As you might remember, Richard Chizmar and I joined forces with the cutting edge team at Hydra, a division of Random House, to publish a series of horror eBook anthologies called Dark Screams that feature the best horror authors working in the business today.
ALL five volumes are available for instant reading OR listening, so please be sure to check them out:
Dark Screams: Volume One
Featuring Stephen King, Kelley Armstrong, Bill Pronzini, Simon Clark, and Ramsey Campbell
Richard Chizmar and I have joined forces with the cutting edge team at Hydra, a division of Random House, to launch a series of horror eBook anthologies called Dark Screams that will feature the best horror authors working in the business today.
Each volume will feature different types of chills and thrills, a little something for every type of horror fan, and there are already five volumes of Dark Screams in the works.
We would definitely appreciate your support if you could preorder a copy of Dark Screams: Volume One for the e-reader of your choice through the links below!
About the Book:
Stephen King, Kelley Armstrong, Bill Pronzini, Simon Clark, and Ramsey Campbell are the first contributors to a mind-bending new series of short-story collections that push the boundaries of horror and dark suspense to the bleeding edge. From Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the acclaimed Cemetery Dance Publications, Dark Screams: Volume One reaches across genres to take readers beyond the precipice of mortal toil and into the glimmering void of irreality and beyond.
WEEDS by Stephen King
When a meteorite lands on his property, Jordy Verrill envisions an easy payday. Unfortunately for Jordy, this is no ordinary rock—and the uncompromising force inside has found its first target.
THE PRICE YOU PAY by Kelley Armstrong
Never pay more than you owe. Sounds like easy advice to follow. But for Kara and her childhood friend Ingrid, some debts can never be repaid . . . especially those tendered in blood.
MAGIC EYES by Bill Pronzini
Edward James Toliver has found a weary sort of asylum among the insane. He knows he’s not one of them—but how can he tell anyone about the invaders without sounding that way?
MURDER IN CHAINS by Simon Clark
Imagine awaking to find yourself in an underground vault, chained by the neck to a murderous lunatic, a grunting goliath who seems more animal than man. What would you do to save yourself?
THE WATCHED by Ramsey Campbell
Little Jimmy gets a glimpse of the cold truth when he finds out that it’s not always what you see that can get you into trouble; it’s who knows what you see.
Last year I interviewed Joe Konrath, but somehow that interview never got posted. Most of this is still very relevant, but keep in mind that a lot can change in a year. Still, there’s good stuff in here for all kinds of writers and I didn’t want that to go to waste:
Brian James Freeman: I’ve heard a lot of very large numbers thrown around over the years, but how many books/stories/words did you really write before you sold your first novel?
Joe Konrath: I wrote nine novels before selling Whiskey Sour in 2002, plus over a hundred shorts. I received more than 500 rejections. I’d easily crossed the million word mark before I made a cent.
To talk numbers, Whiskey Sour was a three book deal, $33k per book. I got a second three book deal for $41k per book, and right after I signed it my publisher dropped their mystery line, me included.
That said, my books are all still in print, in multiple printings, and they’ve earned out their advances. My last 6 month royalty check for these was $25k, and naturally the majority of sales were ebooks.
BJF: Many people would have given up, but what drove you to keep writing?
JK: I love writing. I always wanted to make a living doing something I love, and now I’m lucky enough to do so.
BJF: What has been the best part about working with a New York publisher?
JK: Signing a deal was always a reason to celebrate, and I’ve worked with some smart, talented folks.
BJF: The worst?
JK: Poor royalties, no say in title or cover, lots of self-promotion, small marketing budgets, long publication times, short shelf life, returns, coop, and we’re supposed to be grateful to be published. Last I checked, the writer was an essential component in book sales, but we were never paid like we were, or treated like we were.
BJF: Now that you’re one of the best known self-publishers, new authors are always asking you how you did it, and you always say it’s a combination of luck, luck, and more luck. Seriously, how did you do it?
JK: I was in the right place at the right time. When Amazon created the Kindle, I had an extensive backlist that NY publishers rejected. I’d also spent seven years learning how to market and self-promote. Malcolm Gladwell calls it the Rule of 10,000. You have to spend 10,000 hours at something to become an expert at it. I had 10k hours in writing and 10k hours in makerting and publishing. I was also determined to succeed. Put all this together and I was in a good position for luck to strike.
BJF: Do you think the ease with which authors can self-publish will change anything about how New York publishers operate?
JK: No. I don’t think NY will adapt. They’re doing a very good job of making themselves irrelevant.
BJF: How much of a role do you think Amazon.com will play in publishing in the next ten years?
JK: They’re the new kid on the block, with new ideas and a smart way of doing business. Watch to see how many authors they sign in 2012.
BJF: Now that you can self-publish anything you want to write, has that affected what you choose to write?
JK: I did a choose-your-own-adventure type of ebook, and have been doing a lot of novellas and collaborations that would have been impossible to sell a few years ago. That said, I still write commercial fiction, because that’s what I enjoy. If I ever become so self-indulgent that I stop entertaining the readers, please kick me.
BJF: What has been your most successful marketing effort for your own work? Why?
