I can’t believe we’re in 2011 already. 2009 was the year from hell with my father’s battle with cancer coming to a dreadful ending. Out of that was months and months or mourning (well do you ever stop mourning?) into 2010. So a year ago…not in a good place at all. But kept focused on family and work and moving forward (as my dad told me years ago when he got the diagnosis “what else can you do but move forward?”
The horrors of watching someone I love waste away into literal living death (undead even) was pure horror. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced watching the slow erosion and destruction of someone over years ending in a rapid descent in the final 6 months. Granted, he was literally a superman who fought esophageal cancer for something like 7 years where most people can die within 1. He was in life and death unique and raised the bar for perserverance.
Coming out of this, I started to write and the horror genre seemed to be an instant and natural fit. I researched self publishing (which I had used for my previous two books of poetry) and ebooks/ereaders. I soon learned that the industry was opening up for self published authors and ereaders/ebooks were to be the way of the future.
I also found out some suggestions from those who have had some success. First I read that you should look into using Smashwords.com for your epublishing needs. They will take your one Word document (format using their guidelines) and make all the various formats needed for the ereaders out there. They then push this document to the major ebookstores out there and track sales through their interface. This includes Apple’s iBookstore, B&N’s Nook, Borders’ Kobo, Sony’s E-Reader, and Diesel. As of today they’re not yet hooked up with Amazon (soon apparently), but I just published a Kindle version directly through their Digital Text Platform portal.
So that was the “how” of the work. Then I was faced with the “what” to do. I spent a lot of time looking at what is out there and my interests and came to a conclusion. Horror is at an all-time high in terms of commercial acceptance/success and has also lost something in translation. Horror has diverged into romantic stuff geared towards young girls or extremely graphic gore. Each has its place I guess, but I wanted to do something different and more classic related to some of the best horror icons: zombies, werewolves, vampires, and ghosts.
I also have always appreciated and loved strong female heroines in movies and fiction. Women who are smart, savvy and don’t need a man to save them after they trip while running screaming from the killer. I tend to be a progressive in life and open to all people regardless of who they are so I wanted to be inclusive in my characters.
This took shape into a series of shorter horror novels with four different characters all set in Chicago. The stories are separate, but intertwine and cross each other in time and place. So while they can be read and enjoyed on their own, reading all four creates a full story of this world I was creating. The result: Dark Bites in four parts (Windy City of the Dead, Like Cats and Dogs, The Red Planet, and 848). Researching online noted that you could find success by doing a series (much like early writers published novels in newspapers as serials) and then pulling them together as a collection. To gain momentum, you space out the parts and make the first 1-2 free to get people downloading/reading and reviewing.
I also learned that pricing of ebooks is a big debate as Amazon’s hegemony was threatened by Apple’s iPad release and various publishers deals with everyone. Some books have been published as ebooks with pricing HIGHER than the hard cover price. To me that’s inexcusable given the fact that ebooks are purely digital and don’t have the same costs as a printed work. But we each must take our own path. I researched similar books selling well and compared word counts. I found a price of $2.99 was comparable for an ebook around 42k words (and let’s be honest you get 5 stories in one).
For the print version I went with Amazon’s print-on-demand division which I had used previously (Createspace.com). They feed of course into Amazon (and Amazon UK of course), and then other sites as well so it gets your work out. And as it is a print-on-demand model that satisfies the “green” in me knowing there aren’t stockpiles of my books printed out there for no reason.
So in mid-December the ebook and print-on-demand collection “Dark Bites: Four Tales of Horror” was released on the world. As an added incentive, it contains an extra (fifth) story only available within the collection (a sequel to part one). Since Fall started I’ve been working hard to connect with horror lovers out there (mainly on Twitter). So far it’s going well with many downloads (approaching 2,000) of part one, many of part two and a lot of previews of 3, 4 and the collection. Sales are starting to pick up as well so hopefully that will continue as I work hard to market all of this.
I’m trying to commit to a weekly update on my progress so keep watching this space for more soon!