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NUTS & BOLTS: Interview with Publisher, Editor, and Mentor Joe Mynhardt




By Tom Joyce

Publishing great horror authors proved more rewarding than he’d imagined, so Crystal Lake Entertainment founder and CEO Joe Mynhardt took it a step further. He’s expanded what started as a small press into “a platform for launching careers.” In that spirit, Crystal Lake’s recent two-volume Shadows and Ink writing guide serves as a comprehensive education course for aspiring horror authors. In this month’s edition of Nuts & Bolts, Joe has agreed to share some advice on what beginning writers should know. 

Q: What are you hoping to accomplish with the Shadows and Ink writing guide?

A: While the Shadows and Ink writing guide is undoubtedly a valuable resource for authors looking to hone their craft, its purpose extends beyond just providing writing advice. One of my primary goals with this guide is to encourage authors to join my Shadows Writers mailing list and become part of the online Heartbeat community (free). Through this platform, I aim to offer authors a plethora of resources, ranging from tools and workshops to ongoing support and a sense of camaraderie within the writing community. By nurturing this connection, I hope to cultivate a loyal following that not only benefits from the content of the guide but also continues to engage with my future books and offerings.

Q: What do you consider to be the most valuable thing for beginners to know about the craft of writing when starting out?

A: For beginners venturing into the world of writing, patience is not just a virtue but a crucial mindset to adopt. Crafting compelling stories takes time and dedication, and success rarely happens overnight. Alongside patience, having an actionable plan is paramount. Setting achievable goals provides a roadmap for progress while allowing room for dreams to flourish. Balancing practicality with ambition empowers beginners to take meaningful steps toward their writing aspirations, one word at a time. But the one aspect that will take you to the greatest of heights, is your imagination. Your creativity. Feed it!

Q: How about the business of writing?

A: When delving into the business side of writing, understanding the nuances of contracts is essential. Knowing what a good contract should include — and, perhaps more importantly, what it shouldn’t — is vital for protecting one’s rights and interests as an author. Additionally, forging connections within the industry can open doors to opportunities, whether it’s networking with fellow writers, editors, or literary agents. However, let’s not forget the ultimate connection: building a rapport with readers. Engaging with and cultivating a loyal reader base not only sustains a writer’s career but also fuels its growth and success.

Q: Are there any qualities that successful authors tend to have in common?

A: Successful authors often share a blend of determination, resilience, and a sense of humor in navigating the unpredictable waters of the writing journey. Their unwavering determination fuels their pursuit of excellence, even in the face of challenges and setbacks. Coupled with resilience, the ability to bounce back from rejection or criticism propels them forward, stronger and more determined than before. And let’s not overlook the power of a big old smile — a positive attitude can work wonders in overcoming obstacles and attracting opportunities. Ultimately, successful authors understand the importance of putting their best foot forward at all times, both in their writing and in their interactions with the world. Become someone everyone wants to work with.

Q: What qualities make a horror book sell well?

A: The success of a horror book hinges on a myriad of factors, but it often starts with quality writing that captivates and compels readers. A gripping story that keeps readers on the edge of their seats is paramount, drawing them deeper into the chilling world you’ve crafted. However, having an existing readership can significantly boost a horror book’s sales, as loyal fans eagerly anticipate each new release. A well-executed book launch, supported by effective advertising campaigns and strategic marketing efforts, can also generate buzz and attract new readers. And let’s not forget the power of word of mouth — a spine-tingling tale that leaves readers eager to share their terrifying experience with friends and family can quickly become a bestseller in its own right. Unfortunately, all of these things take time, which means success will realistically only come after quite a few books.

Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like HWA members to know about?

A: I’m thrilled to announce that I’m currently in the process of putting together a branding and marketing workshop tailored specifically for authors. Unlike traditional one-size-fits-all workshops, this will be a personalized one-on-one experience, meticulously crafted to meet the unique needs of each individual author and their book. Through personalized guidance and practical strategies, participants will learn how to elevate their author brand, connect with their target audience, and effectively market their books for maximum impact. Stay tuned for more details — I can’t wait to embark on this journey with you!

Q: Where can people follow you online?

A: Most of Crystal Lake’s info will be on our LinkTree page. For those who really want to invest in their career, I highly recommend signing up for my Mastermind group, which already consists of over thirty industry professionals who’ll want to meet you and share their experiences, ranging from authors, editors, and publishers to screenwriters, comic book writers, and game developers.

Joe Mynhardt is a Bram Stoker Award-winning South African publisher, editor, and mentor, as well as the founder and CEO of Crystal Lake Entertainment.

Crystal Lake was launched as a small press in 2012, and under Joe’s guidance turned into an intellectual property company in 2023, with Crystal Lake Publishing being just one of many divisions in the company.

Just like Crystal Lake Entertainment, which strives to be a platform for launching author careers, Joe believes in reaching out to authors, new and experienced, and being a beacon of friendship and guidance. Joe is always involved in author development and attaining new skills to share with others.


Tom Joyce writes a monthly series called Nuts & Bolts for the Horror Writers Association’s blog, featuring interviews about the craft and business of writing. Please contact Tom at TomJHWA@gmail.com if you have suggestions for future interviews. For more about what he’s looking for, see here

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