Hello readers and fans of the horror genre. Back by popular demand, I've made the following books available for download on kindle again. Some of my followers have asked why I no longer have books available for purchase and why I haven't written for some time.
Well, readers. You're in luck. I've made three of my old works available again. These titles are books I worked on and wrote while getting my undergraduate degree. These stories played a significant role in developing my thesis presentation describing the importance of the horror genre and its place in the literary world.
As a warning, keep in mind that these books contain adult content: strong language, sexual content, violence, and gore. Finally, keep an eye out for more works coming from me in the future months.
Good news! I've decided to get back into horror blogging and journalism. I'm launching a new site titled: Occult Concept.
Occult Concept is a journalistic website and blog providing reviews, promotions, news, and interviews, for the independent horror community. Previously known as A Slice of Horror, its main focus is on helping independent and lesser known horror films, directors, film companies, authors, and publishing houses reach more members of the indie horror community.
With the ever growing number of obscure, cult, and indie horror films on the market, we feel a need to provide a collection of helpful and detailed reviews, news articles, and promotions to the independent horror community and fans. This site is your horror haunt for reviews and news about those films, books, and companies that are harder to pin down.
We love to work with artists, filmmakers, publishers, production companies, and authors to promote new and upcoming projects in the independent horror community. If you are interested in having your work featured or reviewed on Occult Concept please contact our lead editor/writer via e-mail or on our contact page.
In today's publishing world, the horror genre is bloated with much of the same thing. If it isn't an all out gore or sex fest, then it is a slow paced ghost story with the occasional hint of the Gothic. I'm not saying I dislike these types of novels. In fact, part of the reason I'm so drawn to the horror genre is because of its formulaic and occasionally trite yarns. It gives me something to expect--something to enjoy--and usually, when an author tries to break these genre molds, I find myself bored and irritated.
However, once in a blue moon you get a novel that seems to not only draw on the Gothic and pulp classics created by the forefathers of the genre--but also draws in new elements to create a story that, while remaining in line with many of the expected tropes of horror, creates a fresh experience.
Red Right Hand written by Levi Black and published by TOR is one such novel. It is filled with heralds of the father of pulp horror, H.P. Lovecraft, while also delving into new ideas and concepts to keep the story fresh and interesting.
Red Right Hand follows a young woman named Charlie, who has experienced a harsh and psychologically damning past. Through years of therapy and self defense classes she has come to a place where she may finally cope with her inner demons.
Unfortunately, as is often the case in this genre of fiction, the dark things the lurk beyond the invisible threshold arrive at just the wrong time. Charlie feels emotionally weak when she has her first encounter with the outer black. A demon, one of the great elder gods of old, arrives on her doorstep and forces her to be his acolyte.
To sour the deal further, he also enslaves her only friend and romantic interest, Daniel. The two young people are then dragged along for a chaotic ride through the realms of the great old ones--in a mission to murder many of the old gods.
Red Right Hand takes many elements of the much loved Cthulhu Mythos and shows us just how sinister and dark those forces can be. For me, this creates a sort of "love/hate" relationship with the book.
As a student of the Lovecraft's mythos I have strong ideas and impressions of how the elder gods may exist, act, or behave. I have a set idea of how the magic and mystical powers of that world work. Honestly, Black's vision of this world is one of the closest examples I've seen to how I personally view the outer black, but some of his plot choices also grate on me as a fan and reader of Lovecraft.
Without spoiling any details, I'll simply say that I wish certain elder gods played a larger roll--or appeared more powerful or sinister--than he made them out to be. Also, there were certain elements in the main character that came off as unrealistic and forced--particularly the "romantic" side of her character. Whenever any element of romance appeared, and even sometimes when she struggled with her harsh past, in the story I felt myself instantly broken from my willing suspension of disbelief. It was a frustrating occurrence that I felt broke up the action of the story unnecessarily.
On the other hand, the main elder god of the story is one of the most frightening and twisted villains of any story I've read. There are many sickeningly satisfying moments involved Charlie and The Man in Black. This makes Red Right Hand one of the only truly frightening novels I've had the privilege of reviewing.
