What Works For Me

It’s been several months since I last posted anything in my What Works For Me series of writing tips/ thoughts. There are several very good reasons for that. Most importantly, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to work out what exactly does work for me.

You’ll probably have seen endless debate online over the last few months about the merits of independent versus traditional publishing, and also about the position/ value of indie authors as highlighted by the ongoing Hachette vs. Amazon debacle.

I started out Indie. I was Indie before most. I’m so old school that I genuinely used to email pdf and Word versions of AUTUMN to interested folks back in the day. I did well from it, and if I hadn’t done what I’d done, I’d probably have never written HATER and it might not have found its way onto the desk of the folks who passed it on to Guillermo del Toro all those years ago… When Thomas Dunne Books of New York made an offer for the publishing rights back in 2007, I didn’t hesitate to accept.

CostofLivingSo now we’re another seven years or so down the line, and the marketplace has changed beyond all recognition. Indie authors are in a better place now: more accepted, and with better tools and technologies at their disposal.

THE COST OF LIVING proved to be a turning point for me. I’ve been stunned by the success of my little ebook – it’s sold remarkably well and has opened my eyes to the full potential of independent publishing again. With the recent relaunch/ rebranding of INFECTED BOOKS, I feel like I’ve regained the control you inevitably lose when you publish traditionally, and I’m ready to take full advantage of that.

So, to stop a long story getting any longer, I’ll just say this: for now, although I’m technically what you’d call a Hybrid author, I feel 100% Indie again. So what does this mean? Well, for a start you should watch for another surprise release later this week (you can pre-order it now – I’ll tell you more tomorrow), and then look out for STRANGERS – my brand new, full-length novel, coming from Infected Books in November this year.

THE SPACES BETWEEN – Competition winners

I’m sorry it’s taken so long to announce this… Without further ado, please join me in congratulating the following people who will be appearing in THE SPACES BETWEEN novels.

Overall winner (who will appear as a major character in all four books as well as receiving an illustration of themselves in a key scene and signed first editions of all the novels): Alexandria Amorim.

Runners up (who’ll appear as a supporting character in one book each and who’ll receive signed first editions of all the novels): Chris Shaver, Shannon O’Clair, Nicky Downes, and Mitchell Witthread.

I received an incredible three and a half thousand entries to the contest, so thanks to everyone who entered. I’ve drawn an additional ten names which I’m keeping to myself at the moment. I have another project in the early planning stages which involves a serial killer and a large number of victims. I’ll be getting in touch with those ten folks at some point in the future to see if they want to play dead in another new book…

Thanks, everyone, for your tremendous support with this contest. Right – back to writing the books!

The Girl in the Basement giveaway

While you’re waiting for my SPACES BETWEEN competition results to be announced next week, why not head over to Infected Books where there’s a GIRL IN THE BASEMENT giveaway running.

Pick out the names and artists of five songs mentioned in chapters seven and eight of the book for a chance to win SCARdiff tickets or signed books from Wayne Simmons. You’ve a week to enter.

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You’ll need to have read THE GIRL IN THE BASEMENT first, of course. Pick up a copy for just 99c/77p from AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK

Exclusive competition – one day left to enter

You’ve got just over twenty-four hours left to enter the SPACES BETWEEN competition. Remind yourself of all the details by clicking this link.

Just to recap, if you want a chance of having a character in a forthcoming novel named after you, all you have to do is:

There have been a huge number of entries so far (almost 2,500 amazingly). The competition closes after midnight UK time on 31st July, and the winners’ names will be announced shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Oh, and I said there would be one main winner (who appears in all four books in THE SPACES BETWEEN series) and four runners up, but it transpires there may be even more of you being immortalised in print in the near future. Watch this space…!

The Girl in the Basement

GirlintheBasementI’ve a surprise Infected Books release to tell you about today – but it’s not something I’ve written. Instead, I’m delighted to welcome Wayne Simmons to the Infected Books fold with his nasty little ebook short: THE GIRL IN THE BASEMENT.

