Are you ready for a night of terror in the Red Rum?
Join six local horror authors at Black Cat for a night of dark tales to get your bones chilled in time for Halloween. Up-and-coming dark fiction author Sonora Taylor (Little Paranoias, Without Condition) brings together area authors to read, drink, and shiver in the Red Room; including Rob Blackwell (The Samhain Chronicles, the Soren Chase novels), Sawney Hatton (Uglyville, Everyone is a Moon), John Edward Lawson (New Mosque City, Discouraging at Best), Jessica McHugh (Rabbits in the Garden, The Darla Decker Diaries) and Sheri White (Sacrificial Lambs, Tales from the Crust). Books will be available for sale. The event is FREE to attend. Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain!
Looking for independent bookstores to support? Do you live in the Chicago area? You can find a fresh supply of Raw Dog Screaming Press and Dog Star Books releases at Bucket O’ Blood Books & Records in Chicago. From our horror offerings to our science fiction adventure to our postmodernist novels and everything in between, they have a select of stock that represents the full scope of what our company has produced over the last 16 years. I especially recommend The Blood Poetry by Leland Pitts-Gonzalez, Meat Puppet Cabaret by Steve Beard, and Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven by Jessica McHugh. Research Bucket O’ Blood Books & Records online at http://www.bucketoblood.com/index/index.html for their events calendars, directions, and more. Want to see RDSP and Dog Star authors appear in person at Bucket O’ Blood? Let the staff know!
By the way, do you link the featured image for this post? It’s a spooky photo I captured while on a walking tour of haunted locations in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I’ve recently made it possible for you to purchase a print (or other product with this image on it) in my photography store at https://johnlawson.zenfolio.com/p364850120/ece93aa02. That way you can make the Halloween season last all year just by keeping this dark image near you!
Also just in time for the Halloween season, and to celebrate the recent Dark Poetry Day, my fifth poetry collection is available at a discount. Here’s what internationally renowned critic Gabino Iglesias had to say about this collection:
“Packed with a variety of texts that stretch the definition of poetry to the breaking point, SuiPsalms is honest from the beginning…In a standardized world, Lawson’s work is the equivalent of a juggling octopus jumping out of your morning coffee… While there is enough death and darkness to argue this is horror poetry, the book’s diversity makes classification impossible.” —Gabino Iglesias for Black Heart Magazine
You can support independent bookstores at the same time by purchasing through the Indie Bound network of indie stores. Just click on the banner below!
Note: the above are affiliate links, meaning I receive a small percentage of any money you spend at the retailers after clicking through the link. It’s fairly standard for authors to employ affiliate links for their books, but I use this extra money to help finance my efforts in publishing other authors.
Which brings me to the “offer unlike any other I’ve ever shared” promised in my previous post. This is also an affiliate link. It’s for my musical project, Rage Inducer, which I’ve been mentioning since late 2015. Maybe you’ve even seen the free demo versions of songs I’ve posted around the internet on sites like ReverbNation or Drooble. There was even that video for the song “The Lustful, Wrathful, and Sullen” I released almost two years ago.
The first official Rage Inducer single to FINALLY hit stores and streaming sites is “Popular Mechanics of Genocide” and you can find it on Amazon and Deezer, with many others such as IHeartRadio, Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play coming soon. You can also watch the official music video with lyrics below.
But first: a very enthusiastic SHOUT OUT to everyone who as supported me over the years! THANK YOU.
In my next installment you’ll get a free download, info about how to take part in another event, and everything you need to become the holiday season’s coolest gift-giver.
There has been a lot of news recently, so much that I have not been able to even blog about it. I’m going to post briefly on each item daily for a while just to get it all out.
First: the major film news regarding a book we published at Raw Dog Screaming Press, Wraiths of the Broken Land by S. Craig Zahler. You frequently hear about literary material being optioned, but in this case 20th Century Fox went a step further with the commitment to make Wraiths of the Broken Land their follow-up to The Martian, reuniting director Ridley Scott, screenwriter Drew Goddard (Daredevil, The Cabin in the Woods), and producers Simon Kinberg, Michael Schaefer, and Aditya Sood.
