Ten Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors This Holiday Season

So, you like to read, and maybe you like to write, too. You are a connoisseur, a patron, a Renaissance man (or woman). What can you do this holiday season to support those authors in your life? Here are ten ideas.

01. BUY THEIR WORK. I mean, I know it sounds obvious, but this is the most direct way to help out the authors you love to read. See if they have a new novel out, or a collection, or perhaps they just published in a journal or anthology (you get TWO gold stars for supporting small / indie presses here, as well). I know, it gets expensive. So, think about the voices that you really love, the people you want to succeed. Maybe you set aside a few dollars every month and then spend it at Christmas. Or perhaps you find the work on sale at Amazon, or directly from a small press. I have over 50 entries at my Amazon profile, and they range from 99 cents to 99 dollars. Something for everyone!

02. BUY SIGNED WORK DIRECT. Another possibility if you’re a collector, or really want to put extra money in the author’s pocket is buy directly from them. Most authors will get a few dollars per book when you buy at Amazon or B&N or your local bookstore. But many get extra copies from their publisher, at no cost to them. Some authors BUY extra copies of their own book (at cost, or a great discount) just to resell and help earn a bit of money. Recently I’ve bought signed copies directly from Brian Evenson, Priya Sharma, Stephen Graham Jones, Paul Tremblay, and Maria Dahvana Headley. I love to have that personally signed copy on my shelves.

03. FOLLOW THEM ON SOCIAL MEDIA. So, this doesn’t cost any money! Believe it or not some presses and agents actually LOOK at how many followers authors have, and that’s a BONUS. So, why not friend them on Facebook (or like their author page), and follow them on Twitter. Maybe Instagram, or subscribe to their blog, or their Amazon Profile. And then engage with them! You might learn something about their process, hear about an open call, or just be entertained by their witty comments, and ribald jokes.

04. REACH OUT AND SAY SOMETHING NICE. I know this can be a bit stressful, the idea of reaching out to your heroes and idols, or even just other authors and peers you know, but BELIEVE ME, a kind word about a new story or novel, or past work, can really make an author’s day. They may be struggling—to create, to believe, to push through a block. I love to hear from friends, peers, students, and strangers about my writing—it always thrills me when somebody says a story of mine scared them, or inspired them, or helped them to take chances with their own prose. Every year when I read the Best Horror of the Year, and other anthologies, when I read a story that blows me away—I reach out to that author. I connect on social media (see #3. I usually drop them a private message via Facebook, and then Tweet publicly to them on Twitter. Nothing fancy, just along the line of, “Hey Livia, I loved your story ‘Allochthon’ in Best Horror, wow, that was intense, so visceral, and unsettling. Keep up the great work.” I’ll do that for authors I’ve known for years (HI STEPHEN!) as well as voices that are new to me. ESPECIALLY if they are emerging, or new to me.

05. SPREAD THE WORD. Once you’ve followed them on social media, it’s easy to retweet, share a post, or engage. So do that. And if you go on to buy that book, or collection, talk about that too! Post pictures! Just be sincere and spread the word. Do whatever you’re comfortable with, it all helps. Support their Kickstarter, retweet about their new book, share that post about an upcoming class they are teaching, etc.

06. POST REVIEWS. If you read a novel, collection, or anthology, take a moment and post up some kind words on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Don’t worry about writing some eloquent review, just speak from the heart. Talk about what you liked, how it made you feel, what it reminded you of, how it was innovative, whatever you like. If you ARE great at writing reviews, then DO take the time to write something polished. Those deeper reviews not only sell books, but can help an author to get through a dark day as well. Whatever you can share—it all helps.

07. SEE THEM LIVE. If you get a chance to see one of your favorite authors speak, go do it! Not only is it a lot of fun, but nothing makes an author happier than reading to a packed bookstore or auditorium. To look out at a sea of happy, smiling, supportive faces? Wow, that’s a great feeling. (And while you’re there, buy a book and have them sign it.)

08. TAKE A CLASS. If you’re an author, and you have the extra money, and that author you love so much is teaching somewhere (online or in person) why not study with them? Part of what got ME writing at the age of 40 (I’m 51 now) was the chance to study with Craig Clevenger. He taught me so much, and pushed me to submit work from his class, which ended up being my first professional sale (“Stillness” in Shivers VI at Cemetery Dance, alongside Stephen King and Peter Straub). I ended up taking THREE classes with Craig. I also studied under Monica Drake, after reading her novel Clown Girl. And then Max Barry. Later, with Jack Ketchum (RIP, brother), and then Stephen Graham Jones. Those were all wonderful experiences for me. Each author taught me something different, and I’m friends with most of them in real life, as well.