If you’re a regular here, you’ll know Wayne and I go way back. You’ll also know that I’ve a number of plans in place to dramatically expand the reach of my Infected empire (books now, films next…), and this is part of those plans. This release came about as a result of endless hours spent travelling between events, discussing publishing as a whole and our own takes on the ongoing (and, frankly, boring as hell) traditional versus independent publishing debate.

I really think you’ll enjoy THE GIRL IN THE BASEMENT. It’s a horrible little tale of a girl held against her will by a captor whose sanity is less than certain… You can read more about the story at the Infected Books site here, and the book can be purchased for a paltry 99c/77p via any of these links: Kindle / iBooks / Nook / Smashwords / Kobo. The excellent cover art is by Sion Smith of Skin Deep Magazine fame.

And why today to unleash this little monstrosity on the world? Why, because it’s Wayne’s 40th. Please join me in wishing Mr Simmons a very happy, horror-filled birthday!

The Spaces Between competition

I know things have been quiet around here for a while… all that will be changing shortly (promise). In the meantime, a quick reminder that you’ve now got just two weeks left to enter my competition to appear as a character in THE SPACES BETWEEN. Follow me on social media, sign up for the monthly newsletter, write a review, buy a signed book… there are loads of ways to enter, and entries (of which there have already been almost 2000) close at midnight on 31st July. Visit this page for all the details.

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And if you did fancy picking up a signed book, pop along to www.infectedbooks.co.uk and use code 10%thanks to grab yourself a 10% discount on everything.

Dead Water – a few words with Peter Mark May

Following the release of DEAD WATER (see my recent post), I got talking with the brains behind Hersham Horror Books, Peter Mark May, about his unusual PentAnth series – anthologies featuring themed stories by five invited authors. I asked him first of all where the idea came from.

51HLsrsAvrL“The whole Hersham Horror Books was a bit of an accident. Being a horror writer, I thought it would be nice if me and four horror writing buddies did a themed eBook anthology. But it grew and grew and more people jumped onboard until I had 16 stories for Alt-Dead our first release. But I still had the idea of a five author anthology, so Fogbound From 5 was born. Five authors, five stories set on a train from Platform 5 Waterloo one foggy dark night. The cover artist put me down as editor, but that wasn’t planned. So I thought about the next PentAnth: five authors one subject again, with a guest editor pitching in. Now we are on number five. I keep thinking I’m going to have a rest, but I have an idea for Number six now…”

I asked Peter how the authors are selected for each volume. He said that “normally they select themselves. I have an idea, or someone has begged to be in it, or some kind author has bought me a pint sometime and I’ve remembered that (top tip authors!). With guest editors they bring in people I don’t know… BAFTA winners, award-winning top-ranked people I could normally only dream of working with. Also I sometimes read a story and think I must try and get them!” So who (dead or alive) would be in his ‘dream team’ for future volumes? “Peter Straub, Stephen King, F. Paul Wilson, M.R. James (Adam Nevill if you want only living ones) and William Hope Hodgson (or living Brian Keene). Also James Herbert, Brian Lumley, Simon Clark. Mark West and Stephen Bacon.”

Peter Mark MayFinally, what’s next for Hersham Horror? “I’m still writing novels and short stories including a sequel to AZ: Anno Zombie at the moment amongst other things. HHB’s next releases will be a series of six novelettes by six different authors out in 2015 – The Cursed series. Then I’d like to do another large anthology like Alt-Zombie again which was a mammoth undertaking. It was hell to do but exciting at the same time. One of the stories (Dave Jeffrey’s Ascension) was made into a film, which featured the book as a prop…”

It was a pleasure being involved in Dead Water. Here’s wishing Peter and Hersham Horror every success!

Delirio Revista 13

2000000419848I owe an apology to any Spanish readers and, more importantly, to the publishers of DELIRIO revista. Issue 13, which came out in May, featured CASI PARA SIEMPRE – a translated version of my story ALMOST FOREVER. I should have posted about this at the time, but May and June were particularly awkward months and it completely slipped my mind.

Paco: Lo siento mucho. Espero que la revista ha sido un éxito para usted.

ALMOST FOREVER – the story of a rogue scientist who attains immortality (almost) and has to live with the dire consequences – first appeared in the MAMMOTH BOOK OF BODY HORROR, which you can read about here. It’s a most excellent collection… one which I was very proud to be a part of.

