Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Tale of Four Signings

A few years ago, I was signing books outside the dealers’ room at the Marcon science fiction convention. A man approached the table and spent a few minutes looking over my books.
“I might as well take this one,” he said, after picking up a copy of my novel Nekropolis. “I’m getting it for my wife. It was her birthday a couple weeks ago, and I forgot to get her anything. Just write inside that you’re sorry it’s late.”

I looked at him. “Do you mean write that you’re sorry?”

“No, write that you’re sorry.”

I looked at him again, a bit longer this time, then I shrugged and then signed it to his wife, adding I’m sorry your husband forgot to get you a present. Then I signed my name, handed him the book, and he walked off without checking to see what I wrote. I have a feeling that his present was most likely not well received.

The book-signing is one of the most common tools in a writer’s promotional arsenal, especially with the increase in self-publishing. When I was first starting to learn about marketing and promotion sometime in my twenties, the common wisdom old pros would pass down to us newbies in those pre-Internet days was that most self-promotional efforts were wasted time. The best way for your books to reach readers was to partner with a traditional publisher who could get your work into bookstores and who (might) spend a little money on promotion for you. Doing readings, signings, and attending cons were only worthwhile if you enjoyed such activities. (Or, as some of the more cynical pros would say, if you need to do those things to feel like a “real” writer.) Self-promotional efforts wouldn’t put any money into your pocket, and you’d be lucky to connect with one or two readers. And in the case of cons, you’d have to lay out your own money for travel expenses, food, etc. Bottom line, as far the pros were concerned: you’d be better off staying home and writing.

As I began publishing more regularly, I tried various self-promotional activities for myself, and my experience bore out the old pros’ advice. So while I was still happy to do signings, readings, panels, or workshops at a con, I stopped seeking out promotional opportunities. Occasionally, someone would contact me and ask if I could do a writing workshop for their school or organization, and I’d say yes. But otherwise, I was done.

But as the years passed, and more small-presses sprang up and more writers self-published, I began to see more writers doing promotional activities, especially signings. I wondered if times had changed enough that it might be worth it for me to try doing more promotion. I also began to wonder if, after publishing for so many years, I was getting lazy. So when a library not far from Cleveland contacted me and asked me to participate in their upcoming book fair, I said yes. The library was a three-hour drive from where I lived, but they had a bookseller coming in who would have presenters’ books for sale, so I wouldn’t have to schlep my own copies, and I’d never done any promotion in that part of the state. They also wanted me to be on a publishing panel with several other writers to kick off the event. I knew that money-wise, I’d be in the hole when it was done, but I wanted the experience. Besides, I try to take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves (which often means I end up committing to more than I can comfortably do, but that’s a topic for another blog post). You never know what connections you might make, how they may pay off down the road, etc.

The library was new, big, modern, and extremely cool. As soon as I saw it, I thought that maybe this event would turn out to be something special. (I can hear some of you out there laughing already.) The opening panel wasn’t well attended. Less than a dozen people came. My fellow panelists were all literary writers who taught at area colleges, and the panel went well enough. Afterward, I asked a fellow panelist if he was going to stay for the book fair, and he laughed. “I did it last year. I’m going to skip it this time.”

His response did not bode well.

Soon after, many other writers arrived and began setting up their displays. The bookstore people came, and while they had my books, they didn’t have the new novel by one of my fellow panelists who did decide to stay for the fair, so she packed up and left, looking rather relieved to have an excuse to duck out, I thought. Then the fair began.

People trickled in steadily over the next few hours, but almost none of them bought books, and they certainly didn’t buy any of mine. I had a small poster and some fliers, but after checking them out, people would say some variation of “Horror? I can’t read that stuff. It keeps me up at night” and move on. Less than an hour after the fair began, most of the authors (who all appeared to be self-pubbed) started wandering around, introducing themselves to one another, swapping business cards, and asking for leads on other book fairs they might be able to attend to sell their books. (And asking me how much I had to pay to get my books published.) It was one of the most surreal – and sad – displays I’ve seen when it comes to self-promotional events. The librarians in charge were perplexed and dismayed that very few people came.”Maybe if we’d publicized the event more . . .” one of them told me.

The next signing I did was at the World Horror Convention. I participated in the mass signing at the con, and I did sign some books. But since the con was in New Orleans, few people bought books that weekend. They were saving their money for food and booze, and who could blame them? You have to have priorities in life. I saw one writer who had a stack of his new novel at his table. No one came to visit him until he put up a hastily scrawled sign that said FREE BOOKS! He had visitors then – as long as his supply held out. People will always take a free book. I wonder how many of those books get read, though.

The next signing event I did after WHC was during the spring residency for Seton Hill University’s MFA in Writing Professional Fiction program, in which I serve as a mentor. The signing was actually put on by the program’s alumni, as part of the In Your Write Mind workshop they conduct during residencies. Between workshop presenters, program faculty, and alumni, there were dozens upon dozens of writers in attendance. Who knows, maybe close to hundred. There were certainly enough of us to fill an entire gym. I thought there would be a bookseller with faculty’s books for sale. There wasn’t. The organizers didn’t even have a name card for me or an assigned table. (I hard to write my name on a piece of paper for myself.) The organizers did an amazing job overall, so I figure I probably screwed up something along the way, forgot to email them or double-check that they received an email from me, etc. So no hard feelings on my part. I found a spot next to Lucy A. Snyder, who had a professional display of her books, along with the Bram Stoker Award she had won a couple weeks previously. I had brought some promotional postcards to pass out, but that was it. It was a bit embarrassing. I’ve published over thirty novels by this point, and I knew I should’ve brought at least a few copies with me, just in case.

So when the next signing came around, I was determined to do it right. I went to Staples and bought display stands for my books, I made my own nameplate so I wouldn’t have to rely on anyone else to make me one, I got a square card reader for my phone so I could take credit and debit card payments, I got a bloody gauze Halloween tablecloth to drape over the table, and I packed up a couple boxes of books. The signing took place at the Context science fiction convention last month, and again it was a mass signing, with maybe a dozen different writers in attendance. It went on for two hours, and I didn’t sell a single book. I signed several that people had brought with them or bought at the con, though.

So what did I learn from these signings over the last year?

·         Mass signings sound good to event organizers, but people only have so much money to spend. The more writers in attendance, the fewer (if any) books individual writers will sell. And of course, it’s harder to stand out in a crowd when there actually is a crowd.

