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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I've just released a book of inter connected horror shorts, in the victorian style, called Mask of the Macabre. It's doing okay in the UK (top100 horror shorts) but dismal sales on .COM

I'm concerned that this is because my book is not a zombie or a vampire book but a good old fashioned gothic style horror. I wondered what  writers of horror (particularly shorts) had experienced with their books. Is there any market in the US for old fashioned horror now?
 

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I've seen people do fantastically with horror shorts on .com. (and no I don't mean vampires and zombies)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Anya, I've had a trawl through and found lots, as you said who are doing well. I suppose, as usual what it comes down to, is making it visible and marketing it. As everyone knows thats the easy bit  ???
 

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Visibility can be hard to find on .com, I think. That said, your book was visible on this thread, had a good excerpt, and just got you a sale. :)


On a side note, thank you for mentioning Bethlem, which led me to see if Robert McCammon -- who also writes gothic horror -- had released the 4th Matthew Corbett book book yet. Turns out it's been out almost a year (another one that was all but invisible!), so I got to pick up TWO new books today.
 

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My action horror series is lurking in the shadows. When I do get a sale it shoots up in the ratings for awhile. I have deduced there are only about 10000 horror writings for purchase on Kindle. I just don't think it's a popular genre for ereaders
 

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David,


I wish I had data that could help you, but my books so far have ended up being a bit of a scattershot approach.

I launched my career on a lightly-religious-themed YA novel about growing up, MOST LIKELY, which I originally wrote back in college. I modernized it but it doesn't really reflect the type of books I'm writing these days.

SHADA is YA paranormal, with shades of a ghost story melded in. It leads into a sequel I'm still working on, EMBER, of the same genre.

And UNDER CONTRACT is of the horror variety, and a short fiction piece, but relies on a heavy mix of satire as well.

So, while I expect that horror-chiller describes me better than a lot of other terms, the first book that's truly in-genre for me is the one I'm close to finishing right now, EyeCU. But the thing with that one is, it's not finished yet, so I have no sales data.

I see myself as being Stephen King influenced. So I'm not just a trendy vampire/zombie writer. In fact, I prefer hauntings.

But "gothic/Victorian" definitely isn't me. My books are and will be very contemporary.

So I'm not sure what I can tell you.

The closest thing I have to your genre is the horror-satire short, UNDER CONTRACT, which is free, and has been moving about 40-60 copies a month for most of its life to date (about 9-10 months). However, it's slowly trending upward. I'm in the Top 20 in my genre on the free list this month, though I think it recently slipped to page 2 (21-40).

And since it's free, it's not like I'm making money with it, just spreading my brand.

But Under Contract has sold about 65 free copies on Amazon this month alone, and we're about halfway through the month. So it's building rather than waning.

EyeCU will be a better test, but until I finish it and it gets released, I have no idea how it's gonna do. I'm hoping it's a break-through novel for me, though. It's looking like it'll end up, post-editing, between 85K to 100K words. That'll be my longest work to date, by far.

I do know I read a fair amount of work that is similar to my own. Everything King, plus other indies in similar genres like David McAfee (who does well, from what I can gather) and even YA paranormal stuff.

My brand of paranormal YA is a bit different, though, than the stuff that's already popular. I'm not a "do what everyone else is doing" type of writer. I'm a "do something similar, but make it yours" type.

So SHADA and EMBER might be paranormal, but in some ways it's also a "dark" story about a person discovering they have superpowers. Something on the fringes of the superhero genre, in a way. So it's an odd mix, but it reflects what interests me.

The more grown-up horror/suspense I'm doing (EyeCU) is kind of its own thing, also. It fits in a category broadly, but also diverges from being a "me too" horror novel. (e.g., no vampires, no zombies)

But here's the thing I tend to stick by: just do the stories you love and that make you want to write.

Writing is ultimately very hard work. One will often be tempted to quit, or let some new idea distract them from finishing something currently in progress. The only way to finish, the only way to push through the distractions and temptations, is to make sure YOU love every story you write.

Worry about them selling, about marketing them, later on.

True bit: In the early/mid-1970s, when Stephen King got started, horror was NOT huge.

Oh, it was around. But it was considered a schlock genre, for sure.

But King loved the stuff. And he had a bit more talent than the average bear. So he wrote what he loved and eventually the reading public caught on to him, and started loving what he loved.