JK: For paper books, I once went on a summer tour and signed at over 500 bookstores. I believe my early touring and internet efforts are a large part of the reason I’m still in print, which turned out to be a big mistake on my part. If I’d let those books die rather than pushed them so hard, I’d probably have the rights back, and would be making a lot more money on them.
As for ebooks, I don’t do much marketing. I try to write good stories, with good covers, good descriptions, and low prices. They seem to sell themselves.
BJF: Your least successful marketing effort?
JK: I once mailed out 7000 letters to libraries and bookstores. That was a lot of money, and a lot of work, and I don’t think it was worth it. I believe ads are a mistake. So are postcards, give-aways, contests, and book trailers. Think about the last book you bought. Why did you buy it? What made you aware of it? Figure that out, and use that strategy.
BJF: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
JK: Doing what I’ve been doing the last twenty. Writing, writing, writing.
BJF: What advice do you have for writers who are just getting started?
JK: This is a business. Act businesslike.
BJF: Finally, if you had to point new readers to just one of your books to get them hooked, which one would you recommend?
JK:Endurance by my pen name Jack Kilborn. It’s scary. Real scary.
I keep hearing from people who ask why Cemetery Dance Publications even bothers publishing anthologies and collections (or even the magazine!) these days. After all, isn’t the short story dead?
Well, if it is, I guess I didn’t get that memo.
Yes, obviously the heyday of short stories in print has passed. None of us are selling short stories to the Evening News or Saturday Evening Post or even the paperback original anthologies that crowded the bookstores in the ’80s and early ’90s — and those markets aren’t coming back.
But I don’t think the lack of markets means the short story is dead. As long as authors want to write short stories and there are readers who still want to read them, the form will live on. In my experience, there’s definitely still readers who want to read short fiction. Not as many as there once was, but I think there could be more on the way — if only we help younger readers discover the thrill of the short story again.
After all, at least when I was a kid, most of the books I read in middle school and younger were essentially long short stories. You read those little paperbacks until you graduated onto “adult” books.
These days, it seems like all of the emphasis is on writing your big series of novels for younger readers — three books is okay, seven books is great. I keep hearing from authors that their younger readers don’t even KNOW what a short story is, and these readers find it confusing when they stumble across a piece of short fiction.
This confuses me. Have they completely dropped English classes from the curriculum? I know it was fourteen years ago that I last stepped foot into a high school classroom, and in the age of the Internet that’s approximately 1 billion years ago, but I remember having an entire book full of short stories as part of my English class each year.
But even if young readers aren’t being properly introduced to the short story, maybe we can still win them over. Time is in short supply for everyone these days and short stories can be a convenient break from reality for a busy person. You can finish off a short story in less than an hour in most cases. Sometimes ten minutes is all you need. Sometimes a story will take you five minutes to read and yet you’ll still be thinking about it days or months later if the author did his or her job right.
That means you can read a short story on the bus to work. You can read a short story over your lunch break, if you’re not too busy playing Angry Birds. You could even read a short story between classes while walking across your college campus, if you were so inclined.
If the people around you don’t think books are cool, you have nothing to worry about thanks to the rise of eBooks. You can be staring at your cell phone and everyone will think you’re just stumped by the letters you have on Words With Friends. No one has to know you’re actually reading a story. (Although, seriously, if the people you hang out with aren’t into reading, maybe it’s time to expand your horizons a bit and find some additional friends. Try your local library or bookstore while they’re still around.)
I hope short stories will find a way to flourish in the world of eBooks. Some of my short stories are already on Amazon.com right now from a marketing experiment I tried a few years back and I’m pleasantly surprised to see a few of them selling several hundred copies a year with absolutely no promotion at all. That tells me there are still readers for short fiction out there.
What are your thoughts on the short story? Is it a dying form? Or will eBooks bring them back to life?
As I mentioned the other week, Cemetery Dance Publications is in the middle of our 13 Days of Halloween Celebration, which features the publication of more than 13 Halloween short story eBooks.
My new short story “Monster Night” was just announced as part of this series today. The eBook is only 99 cents, so I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think.
Monster Night: A Halloween Short Story
by Brian James Freeman
About the eBook:
When Jonathon asked his mother why everyone wore costumes to go trick-or-treating, she said the costumes allowed little kids to walk harmlessly among the real ghouls and goblins that lurked on Halloween night. But this year one of those Halloween terrors might have followed Jonathon home, long after the costumes and candy were put away. His mother’s boyfriend once warned of a giant living pumpkin that would attack children in their beds on Halloween night, and now something has thumped against the side of the house…
Several readers reminded me about the “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought” feature on Barnes & Noble’s website, which I hadn’t thought of for some reason. I’ve seen how well that feature on Amazon’s website can boost sales for a book, but I overlooked it last week when thinking about these B&N sales!
Wendy Casperson then hit a home run and told me on my Facebook wall exactly what books had helped propel sales of The Painted Darkness. Check out which eBook pages on the B&N website were also promoting The Painted Darkness:
A special three-part Odd Thomas eBook series by Dean Koontz! Not too shabby, eh?
My thanks to Wendy and everyone who pointed me in the right direction!