You can purchase the magazine online here and here.

The future of Infected Books

So, a while back I promised to explain what was happening with Infected Books.

You might recall that, sometime around the middle of IBlast month, after clearing a lot of my shelves and stocks of books, I shuttered the website (which had become known as the Infected Bookstore, because that was pretty much all it was). People asked if I was disappearing or giving up… if I’d had my fill of independent publishing… if I was through with writing altogether…

That couldn’t have been further from the truth.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how things used to be back in 2001 when I started giving away the original AUTUMN novel for free via my website. The eBook market was small back then, and self-publishing was a dirty word (I know it still is to some people). These were the days before Kindle, Nook and iBooks… when I was literally emailing pdfs, Word docs, and all manner of obscure early eBook formats directly to interested folks.

Infected Books was created in early 2005 as a clear and very definite brand – a way of publishing my books independently which a). didn’t make me look like a one man band operating out of the spare bedroom at home (which I was) and b). gave me a professional-looking brand with which I could compete with other publishers around the world. In that respect, IB worked brilliantly. It was, as one senior editor working for a UK publisher told me a few years back, a masterstroke.

But then everything that happened with Guillermo del Toro and HATER and Thomas Dunne Books happened, and I pulled down the virtual shutters.

Fast-forward a few years, and I re-launched the business back in 2012 to republish my remaining novels – books which had been released previously, but which I knew would benefit from an upgrade. It worked really well. TRUST, AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION and, most recently, STRAIGHT TO YOU have been very successful.

But things really changed again at the end of May, when THE COST OF LIVING was released. I’ve already said this, but I’ll say it again anyway – the success of my little zombie novella has far exceeded my expectations. In some ways, THE COST OF LIVING has been a catalyst for the changes I’m going to tell you about now.

Infected Books is a publisher first and foremost. In the future, it’ll be much more than that (starting with, I hope, Infected Films in a couple of years time – more about that later). The website, though, didn’t represent that. In fact, it had become a glorified bookstore which took more time and money to maintain than I had available.

I’d like to invite you to visit the new www.infectedbooks.co.uk which has just been launched. It looks much the same visually, but there’s been a definite shift in content and focus (although you can still buy signed books from the site – now with free UK shipping). You’ll find much more about the titles IB publishes, and there will be plenty more new releases to come in the next few months. A mix of eBooks, limited editions, and new paperback releases are coming… there are things planned every month from hereon in. Please also follow IB on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to hear about these releases.

THE COST OF LIVING has reinvigorated me, and I can’t wait to let you see what’s coming next.

Infected Books is very much alive and kicking. As I first said back in 2001 (a line which plenty of others have pinched since then…) stick with me and let’s SPREAD THE INFECTION!

A quick plug for a good friend – David Shires, the COST OF LIVING cover artist

CostofLivingI just wanted to take a moment to publicly thank David Shires of The Image Designs for his stirling work in putting together the brilliant cover art for THE COST OF LIVING at short notice recently. Often when I’m working on an Infected Books release, I’ll have an idea what kind of design I want to use and I’ll give the artist a very general brief. In this case I had an idea and I’d made an incredibly amateurish attempt to produce the artwork myself. I emailed David all the details, and received the finished piece within a day. Phenomenal!

David’s done work for me previously and has been featured on this site before. You might remember his AUTUMN illustrations which are on display over at www.lastoftheliving.net. My personal favourites are the images he produced for OFFICE POLITICS and SKIN.

For more information about David’s work, email create@theimagedesigns.com or visit www.theimagedesigns.com or facebook.com/theimagedesigns. Once again, huge thanks to David for his work on THE COST OF LIVING which has been a massive factor in the book’s success. I’m incredibly grateful.

Office Politics - illustration by David Naughton-Shires www.knightwatchpress.infoTHE COST OF LIVING is available now from AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.DE | AMAZON.ES | AMAZON.IT | AMAZON.CA | AMAZON.COM.AU.

Watch for an announcement in the next few weeks about another zombie-themed novella and an undead print collection coming soon from Infected Books.