09. DROP THEIR NAMES WHEN INVITED IN. Some of you may be at the point in your career where you have a little bit of influence. Kudos. Way to go. The next time you get invited into an anthology, be sure to ask if the TOC is full. If it’s not, and the editor needs names, share with them the voices that inspire you, and who knows—you may get to publish alongside a hero of yours. I not only drop names of authors I like, but I push for diversity and inclusion. I always ask about the ratio of men to women in the anthology (or just comment on it if the TOC they show me is all SWM). Nothing pushy, just, “Do you need any names? Are you short on women? Great, here are a few authors I love.” And I also look for authors of color, and suggest them as well. You may not be in this position now, and it may be awkward the first time you do it, but trust me—any editor that bristles at the idea of diversity, is probably somebody you don’t want to work with anyway.

10. INVITE THEM IN. Likewise, if you ever get to a position of power, say an editor at a magazine, or an anthology, be sure to reach out to those authors that inspired you over the years. Sure, the paycheck is great, but it’s just as important to show those authors that you value their work. Invite them in to that anthology you’re editing, reach out when you have a new issue of a magazine coming out and the theme submissions aren’t what you expected, or just make sure they know about the open call, and that you’d love to see something from them. Authors, we’re a bipolar bunch. One day we’re KING OF THE WORLD, the next an obvious hack and imposter. I can tell you that it is THRILLING to see authors I came up with, or past students that I’ve taught, evolve and grow, eventually running magazines, journals, and presses. Whenever they reach out to me and ask for work, it’s so flattering, so exciting. It means the world to me.

So, whatever you can do this holiday season (and all year long) it all matters, it all helps. Spending money on the authors you love is one way to support them, but it’s just as important to share your kind words, and help spread the word about the voices that haunt, entertain, and inspire you. Happy Holidays!

Day Nine Update: PRIZES!

Clevenger

We are over $18,000!

PRIZES! Today only: Signed copies of The Contortionist’s Handbook by Craig Clevenger. Subscribe or upgrade to win one of two copies (one paperback, one hardcover). If you haven’t read this fantastic neo-noir, transgressive novel, you are missing out. There were a few books that really influenced me when I first started writing, and this was one of them. Will Christopher Baer’s Kiss Me, Judas was another. Craig was also responsible for me getting my story, “Stillness” in Shivers VI alongside Stephen King and Peter Straub, my first professional sale. I never would have sent it out if he hadn’t encouraged me. When I was out in LA for AWP a few years ago, I embarrassed myself by pulling out a suitcase of books for him to sign (seriously, a SUITCASE) that’s what a fanboy I am. He’s also the only author I’ve taken TWO classes from, both fantastic.

FINE PRINT: Must pledge OR upgrade at least $30; contingent on successful funding of Gamut.

It’s Release Day for DISINTEGRATION!

DisintegrationALL

I can’t even believe Disintegration is finally here, six years in the making. I started this in my MFA program back in 2009, writing the first half with my professor Lynn Pruett, who knew nothing about neo-noir. After I gave her copies of work by Will Christopher Baer and Craig Clevenger, she got what I was going for, and was extremely supportive. When I got to Dale Ray Phillips, who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he said it might not be thesis material, which means—not good enough. I put it aside to work on literary short stories with him, and it was worth the wait. A year and a half later, I had a week between gigs and wrote the second half, 40,000-words in five days, my fingers bruised, my arms aching, practically in tears when I stopped, feeling like I might throw up. That began the year search for a small press, where it was rejected 20, 30, 40 times. Running out of options, I decided to try and get an agent, and over 100 rejections later, Paula Munier at Talctott Notch called me, only 100 pages in, to say she loved it and wanted to sign me. I said finish the book, it’s kind of dark. She did, and she signed me, and we went after the big six and their imprints. So many close calls, coming down to board votes in some cases, and then we got the offer from Random House Alibi. I knew we were taking a chance on this eBook only imprint, but it has been a fantastic experience, my editor there, Dana Isaacson, so supportive, helping to make this book so much better. A team of three copy editors, and four marketing/PR associates, gave me more support than I’ve ever gotten. Now, the day is here.

