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!

Top Ten Reasons to Back Gamut Magazine Now

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Top Ten Reasons to Back Gamut Magazine Now

ONE: We will pay ten cents a word

I think this is an important fact to mention right away. If you are an author, and you want to get paid TWICE the current professional rates, then support Gamut. Why wouldn’t you want to help make this happen? I hear people complain all the time that there aren’t enough paying markets, especially for dark fiction. This is your chance to put your money where your mouth is. It’s $30 for an annual subscription, which will stay that rate forever (as long as you renew) which is a steal for over 400,000 words. We also just added in eBooks, so you can go that route for $54, or get both for $60 (which is still only $5 a month).

TWO: We are inclusive, actively seeking diversity

First of all, we are supporting women, from the beginning with 60% of our authors being women. Beyond that, we are actively looking to include a wide range of perspectives. So whatever your sex, race, nationality, country of origin, religion, occupation, orientation, experience—we want you to be a part of Gamut. What matters most are the stories—neo-noir, speculative fiction with a literary bent. If you understand our aesthetic (which can be gleaned by reading my writing, the four anthologies I’ve edited, and the Dark House Press titles I’ve published) then we want your writing.

WiHM

(From left to right, top to bottom: Nickole Brown, Antonia Crane, Nina McConigley, Helen Marshall, Kristi DeMeester; Alyssa Wong, Livia Llewellyn, Damien Angelica Walters, Cassandra  Khaw, Carmen Machado; Erica Davis, Nikki Guerlain, Cate Marvin, Simone Meunch, Laura Benedict.)

THREE: We will open to blind submissions in 2016

So what does that mean exactly? It means we don’t know who wrote the story until we’ve said yes or no. We will certainly solicit some stories, so if you’re worried about us only publishing our friends, YES, we will publish some of our friends! What editor doesn’t solicit or publish authors they love, that move them—people they may actually know. BUT, I’ve only solicited 40 authors, so we have to accept AT LEAST 24 stories in 2016 for the 2017 year—12 new, and 12 reprints. My fiction editors will be my first readers, and then I will make the final decision on all submissions. It’s important to me to support new voices, diverse voices—and I’m counting on some of that coming in via submissions.

FOUR: A wide range of genres

We are not a horror publication. Or, I should say, we are not publishing ONLY horror. I want fantasy, science fiction, horror, crime, neo-noir, transgressive, magical realism, Southern gothic, weird, surreal, and literary fiction. We are looking for that sweet spot between genre and literary, between expectations and innovation. There is a lot of excellent genre-bending, hybrid fiction going on these days, and that’s what we’re looking for. We don’t want anything that is “classic,” so definitely avoid the same tropes, plots, stories, monsters, and clichés. We also are not fans of excessive graphic violence, rape, molestation, or any sort of bigotry. So, don’t feel if you aren’t a horror author that you can’t submit. I’d say several of our authors not only aren’t horror writers, but aren’t speculative, aren’t writing supernatural stories—for example, I believe that Tara Ison, Lindsay Hunter, Paula Bomer, and Nina McConigley are primarily edgy, literary realists.

FIVE: Pricing is currently 50% of what it will be

Right now, the main rewards are HALF of what they will be after the Kickstarter is over. And, those rates you can lock in right now, forever. As long as you renew, you can retain those rates. So, that’s $30 for website only, $54 for eBook only (monthly), and $60 for both. Those are great rates for 400,000+ words a year, original artwork with every story, and much more. Also, there WILL be a paywall. So, if you don’t subscribe, you won’t be able to read anything.

SIX: Lots of cool rewards at reduced prices

One of the most exciting aspects of this Kickstarter has been the generosity of authors, editors and publishers who have stepped up to donate books, editing services, and much more. It’s humbling, and means a lot to me. We started out with SEVEN rewards, but several sold out, so we added them back in. Some twice. And the rewards expanded as well. Last I checked we had 42 rewards, with 26 selling out. Stop by and see what we have! All of our rewards are also at 50% of MSRP.

DinoCoasters

Subscriptions of course (329 sold so far) as well as postcards, coasters, editing packages for poets and authors, book formatting and layout, photo shoots, craft videos, classes, consultations, lots of books—and even a Tarot Card reading!

SEVEN: New artwork with every story

How cool is that? Not only will Luke Spooner be creating new illustrations for every story, but we’ll also work in spot art from George C. Cotronis, Daniele Serra, Bob Crum, and photographer Jennifer Moore! I’m a huge fan of all of them, so that adds a lot to the experience, in my opinion.

PostcardsALL

EIGHT: Beyond fiction there will be columns, poetry, non-fiction, serializations, etc.

