Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Five Ways NOT to Market Your Book

It’s no secret that marketing your book is hard, especially when the market is already saturated with novelists, both traditional and self-published, playing the part of the artist, the agent, and the publicist. The good news is that there are infinite ways to market your author platform and your product while still maintaining your personality and morals, but there are a handful of mistakes that most first-time writers make when trying to market their book to a publisher or to their community.

  • Don’t mass-market your book to your email list. Email is already a dodgy subject with most people because they feel like they get too much. Spamming their account won’t play favorably for you, and it will most likely lose you a potential reader right of the bat. Instead, start a newsletter or add an email sign-up option to your website and give people the option of whether or not they want to receive information about your writing directly in their inbox.
  • Don’t private message all your Facebook friends that you have a new book out. In addition to this being extremely unprofessional, it’s also distasteful because it’s obvious that it’s a mass message and again, it wasn’t prompted by the reader himself. A way to counteract that is to host a book party on Facebook and invite your friends and family to that instead. This gives the information without making it seem forced, and it also gives them to option to join or not, while at the same time, making them feel a part of something.
  • Don’t make your book the first reason you contact someone. If someone gave you their business card at a conference or convention, or invited you to be their friend on social media, don’t write them and include all the information about book and writing career. Instead, email them and say that it was nice to meet them—include the location you met them at—and that you look forward to seeing and chatting with them again. If you have a website, feel free to include it in your signature as a way to get the information out as an option without appearing forceful.
  • If the publisher is not accepting manuscripts, don’t send yours regardless of what their guidelines say. An editor’s time is very far and few between, and if a writer isn’t able to follow the guidelines for that they’re looking for, changes are they will pass on the manuscript without as much as a second glance. If you’re interested in submitting but a house is closed to submissions, feel free to send them an inquiry. Questions are always welcomed!
  • Don’t hand out copies of your manuscripts unless someone asks for it. If you want to have your book on your table and available if someone would like it free, that’s fine, but don’t put it in someone’s hands, leave it in the bathroom, or on top of someone’s car.

More often than not, the best way to market and sell your book is to ask yourself what you personally look for as a consumer. How do you find out about new releases? What tactics have worked for your friends in the business? If someone tried to market their art to you this way, would you be responsive to it?  Once you answer those questions, do what feel right, and most creative, to you. Remember, selling your book is a great way to network in addition to get and maintain readers, so be confident in your product while selling it in a kind and respectful way. Your future sales will be sure to thank you!

Monday, May 8, 2017

5 CHILDREN'S BOOKS FOR KIDS WHO LOVE THE FANTASTIC

A week or so ago, I worked in the children's department of Barnes and Noble for the night and I had a blast reading with the kids. It was refreshing to see so many of  my old favorites still on the shelves, and what was particularly cool for me was the amount of books that now catered to children who had more magical interests. And yes, right now I know you're all shaking your head, but I'm serious! When I was little, I wasn't a fan of princess books or your regular run-of-the-mill little girl books. I wanted to read about monsters and witches and fantastical creatures, and to prove that, even my I Spy book was the spooky night version! Having said that, other childhood favorites were: Room on the Broom, and Strega Nona. And I'd be absolutely remiss if I didn't add my all time favorite children's book (which I still own and keep with me in my apartment): The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.

Since it's been a while since I've read any of these books though, I wanted to catch up on what was out on the market these days, and to my excitement, I found quite a few that would have worked well in the Wytovich Household:

Here are my five recommendations this week:

Hey! That's MY Monster: This adorable little picture book talks about how the boy is upset that the monster under his bed--who helps him sleep by not letting him get out of bed at night--is moving on to now help his younger sister.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend: What I loved so much about this book is the spin that it took on the imaginary friend story. Usually we have a child that is creating one, or looking for one, but in this case, the imaginary friend hasn't been assigned a child yet, so he goes looking for his best friend himself.


The Chupacabra Ate the Candlelabara: A fun book that teaches cultural legends in addition to relaying the message that just because you've been taught to be afraid of something, doesn't mean that it's scary. It put a lot of emphasis on learning to get someone before passing judgment.

Vampirina at the Beach: This would have been perfect for me as a child, especially because I'm so pale and was already being nicknamed vampira from a young age. This little number shows the whole monster gang having a fun day at the beach. The art is amazing, as are the characters and the way they interact with one another.

Dragons Love Tacos: This one made me laugh because the entire premise of the book is how much dragons truly love to eat tacos...as long as they aren't spicy. The best part? A sequel to it just came out, too!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

STUCK ON GLUE: AN INTERVIEW WITH CONSTANCE ANN FITZGERALD

Good morning, fiends!

