Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Hybrids of Horror

I just finished my second novel and I’m in agent search mode once again.

Something every writer has to do when searching for an agent or publisher is categorize their work in a certain genre, i.e. literary, thriller, science fiction, romance, young adult, horror, etc.

But it doesn’t stop there. There are also sub-genres like steam punk, supernatural horror, dark fantasy; descriptions that can help agents or publishers understand where a book is coming from. It also helps authors connect with the right agent or publisher. I definitely would not be a good fit for an agent who only represents children’s authors or romance, but for someone who already represents other writers in my genre, I probably would be.

My latest novel, CREATURE, is a story about a mythical being that takes over a U.S. Navy super-carrier. I describe it as something like Stephen King meets Tom Clancy, or a supernatural techno-thriller. It moves at a very fast pace, but it’s terrifying, so it also fits in the thriller and suspense genres. It could even be put it in the mystery genre because there is a lot of mystery involved.

Primarily, though, CREATURE is a horror novel. That’s what I love to read and that’s what I love to write: things with supernatural twists and dark undertones and characters that overcome, despite the odds. Bentley Little, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, H.P. Lovecraft, Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury—these are people I consider to be influences. But I also love a good Vince Flynn, James Rollins or James Patterson thriller.

To me, horror as a genre can incorporate many different elements and in my writing, it does. So as I search for agents and publishers, I look at other books they have represented or published and also at their interests, because the types of books I write may be something they have never done but would like to do: a fast-paced thriller with horrifying elements and true-to-life characters.

That sounds like something I would like to read, how about you?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mistakes happen…and happen…and happen…

I will admit I have many faults (yes, it’s true!) and I make mistakes. Lots and lots of mistakes. But my friends and loved ones are always there to help me pick up the pieces and rectify the situation.

But when I read a book from a major publishing house I expect to see near perfection; and why? Because they expect it from us, the writers! Don’t believe me? Try submitting a manuscript with grammatical and spelling errors sometime and see what happens. If you manage to get more than a form letter back, they will rip into you about the number of mistakes and ask that you “please edit your manuscript before you submit.” It usually says as much in their submission requirements.

Well, I’d like to make some publishing requirements: Please read your manuscripts before you publish!

Now I know publishing houses are extremely busy and short on staff and I can understand a missed comma here, an extra hyphen there and even a misspelled word or two, but when it comes to grammatical and spelling errors on every other page, it gets to be downright irritating and if I’m standing there reading it in Barnes and Noble I may even decide to not buy it.

Case in point: I was reading a book written by a NY Times bestselling author, published by a major publishing house, and found so many errors I actually had to stop at times to figure out what the word was supposed to be! (I won’t say the name of the book because I love this author’s work and don’t want to embarrass him). The writing was top-notch, but the copy-editing was obviously non-existent.

I’m finding that the small presses are doing a much better job these days of turning out quality products while the stuff from major houses seems to be going downhill. My own publishing company, Nightbird Publishing, puts out high-quality trade paperbacks and hard covers and their editing process is meticulous. My book went back and forth with my publisher several times before it was deemed ready for print. That’s the way it should be, even for e-books.

I think that if major publishers demand the best from us, the writers, shouldn’t we get the best in return? After all, it’s only fair.