Jen and I have enjoyed our publishing partnership with Zahler, going on to publish his science fiction novel Corpus Chrome, Inc. after doing Wraiths. While all of that is rewarding, it was especially nice to see his film Bone Tomahawk–which he wrote and directed–do so well on its release last autumn, since he had been fighting an uphill battle to make that film the whole time we knew him.
There was a ton of publicity once the deal broke on May 10th, and of course sales have skyrocketed. Unfortunately Amazon ran out of paperback copies in a single day, and couldn’t keep the book in stock for two weeks straight, but it seems they’ve finally ordered enough copies to keep up with the demand. Of all the articles my favorites were at Fangoria, Yahoo Finance, and Geek Tyrant, but there was also good coverage at Entertainment Weekly, Variety, and Deadline.
Once upon a time I had I voluminous site called Chicken Soup For the Soulless, founded in late 1999. It lasted for a while as my official author site, and had a ton of free writing on it. Over the years I got more involved in actually being an author–and editor, and father–and around 2008 or so I kinda abandoned my old site. After heckling from D. Harlan Wilson I relaunched on WordPress (hat tip: Steven Archer for suggesting WP).
One thing I never did in all that time was set up a proper shop, though. That has now been rectified. While the selection is currently limited it will expand rapidly. In the meantime here are some features that should make your shopping experience easier:
Integration with your existing accounts so you don’t need to remember anything new. Just log in using Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft Live, Twitter, or Yahoo.
Accepted forms of payment included credit card, Paypal, and money order.
Click on the tab at the bottom of the store for a nice discount code.
Certain product pages have individual discount codes specific to those products.
We are almost fully set up to send a portion of ALL proceeds to charity. Stay tuned for details.
Don’t forget to sign up for the shop newsletter, which will include more discounts and tons of freebies.
I suspect many other authors and publishers received a message from Amazon in their email this morning. The missive relates to Amazon’s ongoing battle with Hachette, considered one of the “big” book publishers.
Since finding themselves in a deadlock–which seems to stem from Amazon wanting to increase its cut from sales of Hachette books–the two companies have been very public in posting comments to each other. It has gotten quite messy, and since there isn’t enough transparency for us bystanders to make fully educated judgements it’s hard to say what is really going on. Or, what the outcome will be. The general consensus is, however, that the results of this struggle could shape the future of the publishing industry.
Further compounding issues is the fact that Amazon is reporting enormous losses. Their profitability plummeted despite increasing sales by 25% in the last year. This is a familiar pattern for the company, with poor performance in seven of the last nine quarters. It sounds like Amazon is heading into bad territory. Of course, they have investments in new products that could potentially pay off, and an overall worth of $147 billion to fall back on if things gets too rough.
How many authors or even publishers can make such a claim?
Instead of being a facetious question that is the actual crux of the entire issue. You see, Amazon is suggesting the dispute is over their retail pricing suggestions. More simply put: everyone follow their business model, one built on using products as loss leaders–hooks to lure consumers in for more profitable purchases–and outlasting besieged competitors. However, if the business model is not even working for Amazon with their vast resources to draw from, how can it work for the rest of us, and–worst of all–will it lead to Amazon’s failure?
Whether you are pro-Amazon or against, or indifferent, we are now at a place where things would not be good for all of us if they go under. I don’t want to see all those sales go away for the distributors and manufacturers, not to mention the independent sellers with listings on Amazon. All the shops and chains Amazon is accused of putting out of business will not magically come back if they disappear, and I shudder to think what will happen to the shipping industry. So, then, let’s take a look at making things work out. How do we engineer a good solution?
