Horror Writers Association Blog

Publisher Tips from Kate at Omnium Gatherum by Kate Jonez


Happy Octoberween—the holiday for people who celebrate all month long! For many years now, I’ve been working with new authors as chief editor at the Bram Stoker Award ® winning small press Omnium Gatherum. I also critique, edit and ghostwrite fiction and non-fiction for clients with a wide variety of experience levels. I suspect this is the reason that I get asked fairly often if I have any advice for new authors. In honor of the season, I’ll be doling out this advice like tasty, tasty Halloween candy.

In the journey to becoming an author there are many possible routes available just like on Halloween night there are many paths you can choose as you set out for trick-or-treating. No one path is better than another. The important thing is to make sure you’re on the path that’s right for you.

Halloween background with silhouettes of children trick or treating

Step one: Choose your path and set a goal.

When you decide to become an author, keep in mind that most things are possible with planning, practice and a bit of luck. Not everything is equally easy. Is your goal to hold a printed book? To sell your books to lots of avid readers? To have worldwide acclaim and books on bestsellers lists? Just like your Halloween costume can be simple and cheap or crazy intricate and expensive so can your writing career… (similes are hard). The point is, decide what you want to accomplish and learn what’s involved in achieving that goal. If you want to have worldwide acclaim and books on bestseller lists and all you have is a couple of hours, an old sheet and a pair of scissors no amount of candy is going to make you feel better when this doesn’t work out.

Step 2: Practice until you’re really good, then practice some more.

Practice is to writing as preparation is to Halloween. As everyone knows, preparation for Halloween begins on November first because you need time to get everything as good as it can possibly be. Practice, like planning, is essential. Occasionally, people are born with astonishing talent and they don’t have to do anything but write the words down. If you are one of these people, ignore this advice. If you are not, you’re going to have to practice. If you have any doubt about whether you’re exceptional, chances are you should practice.

Learning to write is easier than ever. Sign up for workshops online and in person. Get a mentor, hire a writing coach or learn from having your work professionally edited. Don’t forget to join a writing group. It’s great to have support on the journey. No one should trick-or-treat alone! The HWA has a whole has a variety of resources to help new authors. One of the best is Horror University. Each year at StokerCon by the light of the full moon a dozen or more writing instructors return from shadowy reaches of hither and yon to impart their knowledge to deserving new writers for a reasonable fee.

Step 3: Get the word out. Readers need to know who you are and what you’ve written.

Whether you’re working on your first book or you’ve been an author for years, you need to sell yourself and your work. For most, this is the least pleasant part of the job. Even so, it is part of the job and like it or not, your costume affects how much candy you get. Social media, conventions, interviews in print and online and author newsletters are great venues for connecting with readers. Joining or starting a local HWA chapter is also a great way to expand your reach even farther. By going to chapter meetings you’ll find opportunities you never imagined.

Aspiring writers should devote several hours each week to promoting themselves. Even if you don’t have books to sell yet this is still crucial. Some writers have money and some writers have time. The amount you’ll spend of one depends on how much you spend of the other. A lot of creative people underestimate how much their time is worth. I recommend assigning a dollar value to an hour of your time based on your education and experience. It’s a good idea to keep track of this so you know how much you’ve invested in your writing career. You may find that hiring a professional to do part of the work turns out to be more cost effective. The main thing is, whether you’re an experienced pro or just starting out, don’t underestimate the value of the work you do.

Once you’ve got a goal, a practice schedule and a strategy to reach readers, you’ve got all you need to be the author you always wanted to be. Put on your costume, grab your plastic pumpkin and wait for the sun to set. You’re ready!


Bio:  Dark fantasy and horror author Kate Jonez has twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and once for the Shirley Jackson. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best Horror of the Year, Black Static, Pseudopod, Gamut andHaunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton. Her collection Lady Bits published by Trepidatio, an imprint of JournalStone will be available in the spring of 2019

She is also the chief editor at the Bram Stoker Award winning small press Omnium Gatherum which is dedicated to publishing unique dark fantasy, weird fiction and horror.

5 comments on “Publisher Tips from Kate at Omnium Gatherum by Kate Jonez

  1. Great tips! The scariest part of this might be self-promotion… I just hate it *shudder*. Mostly I just post links to new publications on Facebook. Any other tips for good promotion beyond posting on social media?

  2. Very good points of advice.

    I don’t think self-promotion has to be scary. If you have a network of friends to whom you would share a good book, why wouldn’t you want to share your own book with them too?

    The less promotion sounds like a used-car salesman, the more effective it can be…

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