We are going to publish more than just fiction. We’ll have three columnists in Max Booth, RK Arceneaux, and Keith Rawson—to educate, and provide humor. We’ll be working with freelance journalists and essayists as well. We’ll also have poetry, which many fiction-based publications ignore. I’m working on doing a Flash Fiction Friday, as well, and even a Saturday Night Special serialization of something longer, to spice up your weekend.

NINE: Beyond writing, there will be other events and services

We’re also going to embrace other aspects of the arts. I’ve been talking to one of the coolest movie theaters in Chicago, The Music Box, about partnering with Gamut on some events and they’re already excited to do that. We talked about screening some cult classics and other dark hits, such as Blade Runner, Donnie Darko, and Mulholland Drive as well as an A24 retrospective (maybe a whole DAY) which may include such films as Enemy, Under the Skin, Ex Machina and even The Witch. We will be looking into other services at Gamut, which I can’t really get into now, and we’ll definitely have swag down the road a bit—hats, t-shirts, prints. But I mean, we have to establish ourselves first, right? What I’m trying to say is, if you aren’t a big reader, aren’t an author, we’re looking into ways to get you involved, to do things that will appeal to you as well.

music-box

TEN: Be a patron of the arts, start something great

How often to you get to launch a publication? I’ve supported 19 Kickstarter events over the last couple of years—anthologies, journals, magazines, books, games, films, and comics—even post-apocalyptic mugs. It’s exciting! I want you to be a part of this inception, this birth, this creation. You can help shape it. I don’t know how successful this will be, but what if this was the next Tor, or Clarkesworld, or Tin House, or Rolling Stone? You could say, “I helped make this happen.” I don’t own much original art, but the paintings I do own, they mean a lot to me. I see the heart and soul that went into that work, and I was able, through my purchase, to support that vision, that artist. And to be honest, that feels pretty good. It is such a thrill to see students of mine land agents and book deals, to see my peers grow, and evolve, and succeed.

Let me tell you a little story.

When Letitia Trent sent me a story for Exigencies, I’d already publisher her book, Echo Lake. I loved it. But she had been primarily a poet—this was new to her. She hadn’t written that many stories. We talked about “Wilderness,” and the moment I started it, I knew it was something special. When I was done reading, I immediately sent her an email to tell her I wanted it. I was actually panicking, thinking another editor was going to snatch it up. She was relieved that I said yes. I guess the story had been bouncing around a bit and had already been rejected by several top magazines. I told her, “Letitia, those editors are mistaken. They are going to regret that they passed on this story. It’s exceptional.” I could tell she didn’t really believe me. That story was just selected for Best Horror of the Year, by Ellen Datlow. If anybody is a judge of greatness in horror, and dark fiction, it’s Ellen. Out of hundreds, thousands of stories, she deemed this one of the best. It was a validation that meant a lot to me, as the editor, and publisher, that my own vision was supported that way—and more importantly, it showed Letitia that she was doing something special, doing great work. Truly inspiring.

IN CONCLUSION

I’ve said this a few times, but I want to repeat it again here at the end. The opposite of love is not hate—it is indifference. If this kind of publication is important to you, if you write or read dark fiction, then please get involved. Donate and spread the word. The base subscription is only $30, just $2.50 a month. If I’ve ever done anything for you—blurbed your book, Tweeted about your success, shared an important Facebook announcement, bought your thing, given you advice privately, taught you in a class, or merely been your friend—jump in now, when I need your help the most.

Thanks,
Richard

Gamut Magazine: What’s This Website All About?

Gamut Idea-001(Art by Luke Spooner)

“Now that short fiction has become as standardized as the SATs and Common Core—all in order to ‘judge’ and ‘rank’ writers—I’m excited to see what Richard Thomas brings to the game. Gamut will be the new magazine not written for the little old lady in Dubuque.”
—Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club

Gamut will be cool, and it will be out there, right on the edges of fiction. I can’t wait.”
—Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting

“As publishing venues grow ever more polarized—niche market over here,
stadium rock over there—the need for passionate, thoughtful, unafraid publishing
space is crucial. Enter Gamut.”
—Marcus Sakey, author of Brilliance

“I beg to differ with Mr. Palahniuk: There’s a fabulous indie bookstore in Dubuque, and little old ladies have been known to write some astonishing speculative fiction. Some of it might even end up in this magazine, which promises to bring together the fresh and the dark and the extraordinary. Look for great, weird things from [Gamut].”
—Rebecca Makkai, author of The Hundred-Year House

“A killer lineup of creators.”
—Rose O’Keefe, Publisher, Eraserhead Press

“The heavyweight talent behind Gamut is a promise of great things to come.”
—K. Allen Wood, Publisher, Shock Totem Publications

