That’s not a question I can answer for you since I can only answer for myself, based off what I want as a writer, based on my drives, expectations and experience. I see this topic come up a lot and usually don’t pay much attention because all the hating publishers who don’t deserve it is childish and it gets old. Not that there aren’t bad publishers out there, with self-publishing there are more presses(?) popping up than ever before. I know you’ll want to figure out which direction is the right one for you, or perhaps a little of both.
Here’s what helped make up my mind to go with Delirium Books instead of trying to be a self-publishing superstar (good luck with that if it’s your dream!)
1. I have a professional editor’s opinion, and I know the little bigot in us says that a professional opinion doesn’t matter (until we label ourselves professionals, then our opinion better matter! Please.) It’s important for me to have someone tell me when I’m coasting by, which I can do sometimes. I want that push to make something better than I’d do on my own. It’s why part of my writing time is caught up in trying to impress my first readers.
2. I get money up front for hardcover editions, money up front for paperback editions, plus I get royalties.
3. I get more royalties from ebooks, too. And I know my publisher pays me a great royalty because I did my research. I would actually make less per copy if I self-published them because I’d be dumping my money from a regular job into cover design, layout, marketing, copy editing, etc. I’d rather make the more royalties from my publisher handling all that other crap instead of it coming out of my pocket and out of my time.
4. I get original book covers that I don’t have to pay a dime for (because my publisher pays for it.)
5. I get a copy editor with sharp eyes who picks up things me and my first readers and everybody else involved missed (because my publisher pays for the copy-editing, too.)
6. I get author copies of hardcovers and paperbacks that I can give to my first readers because I appreciate how much they always, always help me.
7. I get physical books I can take to conventions and book fairs, and with those physical books can do readings and signings and sell them in person.
8. I get to fill up my bookshelf with my work (or my bed, it happens.) Here’s what’s been published in the last year or so.
9. I get a marketing director (Dave Thomas, not of Wendy’s fame) who does a fabulous job.
10. I get to have physical copies for interviews with the local papers and surrounding areas.
And that’s why I went with Delirium Books instead of self-publishing. I don’t have the mind for the self-publishing route, I’d rather be creating and reading. Getting to the point where I was good enough to sell my work wasn’t easy (I’ve been stupid most of my life) but it’s paying off, and I know it’s the right thing for me. Go think about what’s right for you. Weigh the pros and cons, not just the idea of freedom. Freedom doesn’t exist. You’re bound in an unspoken contract with every reader who picks up your book and you want to give them the best product you can, right? Go on, get out of here (but tell your writing friends to check out my Writing Advice essays, and come back yourself.)
Bill Petzold, a reporter for The Tuscola County Advertiser, interviewed me recently. It was a lot of fun because we had music and writing in common, plus it was my first time being interviewed for the paper so that made it special. Here’s a little pic of part of it!
In the last year and a couple months I’ve sold five books to Delirium/Darkfuse, and it still blows my mind. Dave Thomas just interviewed me on their website, which was a lot of fun, and I reveal some secrets. Have a gander.
Also neat to see that Goodreads has a feature that lets me list the Division mythos on my author page. It’s going to be pretty amazing to watch that fill up with all 13 books in the next few years.
Glad I stumbled across that. I learn something new every day.
Buckle your seatbelt (this was a busy writing year…)
At the beginning of 2011 Ellen Datlow picked three of my stories for Honorable Mention in her Year’s Best Horror, volume 3! The first three stories I sold! It was a good start to the year and a nice buzz.
This year I’ve had stories published alongside some great writers in mags and anthos and webzines I love! Shared space with Joe Lansdale (x2), Lee Thomas, Jack Ketchum, Bentley Little, Jason V. Brock, Ken Wood, Maggie Jamison, Jeffrey Thomas, Michael McBride, Tom Piccirilli, Weston Ochse, James A. Moore, Nick Mamatas, Gene O’Neil, Ronald Malfi, Kevin Wallis, Steve Lowe, Shane McKenzie, etc. in Delirium’s Horror Wired anthology (February), Dark Discoveries #18 (May), Apex’s Zombie Feed, vol. 1 (June), Shock Totem #4 (July), Literary Mayhem (October), A Hacked-up Holiday Massacre anthology (November).