·         The old pros were right. Signings in general probably don’t do much to promote writers, but if you’re going to be at an event anyway, it doesn’t hurt to participate in a signing.

·         If you’re going to do signings, bring your shit with you. Always.

·         Have free stuff people can take (but not your books!). As I mentioned before, I have a promotional postcard that has several book covers of mine on it. I also have a piece of flash fiction printed on the back.

·         If I wasn’t so damned lazy, I might make chapbooks of some of my how-to-write and how-to-publish articles to pass out at signings. People are most interested in what they can get from you, not what they can do for you. Many of the people at writing events want to become published writers themselves, and you can make that work for you. Whether such a chapbook would result in sales of your fiction is, not to make a pun, another story. But it might be worth a try.

·         The most valuable commodity any of us possess is time. Only do promotional events like readings if you believe they’ll be worth the time you’ll spend to do them.

·         There are lots of books on marketing and self-promotion out there. My favorite is Guerilla Marketing for Writers. There are tons of great tips in here, from cheap and easy to more expensive and effort-intensive – something for everyone!

My latest novel, Supernatural, the Television Series: The Roads Not Taken has just been released. It’s an interactive novel (meaning you get to choose the characters’ paths throuthe story) featuring Sam and Dean Winchester from the popular TV series. I had a hell of lot of fun writing it, and I’m excited that people will finally get the chance to read it:
My story “Unwoven” appears in the anthology Bleed. All proceeds go to fight children’s cancer:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

You Better (Net)Work!

Next week, I’ll be attending the World Horror Convention/Bram Stoker Awards Weekend in New Orleans. I’m going for several reasons. This year I had the honor of serving on the Lifetime Achievement Award Committee. We selected two recipients this year: Clive Barker (who unfortunately can’t make it) and Robert R. McCammon (who will be there). As a committee member, I feel it’s my duty to be present at the Stoker ceremony. A second reason for me to attend the conference is that Bone Whispers, my third short story collection, is going to make its debut there. Another reason I’m going is to meet with editors and my agent, and to renew acquaintances, strengthen friendships, and make new contacts. And of course I hope to have a lot of fun too!
Large conferences like World Horror can be a great place for new and upcoming writers to learn from more established professionals, of course, and since horror fans also will be in attendance, the conference is also a marketing opportunity. But in my opinion, the most important professional (not personal) reason to attend a conference like this is networking. You can do the other stuff – gaining knowledge, marketing and promotion – on your own, without the time and expense of going to a big conference. But while you could argue that a certain amount of networking can be done via social networking sites (they have the word networking in their name, after all), I’d argue that there’s no substitute for meeting, talking, and getting to know – and be known by – people face to face.
I first started attending large writing conferences when I was in my late twenties/early thirties (I’m forty-nine now). I’d had a handful of short stories published by that point, and I’d come to the conclusion that I wasn’t doing everything I could to advance my writing career. I’d arrived at this conclusion after reading a number of articles about – you guessed it – networking. One of the first conferences I attended for the specific purpose of networking was Marcon in Columbus, Ohio. I wrote to the organizers, introduced myself, listed my meager credits, and expressed my interest in serving as a panelist (even though I’d never been on a panel before). My reasoning was that if I was a panelist, the other writers on the panel would automatically see me as one of them (to a greater or lesser degree) and not a member of the audience. In other words, I wouldn’t be just another fan. I figured that I’d get an opportunity to introduce myself before the panel began, which meant I could approach my fellow panelists any time after that without worrying that’d see me as a stranger (or worse, a stalker!). Also, the panel content itself and the discussion that followed would give me something to talk about with the other panelists later, saving me from having to try to come up with conversation topics on my own. I also found out which authors were attending and, if I wasn’t already familiar with their work, I made sure to read a sampling before the con.
I lived in Columbus at the time, and two of the authors in attendance also lived in the city: Dennis L. McKiernan and J. Calvin Pierce. I decided to do what I could to make their acquaintance. After all, if we lived in the same town, there was every chance I’d see them at other events in the city and maybe – if I was lucky – build some kind of relationship with them. (A guy can dream, can’t he?)
The conference organizers scheduled me for several panels (which to be honest, I didn’t really expect) and while I wasn’t scheduled to be on any panels with Dennis, I was scheduled to be on one with Jim (J. Calvin) Pierce. I don’t remember what the panel was about or how it went, but afterward, I spoke with Jim, told him how much I enjoyed his book (which was true), and Jim – who happened to be heading off to meet Dennis for a drink, invited me to join them. I felt like I’d hit the networking jackpot!
A couple weeks later, Jim invited me over to his house to talk writing, and that evening he was heading off to his writers’ group, which included not only Dennis, but Lois McMaster Bujold as well. He asked if I’d like to come along. As you might imagine, I said yes, please! I soon became an official member of that group, and I can’t tell you all the ways it helped me grow personally as well as professionally. And all because I took the first step of trying to get on panels instead of just sitting in the audience (something that admittedly is a lot easier to do at smaller cons than the major ones).
One bit of advice the networking articles I read offered was that writers should strive to create their own “look,” a certain appearance and style that sets them apart from the crowd, draws attention to them, and makes them memorable. A look can have other uses too. Maureen McHugh once told me a story about attending a Worldcon years ago at which Neil Gaiman was also in attendance. The two of them tried to leave the hotel to have lunch, but Neil – who was well on his way to superstar status even then – kept getting stopped in the lobby by fans who wanted to talk to him. He apologized to Maureen and asked her to wait a moment. He went to the men’s room, removed his sunglasses and leather jacket (which was his look at the time), and returned. Neil and Maureen then exited the lobby without further interference.
“What did you do?” Maureen asked.
Neil smiled. “I became Clark Kent,” he answered.
When I was trying to decide on my look, I considered a number of options. Finally I decided I would be the funny/weird tie guy. I bought ties that had pen designs on them (because I was a writer), and skull designs (because I write horror), etc. I wore them with button shirts, slacks, and black work shoes. It was a dismal flop. Writers, as a rule, are notoriously casual in their dress, and editors, agents, and publishers tend to dress more professionally. So since I wore ties, no one recognized me as a writer. Everyone thought I worked in publishing. The next time I went to a conference, I wore turtlenecks, jeans, and sneakers, and everyone knew that I was a writer on sight.
Should you have a “look”? I don’t bother anymore. I just wear whatever I feel like, but I’m farther along in my career than a lot of writers. If you want to go for a look, I suggest doing what feels natural and right for you. Scott A. Johnson wears a kilt at cons. Alethea Kontis wear a princess tiara. I saw Teri Jacobs wearing a very cool Cthulhu necklace at a con once. Michael West has an extensive collection of black T-shirts with horror movie posters and characters on them. At the last Worldcon, John Edward Lawson wore an extremely cool 18th century style outfit, complete with chest ruffles. (Even cooler, it was the outfit he got married in!) Maurice Broaddus is a stylish dresser, and Jeremy Lassen is known for his awesome suits. I once saw Maurice and Jeremy do a who’s-better-dressed showdown in a hotel lobby at a con, and it was amazing!
One caveat I would offer is that at SF/F/H cons, some pros view dressing up too much as wearing hall costumes, which is something (in their view) that only fans do. So take that into consideration if you’re going to go for a distinctive look.
One of the great advantages of going to a conference, especially a larger one, is that you might get a chance to pitch your novel to an agent or editor one on one. If you’re lucky, there will be formal, scheduled pitch sessions you can sign up for. However, there will also be opportunities to informally pitch your project. You’ll need to be assertive (but not overly aggressive) and talk to editors or agents after panels, at parties, in the bar or lobby. If you can find editors and agents, that is. They’re so used to being stalked by hopeful writers that they’re often careful not to remain in the open too long, lest they attract an endless crowd of project-pitchers. Here’s where being a panelist can help you again. If you were on a panel with an agent or editor, that gives you a connection to them that you can later use as a conversation starter. I never start out pitching a project when talking to editors. I might ask how the conference is going for them, and I often ask questions about the current state of the publishing industry or what I, as a creative writing teacher, should be telling my students about publishing. These aren’t mere conversational gambits. I’m genuinely interested in these topics, which I can have a real conversation before any business talk begins. When an agent or editor is ready to entertain a pitch, they’ll use this phrase: “So, what are you working on?” That’s your cue to pitch away.
The worst informal pitch I’ve ever seen occurred a few years back at a party after an award ceremony at a conference, which was held at a bar a couple blocks from the hotel in NYC. I’d published a horror novel Like Death (recently republished by Apex Books in both print and e-book versions) with Leisure Books, and I sat down with my editor, Don D’Auria, to discuss, among other things, my follow-up (which would turn out to be Pandora Drive). We’d only been chatting for a short time before a young writer came over and asked if she could join us. I was acquainted with this writer, although not very well, but even so, horning in on what’s clearly a private business discussion is considered extremely bad manners at a conference. Don and I were both a bit surprised at the writer’s boldness, but we said sure, pull up a chair. We started talking about general topics, and the writer took every opportunity to interject the title of her unpublished novel into the conversation as awkwardly as possible, always using the same phrase. “Well, in my novel TITLE . . .” (I won’t mention the title because I don’t want to embarrass the writer publicly, but you can bet your ass I remember it. I heard it probably a few dozen times, and even if my brain one day succumbs to Alzheimer’s, I suspect the very last memory to go will be the title of her novel.)
She went on like this for a while, until finally Don excused himself and got up to go speak with someone else. The writer looked crestfallen, but she remained to chat with me a while longer. Eventually she left and Don returned to the table and sat back down.
“Sorry about that,” he said. “I just couldn’t take it anymore.”
Needless to say, Don did not publish the writer’s novel, and as far as I know, it was never published. She was aggressive rather than assertive. And instead of having a genuine conversation, she employed a pat sales technique that she’d probably read about in some dumbass business marketing book. The result: she made herself look like an annoying wannabee in the eyes of one of the most important editors in the horror genre. Not the impression she wanted to make, I’ll wager.
Enough with the anecdotes. Here are a few tips on networking at conferences.
Have a business card.