Overall, Red Right Hand--despite its occasional weaknesses of plot and relative realism--is a fairly good balance of urban fantasy alongside cosmic horror. I think the story in general captures much of Lovecraft's original mythos while also attempting to keep it fresh. If you enjoy modern Lovecraftian adventures, and don't mind the occasional romantic hiccup, then Red Right Hand might just be for you.
I used to be a huge reviewer/promoter of pulp horror/crime news--just look at my archived horror news website: A Slice of Horror. Since than I've stopped focusing so much on promotions and news for other people and decided to work more on writing content of my own. It is what I'm most passionate about and what I've wanted to do for as long as I can remember.
However, when news about Hard Case Crime or similar publishers comes up, I can't help but shout out that news, and when that news involves comics as well . . . let's just say you've got me licked.
If you've followed my blog before or read some of my previous posts you will know I am a huge fan of Hard Case Crime novels. While I enjoy crime fiction in general I simply feel that Hard Case Crime is the best there is when it come to crime and pulp fiction. Between their authors, their style, and those pulp style covers, I just can't get enough of them.
Well, I was very excited to recently read that my favorite publisher is now teaming up with Titan comics to put out a new line of comic books in the pulp crime genre. I couldn't be more thrilled about this match up.
"We are so excited to be steering the Hard Case Crime series into a new frontier," Manager of Titan Direct Sales & Marketing, Ricky Claydon, said during the announcement. "We aim to bring to comics that same grit and gristle that Hard Case Crime is famous for!"
The first two comic series we can expect to see from this new imprint are "Peepland" from writers Christa Faust & Gary Phillips and artist Andrea Camerini and "Triggerman" from writer Walter Hill and artist Matz. Additionally, there are plans for an adaption of Max Collins "Quarry" series in the works for 2017.
Look for the first comic release during October this year. You can view previews of all the new cover art at CBR.
I've gone back and forth about how I feel about the splatterpunk (also known as hardcore, also known as extreme) horror genre. In some ways, it is a very freeing--and surprisingly entertaining--sub-genre of horror fiction. It pulls the genre out of the stereotypical slow moving, quiet, psychological (and often boring) stereotypes usually associated with horror fiction and "literature."
On the other hand, the genre can often goes too far in its descriptions of sexual content, violence, and depravity. At times, this becomes such a prevalent issue, that lesser authors who are trying to write in the genre sacrifice good character development, storytelling, and decent writing all-together in favor of macabre and grotesque descriptions.
With the advent of self-publishing we are seeing more and more terrible splatterpunk novels hitting the market--thus giving the genre a bad name. While I am a huge advocate of formula fiction, I still expect my horror literature--especially the splatterpunk fiction I read--to be well planned, well developed, and well written. Luckily, there are still many small indie publishers and authors who produce quality extreme horror fiction.
Edward Lee is one such author. My first experience with Lee was over two years ago when I picked up a book--aptly named The Backwoods--on a whim and read it. Unfortunately, at the time I was less than thrilled with the story. Not only was this my first foray with Lee, it was also my first experience with Splatterpunk, and needless to say I was unprepared for the ultra dark writing that was present in Lee's novel.
Now, after these few years, I have given Mr. Lee another chance--having experienced, read, and even written a few short stories of my own in the splatterpunk genre. I was not disappointed. Header is one of Lee's most well know books due to its chilling and depraved premise. It deals with well meaning characters, corrupt law enforcement, and the sickest version of backwoods revenge one could imagine.
To give away even a hint of the story, or the horrible crimes committed therein, would be a tragedy for readers who--having the stomach--are interested in reading this book.
Lee does an excellent job of writing from both the law enforcement side who are investigating the murders to the backwoods hillbillies themselves who think they are only acting in God's will. Despite the depraved nature and attitude of both perspectives, we oddly find ourselves interested in these strange characters on the basest of levels. Love, compassion, and good intentions all play a role along side the crime, mystery, and horror elements.
Lee is an excellent writer who knows how to truly write interesting and engaging characters. Additionally, the plot is well scripted and fun to read. Header is one of the milder splatterpunk novels I've read, and yet it is still disturbing and strange in all the ways you would expect from a horror novel of this caliber. In fact, this novel isn't too far off from many of the Hard Case Crime novels I read as far as explicit content is concerned. I would go so far as to call Header more of a mystery/thriller novel that just so happens to have extreme horror elements.