I sold the second Division novel THE DAMPNESS of MOURNING to Darkfuse Publications on October 19th! (Going to be released in signed/limited hardcover and digital in February 2012 and has a killer cover by Dani Serra. Bam!) This novel also came out early (Dec. 8th 2011) as a Kindle Exclusive. Pretty damn neat.
I sold my standalone novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL to Delirium Books on Dec. 14th (my dad’s birthday). It’ll come out in 2012 as a signed/limited hardcover and digitally! Another badass cover from Dani Serra! *Dance* This is one of my favorite pieces and was so difficult to write that it made me cry several times. And my hero Tom Piccirilli commented on WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL when I shared the rough opening on here. It made me extremely happy. Not only is he a badass author, he’s encouraging and kind and such a great guy. I’d probably give him a kidney if he needed it. Maybe not mine, but somebody’s.
My buddy, Jassen Bailey, bought me a book I’d been searching for forever! Tom Piccirilli’s first novel Dark Father! Thanks so much, bro! What a thoughtful, dude!
I wrote reviews for The Crow’s Caw which is a great site if you want to know what books are rocking the genre.
I’ve sported some stylish threads thanks to The Bag & The Crow. I think their tees have gotten me laid a couple times and increased my creativity.
I wrote quite a bit even though I was insanely busy working 60 hours a week at my regular job spring and summer, plus some Sundays at my old job, critting friends’ work, studying writing, reading, doing some reviews. Then when worked slowed down in the fall I spent most of my time playing guitar, drawing and painting (which I’ve never really invested any time in but found it’s super fun), and I had a blast talking life and its great mysteries with my buddies Shaun, Jassen, and Susan. I love those guys so much. Those three are like soul mates to me.
I’ve seen Susan search for truth, dive deep into the waters of her soul, and come back even more incredible, and I’m so proud of her. What a woman.
I’ve watched Jassen blossom despite slogging through the most challenging year of his life.
I’ve witnessed my buddy Shaun hone his writing voice and the stories he has to tell to a razor sharp edge. I can’t wait until people read his novels.
I’ve seen these friends suffer and watched them grow while facing adversity, with honesty, heart and dignity. Listened and shared. Lived and loved deeply and more passionately and honestly than I’ve ever been capable of before (and surprisingly, to me anyway, it had to start with loving myself and letting go of a lot of self-loathing and buried resentments. How weird. LOl).
My buddy and long time critique partner Kevin Wallis finished his first novel! Was a pleasure to read and give him feedback. Can’t wait until he sells that bugger!
My publisher, Shane Ryan Staley, built me a sweet website! How awesome is that? I could hug him several times, maybe even rub his feet.
I went to my first convention in October (Rock & Shock). Got to meet up with uber cool Jassen Bailey, sexy kitten Susan Scofield, iron man Ken Wood of Shock Totem, fellow authors Bill Gauthier and Adam Bloomquist, Tom Moran of Sideshow Press, watched Jordan Norton get molested by a big hairy guy and Scott Wieser of Morning Ablaze laugh at him, Andy Royal made me laugh my ass off, Danny Evarts was kind, Matt and Melissa Herron of Corrupt Culture were great and funny in the booth next door, and Kurt Newton and me had a fun talk. Sold out of the paperbacks of Nursery Rhymes 4 Dead Children (thanks to everybody who bought a copy and spent some time with me!) as well as learned some very valuable lessons. I really enjoyed seeing people picking up my novel, asking questions about it, as well as talking to them and signing copies for them. How fucking neat. Thanks to everyone for such a wonderful time!