Even if you’re just embarking on your writing career, you need to be able to give people your contact information. Don’t put anything on the card you don’t want to share with the world at large, such as your street address, home phone number, etc. If you have a website – and you should – make sure the URL is on your card.

Don’t network drunk.

It’s easy to drink too much at a con, and writers aren’t alone in this. I once had a drunk editor come up and start apologizing for taking so long to get back to me about a story she asked me to write for an anthology she was putting together. Problem was, she’d never contacted me about sending a story. I don’t know for certain who she thought I was. My guess is she mistook me for British author Tim Lebbon, but you’d think that even drunk, the fact that I don’t have an English accent would’ve tipped her off that she’d made a mistake. She definitely lost professionalism points in my eyes, and it didn’t help that it was only mid-morning, either. (In case you’re wondering, she no longer works as an editor.) A drink or two might help loosen you up and bolster your confidence – especially if like most writers you’re an introvert. But don’t overdo.
Don’t be too stalky.
The con’s program schedule can help you determine where and when that editor or agent you’re dying to talk to will be, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to chat with them after a panel or two. But beware becoming a stalker. If you start showing up everywhere your “target’ is, you’ll end up creeping them out, which might just get you a visit from hotel security.
Don’t be (obnoxiously) pushy.
You want to be assertive enough that you can approach an editor or agent and start a conversation. You don’t want to shove a 1000 page manuscript into their hands. And realize they’re living people. Don’t expect them to sit with you for six hours of in-depth conversation about your magnum opus. They need to eat. And pee. And sleep.
Don’t stick with a clique.
If you have friends or acquaintances at a conference, it can be tempting to hang out with them all the time. Presumably you all like each other, so it’s fun to hang out together, but it’s also safe. You need to break out on your own now and again to make contacts, and who knows? Maybe even make a few new friends.
Network at different times and places.
Some people are morning people, some night people. Some hang out at the bar, some in the dealer’s room. Some go to parties, some avoid them like the Red Death. Whichever category you fall into, make sure you vary the times and places you’ll be during the conference. It will maximize your networking opportunities.
Be yourself. Unless you’re a jerk. In that case, try to be someone better.
The most important piece of advice I can give about networking is to try to relax and be yourself. The more genuine you are, the more editors and agents will be able to view you as a normal person instead of an overly desperate writer who’s only interested in using them. They’ll be able to relax around you and feel free to chat. Remember, agents and editors go to conferences, at least in part, to network too, so they expect writers to talk about their work. But no one likes a hard-sell approach.
Hopefully the tips I’ve passed along will serve you well the next time you attend a conference. And if despite my best efforts you end up making a fool of yourself, go ahead and blame it on me. After all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?
My third collection of horror stories Bone Whispers, with an introduction by Michael A. Arnzen, is out from Post Mortem Press in trade paperback, with electronic editions to follow soon.
You can buy Bone Whispers here:
My novel Supernatural: Carved in Flesh, in which Sam and Dean Winchester discover the horrifying truth behind the Frankenstein legend, is still available in both print and electronic editions.