I hope you enjoy the book, this neo-noir, transgressive thriller that is the first book in the Windy City Dark Mystery Series. It’s kind of Dexter meets Falling Down. The second book, The Breaker, is also set in Chicago, with a different protagonist (out in late 2015, or early 2016). It’s more like what Stephen King did with small town Maine novels than the F. Paul Wilson series, and his Repairman Jack.

ENJOY!

Here are some early reviews:

THIS IS HORROR

THE HORROR BOOKSHELF 5/5

ENTROPY MAGAZINE

CRIME FICTION LOVER 4/5

MATT PUCCI BLOG

SPLATTERHOUSE FIVE 5/5

QUIET FURY BOOKS BLOG 5/5

SJ2B HOUSE OF BOOKS 5/5

PAUL READ OR DEAD

PANTHEON MAGAZINE

HELLNOTES

Here are some excerpts:

ZOUCH

PUNCHNEL’S

ENTROPY

Cover reveal for Disintegration, my second novel (Random House Alibi) out in June of 2015

Disintegration_RTExcited to reveal the cover art for my second novel, Disintegration, out June 2, 2015 with Random House Alibi. It’s Dexter meets Falling Down, inspired by voices like Will Christopher Baer, Craig Clevenger, and Stephen Graham Jones. Hope you dig the art, here’s the full description from RHA:

In a brilliantly stylish breakthrough thriller for fans of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho and Will Christopher Baer’s Kiss Me, Judas, here is the compelling tale of a man who has lost it all—and is now navigating a crooked, harrowing path to redemption.

Once a suburban husband and father, now the man has lost all sense of time. He retains only a few keepsakes of his former life: a handmade dining room table, an armoire and dresser from the bedroom, and a tape of the last message his wife ever left on their answering machine. These are memories of a man who no longer exists. Booze and an affair with a beautiful woman provide little relief, with the only meaning left in his life comes from his assignments. An envelope slipped under the door of his apartment with the name and address of an unpunished evildoer. The unspoken directive to kill. And every time he does, he marks the occasion with a memento: a tattoo. He has a lot of tattoos.

But into this unchanging existence seep unsettling questions. How much of what he feels and sees can he trust? How much is a lie designed to control him? He will risk his own life—and the lives of everyone around him—to find out.

The New Black (Dark House Press) releases TODAY!

TNB_PRReleaseDay

Today is the official release date of THE NEW BLACK! This neo-noir anthology is the first I’ve ever edited and it’s also the first Dark House Press title. I’m honored that so many gifted authors were willing to be a part of this book. I can’t thank them enough for taking the time, and for supporting this title, and the press. It’s getting great reviews everywhere, too. If you’re thinking of picking up a copy, consider doing so today, so maybe we can push it up the charts. If this book does well, and Dark House Press succeeds, we can continue to publish the kind of neo-noir, speculative fiction that needs to be read and experienced. Foreword by Laird Barron, with stories by Brian Evenson, Stephen Graham Jones, Craig Clevenger, Paul Tremblay, Lindsay Hunter, Roxane Gay, Kyle Minor, Benjamin Percy, Roy Kesey, Craig Davidson, Matt Bell, Richard Lange, Micaela Morrissette, Joe Meno, Vanessa Veselka, Nik Korpon, Antonia Crane, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Tara Laskowski, and Craig Wallwork. There are also 15 interior illustrations by Luke Spooner of Carrion House. Feel free to share this news, and to spread the word. THANK YOU!

The first blurb for THE NEW BLACK is Jack Ketchum

Copyright 2003 steve@stevethornton.com

The first blurb for THE NEW BLACK, a neo-noir anthology that I edited for Dark House Press, is now in. It’s from horror giant, Jack Ketchum:

“THE NEW BLACK ought to be the New High Standard for dark fiction anthologies. It’s loaded with intelligence and talent. Every one of the pieces in this extraordinary compilation is worthy of your full attention.”—Jack Ketchum

Thrilled to have this excellent blurb. This book will be out in May, with a foreword by Laird Barron. Stories by Brian Evenson, Stephen Graham Jones, Craig Clevenger, Paul Tremblay, Lindsay Hunter, Roxane Gay, Kyle Minor, Benjamin Percy, Roy Kesey, Craig Davidson, Matt Bell, Richard Lange, Micaela Morrissette, Joe Meno, Vanessa Veselka, Nik Korpon, Antonia Crane, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Tara Laskowski, and Craig Wallwork. 15 interior illustrations by Luke Spooner of Carrion House. Cover design by Alban Fischer.