Today in the MADHOUSE, I'm sitting down with Constance Ann Fitzgerald, author of Glue, and all around badass woman. Fitzgerald is the editor/curator of Ladybox Books, a zine maker, and the author of the bizarro novella Trashland A Go-Go. She grew up in central Arizona and has spent the last decade crawling northwest. She currently resides in Portland, Oregon where her happiness is wholly contingent upon whether or not there is a dog in the room.

When I first heard about Glue, I was really excited because everyone kept saying this book will break you and I love a good book that peels back the skin and reveals one's scars. Glue certainly didn't disappoint, and not only was I completely taken with it, I sat down and read it in one night during a thunderstorm. It was heartbreakingly beautiful and I truly can't recommend it enough.


"Glue is a meditation on grief and addiction, the loss of loved ones, and our incredible power to rebuild ourselves after everything falls apart. Heartbreaking, honest, and all-too-human, Glue is one of the most powerful books of the year."

As someone who has gotten more and more interested with creative nonfiction lately, I wanted to interview Fitzgerald about her process, how she collected her memories and translated them to the page, and furthermore, what writing this did for her, and for her readers. I hope you find her answers as inspiring and beautiful as I do, and I hope that you treat yourself to her book. You won't be disappointed and I'd be willing to bet that you'll find something out about yourself between the pages, too.

With coffee and honesty,
Stephanie M. Wytovich

WYTOVICH: Tell us about your novella. Is it based on true events, and if so, how was it to write about something of that magnitude that is so close to the chest? Furthermore, when did you know that you were ready to write about the subject at hand?

FITZGERALD: Unfortunately, yes, it's a true story. At least as true as it can be from the perspective of one person. Writing about it was difficult, but therapeutic and necessary. It's all I could think about for years whenever I wasn't actively doing something, so I started writing my thoughts down in notebooks and (mostly) in the notes section of my iPhone. 

I never said "this hurts, I'm going to write a book about it." I just realized one day how much I had written about it and that I had enough to compile into a short piece. I didn't know how long or what it was even going to be. Originally it was going to include some other subjects too, but I realized those were separate projects and really would have taken power away from this story that really needed to be the main narrative.

WYTOVICH: I love that you chose to write the story in second person point-of-view. How and why did you decide to write in that viewpoint over the others?

FITZGERALD: I wrote Glue in second person because that's how I write to myself when I'm writing in my journal. That's how I've written to myself most of my life. When it's just for me, it can sometimes drift back and forth between first and second person, but it's predominantly second. While piecing this together, I only had to adjust a few sections tense wise, which I really only did to make it cohesive. I figured it would place the reader smack in the middle of the events because it was happening to YOU, the reader, and not to ME, the author.

It also allowed me to put a little distance between myself and the story so I could actually spit out some of the more difficult scenes. 

WYTOVICH: How did you decide on the title, Glue


FITZGERALD: Man, titling this book was really fucking hard. I had no idea what to call it. Even my editor, Cameron Pierce, who is a title wizard, didn't know what to call it. We batted around and rejected several titles, and were in the middle of edits, when I was walking to work and listening to Nirvana's "Dumb." 

I've loved Nirvana since I was a kid because my older sister was a big fan.
The part of the song where Kurt sings "my heart is broke, but I have some glue" played and I realized that there's an entire section of the book that's kind of a riff on that idea.

Originally I wanted to just use the full lyric and make it one of those super long titles. While tossing that idea around with J. David Osborne at a reading a couple days later, he suggested that I shorten it and just call it "Glue,” which is really for the best since Courtney Love/the Cobain Estate is pretty litigious and apparently the copyright laws about lyrics are kinda tricky. 

I'm too poor to get sued.

WYTOVICH: What was your favorite part of the story to create and explore? Did you find any of it cathartic to write about?

FITZGERALD: I guess my favorite part was writing the crazy stories my dad tells me because they are insane, but 100% true. 

I also really loved writing about my parent's wedding. I was looking at some photos and picturing them and their special day and their love and no matter how sad it makes me, it makes me ten times happier because they had it. They found each other and built a really great life together and I think that's really the best we can ever ask for. 

Writing all of it was cathartic. It was difficult sometimes, but even those parts felt a little better once I'd written them out. 


WYTOVICH: What part in the story was the most difficult to write?

FITZGERALD: Almost all of it. Pretty much any scene where anyone is in a hospital bed stuffed with tubes. If I never have to see another person i love in that state it will be too soon. Going back to that and "being there" again to write about it was less than desirable. 

WYTOVICH: What does this book mean to you on a personal level, and what has the response been with your readership?