It does not start with hobbling content creators, considered in Amazon’s corporate plan one of their four pillars of success. They are trying to couch the discussion in terms of the price consumers pay for eBooks. That is generally a free market issue where people who charge too much will whither and die, or correct their course. None of this seems to have anything to do with Amazon wanting a steeper cut of the book sales, if Hachette’s claims are to be believed anyway.
Whatever the case, in the letter sent out today they criticize Hachette for hiding behind the authors and essentially disregard the authors as being a consideration in the amount of money being paid or received. Then, at the end of the letter they call on authors to take part and actively go against Hachette in an email campaign…making them a shield for Amazon. So, which is it? Should authors be in the middle of the debate or not?
Even more questionable is this: whether the debate is over the sales price, or the amount Amazon takes from the sales, either way boils down to authors receiving less money per sale. And: asking the authors to actively pursue this business model. If I ask you to remove your shoe so I can hit you with it…you will say no. Right? Or, at least tell me to go buy my own shoe to hit you with.
Listen, authors already make so little most of them have to rely on other sources of income, juggling a number of jobs and hats, and what little money they can make is often a matter of dispute with their publishers. You’re seriously going to appeal to authors’ sense of…what? Brand loyalty to Amazon to override their sense of self preservation?
Speaking of which, check the following from Publisher’s Lunch regarding Amazon vs. Hachette:
“In a recent survey of almost 5,300 buyers (completed July 19), Peter Hildick-Smith of the Codex Group reports finding high awareness of the dispute. Just over 39 percent of respondents indicated that they were aware of the standoff.
Among those book buyers aware of the dispute who have an opinion on that disagreement, 19 percent said they were buying fewer books from Amazon, while 4.4 percent said they were buying more books from the etailer.”
Brand loyalty aside, perhaps Amazon is counting on authors being so upset about failing to convince publishers to invest in their manuscripts that they will overlook the details of their argument. Rejection stings, after all, but then so do the details.
The letter Amazon sent out opens with a citation of technological changes in publishing, such as the innovation of the paperback in addition to hardcovers, changing price dynamics. Technology advances and changes have nothing to do with the current disagreement; the argument isn’t about killing Kindle or eBooks to preserve the sanctity of hard copies. That ship sailed and sank years ago.
If you know anything about what experts term “the race to the bottom” in digital content–which has impacted the music, film, video game, and pornography industries–you might grasp that maybe there is a struggle to maintain the perception that people should pay an amount that makes it possible to continue generating products.
Because I can’t say to my son, “Hey buddy! I sold 25% more, but we lost so much I can’t pay the mortgage.” If seven out of nine times I check my money and find myself losing money, what then? Sure, I do follow Amazon’s model somewhat by offering books for a dollar or as a free download from time to time in order to generate interest. BUT. I also have to cover time spent on accounting, the time I spend on writing and editing, and that invested by the authors who publish with me, so I can’t offer everything at minimal pricing.
The profit margin on hardcopy books is not great, but they do cost more to produce which in turn involves higher cost for the consumer. Maybe eBooks don’t get printed and warehoused, but there does exist an investment on all sides of the equation: eBook conversion services cost, as do book designers, design software with eBook conversion software, the logistics people on the retail end, and the aforementioned editors and authors developing books.
If that last bit really isn’t worth anything shouldn’t we tell all the tech companies and pharmaceuticals to stop hiding behind “research and development” as an excuse for high costs? Are we really going to expect authors to ignore the years of work that go into their books and tell publishers to slash prices?
Or, should we acknowledge that Amazon really, really needs content to make their investment in Kindle–and the Kindle Unlimited program launched last month–pay off? At what cost are they providing content to consumers, though, in order to sell all those Kindles…and offset Amazon Prime memberships…
As somebody who has Kindle books available I of course want it to succeed, especially in light of Nook’s failure.
Yes, Alibaba is growing in a strong way, but if Amazon wants to brace against them for the long haul they need to strengthen their overall business model, not sell everyone on business models that don’t work for them–or even Amazon itself. Hey, if we insist realtors slash prices then everyone could live in a mansion. Okay, that’s silly, but it is not silly to think Amazon will turn around and demand to renegotiate every deal they have with publishers if Hachette caves to their demands.
