I love this place. “This” being everywhere. I hate the internet but I love the people I meet on the internet. Twitter was always a dumpster fire but it was good for finding writers and artists and open calls. So I stuck around. And I kept sticking around. And I’m still there. It is nowhere near as fun as it used to be. All the ads are for Christo-fascist ding dong companies trying to sell me coffee roasted over gunfire. I can’t even tell if the Twitter ads are for real. It just shows how far Elon Musk has shepherded the decline. But I’m still there and you’re still there (probably). Do you know who is not still there, by chance?
The GHOULISH BOOK FEST
What a blast. I met many people for the first time and I put my foot in my mouth many times by telling people I’ve met multiple times, “Nice to meet you.” It’s instinctual, knee-jerk, reflex. But when I say it, I mean it. Even when I don’t mean it because what I’m meaning when I say “nice to meet you,” even though I’ve met you already, is, “Did you bring any beer? The bar isn’t open yet and it’s almost 10am. I haven’t eaten breakfast and I’m sopping wet for suds, bruh.” “Nice to meet you” contains far fewer syllables.
I don’t care what anyone says. The Ghoulish Book Fest is the most fun and welcoming event I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ve done the fest twice now and a few people hit it on the head: Ghoulish focuses on READERS of horror, not AUTHORS of horror. The reason why it’s successful for authors to set up a table and sell out their entire stock is because the vendor room is not paywalled; it’s open to the public and passersby actually walk in because it’s advertised directly to readers and fans of horror. If the Ghoulish Book Fest was billed as the Ghoulish Writers’ Conference, nobody would come. It would just be a bunch of horror authors looking at each other from across the room and finger-counting to zero how many books they sold.
On the very first day of the fest, I sat there whining to Miguel about how I was a failure but at the end of the night I realized I had sold every single copy of Bangface, Death Thing, and Inner Space. Granted, I didn’t bring much but I brought all I had expecting to just drop off the remaining stock at the Ghoulish Bookstore (grand opening tomorrow, see you there). Instead, I drove all the way back home and pillaged my garage in search of forgotten copies of my books. I ended up finding chapbooks, old anthologies I edited, and more to sell and I went on to have a damn good showing. Most I’ve ever sold. Now, I wish I sold more Beefy Sonic t-shirts but I am a terrible salesperson and 2 of the 3 I sold were hand sold by Miguel and Zach while I was using the restroom and taking pics of my feet. The 1 of 3 shirts I sold was sold to Max in an extreme act of kindness and pity. Thank you, Max.
There is a dual-and-opposite reaction to the word community when it gets thrown around on Twitter by writers. The community can be used for so much good like when people rallied for Laird Barron’s medical bills but unfortunately, bad actors take advantage of that same goodwill and exploit it.
I think it is important for folks to get off the internet and meet the community face-to-face at places like Ghoulish Book Fest but to also meet the people who keep the community afloat: the readers. I think a lot of the bad actors only see other writers as part of the community and they use each other to get whatever it is they’re looking for.
I had a flash-in-the-pan community bad actor guy publish my first book. Back before everybody had a podcast, the way to rise to the top was to quickly ingratiate yourself within the “community of authors” and then start a small press. The red flags came quickly. Exploitative GoFundMe pleas right around the time royalties were due. I found out artists didn’t get paid. The book was NOT formatted and barely copy-edited. But everyone loved this fucking prick and I felt bad about speaking out publicly. What if he truly was in trouble? What if I was being a dick? I was a first-time author with Death Thing. I was scared to say anything.
I ended up being right and only a small circle of friends knew that I had hated this motherfucker for longer than anyone else. I didn’t stick up for myself. Well, the guy is in jail now for far worse than he ever stole from me. I am always suspicious of somebody who pops into the scene and immediately gloms on to a crowd. I saw it happen to me and I’m wary. I think podcasts are the new quick-and-easy way to gain cachet. There are a ton of great podcasts out there, I’m only thinking of the few bad apples. The kind that do tagging drive-bys of authors to beg them to be on their show. Then they land a moderate fish and keep fishing. When somebody points out that they don’t allow for unsolicited guest requests but they basically put public pressure on authors unsolicited, you get blocked. You become a “hater.” And they keep landing bigger and bigger guests because they ensnared one first. They no longer need the “community” because they are hanging around authors big enough to ignore whatever community they came from. The podcast becomes immune to criticism and continues to grow “too big, too fast,” in the words of one podcaster who couldn’t forsee his own downfall because of arrogance. It’s almost as if these folks haven’t read enough books to recognize the folly of hubris.
The outsize self-perceptions of what they mean to anybody in these bad apples is quite hilarious. Nobody listens to their podcasts. Only after the fact did people go back to verify that this person was a vacuum cleaner. Some people hate-listened. Most people did not listen at all. That’s okay. Writers are eager to be on podcasts so they’ll pretend to listen to all of them the same way podcasters pretend to read or care about your book.
Don Winslow doesn’t run his own Twitter account and I hope he fired his social media manager after a podcast host tagged his son on Twitter. The audacity for this real unalive cranium host to start trying to become best friends with an author’s entire family is just gross. But Don Winslow doesn’t log in to his Twitter. He will never see the weird behavior of the host, the weird tagging of everyone from RL Stine to Black Rifle Coffee Company begging for sponsorships or interviews, and the insane lengths of flattery the host moistens his lips with for a celebrity’s ass.
Some folks do not enter the “community” as writers. They enter as reviewers or podcasters and then make themselves important enough to be asked to edit anthologies or are solicited to submit atrocious short stories to be included in anthologies. Being a guest on a podcast will not make or break your career. Consider the host. Consider the history. There are plenty of podcasts worthy of your time. You don’t owe some bozo two hours of your time just because he thinks he’s powerful because he ordered two copies of your latest book only to be returned to the distributor six months later.
The predatory publisher thing has happened to me, the predatory podcaster is the new hot-shit trick in the industry to shoot to the top and make a lot of people very mad and confused.
It’s okay. I don’t have much more to say other than this: the Ghoulish Bookstore opens tomorrow.
Thank you, I love you all. Please buy a book from me. Here’s my linktree. Buy a shirt. They are fun!
"unalive cranium host" That gave me a good laugh. Great post, man. You're 100% right here; we all need to be wary of overnight cults of personality.
Hi Andrew -- you just gained another subscriber . Excellent newsletter, particularly your thoughts on community. Well done.
The beauty of no longer being on Twitter? I have no idea what the whole podcaster and Don Winslow thing is about. I could probably guess, but I don't know for sure, and that's an incredibly lovely and freeing position to be in. ;-)