You can buy Supernatural: Carved in Flesh here:


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pssst! Wanna Buy a Book?

“The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is that you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that.” —Charley from Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Let’s take a poll. How many of you started writing so that you could eventually achieve your life-long dream of pestering strangers to buy your books? Raise your hands. Anyone?
That’s what I thought.

Traditional publishers still promote their authors, although it’s expected that those authors will work equally as hard – if not harder – to sell books. And if you go the self-published route, expect to do more promotion than writing. (After all, indie writers, you have to find some way to get readers’ attention. Amazon’s magic search algorithms can only do so much.)

So what advice can I offer to help you promote your work effectively? Damned if I know. But I can tell you a few things not to do (mostly because I’ve done them).

Now You Look Like an Author!
That’s what the administrative assistant in the English Department where I teach said several years back when I returned from break sporting a mustache and goatee. One aspect of promotion is looking the part – although people’s expectations can vary as to exactly what an author should look like. And if you’re a contrary fellow like me, you hate letting other people’s perceptions make choices for you. Nevertheless, looking the part can help.

I’m forty-nine now. When I was thirty-one I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The doctors caught it early, surgery took care of it, and I’ve been fine ever since. But for a few years after my cancer scare, I was a risk-taker. I’d beaten the Big C, so I wasn’t afraid to try anything. Around this time I started attending the World Fantasy Convention, and – reading somewhere that it was important for writers to create a memorable look for themselves – I bought some weird ties (ones with skulls on them, etc.) and decided to wear them with nice shirts, slacks, and shoes.

World Fantasy, for those of you who don’t know, is a huge gathering of writers, publishers, editors, and agents in the field of speculative fiction. No fans, just pros. Lots of business gets done at this con every year, and it’s an excellent place to network and make connections. The bar is a great place to network, as are publishers’ parties – especially the invitation-only parties. One year, I’d learned where a private party was taking place (offsite at another hotel), and I convinced some friends to crash it with me. We hopped in a cab, found the hotel, located the party suite, and entered. No one asked who we were and if we were supposed to be there. My friends were nervous, but I – being full of cocky self-confidence – felt relaxed and self-satisfied. I’d been aggressive, rolled the dice, and here I was at a real publisher’s party.

It was a small party, with lots of drinking and conversation going on. And everyone wanted to talk to me. And I mean everyone. An attractive and somewhat inebriated editor spent some time chatting me up, only to abruptly turn away when she found out I was married. (“How nice for you!” she said before turning her back on me.) Agents pulled me aside to chat, and while I already had an agent, I was happy to get to speak with them and hear their take on the current state of the publishing industry. One writer, who I’d met the previous night, spent some time telling me about his idea for a young adult novel. It was an interesting idea, but I couldn’t figure out why the writer seemed so eager, and somewhat nervous, to talk to me about it. In fact, as the party wound down, I began to wonder why everyone seemed so eager to get to know me. No one was wearing nametags, and even if I had been, no one would’ve recognized my name, not back then.

The next day the writer who told me about his YA book approached me in the hotel lobby and apologized. Not only had he been somewhat tipsy at the party, he’d forgotten that we’d been previously introduced, and because I’d been wearing a tie, he’d assumed I was a new editor who’d just started working for the publisher. He hadn’t been telling me about his book. He’d been pitching it to me.

That’s when I understood what had happened at the party. Because of the way I was dressed, all the editors thought I was an agent, and all the writers and agents thought I was an editor. No one at the party thought I was a writer. If they had, they probably wouldn’t have spoken with me at all.

At the next World Fantasy Convention, I wore turtlenecks, jeans, and tennis shoes, and everybody knew I was a writer.

Despite what we may wish, appearances matter when it comes to promotion. I’ve given up trying to wear the equivalent of costumes, though, and just dress like myself. The last event I went to, I sat on a panel about fiction writing with several other writers, three of whom were literary writers who taught in university creative writing programs, and one of whom was a script writer. They all wore nice suits of varying types. I showed up in a polo shirt, and the aforementioned jeans and tennis shoes. These days, I’ll dress up for an awards banquet, but that’s about it.

You need to think about what signals your “look” will send to readers, too. Among women writers especially, there’s some debate about whether and how much to use your sexuality as a marketing tool. Do you wear a low-cut dress or not? A lot of makeup or a little? As a male in my culture, these aren’t choices I’ve ever had to wrestle with, but I know that many women do.

The Aborted Launch

The book launch is something that new writers love to do. If you’re a first-time novelist, why wouldn’t you want to mark the release of your first book with an event? After all, it’s sure as hell an event to you! Books launches can be fun, and you can take pictures or video to post on your website or social media sites, so even if you don’t sell a ton of books, you can still get promotional value from the event.

I’ve done one book launch. One.

My first published novel was a humorous erotic mystery called Dying for It. I wrote it because the editor, Russell Davis, and I had previously collaborated on a short story featuring Xena the Warrior Princess for an anthology. Russell contacted me, said he was working as an editor for a new small-press publisher of erotica targeted to married couples, and would I like to pitch some ideas to him? I said sure, partially because the project would pay a professional-level advance, but mostly because it sounded like a fun challenge. Could I write an erotic mystery? Could I write a good one? And what the hell would a “good one” be, anyway?

When the book came out, I contacted a local bookstore known for not only hosting events for authors on major book tours, but also supporting local authors. The events coordinator was happy to have me come to her store, a time for the event was set, and several weeks later, I showed up, ready to talk about my book, do a reading from a non-erotic passage (the reading was in public, after all, and kids might be walking past), and hopefully sell and sign a few books. I knew mostly friends, family, and coworkers were going to be in the audience, so I had no illusions this was going to be a promotional event of any real magnitude, but I was looking forward to experiencing what a book launch was like, especially with a supportive audience.

But as soon as I arrived at the store, the events coordinator came up to me, obviously nervous, and told me that since I was a writing teacher, the people who showed up tonight would be more interested in getting advice on how to publish their writing than in hearing me read from my book. So that’s what I should do: talk about writing and publishing. Not talk about Dying for It, and I especially shouldn’t read from it.

