are, the more people you'll pick up." Members of  Word Posse have a distinct advantage. They have all been published and have books and short stories out there. Some even have a fan base already.

As for whose novels they'll publish...according to Sharon, for the most part they'll be the books they love best that didn't sell. "The ones that we really believe deserved a shot and didn't get it."

Word Posse is publishing three books this month. The Naturalist by Mark Sumner is science fiction. It takes place in the 19th century and follow the exploits of explorers in Central America who find some interesting insects that they weren’t quite counting on. Mark has a lot of details on the botany and the animals of Central America. Mark did a lot of research on people like Darwin who were out exploring in the 19th century. Sleeping the Churchyard Sleep by Rett MacPherson is a historical mystery that takes place in 1950s West Virginia. Pandora’s Mirror is a paranormal by Marella Sands. She did copious amounts of research and is apparently scaring her cover model who is reading a proof of the book!

Word Posse has plans for the future. According to Marella, "Next year, we’re hoping to put out four or five books. They’ll come out in February, May, August, and November. Sometimes we’ll have one book, but maybe sometimes two at one launch. That’s our goal. We’ll have one – or possibly two – from Tom next year, with his protagonist Thor McGraw." According to Tom, Thor McGraw is "a new private investigator, a guy who suddenly finds himself in a situation where he has to solve a mystery. A lot of it is Thor McGraw and his relationship with his daughter, a six-year-old child. And there will always be something a little magical in the books, with some twists and changes along the way."

For more information on Word Posse be sure to check out the following links:

Word Posse Website: 
Word Posse Facebook Page:
Word Posse on Twitter:

You can find information and links for the specific members on their individual page on the Word Posse website.

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