The gore/horror scenes had enough description and detail to disturb without going over-the-top as many splatterpunk novels do. The ending, although dark and horrific, was pitch perfect for the story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to any horror fans who have a taste for extreme horror in the vein of Saw, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or The Hills Have Eyes. Although I usually can only take splatterpunk in small doses, I did enjoy Header and plan to read more form Edward Lee in the future.
When an author you love has been writing for longer than you've been alive it is always fun to go back in time and read novels they penned in their younger years. Lawrence Block, one of the leading authors of pulp crime fiction, has been writing since the 1950s.
I recently reviewed one of his newer novels The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes. I found it to be an interesting and engaging read. After I finished that novel I jumped back in time to his 1958 novel Borderline.
Borderline is a true classic pulp from the 1950s. It is a story that houses the crime, sex, violence, and debauchery that would have never been allowed on the big screen, television, or radio of the day.
Borderline is a piece of fiction that takes its time to change between multiple perspectives. We are introduced to a group of five people--with no apparent connection--who have some serious problems, and serious addictions and desires, in their lives.
One woman is a recent divorcee who is looking for sexual excitement. Another is a professional gambler seeking his next big score. Another is a pair of young girls working in the Mexican sex industry. And finally, there is a serial murderer who is fleeing to Mexico.
In the beginning of the novel the only thing these characters have in common is the fact that they all happen to be in El Paso Texas at the same time. The story seems incoherent at first. Each character weaves their own personal yarn about the troubles they experience while living on the border of Mexico in El Paso.
Then, slowly throughout the tale we see each of them meet. Their worlds collide and come together until there is simply an eruption of violence and debauchery. Ultimately, each and every character in this novel pays for their indulgent sins. And it isn't a pretty sight when all is said and done.
Block is a brilliant writer, but it is obvious this was written earlier in his career. The novel is more sensational than it is engaging. It simply doesn't have the snap that Block's newer work tends to have.
At the same time Borderline is an interesting look into his writing history. The title, Borderline, is a fitting one. It speaks not only of the physical border separating America from Mexico, but is also a metaphor for the moral and criminal line in which a character has gone to far. And while all the characters begin the novel with borderline morals and behavior they ultimately cross that line into debauchery in the end.
Borderline is also an interesting look into the deep world of pulp fiction from the 1950s. The book is overloaded with sexual content, grotesque violence, and characters with no respect for life or morality. While I felt the amount of content in this particular story went a overboard, it is interesting to see what was being read by pulp fiction fans of the time.
Overall, the story and the characters were interesting. However, the plot seems a little disjointed and slow. The story seems more like a slice of life (from the crime ridden underworld of El Paso) than a specific mystery or crime story. And the main driving force of the work was in the shock and sensationalism of the sex and violence.
Borderline isn't my favorite pulp novel I've read. And if you are offended in any way by sexual content or violence I'd say this story is one to be missed. There is little redeeming quality among the characters or plot in that arena. However, if you are interested in Block's work or in the history or pulp style fiction it could well be worth the read.
The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes by the famed author Lawrence Block (best known for his novel A Walk Among the Tombstones) is a interesting take on a classic pulp trope. This novel was an interesting, enjoyable, and surprising read.
The story follows a man named Doak Miller. Doak is an ex-cop from New York City. And while he isn't officially licensed as a private eye, he does manage to do small favors, investigative work, and even legwork for the local sheriff for a little extra money.
Doak lives in small town Florida since his retirement from the force. It is here in this town where he meets Lisa. Lisa is an unhappy housewife to a rich businessmen. While Doak is supposed to be helping the police in a sting operation he instead falls in love with Lisa. And he and Lisa decide they need to kill Lisa's husband.
The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes has a nice balance of pulp, noire, and realism in it all together. The characters are interesting, even if the majority of them are despicable people. The story goes at a slow, but steady, clip. I could have been interested in a little more action, but this book was obviously more of a slow brood, a character study almost, of a normal man turned murderer.