I realized then what had happened. The events coordinator hadn’t actually read my book until close to the event, and perhaps she’d only skimmed it that morning. Once she knew it was a book with S-E-X in it, she panicked. That didn’t bother me. What did brother me was that she didn’t come out and tell me what the problem was. I’m a big boy. I could’ve taken it.

Anyway, I stepped up onto the stage (yes, they actually had a stage dedicated for special events) in front of a dozen or more people, almost all of whom I knew, without any idea what the hell I was going to say. I made it through the hour, but it was not a particularly comfortable experience for me – especially when at one point one of my friends called out, “When are you going to read from your book?” which caused the event coordinator, who was sitting in the back, to go pale. Since then I haven’t bothered with book launches – and especially not at that store.

So what are your take-aways from this story? Tell the goddamned people at the bookstore what your book is about, for one – and make sure they understand you. If your book has any content that might be R or X-rated, I wouldn’t read from those sections unless that’s what the audience is expecting. Most of all, be ready to roll with whatever might go wrong with the event because something will. Sometimes the best way to promote yourself to readers is to show them that not only are you human too, you can be flexible and good-humored when things go wrong.

Readings, Nothing More Than Readings

I may not do book launches per se anymore, but I still do readings, mostly at conferences. I’ve read to a few dozen people before, I’ve read to one person before, and I’ve sat in an empty room for a while before giving up and leaving. Why do I do it? It’s fun (when someone shows up, that is), and it’s an easy promotional activity since I don’t get stage fright. (Teaching for thirty years is a big help in that department.) And I get to list my readings on my merit pay application at my school every year as scholarly activities. Cha-ching!

Readings at cons can be a mixed bag. One year I did a reading next door to a performance of a Klingon opera. A very LOUD performance. One year I did a reading at nine a.m. on a Sunday at major con, after everyone had been up all night partying. As you might imagine, I didn’t exactly have a packed house that morning.

Once I gave a reading at my college. I was going to read a horror story, and a woman came in with her two preschool age children and sat in the front row. I told her that I was going to be reading a story with adult content, and she assured me that her children would be fine. I shrugged, began reading, and the woman hurried her children out of there before I was finished with the first sentence.

My advice for readings? Go into them without any expectations. They’ll hurt less that way. As with other events, have someone take pictures or video that you can use later. Even if you end up reading to an empty room, that doesn’t have to show up on the pics or the video. Have some kind of simple promotional material for people to take with them that has your website address and social media contact info on it. Bookmarks, fliers, etc. Author Mike Resnick autographs the hardcopy of his story when he’s done with a reading and gives it to someone in the audience. If you do this, make sure your address isn’t on the manuscript! Even if you’re at a con that has a dealers room, it’s not a bad idea to bring some books to sell. And if you do, get one of those cool card reader thingies you can use to take debit/credit card payments with your phone. (I need to get off my ass and get one myself.) Having business cards for people to take with them is good, and again, make sure your website address, etc. is on the card. Don’t put any contact info on your card you don’t want assorted strangers, stalkers, and creepers to have, however.

Serving as a panelist at conferences is similar to giving a reading, only you’re talking about a particular topic related to writing or a specific genre like science fiction, and you’re not the only person on the panel. Some people like to prepare for panels. I just show up and do my best to contribute to the conversation. Like readings, the size of the audience varies. Unlike readings, you need to be able to share the time with your fellow panelists and not be a jerk. Have the same promotional materials to pass out afterward as you do for readings. Don’t feel like you’ve published enough to qualify for a panel? All you really need is to be willing to share your thoughts and feelings about the topic. People are more interested in what you have to say rather than what you’ve done.

Book Fairs, Schmook Fairs

Last weekend, I attended an author festival/book fair at a library about three-and-a-half hours’ drive from where I live. Why did I go? Simple: they asked me. And I’d never done any kind of promotional events in the northern part of my state, so I figured I’d schlep on up there and see what it was like.

I didn’t have to bring my own books, which was nice. A local bookseller brought books for those attendees who weren’t self-published. (The bookseller, unsurprisingly, didn’t have to bring many books.) There were probably two dozen authors in attendance, almost all of them were self-published, and their promotional displays ranged from professionally done to – I kid you not – printouts of text taped to poster board. The library staff did their best to promote the event, but during the three hours it lasted, very few patrons came into the room where the event was being held, and those who did browsed without buying. Mostly, authors wandered around the room, talking to each other and networking.

One author told me he was planning a twenty-six to thirty-four book series, and that he wanted to find a publisher because he wanted to focus all his time on writing the books rather than trying to sell them himself.

Several writers asked me if I knew of any other good book fairs or events where they could sell their work. There were a lot of conversations like that going on around me. What could I say to them? “Um . . . my books come out from real publishers who pay me advances and then market my books, so I don’t usually do events like this because, you know, I don’t have to.”  I don’t think so.

A writer was visiting tables because she was writing an article on whether editing was important for writers, and she wanted to get quotes from all the authors there. (My answer to her question: Yes. Hell, yes.)

The bookseller, for whatever reason, didn’t have copies of one of the few professionally published writers in attendance, a literary author named Pauline Chen. Ms. Chen quite classily took this development in stride, smiled, told the bookseller that was okay, then gathered her promotional materials and left. Why should she stick around if she didn’t have any books to sell? (I suspect by that point she’d gotten a read on the room, realized that most everyone was a newbie self-pubber, and that almost no one was going to show up to the event, and she was happy to have an excuse to beat feet.)

I made a round trip of about seven hours, and I sold no books that day. (The most common comment I got from browsers was some variation of: “Horror, huh? I don’t read that stuff. Keeps me up at night.”) I didn’t really expect to sell any, to be honest. It was just an experiment, and it turned out pretty much the way I thought it would. I was surprised that there were so many self-published writers who seemed clueless about . . . well, everything to do with publishing and promoting. It’s not as if they can’t find out information about promoting books by hitting the Internet. I wasn’t surprised that the people who did show up didn’t buy books (not just from me, but from most of the other writers, too). It was a library, after all. And I wasn’t surprised that no one was interested in horror. It’s a genre for readers with more refined tastes, after all. (Taste in what, precisely, I’ll leave you to ponder.) But it did reinforce one of my beliefs about mass events like this. It may seem like the more authors in attendance, the more attractive the event will be to readers. But readers only have so much money to spread around, and they certainly don’t want to have to avoid eye contact with every desperate author there who gives them a hard-sell about his or her book. A lot of folks just stay away from such events. At a genre-focused conference, having shared signings or even mass signings can work well. Some of the attendees came to the con in order to meet writers and get books signed, after all. But the random book fair in small-town America? It might be a good place to get some practice promoting (and more importantly do some networking with other writers) when you’re starting out – and you can still get those pics and vids of yourself in action for later use. But otherwise . . . I wouldn’t recommend them.