Horror went through a big revival that began by the late 1970s and well into the 1980s, largely because of King. Without King, names like John Saul, Robert McCammon, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, and Richard Matheson (to name just a few) would have struggled a lot more. It's unlikely they would have been as mainstream. King opened doors. His influence still impacts the market and the genre.

So I kind of march to my own peculiar drummer. I love certain aspects of horror, but I mix in other influences of things I love, and it's my own unique mix. Hopefully I figure out how to market it and make it work and maybe even sell.

But it starts with writing stories I love. Gotta start there.

If you love the Victorian style of horror you're writing, write tons of it and write it the absolute best you can, to the very peak of your abilities.

Then, and only then, figure out how to draw an audience to it.

It's the only way that what you're marketing is gonna be worth the effort. :) We gotta write what we love writing, and nothing else, nothing less. Period. :)
 

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davidhaynes said:
Hi,

I've just released a book of inter connected horror shorts, in the victorian style, called Mask of the Macabre. It's doing okay in the UK (top100 horror shorts) but dismal sales on .COM

I'm concerned that this is because my book is not a zombie or a vampire book but a good old fashioned gothic style horror. I wondered what writers of horror (particularly shorts) had experienced with their books. Is there any market in the US for old fashioned horror now?
Chiller?

Maybe that's the problem - they think that it is a refrigeration repair manual.
 

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Yo David,

In this quote from Craig, he hits the nail squarely on the head. This is absolutely what all of us as writers need to be doing. Trying to write whatever's popular for the market will destroy you. It will deny the only thing any of us has to offer the world: Our unique experience of the world, wherein lies the material for a lifetime's worth of novels. Our voice.

Write for money and you'll get none. Write what you're passionate about.

Your topic stikes a chord with me, because I always wanted to write horror but kept resisting it, because...I kept reading well-meaning but ultimately paralyzing advice, often from editors and agents in places like Writer's Digest, etc--the same places all beginners go to learn about publishing--saying what a dead-end it was, a literary ghetto, nobody was buying it, ad nauseam.

Finally I realized I had to be true to myself, not try to please others. So I decided, late in life, that by God I'm going to write horror and try to be the best damn horror writer I can be. As I declare at my website: I'm going to write unabashed horror stories for adults.

And by the way, I love Gothic stories and think there is a huge market for them if they are well done. I love haunted castle stories, am writing one now. Roger Corman made some Poe movies with Vincent Price in the 60s that were a smash. Universal Studios created haunted castle stories that have become immortal. William Castle unashamedly made schlocky horror films in the 60s that were huge--House On Haunted Hill is one of my all-time favorites. I love the title of William Castle's biography: STEP RIGHT UP! I'm Gonna Scare The Pants Off America. That's one of my two writing mantras, the other being: When I write something irresistible, they will be unable to resist it.

Go for it, I say. Just promise me one thing when you write your horror stories: make them SCARY!

All the best, Bob

CraigInTwinCities said:
...it starts with writing stories I love. Gotta start there. If you love the Victorian style of horror you're writing, write tons of it and write it the absolute best you can, to the very peak of your abilities. Then, and only then, figure out how to draw an audience to it. It's the only way that what you're marketing is gonna be worth the effort. :) We gotta write what we love writing, and nothing else, nothing less. Period. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Fredster said:
Visibility can be hard to find on .com, I think. That said, your book was visible on this thread, had a good excerpt, and just got you a sale. :)

On a side note, thank you for mentioning Bethlem, which led me to see if Robert McCammon -- who also writes gothic horror -- had released the 4th Matthew Corbett book book yet. Turns out it's been out almost a year (another one that was all but invisible!), so I got to pick up TWO new books today.
Thank you very much!!! That's just doubled my .com sales!! I hope you enjoy it
 

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CraigInTwinCities said:
:) We gotta write what we love writing, and nothing else, nothing less. Period. :)
Perfect quote from a great writer, who also happens to be a top guy!

I personally think that short horror stories have a very good future, regardless or whether they are gothic, occult, killers etc - hell... bring in demonology, invocation, broken minds, mass haunting, gore, torture, possession - people love this stuff, we love this stuff and the aim of the game I think, is to just get more of it out there and enjoy creating :)

Also, if you feel that readers are not finding you easily enough then maybe look at the keywords on your KDP dashboard and also the subtitle of the book/stories as well, might bring more people in :)

Bizarrely, I find that Valentine's weekend gives a great boost to horror - don't ask me why, I have no reason to give - there are just some sick people in the world...

hohoho
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Bob, I appreciate your opinion as I do Craigs.