I felt the novel, although well written and enjoyable, had a slight abundance of sexual content that was unnecessary to the plot. I also see points where Block shied away from sexual content when he could have easily played it up. However, I still felt that the main relationship between Lisa and Doak (as well as their sexual rendezvous) could have been implied, or "off screen," rather than blatantly on the page.
I also felt that the use of rape as a plot point was unnecessary. It seems that many male authors fall into the trap of using rape in their stories either as a plot point for a female character or simply to add a shock value to the story. I feel that Block could have gotten the same meaning across without the rape scene. But sexual content aside, it was ultimately the characters who carried this story--and that is what made this novel shine.
Leading up to the very end I grew anxious. I found myself quickly growing frustrated with where it seemed the story was going to end. All the foreshadowing throughout the book (mostly played out in Doak's choice of TV programming) seemed to point to one thing, and yet the story was doing another thing.
I was frustrated with it up until the very last sentence, which completely summed up the theme of the novel and the characters perfectly. This last line is what made this book amazing for me. It was a good read, with good writing that kept you going. Don't expect an action packed pulp mystery with twists and turns. But DO expect an interesting view of the "wife+lover murder husband" formula.
Last week I wrote an article highlighting the fact that Penguin Random House and its many imprints (including Berkley Prime Crime, Signet Mysteries, and Obsidian Mysteries lines) is currently working on downsizing its offerings of cozy mysteries. I also explained how YOU as a reader, and a fan of mystery fiction, can help out in the efforts to save these cozy mystery series that may be disappearing. The answer was this: Buy Your Books Brand New!
By purchasing your mystery novels brand new you are "voting with your dollar" and showing the publisher which books and authors you're willing to support! Well, now is your chance to show your colors and help out two specific authors in keeping their book series' alive!
The Cookbook Nook Mystery Series
The first series that is being considered for cancellation is the Cookbook Nook Mystery series by author Daryl Wood Gerber.
Gerber was recently told that if the sales of her latest two books weren't up then she the publisher wouldn't be able to renew for another book in the series.
The Cookbook Nook Mystery series currently has 4 books out and a fifth available for pre-order. Right now, before the end of March, is the crucial time for sales on these books.
Specifically, the publisher will be looking at pre-orders of book 5, Grilling the Subject, as well as sales for the 4th book in the series, Fudging the Books.
The series follows Jenna Hart, a former advertiser who nows owns a culinary bookshop and cafe. Thanks to her observation skills, Jenna also has a keen eye for mystery!
If this series interests you at all, now is the time to save it. Head over to Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com, and pre-order the latest book! Then, make sure to purchase previous books in the series!
The Deveraux Dime Store Mystery series
The second cozy mystery series that is being considered for cancellation is author Denise Swanson's Deveraux Dime Store Mystery series.
Similar to Gerber, Swanson was informed that unless her newest book had higher sales numbers for the month of March, the series would be dropped from production.
The Deveraux Dime Store Mystery series currently has 5 installments. This last week of March is similarly a crucial time for sales on these books. Specifically of the latest book in the series, Between a Book and a Hard Place.
The series follows Dev Sinclair. Dev Sinclair is the happy owner of the old-fashioned shop in her small Missouri town. But her life is constantly made more complicated by the mysteries and murders happening around her.
If Dev and her mysterious adventures interest you, now is the time to act! Head over to Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, or your local bookseller and buy the latest book! Then, make sure to purchase previous books in the series as well!
Both of these books are dependent on sales in the month of March! So get your orders in as soon as possible and show your love and support for the cozy mystery genre, and make Penguin Random House aware of your opinion in saving cozy mysteries!
I recently heard a rumor that Penguin Random House, as well as its many imprints, are considering cutting down on their cozy mystery lines. This includes the Berkley Prime Crime, Signet Mysteries, and Obsidian Mysteries lines.
You may ask right away, "Why do you care about that, Noah? You're not a mystery writer." Well, let me tell you.
Despite being twenty-something male, despite working in the indie horror community for the past four-and-a-half years, despite being an avid horror blogger/reviewer/publicist, and despite being a writer of dark fiction/horror stories myself . . . my favorite genre to read is the cozy mystery!