On the Internet, No One Knows You’re a Dog

Experts – whoever the hell they are – say that for every sales message you put out into the virtual world, you should put out five non-sales messages. If you’re a relentless self-promotion machine, people quickly tune you out. There’s one gentleman on Facebook who every year posts a birthday message on my page. It goes something like this: “On your special day, why not treat yourself to some great fiction? I’ve recently published A LIST OF BOOKS ABOUT A MILE LONG. Enjoy!” I will never read this guy’s books. Never. Ever. Why don’t I just unfriend him? I’m a nice guy. Besides, he only posts a message like that on my page once a year. If he did it more often, I’d defriend and block him. And perhaps it’s occurred to me that by allowing him to make a jackass of himself on my page, I get the pleasure of watching him cut his own throat sales-wise. Then again, maybe that hasn’t occurred to me. Like I said, I’m a nice guy.

Watch out for being viewed as a spammer on message boards. When my third Leisure novel Darkness Wakes came out, I was told that if it didn’t sell well enough, they wouldn’t publish a fourth novel from me. So I decided to quit being lazy about promoting online (this was pre-Facebook) and dropped by various message boards letting folks know about my novel. I wasn’t always an established member of these communities and people pointed at me like Donald Sutherland in the 1970’s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and screamed “Spaaaaaammer!” I then made the mistake of replying to one of those threads and explained why I was so clumsily trying to drum up sales for Darkness Wakes. This resulted in a number of people who thought they were coming to my aid posting on various sites – including Leisure’s – about how stupid Leisure was to treat one of their authors this way, that they would be morons to let me go, etc. The folks at Leisure Were Not Amused. I didn’t get to do another novel for them (which turned out to a blessing considering how their company imploded not too long afterward). Did they drop me partially because of the bad publicity I unknowingly engendered, minor though it was? Probably not. But my advice is to tread carefully and mindfully when promoting on the Interwebz.

Oh, and about blogs? It might be a good idea to write one more than once every few months. (And maybe someday I’ll actually listen to my own advice.)

Workshop Til You Drop

I was having coffee with author Ty Schwamberger the other day, and we were talking about promotional events. He mentioned he was thinking of setting up a signing at a bookstore when his next book was released. I suggested he offer a talk on publishing or maybe a workshop of some kind as well. I told him that people aren’t interested in what we have to sell to them. They want to get something other than a sales message, especially something they can use.

Teaching other people to write can be a great way to promote your own work while serving others, which as far as I’m concerned is a win-win for everyone involved. I don’t use the college classes I teach as promotional venues, however, because that would be unethical. I donate copies of my books to the college library so that any students interested in my work can check it out without having to buy it. But doing workshops at conferences and other events can be a great way to promote your writing.

Recommended Resource

There are tons of how-to-promote-your-writing books out there, but my favorite is Guerilla Marketing for Writers. It has hundreds of ideas for marketing and promotion, and best of all, they’re categorized in terms of how much effort and money they take – which makes this book perfect for all kinds of writers.

Department of Shameless Self-Promotion

My novel Supernatural: Carved in Flesh has just been released in both print and ebook formats. Follow hunters Sam and Dean Winchester as they discover the sinister truth behind the Frankenstein legend!

“What Once Was Flesh” appears in Vampires Don’t Sparkle.

“The Great Ocean of Truth” appears in Fear the Abyss.

“Thou Art God” appears in Dark Faith: Invocations.

And speaking of promotional activities, I’ll be attending the World Horror Convention/Bram Stoker Awards Weekend in New Orleans June 13-16. I’ll be doing a reading, participating in the mass autograph signing, and serving on panels. And who knows? Maybe I’ll crash a private party or two for old times’ sake.