“It doesn’t matter if a writer has a big name, a pen name, or no name, if they’re writing excellent and edgy fiction, Richard Thomas has probably read their work. But Richard’s a busy guy—seriously, read his bio—and doesn’t have time to meet for coffee or martinis or bowling anytime someone wants to talk about what they should be reading next. Thankfully, now there is Gamut, which is sure to become an index of some of the best fiction writers working today.”
—Diane Goettel, Executive Editor, Black Lawrence Press

GAMUT (Updated 1/29/2016)

So what’s all of this talk about Gamut? For a long time I’ve wanted to start a magazine. I crunched the numbers for years, but in the end couldn’t make it work. Why? PRINT COSTS. So, over the past year I’ve been looking at it again, and decided the way to go would be to Kickstart it, and have it exist online. I hope to do the Kickstarter in February of 2016, and launch the website on 1/1/2017, if we are successful. For the past several months I’ve been getting things lined up—authors, website, costs, content, the Kickstarter page, etc. We will offer subscriptions via the special Kickstarter for $25-30, with the regular annual price being $50-60. That’s only $5 a month, at the most expensive price point. (Gamut just means a wide range, and it’s usually applied to emotions, but here, it refers to fiction, and more specifically, dark fiction.)

CONTENT

It will include mostly fiction (some original, some reprints) but also columns, non-fiction, art, and maybe even a serial memoir or novella. I have a word count per month in mind, based on my budget, and I’m looking to release new content several times a week. I will start off by publishing work via solicitations and will then open it up to submissions. We will pay 10 cents per word for original fiction, and 3 cents per word for reprints.

GENRES

Well, if you’ve read any of the anthologies I’ve edited (The New Black, Burnt Tongues, The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers, or Exigencies) then you know what my aesthetic is, for sure. Also, you can see the work (and authors) I’ve published at Dark House Press. And of course, my own writing (and YES, I will be publishing some of my own work at Gamut as well, new and reprint). So I’m open to fantasy, science fiction, horror, neo-noir, crime, magical realism, transgressive, Southern gothic, and literary—anything done with innovation, heart and emotion. Everything I enjoy reading and writing typically leans toward the dark side, but I have been known to embrace lighter work, and humor, now and then. It just has to MOVE me. And I like to be surprised.

AUTHORS

To date, here are the people that have given me a verbal commitment to publish original and/or reprint fiction at Gamut: Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, Brian Evenson, Usman T. Malik, Matt Bell, Damien Angelica Walters, Letitia Trent, Mercedes M. Yardley, Alyssa Wong, Benjamin Percy, Lindsay Hunter, Axel Taiari, Amanda Gowin, Laura Benedict, Nathan Ballingrud, Dino Parenti, Ted E. Grau, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Sarah Read, Paula Bomer, Kelly Luce, Livia Llewellyn, Josh Malerman, Carmen Machado, Peter Tieryas, Kevin Catalano, Paul Tremblay, John Langan, Nina McConigley, Nik Korpon, Craig Wallwork, Steve Himmer, Antonia Crane, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kristi DeMeester, Tara Ison, David James Keaton, Cassandra Khaw, Nikki Guerlain, Lucy A. Snyder, JS Breukelaar, Helen Marshall, Amelia Gray, H. L. Nelson, Craig Davidson, Jacklyn Dre Marceau, and Lincoln Michel. Poets will include Jeffrey Skinner, Nickole Brown, Cate Marvin, Paul Guest, Blas Falconer, Carrie Jerrell, Gary Jackson, Erica Dawson, Laura Van Prooyen, Simone Muench, Charles Jensen, Ace Boggess, and Jeannine Hall Gailey.

ART

I’ve asked the following artists to be a part of Gamut: Luke Spooner, George C. Cotronis, Daniele Serra, and Bob Crum, as well as photographer Jennifer Moore.

COLUMNISTS

As of right now, I’m excited to have non-fiction, reviews and commentary from Keith Rawson, Max Booth, and RK Arceneaux.

POETRY

Even though poetry is not my strength, I want there to be a place for it at Gamut, so I’m putting Heather Foster (one of my favorite poets) in charge. She’ll be assisted by Whittney Jones.

STAFF

Speaking of which, Dino Parenti, Mercedes M. Yardley, and Casey Frechette are going to be my fiction editors, and first readers. They all understand my aesthetic and are excellent writers as well. They’re really going to help shape the voice and look of Gamut.

IN CONCLUSION

I’m sure this doesn’t answer all of your questions, some things are still being ironed out, but I’m very excited to see if we can make this work. I love Tor, as well as Nightmare, Shimmer, Apex, Clarkesworld, Black Static, Shock Totem, Cemetery Dance and so many other publications. I hope that Gamut can become a part of the landscape and continue to provide opportunities for authors to share their work, get paid a decent rate, and maybe even get discovered. There is no shortage of talent out there, I can tell you that much. Thanks for reading, and wish us luck! I hope you’ll be a part of this.