So a new story is available. I'm so very happy to see Horror Library 5 from Cutting Block Press out in the wild. Paperback and Kindle on Amazon will be coming soon. It features one of my favorite stories (I don't have many), "Almost Home." Even my wife likes it, and she's not a horror fan.
Anyway, another awesome thing about this acceptance/publication is something I hope will become a continuing trend: my name in a pretty awesome TOC. Check out the TOC and cover below:
Michael A. Arnzen
Benjamin Kane Ethridge
Eric J. Guignard
John F.D. Taff
P. Gardner Goldsmith
Boyd E. Harris
And in many ways, the publication of this story - and the eventual publication of "Scavenging" in Chiral Mad 2 - reinforces something that maybe I'd lost sight of (just a little) - with the release of Things Slip Through, and that's this:
I'm not done yet.
For the most part, I've tried to remain very logical and realistic about what this collection means for me. It's not the end-all-and-be-all of my career. It's not my "one true hope" to success (such an illusory thing as that is). It's not going to make me an overnight "hit" and it's not going to set the horror world on fire, nor will it bust any sales records. People are not going to be clamoring for membership into the "Kevin Lucia Fan Club" because of it.
And I knew that.
I really did.
But show me a writer who claims to be utterly realistic and coolly logical about their own work and I'll show you someone extremely talented in spinning tales of...fiction. We spend so much time on these things, sweat metaphorical blood and tears (though we're not morons like Tom Cruise. This is writing, not sacrificing our lives for our country) and agonize over every single word, and when something finally gets out there, we can pretend to be all distant and realistic about its fate but really, inside, I think all of us wants - in some small way - to be the next big thing.
And for a minute - when Things Slip Through blasted onto the scene as Number #2 on HOT NEW RELEASES and Number #28 in HORROR SHORT FICTION, I thought, for just a moment: I WAS THE NEXT BIG THING.
But the dust has settled. A flurry of purchases has come in. And as we move out of this week and into next, I've come back down to earth a little, and have realized a very simple truth:
It's time to write new things.
Don't get me wrong - I've got some contests planned (mostly as experimentation and because they sound fun), a few Goodreads Giveaways, and I'm sure more reviews will come in. Also, Things Slip Through has been offered up for Bram Stoker voting, so we'll see what happens there. But after that?
Well, I always tell my students: There's no magic pill I can give you that will make you a better writer. You just have to write and rewrite, A LOT.
And I think it's the same with book sales and gaining a readership. There's no silver bullet that will send my book rocketing up through the charts. What I need to do is keep writing and submitting, continually aiming at higher, more challenging markets.
This may result in more rejections, but this will help me better than any clever marketing strategy. For example: say someone reads "Almost Home" and "Scavenging" in Horror Library 5 and Chiral Mad 2 (and the odds of being read in those publications are MUCH higher than anything I've been published in before) and they like my work. Well, maybe they'll do what I do: hunt Amazon for more Kevin Lucia. And there the collection will be, waiting for them.
So even though I'm going to do some fun marketing things, that's the best thing I can do for this collection, now. Write a lot. Submit to upper shelf markets. Write a lot. Rinse and repeat.
I'm also going to experiment and toss out some "dandelion seeds," as mentioned by Neil Gaiman in this wonderful speech. I've posted two of my previously published short stories on Goodreads, with plans to post more, maybe even write some original content. Goodreads has a whole network of folks posting their writing; I've got over a 1,000 friends there NOT on any of my other accounts, and it's a social network DESIGNED around the love of books and fiction. At the very least, it took me ten minutes to do.
I've got other seeds to toss out, too. Some short stories published on Amazon, in hopes of leading folks back to the collection, but also: readers. One at a time, right? Who knows how many folks will read those stories on Goodreads; whether or not that will produce any sales, or if short stories on Amazon will increase my readership, or not. Thing is - almost anything (non-spammy, of course) goes in this new market, and honestly, what's more important to me right are READERS. Maybe someday I'll pull down big royalty checks, earn big sales numbers.
But you can't get there without readers, I don't think. And to get readers?
One must write. A LOT. And publish in markets that folks read.
I have a collection that I'm proud of, a collection much more accessible to general readers than Hiram Grange is. The cover is beautiful, the physical book itself is beautiful, readers seem to really love it and are sharing it, the reviews have been glowing, and I've already sold probably twice as many copies of this as I ever did Hiram Grange.
And that's enough for me.
So now, it's to work on the next thing...