I spoke to a 6th grade class (Jassen’s daughter Jayda’s) about creativity and imagination while on vacation in Maine. It was a total blast even though I’m very introverted. I read them the first chapter of my teen book Before Leonora Wakes, they sent me a very kind thank you, and I sent them a physical copy of the book. Win-win! Looking forward to speaking to more kids about creativity in the near future!
I did a fun and personal guest blog tour (though I did fall way behind on it since writing fiction was my number one priority and I didn’t have the energy for both some weeks. Yet the people who allowed me on their sites are beautiful and gracious and so understanding.)
I’ve had a ton of great reviews on pretty much everything that came out this year. From my first novel Nursery Rhymes for Dead Children to my first novella Iron Butterflies Rust, and garnered some nice mentions on stories that have appeared in magazines and anthologies. Sweet! Thanks to all the book reviewers who have taken the time to give me and my work a chance!
Brian Keene doesn’t know me from Adam, but he was kind enough to mention me on his website, which was damn cool of him! Then my buddy Susan sent me a link to Brian Keene’s Top Ten Books of 2011 and my first novel, Nursery Rhymes 4 Dead Children, is on there. So, a big thanks to Brian for taking the time to read it and for sharing it! And thanks to Susan for always letting me know stuff like that is out there because I’m kinda lazy (or focused on writing) when it comes to keeping track of what’s going on.
Plus Brian let me use this awesome blurb!
“Thompson’s voice is his own — strong, hypnotic, and unsettling. Nursery Rhymes 4 Dead Children is a bleak fucking book, and therein lies its danger. So beautifully-constructed is Thompson’s prose, that the reader is often caught off-guard, mesmerized by a turn of phrase or a descriptive passage, until the book grabs you by the balls and rips them right off, breaking your heart and your psyche in the process.”
My favorite short story, Beneath the Weeping Willow, from Shock Totem #4 was recommended for a Bram Stoker Award. This story and the protagonist tie-in directly to the second and third Division novels. I’m very proud of that one so it holds extra special significance to me that other people dug it. Plus it’s cool to see my name near Stephen King’s. When on vacation at Jassen’s in Maine, Jassen took me to his house, too! Thanks, dude! I wish Stevie would have come out and we could have wrestled in his yard, that’d have been fun!
I feel like I’ve grown as a man, a friend, a lover, and a writer. There were a few times when I was utterly exhausted and I thought I might take some steps back—sometimes I probably did, I can get cranky or anti-social when I’m not well-rested or sick—but what a year it’s been. I’ve worked my ass off, but I’ve also been lucky to have so many amazing people in my corner. Because really there is only two halves of my success… First: I write. Second: I’m fortunate enough to have people as excited about the work as I am. People who give me feedback, a publisher who believes in me, book reviewers and readers, lovers of literature and people full of imagination.
So many, many thanks to everyone who has been my friend, taught me valuable lessons, offered honesty and encouragement, bought the books, reviewed my work, and spread the word!
Let’s see how 2012 shapes up next, huh? Perhaps it’ll bring some of us diamonds to share with the world.
If you have a Kindle and haven’t read Shock Totem #4 you can get it free today! Has my story Beneath the Weeping Willow in it (which ties into the second Division novel The Dampness of Mourning) too! So doubly neat! Go get some!
All right. Sold my weird novella IMMERSION. Sweet. Will mention more about it once I’ve signed and returned the contract! It’s a tricky story. Like with everything I write, my advice is this: Pay Attention. Everything has meaning and some of it is subtle. There is always a story inside the story though I hope the surface story is fun and all that.
IMMERSION is a pretty personal story in a way, too. About how we deceive ourselves, twist reality to be whatever we want it to be, whatever the hell is acceptable to us. But that hurts us in the long run, once the smoke we’ve created clears. Maybe it’s better to remain ignorant, but I don’t think so. I guess that’s one of the big themes. Too many times I’ve had my perspective colored by what I want something to be instead of what’s really there. That makes me feel pretty stupid. Denial is an alluring and ugly bitch.