Monday, January 7, 2013

On Agents

“If you took that money outside and burned it, how bad would it hurt you financially? Would you be okay without it?”
I was on the phone with my dad. I was twenty-five and living in Illinois at the time. I’d sent a query – an actual physical letter with a SASE and everything – to the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, seeking representation for a novel I’d completed in graduate school, an absurdist fantasy called Y3000, about a computer that was literally God and the hapless man who’d been chosen as God’s “user.” They’d written me back to let me know they’d be happy to take a look at my novel – for a reading fee of $750.
This was 1989. There was no Internet to log onto and do a Google search for “literary agent reading fees.” I’d been reading Writer’s Digest religiously for a few years, but I didn’t remember the magazine saying much about reading fees. In general, they seemed frowned upon, but I’d also been reading Locus, in which one of Scott Meredith’s agents, Russell Galen, had a regular column. That certainly seemed like a stamp of approval for the agency to me. And a number of writers I’d heard of were represented by them. So, if the agency was legit (as the kids say these days), then their reading fee must be too, right? Still, I had a nagging feeling that this might be a scam. I had no friends with any publishing experience, so Dad, as usual, was my go-to guy. Hence the call.
I thought about his advice, even imagined physically burning a pile of money. My wife at the time and I lived in a small apartment, we didn’t have car payments, and more importantly, we didn’t have kids. She was finishing the internship for her doctorate, and we wouldn’t have to start paying on her student loans for a while. (I was lucky enough not to have needed any student loans.) Yeah, I told Dad, we could afford to lose $750.
“Then go for it,” Dad said.
So I did. I printed a copy of Y3000 on my dot matrix printer, tore off the perforations and separated the sheets, packed the print-out in a box, enclosed a check for $750, and headed for the post office. And then I waited and tried not to kick myself for wasting all that money.
A few months later, I received a letter from Scott Meredith himself, telling me how much they loved Y3000 and that they wanted to represent it. He promised his agency would “get right to work selling this wonderful whirligig of a novel.”
I have since learned that Meredith’s agency took on very few writers, and that my situation was something of an anomaly. Keep that in mind.
I’d made a huge leap on my way to becoming a professional writer, and I was ecstatic. I had a phone conversation with the specific agent I was assigned, and I asked all the right questions that Writer’s Digest said you should ask: “What’s your strategy for submitting my novel?” “How much, if any, feedback will you provide on my writing?” “Do you prefer to be contacted by phone or letter?” (Email wasn’t a standard method of communication yet), etc. The agent was a nice guy, we got along well enough, and I was looking forward to working with him. So he started submitting Y3000, and I started writing my next book.
A year passed. The agent remained enthusiastic about the book, despite the rejections it had received from publishers. After the second year passed without any publishers taking the bait, the agent’s enthusiasm waned. My contract with Scott Meredith was to remain in force for two years, after which time both parties would reassess the situation. If neither terminated the contract, it would continue for another two years. I didn’t hear anything from the agent as the two-year mark passed, but I decided that perhaps the Scott Meredith Company and I should part ways – especially since they were reluctant to look at the novels I’d written since Y3000. I called the agent, and he agreed that terminating our relationship “might be for the best.” He sounded almost relieved.
To say this was a letdown is an understatement. But I continued chugging along, writing stories and novels, and occasionally thinking about searching for a new agent. But after how things had turned out with Scott Meredith, I wasn’t in any hurry. When I finally decided that the time had come to begin my agent search anew, I researched like hell. Still no Internet, so I scoured writers’ magazines and writers’ market guides not only to identify likely prospects but to make sure I knew what I was doing this time. I queried a number of agents, and a few asked to see some chapters, but all ultimately passed. Then one day I received a phone call from an agent.
“Hi, this is [NAME WITHHELD]. How ya doin’? I’ve just read over the chapters you sent, and I’d like to take a look at the whole manuscript.”
“Our standard reading fee is $300 dollars.”
Less awesome. I told him I’d have to think about it.
 The agent said no problem, he understood. He was also a writer, and he told me to hit a bookstore and check out his work to make sure he was bonafide. (Again, no Internet, so I couldn’t simply do a Google search on him.) I told him I’d get back to him tomorrow, hung up, and headed for the bookstore. Sure enough, I did find one of his books, a paperback suspense thriller that – based on the cover and the copy on the back – looked like a rip-off of The Silence of the Lambs. I wasn’t exactly encouraged. I returned home and thought about it all night. By this point, I knew reading fees were bullshit, but I was still tempted. All the other agents I’d queried had passed. What if this guy was my last chance?
But in the end, I couldn’t do it. I called the agent back, and told him thanks but no thanks.
He paused. “Well, how about you send us half the book to read, and we’ll only charge you $150?”
I laughed and hung up.
A few more agent-less years passed. By this point I was living and teaching in Columbus, Ohio, and I’d had a few short stories published in small-press magazines. I’d begun attending science fiction conventions as a panelist, and I was working on learning how to promote myself and – far more importantly for me at this stage of my career – how to network. I was on a panel with a local writer, J. Calvin Pierce, whose humorous fantasy I admired. We got to talking after the panel, and he invited me to have lunch with him and another local writer, Dennis L. McKiernan. After the con, Jim invited me over to house to talk about writing, and the day we got together happened to be the day his writers’ group met. Jim asked if I’d like to come along that night. Not only was he in the group, but so was Dennis and Lois McMaster Bujold. Of COURSE I wanted to go!
Eventually, I became a full-fledged member of the group, and after workshopping a novel with them, Dennis offered to introduce me to his agent. This gentleman agreed to take a look at my novel, and I shipped it off to him. Dennis was enthusiastic about my book and felt confident his agent would take me on as a client. I wasn’t so certain, but I remained hopeful.
In my early twenties, I’d made a vow that if I hadn’t published a novel by my thirtieth birthday, I’d stop pursuing writing and put all my energy into some other field. (To those beginning writers reading this, making vows like this is idiotic: don’t do it.) On the morning of my thirtieth birthday, I was sitting around my apartment, depressed because I hadn’t sold a book yet. The phone rang, and it was Dennis’ agent, calling to say he wanted to represent me. The book I’d sent him was a fantasy adventure, and the agent said he liked it, in part, “because it was about people instead of place names.” It wasn’t a book contract with a publisher, but I figured it was close enough to fulfill the spirit – if not the letter – of my vow, and so I didn’t give up writing. (I’m sure the world breathed a collective sigh of relief.)
I worked with this agent for a total of eighteen years – just about as long as my marriage lasted. He was always responsive to emails and phone calls, and he was happy to spend time talking with me about whatever the current state of publishing was and how it was changing. And believe me, it changed a hell of lot during that time. There were a few things that bothered me, though. First off, he never found a publishing deal for me. Every book I sold, I did so because I made the contact with the publisher. My agent got me better contract terms – not to mention more money – than I would’ve on my own, so I didn’t feel ill-served. And even though I made the contacts, the editors often wanted to know if I had an agent, for they in effect used agents as first readers to vet manuscripts before asking to see them. Over the years, I was surprised learned that this situation – agents not finding deals, only negotiating them – wasn’t all that uncommon. It certainly begs the question why authors ultimately need agents, and it was a question I asked myself from time to time.
After a couple years of working together, my agent stopped letting me know where he was submitting my work and if he’d received any rejections for it. By this point, my wife and I had our first daughter, and I was too busy with life to fret about the lack of reportage from my agent. I figured he’d let me know when he got a sale. During this time, I sent him a couple books that, in retrospect, I’m not sure he ever submitted.
Things picked up for me novel-wise in my mid-thirties. I began selling books on proposals, so I didn’t have to write them unless a publisher had already agreed to publish them. This meant I no longer had to rely on my agent to find me deals. I could bring them to him and he could negotiate terms.
Things went on like this for years, and I was content enough. My second daughter had been born, and we’d moved to Dayton where I took a full-time tenure-track job teaching at a community college. Then I got divorced and moved back into an apartment for the first time in a decade. For a long time I was depressed, and even though I noticed that my agent was no longer as responsive as he had been, I didn’t care all that much. Then it began taking him so long to look over contracts that publishers started contacting me to find out what was going on.
Which brings us to 2012, the year my agent seemed to vanish off the face of the earth. I had four different contracts for him to negotiate, and months went by without any contact. When deadlines for these projects began closing in, I gave up on my agent and began contacting editors directly. Two of them had started negotiations with my agent only to have my agent cease contact. The other had never heard from my agent at all.
Fortunately, all the editors were understanding, and I was able to negotiate new deadlines, and I didn’t lose any of the contracts. I was worried that something bad may have happened to my agent or someone in his family, so I hit Google (yes, Virginia; by now there was an Internet) and tried to find out what, if anything, may have happened to him. I found nothing.
I’d worked with this agent for almost twenty years, but I couldn’t have an agent who was unresponsive and who’d nearly let four different deals – deals I’d brought to him – get away. So after some thought, I send him the following message, both as an email and a registered letter:
I've heard from four different editors that you haven't contacted or didn't follow up with after initial contact. I hope this is simply due to your being extremely busy and that you aren't going through any personal difficulties. However, at this point, months after I originally set up these deals on my own, I'm going to conduct negotiations with these editors myself.