This may come as a surprise to many of you who have either read my work, followed my blog, or followed my micro-publishing company. While I do have a great passion for horror, my roots in the genre began long ago with the mystery genre--specifically the cozy mystery.
I grew up watching Poirot, Miss Marple, and Murder, She Wrote. And I myself still have plans to one day finish a cozy mystery novel of my own--(an official title has been in the works for about a year now).
So, needless to say at this point, I was very disappointed and disheartened when I heard that one of the leading publishers of cozy fiction, Penguin, was cutting back on the genre.
But WHY are they cutting back? Now there is the rub.
Vote with your Dollar
In the world of corporate publishing (and indie publishing for that matter) the main qualifier in whether an author, book series, or genre continues to receive support is determined by book sales. The term "vote with your dollar" is pertinent more than ever here.
What publishers most care about, especially corporate publishers, is the dollar. After all, publishing is a business. While many of us working in publishing, either corporate of independent, may love art, entertainment, and literature, we have to make a living off our work.
So, ultimately, any given publisher is looking at the sales numbers to see if any specific product, or type of product, is worth keeping. Every single book that is put out by a publisher has money behind it. Each new author is an investment for the publishing company. Ultimately, if it seems that an investment isn't paying off, the publisher drops it.
Such is the way of the publishing world.
So, how can you as a reader change this? How do you keep your favorite genres alive, your favorite series running, and your favorite authors writing?
You BUY their books BRAND NEW!
This applies not only to cozies but to all genres and authors currently on the market. The more sales a title, author, or series has the more likely the publishing company is to sign the author on for a new title. Corporate publishers actually weigh in on pre-orders as well. If there is enough purchases and excitement before the book even comes out, the publisher sees it as a good sign. They will even sometimes sign on an author for another book based on pre-orders alone.
If you love a genre, make sure to buy your books brand new. Buying a new book in your favorite genre regularly, even once a month, speaks wonders for a genre. If you want to keep a specific author or book series going, pre-order their books or buy them brand new from the store the same month they are released.
Ultimately, the dollar speaks in publishing.
Request Brand New Books for your Local Library
Of course, there are times where you as the reader may not have the extra cash to spend on a brand new book. Sometimes, money is tight and keeping a book buying habit is a privilege you just don't quite have the means for.
Well, there is another option to show your support. All local and public libraries have a system set up where you as the reader and library patron can request new books! If a library sees enough demand for a book they will order a BRAND NEW copy to keep for the library! This means, the book is still getting purchased, and the publishing company is still seeing income from the book.
Additionally, you are supporting your local library and making the book available to many new readers who may have never heard of or read the series otherwise. Many library patrons will try out a new author or book series before choosing to invest in buying the books. So, in a way, you are helping to advertise the author by making he/she available to a new audience.
Leave a Review
Of course, in the world of publishing just buying a book may not be enough. Many readers do extensive research before purchasing a new book. This research is almost always includes looking up and reading reviews by other readers.
Leaving your review helps others choose to buy a new book. It acts as free endorsement and advertising for the author.
Some of the main arenas where book reviews appear are on Barnes and Noble.com, GoodReads, and--probably most important of all--Amazon.com. The more reviews a book has on Amazon, the higher the book will appear in book rankings. This means it is more likely to appear in the "suggested purchases" for other readers.
All of this means potential sales for the book and author, and therefore, more money to the publisher to continue producing your favorite books.
E-mail the Publisher
Finally--in addition to your support through purchasing and reviewing your favorite books, authors, and genre--you may also choose to write to the publisher themselves.
All publishers should have a contact form or contact e-mail address available to the public. While the larger corporate publishers don't always respond to e-mails from readers, you should still consider making your voice heard!
In addition to "voting with your dollar" you can send in your opinion. Like a petition, the more e-mails and notices a publisher gets about a specific author or genre the more likely they are to reconsider discontinuing a series. But keep in mind, this is only a secondary or "supportive" tactic in addition to actually purchasing the books in question.
For Penguin Random House you can actually find answers to questions and contact them concerning your favorite books or authors at the Penguin Random House contact page. If you are a fan of cozy mysteries then go ahead and send them your thoughts by sending them an e-mail.