In the meantime, we have volleys of letters, blog posts, and emails from both Hachette and Amazon. Until now I have been thinking Amazon’s preemptive strikes in public–such as their bribe to authors by offering to create a fund for them–were effective at least. Hachette’s latest offensive will hit the pages of the New York Post tomorrow, and with signatures from 900 authors, including some of the biggest industry, it seems the tide has turned. Especially with Amazon’s vice president calling twice in the past two weeks in attempts to personally put an end to this…and failing.
What follows is the letter Amazon hopes will improve their luck, in its entirety. What is your opinion? Please let me know in the comments section. Thanks for reading!
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Dear KDP Author,
Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.
With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.
Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.
Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.
The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.
Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.
Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.
But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.
And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read). A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures. And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.
We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.
We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.
Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch: Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com
Copy us at: email@example.com
Please consider including these points:
– We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive. – Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did. – Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle. – Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.
Get all three books from D. Harlan Wilson’s Biographizer Trilogy for 1/3 off—Hitler: The Terminal Biography, Freud: The Penultimate Biography & Douglass: The Lost Autobiography. Available in Kindle format only!
“This is metafiction at its purest, self-aware to the point of psychosis. Accompanying Wilson on the journey of discovering exactly what these books are is a provocative adventure…”—Bookriot
“…wonderful, witty, and wildly entertaining…all about fiction, nonfiction, anti-fiction, outré-fiction, cryo-fiction, and superzero-fiction.” —Gabino Iglesias for Verbicide
After spending years as a Nook exclusive, Westermead by Scott Thomas is finally available in Kindle format. If you previously purchased this title in hardcover or paperback through Amazon you can download the Kindle edition for FREE through their Matchbook program! Or, if you’d like a sample, just go to the Amazon listing and click on “Look Inside.” Currently ranked on both the Folklore and Mythology bestseller lists at Amazon, see what Westermead is all about:
“The rushes rasp in ghost-fed breezes as seed-hungry finches chance the thistle’s fangs. The bracken has gone gold and brown, the brambles heavy with plump berries. The days, warm as brewed barley, are etched with frost beneath a rusty moon. Eerie effigies are set about to honor the dead, whom, as the year decays, are wont to roam the countryside.”
The ways of old merge with the magical and fantastic in this wondrous world. Experience Westermead’s thaw and awakening season by season, the lush heat of summer’s passion and the retreat into winter’s desolate embrace. Come celebrate and mourn with the people of Westermead as they make their way through a world steeped both in beauty and dread.
More than just a collection of tales, Westermead brings to life an enchanted country where the supernatural is as natural as the sunrise. Follow the intrepid documentarians, Purdy and Beech, on their hunt for the fearsome Frost Mare. Learn the secret of the stranger whose life little Melly saved in Four Bronze Sisters. Face The Mask of Black Tears alongside Mullein Wick while he fights for his sister’s release from servitude.
This new mythology is ripe with unique characters, spiced with folkways and mixed throughout with a deep respect for all things natural. Given storytelling this vibrant, it is both easy and thrilling to get lost in Thomas’ unique landscape.
The story “Four Bronze Sisters” from Westermead received an honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2005.
“Scott Christian Carr and Andrew Conry-Murray have fashioned a wasteland tale reminiscent of some of my favorite apocalyptic movies. A BOY AND HIS DOG and Cormac McCarthy’s, THE ROAD come to mind. Fans familiar with the genre will not be disappointed!”
–David J. Moore, Author of WORLD GONE WILD: A SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO POST-APOCALYPTIC MOVIES
Anti-Twitter: 150 50-Word Stories by Harold Jaffe is currently on sale at Amazon as part of their new kindle Countdown Deal system. What happens is the price is reduced to $0.99 on the first day, increasing by a dollar each consecutive day for 5 days until the book is back up to its original price. This was an instant flash fiction favorite when published by Raw Dog Screaming Press several years ago. For more about the book please read below; to take advantage of this discount visit http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Twitter-150-50-Word-Stories-ebook/dp/B006QG9LAW/.
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These 50-word stories are based on “found” texts from mainstream news sources and other public sites. Jaffe sculpts them to reveal their inner core, all niceties stripped away. Now the true motives, fears and sins of our age are on display for all who care to see.
Amidst an internet-driven content boom, meaning has virtually disappeared. Anti-Twitter’s extreme brevity demonstrates by example that brief need not = dumbed-down. Though the stories describe a wide arc: high and pop culture, intimate and public, sordid and exalted, all subjects are equally laid bare by Jaffe’s incisive stratagems.
What They’re Saying About Anti-Twitter
“When it comes to less is more, Jaffe excels….he succinctly shows us the emperor has no clothes—which is no mean feat.”
—North County Times
“…while Jaffe precisely documents the info-culture, he subtly derails these tropes in arresting and insightful ways: a trickster figure stalks cyberspace, stealing identities, impersonating cancer victims, releasing the handbrakes on parked police cruisers, winning bets against the date of his own death. This survey of the depredation of contemporary life is more than the sum of its parts, suggesting that, while reality as officially constituted is untenable, the impassioned imagination can still find succor at the margins of experience.”
—Review of Contemporary Fiction
“The ephemeral world-wide chatter of Twitter is here bathed in Harold Jaffe’s insidious acid, as another current language is accosted, insulted through example, and rendered absurd. Comic, at times frightening, pathetic, often ridiculous, these 150 Anti-Twitters stand against common currency of the form, become a cultural document of their own, no less than the hum of the word’s turnings. Once again Jaffe proves himself a master of subversion.”
—Toby Olson, author of Tampico
“In Anti-Twitter, Harold Jaffe works at the eruption point, where life in its raw fissiparity spews and proliferates story. Anger, astonishment, and outrage explode in bursts of savage irony. Jaffe excorcises the psychotic banal with a hot courage that is profoundly moral.”—Patricia Eakins, author of The Marvelous Adventures of Pierre Baptiste
For the next few days Jeffrey Thomas’ masterpiece Health Agent is on sale in Kindle format, starting at just a dollar! It increases a dollar per day after that.
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Punktown’s health agents are charged with keeping the public safe from infectious disease. Between inter-planetary travel, super-mutant strains of bacteria and criminal genetic manipulation they certainly keep busy.
But for health agent Montgomery Black work is about to consume his life. The problem is a highly contagious and extremely deadly STD, mutstav six-seventy and cases are showing up everywhere. While trying to prevent the spread of the disease Black could lose everything that’s important to him but there’s no ignoring the suspicion that something far more sinister than the impartial hand of nature is behind the spread of this epidemic.
Health Agent is a fine introduction to one of the weirdest yet most vividly rendered cities in the genre, a gritty melting pot of desire and despair, of the grotesque and the sublime, of love and dread… –Locus, November 2008
“Wild, weird, clever and brutal, Health Agent is a crazed ride into the heart of that bizarre reality known as Punktown. Jeffrey Thomas has a diabolical imagination and, thankfully, the talent to vent it through a unique and always engrossing voice. Think William Burroughs meets Clive Barker on a mescaline-drenched junket through one gothic-industrial hell and you get some small sense of the exam that this Health Agent is going to give you. Now turn your head and cough.” –Jack O’Connell, Author of Word Made Flesh
Mari’s rare eye color makes her a pariah within Upper Caste society, which is why she prefers plants to people…except David, the former Armadan captain who shuttles scientists around on a refurbished pleasure cruiser.
But someone else is interested in Mari and her distinctive look–an obsessed psychopath who tortures and murders women for pleasure.
When the killer chooses Mari as his next victim, the soldier inside David comes alive, but it is Mari who must fight for her own life and prove she isn’t as fragile as the flowers she nurtures.