FITZGERALD: Not to sound totally up my own ass or anything, but on a personal level this book means absolutely everything to me. The fact that I get to share this with people and that anyone wanted to publish my bummer of a book means so much. I'm very grateful for that.

I've seen instances of others telling their more difficult stories and it made me feel less alone and I kept saying that if I could do that for even one person, it would be worth broadcasting my guts. 

The response has been incredible. I've gotten really great reviews and that's more than I could have asked for. But more than that it's the private messages from people telling me they cried or they know how this feels, or thanking me for making them feel less alone in their grief, and some of my favorite authors telling me how much they liked it. That kind of thing means more to me than sales or any starred reviews. 

My absolute favorite response was my dad calling me and telling me he spotted a typo and then calling back half an hour later to tell me to send him a few more copies. Then he took a break from reading it because it was obviously difficult for him. (I called him before it was released and warned him about it because I didn't want to blindside him with it.) When he finished it he called and told me I did a good job.

And then asked me to not write any more sad books.

WYTOVICH: In respect to your writing process, what do you find is the hardest part? The most enjoyable?

FITZGERALD: I think that most difficult part of my process is motivation. I can be really undisciplined. I'm not someone who sets aside time to write every day and does it. I've tried that, but if there isn't anything there then I just end up hating whatever I force out or dicking around on Facebook. 

But once I have something in mind, when I have a goal and I know what I'm doing it flows out and it's all I can think about and lord help whoever is trying to come between me and putting down those words. 

I think the most enjoyable part is the feeling of accomplishment when whatever I’m working on is done and I start sharing it with my inner circle or writing group to get feedback. I enjoy seeing what other people think I meant vs what I was actually saying and seeing how they match up.

WYTOVICH: How would you describe your writing style to those who are new to your work?

FITZGERALD: That's such a tricky question! 

I've been focusing on creative nonfiction lately, so what I do now is really just try to be honest. I want to create a distinct scene for the reader and show them exactly what I thought and felt through somewhat sparse prose. 

WYTOVICH: Who are some of your influences in the genre? Do you have any writing rituals that you tend to follow either before/during/or after you write?

FITZGERALD: Influences include but are not limited to: 
  • Juliet Escoria 
  • Leesa Cross-Smith 
  • Amy Hempel 
  • Elizabeth Ellen 
  • Kevin Maloney 
  • Samantha Irby 
  • Chelsea Martin 


Rituals are tricky because sometimes I get possessed and just start spitting words. When I'm doing it on purpose it's usually my cluttered desk facing the window, a giant mug of coffee, maybe some snacks, and some music that is good/I love, but not too distracting. It varies depending on my mood and what I'm working on. Offhand I really enjoy writing to The Ravonettes - "Lust Lust Lust" and The Velvet Teen - "Elysium"


WYTOVICH: What books are sitting in your TBR pile?

FITZGERALD: GUH. I actually ended up reshelving some because the pile was getting crazy, but some of what still remains: 
  • Angel Meat - Laura Lee Bahr 
  • Person/a - Elizabeth Ellen 
  • Door - Leah Noble Davidson
  • Gutshot - Amelia Grey 
  • Bang - Henry Rollins 
  • The collected works of Scott McClanahan vol 1 
  • Girls to the Front - Sara Marcus 
  • Something To Do With Self Hate - Brain Allen Ellis 
  • Freak Show - James St. James 
  • Currently reading: A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness - Amy L Clark/Elizabeth Ellen/Kathy Fish/Claudia Smith 


WYTOVICH: What is next in store for your readers?

FITZGERALD: I'm working on a collection of stories about the other side of my family because they are a batch of completely insane and awful women (and my sister, who is a gem), some poetry zines, and whatever else burbles out in the meantime. 

WYTOVICH: If you could give one piece of advice to new writers, what would it be?

FITZGERALD: I think that when we start writing we start because we have something to say. Once we start being heard, there is this internalized pressure that can be really terrifying and maybe even hinder the voice we so badly wanted to share. Don't do that. Just keep shouting. 

Follow her work at: 
Twitter/Instagram: @constanceannx3

Monday, May 1, 2017

BROTHEL WINS THE BRAM STOKER AWARD: MEDITATIONS WITH THE MADAM

Hello, my little storm clouds!

Wow, the past two days have been absolutely incredible and I have to tell you, I think I’m still in shock. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to Stokercon this year because my job at the time didn’t approve my time off, so I stayed home and worked on a short story for Dark Fuse, read some poetry, and worked for a bit that Saturday, all the while trying not to think about all the fun I was missing and all the people I didn’t get to hug or see.