Reading horror was my first real venture into choosing my own books, certainly Mr King's work was consumed at a rapid rate and I still try to read at least one of his books each year.
I think i stayed away from writing it because I've read so many that are so good, it's difficult to try and get anywhere near the big guys. However, as you say, you've got to write what you love because, that's what will ultimately shine through.

I've certainly tried to make it scary Bob, and have started on another set of shorts in a similar thread (linked stories by character so they feel like a novella rather than an anthology)

I'll keep writing the stories because I love writing them and thats the most important thing.

Good luck to all of us and thank you for replying!

Just seen Ben's reply too. I'm going for the broken mind (with some twists) and not so much on demonology although I'm bringing in some interesting religious aspects to the horror which I've always found to be an intruiging juxtaposition when readinghorror.

Thanks again guys.
 

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Sir David, Lord of the Danse Macabre,

Went to your book page at .com, loved the Pulp/Penny Dreadful cover which I think is exactly right, started reading the sample, got hooked because you were capturing the feel perfectly (Poe came to mind), bought the book.  Can't wait to see what horrors await therein.  I'll check back with you when I've finished the book.  Yours from the castle dungeon where long-imprisoned horrors strain against their fetters... :eek:
 

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I released my horror short, HUNGER, yesterday. So far it has sold one copy which puts it at 187000  :D . Don't know what it is in horror because it doesn't have any kind of rank listing that I can find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Bob Ryan said:
Sir David, Lord of the Danse Macabre,

Went to your book page at .com, loved the Pulp/Penny Dreadful cover which I think is exactly right, started reading the sample, got hooked because you were capturing the feel perfectly (Poe came to mind), bought the book. Can't wait to see what horrors await therein. I'll check back with you when I've finished the book. Yours from the castle dungeon where long-imprisoned horrors strain against their fetters... :eek:
Hahaha!
Great!! Thanks Bob, I really hope you enjoy it.

The Penny Dreadful was exactly the feel I was going for and the writing has been influenced by Poe. I'll be really interested to find out how you felt about it as a whole. So far the reception has been encouraging. Even more so now after speaking with you!

strain against their fetters... and wait for the grey light of dawn to limp through the shutters...
 

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hello, I write in different genres, and my horror ebook "HEROIN God's Own Medicine" continues to sell well- see signature for cover. It is not Gothic, but it seems to me horror is universal.

"I never heard screaming like that, since I was a kid,and the hogs ate grandma."
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thats what I hope Phil, although some styles seem to sell better on .COM than in the UK. I'm sure this is probably the case for a lot of genres though and I think it's that infernal marketing/visibility thing which keeps holding us back!  ;D
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Patrick Szabo said:
I released my horror short, HUNGER, yesterday. So far it has sold one copy which puts it at 187000 :D . Don't know what it is in horror because it doesn't have any kind of rank listing that I can find.
Patrick, like me unfortunately we don't get to feature in the rankings until we've sold an awful lot more books! I did however make the top 10 for short horror stories in the UK, next to Mr Poe and and Mr Lovecraft. I'm not ashamed to say I took a photograph of that, it may never happen again. I'm hoping not, but it might just be the highpoint of my writing career and if it is, then so be it. To be in such compnay for just a few hours was a very proud moment.
 

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I think there is an audience for horror stories written in a more Gothic, literary style.  Thomas Ligotti comes to mind.  Even within the fantasy genre, Charles de Lint could be considered a writer with a more Gothic tone.  My own work fits into the latter style somewhat (dark fantasy/horror) and it's not always easy to tap into a readership.  

With Victorian era Gothic, specifically, I think there is an interest, it's just a matter of exposure and building an audience.  The PBS Mystery Theatre, with all those fabulous illustrations by Edward Gorey, brought a revival of interest which I believe still lingers to this day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I think you're right, there is an interest but it's like almost all genres. Getting noticed is the hardest part. Having an enticing, indicative cover and a exciting blurb is part of the way there but I think we all need a bit of luck to get on a decent roll and get those readers reading!
 

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First of all, congrats on the book! Your reference to the style as Gothic has me quite curious, and I might have to go check it out! :D

As far as sales go, short stories can be feast or famine.  Haven't had too many check out my new one, but my short story "Nick" (on Smashwords) is doing pretty good, although I don't think it would be considered "Gothic".
 
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