Summing it Up
Ultimately, it is up to us, the readers, to send in our support and keep our favorite authors and book series' afloat. While it may be disappointing to hear that specific authors have been dropped or book series' canceled we as the reader must take responsibility by contacting the publisher, leaving reviews, requesting books for out local libraries, and--most important of all--actually buying our favorite books brand new!
Right off the bat I know this article will stir up controversy and argument over the topic of self-publishing. In many online forums this topic s already has being argued and debated. However, keep in mind that much of this is my opinion based on my experience working in the publishing field.
There are many authors (myself included) who have, at one time or another, chosen the route of self-publishing. And while there may not be anything inherently bad about the practice or business of self-publication, it has many downfalls--especially for new, overconfident, or inexperienced writers.
Having self-published three of my own books, and working full-time in the field of editing/publishing, I have to say I have a better (and different) insight into the ever changing world of publishing and how it relates to the writer then ever before.
The Future of Publishing
There have been many artists, publishers, marketing strategists, and businessmen who have called self-publishing "the future of publishing books." In many ways, I agree with them. Heck, I self-published three novellas and own the most recent edition of The Writer's Digest Guide to Self Publishing.
There is much to be said for self-publishing. Many authors and many books which would never get the chance to see publication otherwise now have the ability to get out into reader's hands.
This system also allows for readers and consumers of books to have even more say in the market. Companies such as Amazon Publishing track which self-published books are selling the most titles. These companies then give awards, publicity, and contract agreements to those authors that have sold well.
This means the market will follow more closely what the general consumer masses are calling for. In many ways it seems like a brilliant idea and in many ways it truly is. Self-publishing is a miracle of the modern day.
However, much of the literary world is still controlled by the group of elite New York publishing houses. New York best sellers are the books that end up in major bookstores and on the front page of e-stores. Additionally, books from these companies are the ones that are more predominantly featured in The New York Times best seller list and other far reaching newspapers, websites, and literary journals.
Many consumers prefer to stick to the company, brands, and book lines they are familiar with and love. This means most self-published titles take back seat unless endorsed by a big name author.
New York publishers aside, there is also a plethora of small press publishers that hold strong footing in the literary world. Whether you talking about New York Publishers, publishing imprints, or the small press publishers--having a team of publishers and companies creates a writing and business community which feels far different than the singular author publishing on their own.
Self-Publishing Vs. Vanity Publishing
Just a few years ago the only way you could publish a book without a contract with a publishing house was through a vanity publisher.
If you don't already know, a vanity publisher charges an author a specific cost to format, print, and distribute their book. This is different then what we know today as self-publishing.
Self-publishers print an authors book on demand (meaning they only print one copy at a time as it is ordered). The company then takes a percentage of the sale for themselves and gives the rest of the profit to the author.
Now, self-publishing companies often do have other services they offer authors which are similar to vanity publishers. For instance, as an author I can choose to simply format the book, edit the text, and create the cover all by myself. OR I could pay a sum to the self-publishing company to give me professional formatting, cover design, and interior editing.
Whether these services are of use or are profitable to an author is debatable. The risk of spending money on these services or on any vanity type service is that it doesn't guarantee the book will sale. In fact 99% of self-publishing and vanity publishing companies offer no help or support in the marketing process.
Paying for these types of services can be a death sentence to new and inexperienced authors who are just looking, and hoping, for a breakout title.
Vanity Vs. The Author
The Vain Author
The downfall of self-publishing isn't in the companies that offer this service. No, companies like Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu, Create Space and Nook Press will never be short of hopeful authors looking to put their book into the hands of readers. It is the authors, the ones who perhaps have a little too much pride or vanity, that suffer the most.
To generalize, there are two main patterns I've seen with unsuccessful self-published authors. The first is overconfidence. The second is lack thereof.
A vain and overconfident author can be an editor's nightmare. Someone who thinks their novel is "on level" with or "better than" J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or even William Shakespeare. It may sound ridiculous but I have had independent and self-published authors who I have worked with or interviewed who have actually said these things. They legitimately think their book is the best thing since white bread.