Book Covers: Work Edited and/or Published by Richard Thomas

I wanted to start a list of the beautiful book covers that I’ve either edited or published or both. I hope you enjoy the art and if you want more information, I’ve included links to Amazon, for those books that are already on the website. They are in reverse chronological order.

UPDATED: July, 2016

ScratchScratch by Steve Himmer
Publisher: Dark House Press
Cover Art: Alban Fischer
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: October 11, 2016

PaperTigersPaper Tigers by Damien Angelica Walters
Publisher: Dark House Press Cover
Cover Art: Alban Fischer
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: February 29, 2016

VileMen Vile Men by Rebecca Jones-Howe
Publisher: Dark House Press
Cover Art: Alban Fischer
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: September 8, 2015

ExigenciesCover_FinalExigencies, edited by Richard Thomas (anthology)
Publisher: Dark House Press
Cover Art: Daniele Serra
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Stories by David James Keaton, Letitia Trent, Kevin Catalano, Usman Malik, Faith Gardner, Axel Taiari, Damien Angelica Walters, Kenneth Cain, Amanda Gowin, Jason Metz, Joshua Blair, Rebecca-Jones Howe, Brendan Detzner, Sarah Read, Bill Johnson, Barbara Duffey, Adam Peterson, Marytza Rubio, Nathan Beauchamp, Heather Foster, Alex Kane, and Mark Jaskowski.

DoorsFinalCoverThe Doors You Mark Are Your Own by Okla Elliott and Raul Clement (novel, trilogy)
Publisher: Dark House Press
Cover Art: George C. Cotronis
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: April 28, 2015

ThomascThe Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers, edited by Richard Thomas (anthology)
Publisher: Black Lawrence Press
Cover Photo: Jennifer Moore
Foreword: Alissa Nutting
Release Date: November 1, 2015
Stories by Laura Benedict, Paula Bomer, Karen Brown, Shannon Cain, Kim Chinquee, Monica Drake, Kathy Fish, Amina Gautier, Tina May Hall, Nancy Hightower, Jessica Hollander, Holly Goddard Jones, Stacey Levine, Kelly Luce, Nina McConigley, Janet Mitchell, Ethel Rohan, Karin Tidbeck, Damien Angelica Walters, and Claire Vaye Watkins.

After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones (stories)
Publisher: Dark House Press
Introduction: Joe R. Lansdale
Cover Art: George C. Cotronis
Interior Illustrations: Luke Spooner
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: September 30, 2014
WINNER: Best Short Story Collection of the Year, This is Horror
NOMINATED: Best Short Story Collection of the Year, Bram Stoker Awards
NOMINATED: Best Short Story Collection of the Year, Shirley Jackson Awards

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00001]US Version (Medallion)

BTUK_TitanUK Version (Titan)

Burnt Tongues, edited by Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer (anthology)
US Publisher: Medallion Press / UK Publisher: Titan UK
Introduction: Chuck Palahniuk
Cover Design: US – Jay Shaw
Release Date: US August 12, 2014 / UK September 5, 2014
Stories by Neil Krolicki, Chris Lewis Carter, Gayle Towell, Tony Liebhard, Michael De Vito, Jr., Tyler Jones, Phil Jourdan, Richard Lemmer, Amanda Gowin, Matt Egan, Fred Venturini, Brandon Tietz, Adam Skorupskas, Bryan Howie, Brien Piechos, Jason M. Fylan, Terence James Eeles, Keith Buie, Gus Moreno, and Daniel W. Broallt.
WINNER: Best Anthology of the Year, This is Horror
GOD MEDAL WINNER: Best Anthology of the Year, INDIEFAB
NOMINATED: Best Anthology of the Year, Bram Stoker Awards

Cover_ECHOLAKEEcho Lake by Letitia Trent (novel)
Publisher: Dark House Press
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Photography: Helena Kvarnstrom
Release Date: July 22, 2014

Cover_TNBThe New Black, edited by Richard Thomas (anthology)
Foreword: Laird Barron
Publisher: Dark House Press
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Interior Illustrations: Luke Spooner
Date: May 13, 2014
Stories by: Brian Evenson, Stephen Graham Jones, Craig Clevenger, Paul Tremblay, Lindsay Hunter, Roxane Gay, Kyle Minor, Benjamin Percy, Roy Kesey, Craig Davidson, Matt Bell, Richard Lange, Micaela Morrissette, Joe Meno, Vanessa Veselka, Nik Korpon, Antonia Crane, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Tara Laskowski, and Craig Wallwork.
NOMINATED: Best Anthology of the Year, This is Horror (2nd Place)