Thursday, April 24, 2014

Horror & Comedy: Best Of Friends

What is it about horror that makes it such a great match for comedy?

I noticed this when I went to a haunted attraction last October, and now periodically as I experience new horror films and writing. When we are scared, there are two reactions: to scream, and to laugh.

You would think that these two reactions are so opposite that they can't possibly work together, but when you analyze what is happening while experiencing something horrifying or terrifying, it makes sense. For a jump scare, I know that it's coming usually. If I don't, then it still works the same. Something jumps out and causes me to react physically and audibly - usually jumping myself and then crying out. But, then the come-down part of that reaction takes place and I laugh at myself for being tricked into reacting in such a scaredy-cat way and also at the realization that I am safe from harm.

It's a great thing to understand when writing horror of any kind. Even though some variations of the genre have taken the comedy aspect too far into camp, I believe it is essential to have moments for your characters to both scream and laugh because without the humor, the horror becomes too dreadful. It's a good idea to have a nice balance between the two.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Give It Everything You've Got!

I've just reached another milestone in my writing journey and finished a new genre book, which I've been meaning to do for a long time: horror. It's a genre I love so much and at last I have my first horror book out there. It's also a humor book since it takes after the classic "Choose Your Own Adventure" series.

Don't be fooled by the simplistic idea of a "game" book. It stretched my creative muscles more than my first novel effort. This led me to the realization that writing is a tiresome task when you finish. Mentally it is the equivalent of running a marathon. I was exhausted when I finished uploading my Kindle file to the website, and I hadn't physically done anything other than type!

If I am going to continue to write, I believe this is a sign that the task is important to me. I will be drained by the end of it, but that also means I have given the story everything I have. That's what counts to me. Hopefully that means it's a fun and engaging read for the audience.

Now, to recharge and start something new!

The Zombie Apocalypse is available now if you are interested in fleeing the undead!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Self-Publishing Tricks

Okay, the title of this blog is a little misleading if you are one of those people who are looking for me to tell you some super-secret tricks that you can use to instantly boost your books (or novellas, or what have you) to the top of the Amazon Kindle charts. I will tell you one trick that I've learned, but it's only one, and you really don't have much control over the outcome.

The trick is this: To have a book or story or product that people are looking for in the right place at the right time.

It's not marketing that has worked for me. I'll explain my reasons for this "failure" in a moment. But first let me tell you the experiment that I have been doing for the past two months.

I am a noob to self publishing. I've been a writer since I could hold a pen, and even begged for a typewriter one year (which I still have tucked away for inspiration). I published my first book, Macyntire & Hough, last September to a modest amount of fanfare for me. Mostly people I knew read the book, and I admit that it wasn't a genre that I typically write, though I have read a bunch of paranormal romances and thought they would be fun to write. The big problem is basically that I am a man with a  book geared towards women. Despite my bio, my Twitter and Facebook, and everything else that I did by-the-book, Macyntire & Hough is lucky if it sells one copy a month - and that is mainly because I dropped the price from $2.99 to $0.99 this past month. There is a sequel that I am nearly finished, but that is not the experiment that I am talking about.

I decided to take a dare, related to something that I was meaning to try for fun anyway, and that was to write a genre that I could never publish under my own name and see what happens. I won't reveal the pen name or story that I wrote just because, but I will say that it was something funny to write and definitely stretched my imagination a bit. This book was short because it was just a test, and I finished the entire eBook in a week, including the hastiest cover I've ever created. For this book, I created a female pen name and decided that whatever happened would happen, and then I could move on with my life once my curiosity was squashed.

Well, I have to say that I am surprised by the results. The numbers I have to share are hardly groundbreaking, but for a young man struggling to find the time to write - let alone market - his work, seeing this experiment yield such great results really lit a fire within my creative mind. I only told one person about the book, and they acted as my proofreader. I gave them a copy for free because it was a fun keepsake for a few hours of laughter. However, even without advertising or a great cover, this book in this particular genre sold copies. Compared to the one copy of my novel that I sold in January, I sold nine copies of my tiny pen name work. I quickly penned a second book under the pen name, and surprise - that one started selling too.

The failure of my marketing for my novel was that it was a hard concept to sell (surprising when it comes to paranormal romances!) and my gender is not exactly inviting for the women who read that genre. I would be more successful writing horror or a more manly genre, which I intend to do for my own author name. But, it didn't matter what I threw out there as marketing for my novel because it wasn't something that people were actively searching for, and whatever it sells from here on out, I'm fine with that.

I am still conducting more tests with this experiment - specifically, I am attempting to write some longer works compared to my first attempts, but my point is this: The only trick to selling eBooks is to have a product that someone is looking for, for the right price, and at the right place at the right time. Who would have thought that people in other countries would see these tiny books and give them a shot? I'm hoping that they will try my newest attempts when they are finished (which will be soon, if I can keep up my energy and find the quiet time to write). There really are no guarantees that your work will sell, but every person who sets eyes on my work and deems it worthy to throw down a dollar to own gives me a new drive to stretch my idea of what writing truly is.