Still have three other books under consideration that stand a chance as well. Not too shabby. It’s still very surreal when I get an acceptance. I don’t know why, and part of me hopes that feeling never fades because it’s exciting and intense.
In other news I got a great review for Iron Butterflies Rust from Peter Schwotzer at Literary Mayhem. Check it out! This is a fantastic story by which to sample my work and a great story to buy for the dark fiction lover in your life. Everybody loves gifts. And it’d be neat to break the top 100 on Amazon Kindle or something one day.Thanks to those who’ve already bought and/or reviewed it!
Still working on this new book called When We Join Jesus in Hell. I put the rough opening in the last post and my favorite writer Tom Piccirilli left a comment on it that made me cry in a good way. I think that when people finish the novella they’ll need a day to recover. Hopefully. Could be exaggerating or wishful thinking again. I do both a lot. But I know it will be honest and powerful and one of the best stories I’ve ever written.
What a great weekend. I hope everyone else is having as much fun!
I see there are two new reviews of Shock Totem #4 and my story (which I love the hell out of) is mentioned as a favorite in both. Wow. Pretty wild. I didn’t think reviews would be that important to me, but they are. Connecting with others is so rare, I guess that’s it.
I also submitted the second Division novel THE DAMPNESS OF MOURNING to Delirium and hope they pick it up! It’s a tense and heartfelt ride. And it brings John McDonnell and Michael Johnston a few steps closer to the end of who they were and hints at who they’re becoming.
The second Frank Gunn novella will be ready for submission soon as well. I’m so excited. This story is really weird though and I don’t know how people will take it. But it’s grounded in solid emotions and experience, and it’s integral to these character’s journeys.
I’m in that weird limbo between books since recently finishing those two. I might write a few short stories (I have a couple ideas: one for Borderlands 6, and one for Dark Faith 2), or just recharge and relax. I don’t know. I’m waiting for my instincts to lead me. Maybe I’ll just play guitar for a few days and annoy my neighbors. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Annoying people is fun.
Nearly finished with the second Frank Gunn novella and it has been a very tough journey. The writing is the easy part, it’s the reliving/dredging up so many emotions from earlier in my life that rattles me. But I think injecting those things in the book and letting the characters embrace their own light and darkness is so necessary. I think DOWN HERE IN THE DARK is going to be entertaining, but I think it’s also a quiet study on friendship, on faith, on finding identity.
Just have the climax to write now, which might take a couple of days, then I can go back and see where I need to strengthen the structure supporting the themes and improve the unsettling portions. It always makes me sad to end a story. I hate to say good bye to characters, even if it’s only for a short while.
I feel sorry for my readers. I’ve been swamping them with material this year. I’m already trying to decide which book I want to write next. It’ll either be the Michael Johnston novella (She Collects Grave Nectar) or the third Red Piccirilli novella (Songs of Sonnelion).
Been reading: an analysis of William Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury, the Write Great Fiction book Plot & Structure, Clive Barker’s Cabal, and Tom Piccirilli’s Futile Efforts. And I read Shock Totem #4 which was a lot of fun. So happy to have a story in this. What a terrific magazine. I just sent them my last guest blog “Love of the End Product.” I’ll let everyone know when it goes live.
My story ‘Beneath the Weeping Willow’ is out in the latest issue of Shock Totem. I’m very proud of this story. I don’t know exactly why I feel such an attachment to it, though it’s probably an infinite number of things. So, I’m going to give away three copies. Yep, three. All you have to do is: share a link about Shock Totem issue 4 and paste the link in the comments section here and you’re entered! In two weeks I’ll use a random generator to choose the three winners!
Here’s the Amazon link you can share on Twitter, or FB or wherever: http://www.amazon.com/Shock-Totem-Curious-Macabre-Twisted/dp/1463754701/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1312334835&sr=8-5
So, go share and paste the link in the comments section of this post!