I've enjoyed working with you over the last eighteen years – I've especially enjoyed our phone conversations and the lunch we had in NYC – but I think we've reached a point where it would be best if we ended our business relationship.

I truly appreciate everything you've done for me over the years, and I hope you take care.
I never received a reply. I still don’t know what happened, whether my agent lost interest in me, in his business, or whether he was having personal troubles. There’s a good chance I’ll never know.
So, halfway through 2012, I had a decision to make. Should I try to get another agent? After having published close to thirty novels, I was confident I could find someone to take me on. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was whether I needed an agent. Given the paradigm shift in publishing over the last few years, I had to ask myself if I even needed publishers anymore. Maybe now was the time to strike out into the brave new world of electronic self-publishing.
But there were still some good reasons for me to find a new agent. There are some publishers who refuse to take a look at unagented manuscripts, no matter who wrote them. And when talking to editors at conferences, at one point they almost always ask if you have an agent. Yes, you make the initial contact, but the editors want to know there’s someone they can work with who’ll act as a buffer between the two of you when it comes to business matters. But the real reason I decided I still needed an agent is because I’m not ready to jump into self-publishing. I’m too busy teaching and being a dad to give a damn about becoming a do-it-myselfer. Every editor I’ve worked with (with the exception of one) has helped make my books better. Publishers take care of cover art, copy-editing, and interior design. And although publishers don’t put a ton of money into publicizing most of their authors, they still do some publicity. Everything a publisher does for me – or more accurately, with me, since traditional publishing is a collaborative business relationship for mutual advantage and profit – is something I don’t have to do for myself. And the most precious commodity I have these days isn’t money; it’s time.
Besides, I worked damn hard to get where I am in the world of traditional publishing, and I want to see how much farther I can go before I become a do-it-myselfer (which one day very well may be the only way to go). I decided it was time to start the agent search again, for the first time in twenty years.
I attend a few science fiction conventions throughout the year, and in 2012 I went to Confluence in Pittsburgh for the first time (because they were kind enough to invite me). One morning, I was sharing a panel with Jonathan Maberry, a scholar and a gentleman if ere there was one. Jonathan sat down next to me and asked me how things were going. We chatted for a couple minutes, and then I told him about how things ended with my previous agent and that I was in the market for a new one.
“I can recommend a couple good ones to you if you want.”
Of course, I wanted.
In August I signed with one of the agents Jonathan recommended. I’d known of her for years, had friends who were clients of hers, and I liked what I heard about her. She knows publishing inside and out, has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy, and works tirelessly for her clients. (I’m not saying her name only because she doesn’t take on many new clients at this stage in her career, and I don’t want her to be bombarded by queries from people saying, “Tim spoke highly of you on his blog!”) She also attends conventions to meet with her clients and with editors (something my last agent never did). She’s great at keeping the lines of communication open, and she gives good feedback on the proposals I’ve sent her. She’s done a great job negotiating contracts for me, too.
So what’s the moral of all this? I’m not sure there is one. If you're going the self-publishing route, you don’t need an agent, that’s for sure. But if you intend to tilt at the windmill that’s traditional publishing, it’s a good idea to consider getting an agent.
Here are some tips:

·         Make sure you’ve written the entire manuscript of the very best novel you’re capable of, one which is publishable in its current form. An agent can’t represent incomplete, unfinished, or unprofessional work. (Once you’ve published some novels, then you can start selling on proposals, but that’s not how you start out.)

·         Avoid fee-charging agents.

·         Avoid agents who, because of the changes to publishing, tell you they double as publishers and will publish your book if they can’t find anyone else to do it. This, not to put too fine a point on it, is horseshit. They have no incentive to sell your book elsewhere if they intend to publish it. You might as well self-publish the damn thing.

·         15% commission is still the standard. Agents earn their money by getting you more money and better contract terms.

·         Find an agent who will give you some feedback on your writing but who doesn’t pretend to be an editor and make you rewrite everything.

·         Find someone who’s willing to stay in reasonable contact (but don’t text them every five minutes to see if they’ve sold your book yet).

·         Try to find someone who’ll be upfront and honest with you about the bad as well as the good.

·         Find someone who believes in you and your work.

·         Find someone who wants to represent you, not just one novel of yours.

·         Find someone you feel is a good fit with your personality and style of working. If an agent doesn’t seem like a fit, move on and keep looking.

·         Don’t agent-hop every few months just because your book hasn’t sold to a publisher yet. Give your agent some time to do his or her thing.

·         Find agents through referrals from other writers, at conferences, by checking the dedications and acknowledgements pages in published books, through agent guides like Writer’s Digest and Jeff Herman put out every year, and by checking out the website of the Association of Author’s Representatives:

·         Remember, there is no educational path, no training, no degree, and no certification for being an agent. Make sure to do your research before signing with anyone.


My novel Ghost Town, written with Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of the Ghost Hunters TV show, came out in fall. It’s the sequel to Ghost Trackers.

The Nekropolis Archives, an omnibus featuring my zombie P.I. Matt Richter, and containing the novels Nekropolis, Dead Streets, Dark War, and three short stories about Matt and company is still available.

My horror novels Like Death, The Harmony Society, and Beneath the Bones are still available, as is my Shirley Jackson Award-nominated novella The Men Upstairs.

My story “Thou Art God,” appears in the anthology Dark Faith: Invocations. “The Great Ocean of Truth” appears in the anthology Fear the Abyss from Post Mortem Press. Another story, “No More Shadows,” appears in Evil Jester Digest 2.


The Nekropolis Archives:
The Harmony Society:
Beneath the Bones:
The Men Upstairs:
Dark Faith: Invocations:
Evil Jester Digest Volume 2: