My latest release in the Horror Story series is out and available at Amazon. At 75 pages it’s not exactly “short” as I keep saying these stories should be, so you’re getting a bargain. Here’s the blurb behind the book.
It was just an old bed — rather ordinary, bought for the spare room. Except that a hundred years earlier a woman called Rose, who practiced in the occult and dark magic, slept in it. Now Rose’s unhappy spirit comes as part of the deal – Rose’s angry ghost comes with the bed. That’s not what you’d call a bargain.
Angela and Nathan are a young couple, married only two years before, both of them professionals. They’re happy and in love, although the pressures of modern life can be challenging some days. The antique bed is just right for the spare room in their expensive apartment.
Rose’s spirit doesn’t like happy marriages unless you’re prepared to wed the Devil.
Sleeping in the bed promises erotic dreams with perfect lovers — more passionate and daring than your wife, more considerate and satisfying than your husband. Before long, the dreams are much better than reality.
Three’s a crowd in any relationship even when one person is already dead.
Readers please note: This story contains some strong sex scenes that aren’t common in my previous Horror Story releases.
I’ve been really brain-storming how to get my books in front of people who might want to read them – meaning reaching the right readership, and it occurred to me I’m going the wrong way about it.
The thing is that my Lukas Boston Mysteries should appeal to female readers who like this kind of roguish, smart-arse, womanising, amusing main character with ridiculous good looks and charming bedroom manners, but my new covers were screaming “horror”, which couldn’t be further from the reality. All the paranormal stuff in my Lukas Boston books is funny, kind of quirky shit. Definitely not frightening. Lukas gets annoyed by ghosts. They’re a pain in the arse most of the time.
Anyway, in my efforts to figure out a solution, someone on a forum suggested my books were “Urban Fantasy” and it might be the key to reaching those women readers, since it’s popular. Now, say to me fantasy and I going to think dwarves, elves, dragons and wizards – and all the above shafting each other with swords and axes in pursuit of some kind of Holy Grail (in a castle at the End Of The World). Asking the forum for clarification (what is “urban fantasy?”) triggered a fierce debate. A touchy subject, apparently.
However, I can safely tell you that these days “fantasy” applies to just about anything paranormal. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches… you name, they all get categorised as a kind of fantasy figure now. In fact, someone went so far as to say there is no such thing as horror anymore. Instead “Horror” needs to be correctly identified as whatever fantasy sub-genre the story demands.
I had another problem. If you start labeling any sexual or naughty stuff in your books as in any way… well, rude – you run the risk of the Erotica Police abducting you in the middle of the night and dragging you screaming away into the darkness, never to be seen again. In other words they get pissed off, if you try to kind of cash in on the popularity of erotica without actually writing the “wet plumber shags bored housewife” books. But Lukas does get a bit risque now and then – think “Fifty Shades of Benny Hill” here (well, not quite). So what can I do?
However, it seems you can include romance-like keywords in your metadata as long as you don’t register your books in the actual Amazon Romance categories – go figure. And we’re talking a foreign language here. Stuff like “rake”, “rogue” and “alpha male”.
So this all led to me rewriting the Lukas Boston metadata and redesigning the covers again, including adding the handsome chap in the top right-hand corner who, I should point out, looks nothing like me. I’m sure he’s disappointed about that.
At least this is a really good thing about self-publishing. You can tweak and change stuff on the fly, trying to adjust your books to find that readership as much as you like. Fingers crossed…
Buy At Amazon US $0.99
The Hangman’s Ghost
I’ve released a new horror story, called Horror Story Volume V: The Hangman’s Ghost. This book is more like what I’ve been planning for these stories – shorter, traditional tales of ghosts, evil spirits… you know the sort of thing. As the latest in the series you can buy it for just US $0.99. I’m always keen on feedback about my books. Bring it on!
Back to Horror Writing.
This has been bugging at me for a long time. With eBooks and self-publishing there is a renewed demand for shorter books and what we used to call “short stories”, and this has given new life to my old passion – writing horror. I’ve decided to regularly publish new “short” horror stories – each one will take around an hour or so to read. It’s actually great fun writing this kind of thing, because you can concentrate on the horror, scary bits and hopefully frighten the behooters out of the reader, without labouring away at a full novel that takes perhaps years to write.
To kick things off I’ve split my collection of “Ghost Tales, Four Stories of the Dead Among Us” into four separate books and given the series its own branding and “look” calling each a “Horror Story” with a subtitle and volume number. Each one will be a stand-alone horror story (or perhaps two, if the one tale is too short) and don’t need to be read in any order. These first four are quite long compared to my basic idea of publishing something new every two-three weeks. In fact I have a new one, called “The Hangman’s Ghost” already written and it should be available within a week following a final edit and cover design.
And, even better, I get to compose a new tune for each horror title – an outlet for my music with direction, rather than doodling with song ideas on rainy days. Awesome.
It isn’t the end of my Lukas Boston mysteries. far from it – again, a new as-yet unnamed novel is finished and going through the last edits and cover creation. Mind you, I want to tweak the Lukas Boston series a little… give them a similar branding appearance to the Horror Story covers and remove the “Book 1, Book2…” references, because they really don’t need to be read in any sequence.
So, you’ll see a couple of new books here very soon. Let me know what you think.
Happy reading, Graeme Hague.
One of the good things about being a long-established author these days is that several manuscripts that in the past never saw the book store bookshelves can be self-published instead. We’ve all got ’em. Plenty of manuscripts – not just mine – are rejected by publishers, because they don’t fit a certain criteria or their “list”. It’s not about whether the book is good enough or not.
I always had a lot of faith in The Mirror Of Madness and it bugged me no one saw its potential. So I’m really glad of the opportunity to publish it for myself. Of course, it needed a good editing spit-and-polish, then I had to design the cover. This is the end result. I’m calling it a paranormal fantasy, but it’s also all about modern witchcraft.
Here’s the Amazon US link http://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Madness-Story-Modern-Witchcraft-ebook/dp/B00QVFWNM6/ref=asap_B0058SQWQ0?ie=UTF8
I used to have a problem, and it caused me to read some weird stuff in my past which may — or may not — have been of benefit later in my life. For example, when I was about ten years old I read Neville Shute’s “On The Beach”. It was way over my head, that’s all I really remember. About the same time I read a short literary novel which I can’t remember the name, but it was all about correctly setting dining tables, cooking small birds in meat pies and… Hell, I don’t know. I believe it was a classic of some kind.
So was I some kind of child genius?
Not even bloody close. But I read a lot and occasionally picked up books my mother was reading. My problem which plagued me for decades afterwards was that I can’t not finish a book I’ve started to read. It caused another strange habit. I’d start reading another book, if I got bored with the one I was already reading. I used to read maybe four or five “Famous Five” novels at a time searching what I felt were the good bits. I’d still finish them all, though.
By the way, my mother normally read some pretty trashy stuff and I can’t explain what the hell she was doing reading literary books either. She devoured a whole series of books called “Confessions of a …..” Which detailed the sexual adventures of this English guy in a dozen different jobs. The women kind of hooted a lot while our hero stoically satisfied them all. Not so long ago I reminded mum of this and she vehemently denied ever reading “such rubbish”. Odd. It’s not like they were hard core porn (yes, I read them too).
The point is I’ve finally learned to stop reading books I’m not enjoying. I’ve rid myself of the sad compulsion to finish everything I pick up.
But it makes me feel guilty. Last week it was Neal Stephenson’s “Anathem” and the issue is NS a bloody good writer. Who the fuck am I to put down his book as not worth reading? Apparently his book “Snow Crash” is a classic. Stephenson is, to be fair, full-on sci-fi/fantasy and I should have known with Anathem, when it had a foreword explaining the book that it was going to be tough.
It highlights to me how much more important the early pages of any book you’re reading — and of course writing — can be. They’re make-or-break content and these days few people will persevere with a book that’s not making a immediate impact. Even more important is this applies to the “sample” functions that online bookstores provide. You don’t get a second chance.
I think a lot of people used to read whole books they weren’t particularly enjoying, because a bit like TV today we’re prepared to absorb poor entertainment out of habit. Besides, not every book could be a winner and sometimes enduring a bad book opens your eyes to the better ones… Kind of.
Now it’s cut-throat. We have too many other options and too many other books to be wasting time reading anything we don’t like.
I’m not entirely sure it’s a good thing, but it has to be better than reading about sparrow pies, cutlery and hooting orgasms.
Want to know how to get a publishing contract? One of those six figure, dream of a lifetime deals? It’s easy – well, how to get one is easy. All you have to do is write the best book ever, ever written. The best, right? Publishers the world over will beat a path to your door.
So now you’re thinking, “Hah-ha, very fucking funny, smart arse”. But wait a second – what’s stopping you? All you need is a couple of fingers on the ends of your hands. You don’t have to be uber-fit, like a pro footballer. You don’t need any qualifications or some fancy education. The only equipment you should have is the cheapest, second hand computer, because word processing is no big deal. So all you really need is a good idea – and the determination to turn it into a book. You are utterly, completely responsible for how good that book can be and theoretically there is nothing to stop that book being the best ever.
Okay, it ain’t that simple, but you get the concept?
The reason I’m blogging about this is that on another forum the debate is raging as to whether self-published writers need their work professionally edited. A lot of them say, “I don’t need an editor. My books are selling well, so I obviously don’t need one.” What a load of horse shit. Apparently, if you sell books, it means your writing is perfect? Sentence structure is precise? Plotting and continuity is flawless?
People say you can get “too close” to your own work, but I look at it slightly differently. The thing is, you start to memorise your own work rather than read it, when you’re editing. Instead of reading the words one by one, as you would the first time you read something, your eyeballs start tracking over the text picking out familiar phrases and your memory fills in the rest – often incorrectly, for that matter. It’s why you can overlook an error time and again, and you can’t believe you didn’t see it. It’s also why putting a manuscript away for a while gives you a fresh look — in fact, it’s your memory getting flushed out, not your eyes.
Just like writers, there are good editors and bad ones. If you find a good one, what you’re getting is an objective view of your manuscript in regards to structure, plot, characterisation… all those “global” kinds of things that might have you swapping chapters, changing character names and such. A good editor will also apply a deep knowledge of grammar and sentence structure that can add a certain polish to your writing.
So the truth is everyone can benefit from a good editor.
But is it worth it? That’s a different question. If you’re writing short novels (or even long ones) for your own fun, and you’re putting them out there on Amazon at 99 cents for the world to hopefully discover – but you’re not stressing about becoming a best seller, then it’s not going to be economical spending anything up to $1000 for a professional editor. You can do your best, get people to proofread your manuscripts, maybe find some “test” readers before you actually publish… a lot things without paying for professional help.
A lot of authors get away with not using an editor. People buy their books. They might even have a fantastic grasp of the written, English language.
But never underestimate the value of a skilled editor. You’ll be surprised, if not downright upset, at how much you get wrong in your “perfect” manuscript.
When I first started writing, the “Holy Grail” was to get the Big Publishing Contract. Just a modest seven-figure advance would do the trick. Then your life would be instantly transformed and you became a pipe-smoking, tweed coat-wearing “author” who occasionally interrupted a busy schedule of lunches with agents and publishers to bash out the next best-seller. Hmm… didn’t happen a lot, and it certainly didn’t happen to me – although the advances I received were exciting and I did enjoy numerous lunches with editors (without my agent, which sometimes got me into trouble!). So I’m not complaining. I was expected to be what you’d call a mid-list author – someone economically worth publishing, but I’d never be on a best-seller list (well, you never know…). There was a million of us, filling the bookstore shelves all over the world. And we were still successful as such, because even mid-list authors had to sell a reasonable amount of books to make the whole thing financially worthwhile for the publishers.
The new holy grail for writers now is very different. It’s “To Make A Living” and it involves a lot of hard work involving self-promotion and a lot of hours spent on the internet – just like now. A lot of writers dream about selling enough books to make it their full-time job and hell – some of them aren’t helping the system by pumping out a dozen 20K words “books” a year in a shotgun attempt to do that. But that’s not what I’m writing about here.
There’s another holy grail (yes, there’s two). Very different to Making A Living.
I’ve been playing music in bands and duos for many years, and I’ve done my share of playing to near-empty (and even empty) rooms, seemingly wasting my time and energy on a handful of punters. However, as a lot of gigging musicians will tell you, sometimes those small audiences are the best. You create a personal connection from the stage, share a joke over the microphone, and maybe a drink when you’re having a break. You often feel – and get – a damned sight more appreciation from a small audience who are actually listening, rather than playing for a room full of drunks who hardly know where the music is coming from.
See where I’m going here?
Today’s online, ebook, self-publishing allows you write whatever you want and, as long as you write it well, you can enjoy a small, appreciative audience who will support and encourage you with more sincerity than a bunch of faceless Facebook Likes. From there, things can only grow as long as your writing grows, too.
We’re talking about how you write. I’m suggesting you don’t write to attract a Big Publishing Contract, and you don’t write with the ambition To Make A Living. You write to satisfy yourself first (you have to impress the hell out of yourself, that’s very important) then you write to satisfy a potentially small, but very discerning audience. It can be anything you want – any genre you want, right? That’s not an issue any more. Just don’t be tempted into designing and shaping your writing for a large audience – to get lots of sales. You don’t have to sell any amount of books to stay in the game now. Aim for a small, loyal following first. Achieve that and everything else should look after itself.