But because you all are awesome, so many of you touched base with me and kept me in the loop the entire time and I can’t thank you enough. It meant the world to me. Special shout out to Jennifer Bares, John Edward Lawson, Maria Alexander, Matt Betts, and Mike Arnzen!

When I came home that night, I logged onto the Facebook Live stream and Dennis and I settled down with a six pack and a bottle of champagne (just in case). This year, I was blessed to be up for two nominations: Brothel for Superior Achievement in Poetry and The Eighth for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. The past three years have been incredible journeys with poetry and fiction, and while I typically don’t write speeches, this time around I had to since I wouldn’t be able to accept should something happen. I asked Jennifer and Mike to be my stand ins, and I (reluctantly) wrote some words down, hoping that this wasn’t a jinx.

Poetry is usually first on the docket, so it’s always an adrenaline rush. For the past three years, I’ve

sat there shaking, my stomach in knots, my whiskey waiting in front of me, and honestly, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. I can’t tell you how much writing poetry means to me and the fact that you (or someone else out there) is reading what I write is a high like no other. It’s actually pretty funny because when I was talking to my dad yesterday—who was practically in tears over the news—we were both laughing about dark little emo Stephanie who used to lock herself in her room when she was growing up and read and write for hours all day and never let anyone read her work. I’ve pretty much been like this my entire life, my head always somewhere in a book, and it’s insane for me to think that I made it to the awards ceremony in Long Beach, California (well, in spirit anyways), and was now waiting to see if they announced my name. I was sitting at home in my pajamas, my hair in a messy bun with my mediation stone in hand, Dennis and Apollo right next to me. When they called my name, it didn’t register. I didn’t breathe. Dennis hugged me and kept shaking me and saying I won but I couldn’t believe it. By the time Jennifer made it on stage, I was sobbing uncontrollably and my god, it was the best, most overwhelming feeling I have every experienced. Her words made my heart smile and the applause that followed, in addition to all the excitement and support that lit up my phone for the next two days was absolutely incredible.


Like I said, it truly will be a night that I will never, ever forget.

Writing Brothel was so important to me and for lots of reasons. When I first got the idea for it, I was thinking about Women in Horror Month (February) and how it’s still crazy to me that we have to have such a thing because there are TONS of female writers doing beautiful, dark, amazing things out there. I wanted to write a poetry collection that celebrated women, that tackled themes of sexuality, death, orgasm, violence, and the female nude in a way that isn’t typically celebrated. In horror, we’re so used to seeing the woman as womb, as victim, and here in the brothel, I wanted to show strong female characters: hunters, warriors, protectors, sisters. I wanted to reverse the roles and stereotype and shed light on the ladies who are just as vicious as the next.

Brothel was my love note to women in horror, and the fact that it brought me and Raw Dog Screaming Press home a Bram Stoker Award feels great. Raw Dog Screaming Press has been such a pioneer of diversity in the horror industry for the past twelve years by focusing on race, sexuality, and gender equality and equal opportunity publishing, and I’m so happy to be working with them and with everything their press stands for.

I want to thank you all again for your support, your readership, but most importantly, your friendship. You all inspire me and make the long hours, the research, and the writing struggles worth it. I feel blessed to have you all by side, and I look forward to giving you my next muse, Jolene, later on this year with my new collection, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare, coming out in October from Raw Dog Screaming Press.

Here’s a sneak peek about what they’re saying:

Wytovich binds wrists with her muse using a chunky chain, and together they spin in circles, hoisting poetic knifes in a fight to the death. You might think you know what you're getting into with this collection of haunted road trips, erotic regrets and dangerous, devious desires, especially if you've read Wyto's other books of poetry. But this Acoustic Nightmare feels far more personal and profound than her earlier dark works, and you can tell she's riffing off the influences of her favorite writers -- from Charles Bukowski to Sylvia Plath, Jack Keroac to Anne Sexton to Edgar Allan Poe -- all of them also tied up tight, immersed in the muse she does battle with in this book. All the horror is still here -- how could it not be, in a collection by one of our darkest dreamers? -- but all that spooky gloom and spunky gore is just the basal layer underpinning a larger canvas of skin that she is tattooing, bruising, caressing, slicing and squeezing during this fascinating battle with her muse.  The glorious outcome of this knife fight is not the obvious denouement of death, nor the escape her narrator seeks solace in, but the complicated and frightening ballet of blades one makes with death along their life journey. As a reader, you're actively pulled into the weird seduction of her suicidal sway. Enjoy every step. Her muse might just be you....

-- Michael Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-winning poet, and author of Grave Markings

With Kisses and Knives,
Stephanie M. Wytovich