These authors are also the ones who are unwilling to change anything about their book or accept criticism simply because "no one understands them" or their art. These attitudes and the unwillingness to change, adapt, or improve on their craft are some of the main reasons publishers will turn them away.
Instead, these authors will cast off traditional publishers as naysayers and turn to self-publishing. They truly believe their book deserves a chance. (And, most likely, it does--but only after serious work and editing) However, if that author is unwilling to adapt to the needs of a publisher or editor they will likely not adapt to their reader's needs either.
These authors may even have the networking and social media skills to properly market their book online. However, prideful and pompous posts on social media drive followers away, angry responses to negative reviews turn away new readers, and poor proof editing and lack of the proper editorial eye diminish the book's overall quality.
The Self-Deprecating Author
On the other hand you have authors who have little to no confidence and can literally not take an ounce of criticism without being crushed. Don't get me wrong, we all struggle at times with criticism. But these authors will shut down upon receiving a rejection letter or a one star review.
Often times these authors don't want to face the possibility of rejection from a publisher--an inevitability in the world of a writer. So instead they choose to self-publish. They don't have to interact with a publisher. They don't have to work under the scrutiny of an editor. It just seems safer.
Unfortunately, selling books is far more than just the publication itself. Many authors who lack confidence also lack the skills or desire to network online, write blogs, or participate in social media campaigns. The chance that someone will make a negative comment online becomes too daunting to the author.
This ultimately means that their book disappears into obscurity before it ever even made it out of obscurity. It doesn't help that their book is often littered with grammatical errors, typos, and literary missteps the the appropriate editorial eye would catch.
Becoming the BEST Author
In all honesty, every author has a little bit of both of these elements in them, vanity and self-doubt. Some of us even fluctuate non-stop between the two extremes like some bipolar cycle of creativity.
However, what really matters is whether we can take these human elements within ourselves and use them to help better our writing and better out craft. It takes an author who is willing to accept the feelings of pride and then choose to humble themselves, to accept the self-doubt and still choose to take risks.
A traditional publisher won't take on an author who isn't willing to adapt and grow--unless their book is truly the holy grail of literature. And without humility and malleability an author is basically damned as a self-published writer.
Going with Traditional Publishing
So, after all that, and after examining where you stand as a writer, how do you choose whether to go with traditional publishing or self publishing?
While I personally have self-published in the past and enjoyed the process, I think as I've reexamined my writing (and in working for a publishing company) I find I prefer the style of traditional publishing. If a company is willing to accept my work I know then that I've already done something right. I'm not going in blind by self-publishing my book and hoping it is good enough for the market.
Traditional publishing requires a lot of mental tenacity and emotional endurance. Expect to receive many, many rejection letters. Be willing to adapt based on criticism, publisher needs, submission requirements, and market changes.
Keep in mind that J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times before she sold Harry Potter, Stephanie Meyer was rejected 14 times before selling Twilight, and Louis L'Amour was rejected 200 times before becoming one of the bestselling western authors of all time.
After a book is accepted, be ready and willing to work with the publishing house. Respect their policies and their marketing strategies. It can be easy to let the little prideful side of yourself take over and start demanding things from an editor, publicist, etc. Keep in mind that it is these people's jobs to understand the publishing world. When they ask you to do something, be ready to adapt and improve yourself!
Persisting in Self-Publishing
Choosing to still go with self-publishing can be a good option for many writers. Just be prepared to do all the publishing work yourself. Make sure you've had multiple people you trust edit your book, or hire a professional editor to help you out. Show your book cover to people. Share your market strategy ideas with them. Listen and accept feedback.
Read as much as you can online, in magazines, and in books about the publishing business and trends. Subscribe to and read Writer's Digest and Publisher's Weekly. Pick up the best books that talk about the publishing market. Constantly read the newest best selling books in your genre and in other genres.
As a publicist I've seen great books fail. The authors that sell the most are ones who are constantly interacting with the self-publishing community and who are active online through social media and blogging. The more you understand about the publishing world, and the more a part of the world you become, the better your book will sale.
N.C. Patterson is a writer of mystery and horror fiction. He has been an active publicist, journalist, and blogger in the indie horror community for over five years.
Author of Horror Fiction