Ginger Nuts of Horror
Anthologies are not a new idea. If anything, they are becoming two a penny. Every week someone is releasing another anthology filled with authors who are hungry for their name to be seen in a book that they, wrongly, believe will be seen by more people than if they released their story on their own. If you hadn’t guessed, I am not a fan of anthologies in general. Too many publishers out there prey on desperate, mostly-new authors - give us your work for free and new readers will come flocking to you. It doesn’t work like that though, especially in this day and age.
What was once a thriving marketplace is going the same way as extreme horror. It’s the same with conventions, and I know I will annoy a fair few people by saying this: You can have too much of something. With so many titles to choose from, so many conventions - people are spoiled for choice. When they make a decision and realise it’s a quick cash-in job, they lose faith, and the genre’s reputation is damaged a little further. There is no thought behind what people are releasing these days. People who were once readers become writers and they, in turn, become publishers and “experts” in their field - rushing out anthology after anthology with the same names involved. Good luck to them, and I truly mean that. The market is a cruel, unforgiving place and if you abuse the system too long, or mock the readers with rushed releases and general crap - all the hard work you put into it gets damaged. The only question is: Do you become bored before the public are bored of you are do you tire first? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that this is why I quit.
Now you might be asking why I am quitting this game. I prefer not to think of it as “quitting” as such as - instead - taking a step back with a grin on my face while I look for the next thing. You see, publishers are so pre-occupied with releasing their next anthology - the same as convention organisers are pre-occupied with their next show - they are can’t see the bigger picture. The audience is spreading thin, and they might not admit it, but they’re most likely desperate to see something new come in. Thankfully, I have a few ideas up my sleeve but - I can’t go into it until a plan is formulated and the actual book is out there. After all, if I put my thoughts down here, tomorrow - someone else will be claiming similar thoughts as their own. That is what this community is about now sadly.
Hell, there was an argument on Facebook not so long ago where an anthology was announced (another one) and an author was turned down for it. The very next day, he had announced a similarly themed anthology, and all hell broke loose with the other publishers saying he was ripping them off and blah blah blah… Now, this might paint a bleak picture for you, especially if you’re new in this area, but just watch. People you think are close to you will soon turn. You will be chewed-up, used, abused and spat out before you realise what the hell just in happened. And even when you cotton on to certain ways, you will also see new ways of tricking people crop up too.
Another example: How about an anthology that promises to give x amount of profits to charity? You are not paid to appear in the anthology, and only x amount goes to the charity so what happened to the rest of the money?! Yep - authors are being ripped off (again). Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. Not everyone on your “friend-list” will be out to get you. Thankfully I have made some great friends through this game but - sadly - there will be more than you will realise.
Speaking from personal experience again, I’ve seen a backlash in the first 24 hours of this title being announced. Other authors calling me “arrogant” for calling the book “Masters of Horror”, people questioning the right for certain authors to appear in such a title as - in their opinion - they aren’t exactly masters… The writing community is an ugly place and more bitchy than the notoriously bastard-like film industry.
Another reason to leave the anthology compiling to someone else is also to do with Kindle Unlimited. When you release an anthology, you sometimes use original stories and sometimes use re-prints. Well, if an anthology comes out that contains a re-print, and the author has also decided to publish the same story as a stand-alone short then - well - you aren’t allowed to have the title in Kindle Unlimited. This also happens if you have paid for an original story. Eventually the author have some rights back to the story and can publish it elsewhere (either in another anthology or by themselves) and - hey presto - you’re pulled from Kindle Unlimited again. A program that is seemingly designed to lined Amazon’s pockets only, forsaking the publisher and the authors. With seemingly more people moving over to Amazon’s reading program, it has had a direct impact on actual book sales. It raises the question: If people have Kindle Unlimited - will they bother purchasing a book that’s not part of the program or will they just go out of their way to find one that is a part of the scheme? It’s a question I can’t answer, but I have my suspicions.
“Masters of Horror” will be the last anthology that I put together and, with that in mind, I have decided to try something a little different with it. Unlike other anthologies out there - including some I have released myself - there is no theme other than each story needs to be set in the horror genre. The only rule I put in place: Paranormal Romance is not welcome.
If you take a look at Amazon’s horror charts, it is filled with such titles. Covers depicting the ripped torsos of studs, some dolly-bird cuddled up to them and titles suggesting it’s a werewolf love story, or something similar. It’s a depressing sight for someone who’s heart is black and filled with “old-school” horror of ghosts, things that go bump in the night, psychological horror, serial killers, extreme horror and - God - the list is endless. And it’s because this list is endless that I have approached a number of different authors to get involved with the book (and I approached a lot more than those who simply agreed and appear in the title but sadly a good number were too busy with their own projects).
Brian Lumley, Adam Nevill, Guy N. Smith, Ramsey Campbell, Gary McMahon, Shaun Hutson, J. R Park, Peter McKeirnon, Jim Goforth, Wrath James White, Craig Saunders, Matt Hickman, Sam West, Kit Power, Daniel Marc Chant, Matt Shaw, Adam Millard, Anton Palmer, Clare Riley Whitfield, Jaime Johnesee, Jeff Strand, Andrew Freudenberg, Shane McKenzie - to name but a few. Although the book is up for pre-order, there are still some authors left to submit their work to me. I won’t jinx it and name them but - trust me - there are some more heavy hitters (even though one of the funny comments I have seen stated a certain reader - completely clued up on horror and the genre - has heard of none of the mentioned authors above…).
In these names, you will find masters of their craft and different styles of horror, and it’s the style-point that is important to me: I want to bring back horror to the readers. This book exists because I want to remind people what horror is really about. There are no sparkling vampires; there are no cute werewolves, there are no witches trying to romance people in the modern world… There are just stories designed to strike fear, play on your mind, make you uncomfortable and keep you awake at night… This is what horror is really about. Come with me, one last time, and remind yourself what horror really stands for.
Masters of Horror
A selection of some of the finest horror writers of today were invited by Matt Shaw to bring him their twisted tales for this anthology. A book put together with the sole purpose of reminding readers what the horror genre is really about. Each author was told they could write about any subject matter they wanted so long as it was set in a world of horror. The only rule they had: No Paranormal Romance. Vampires do not sparkle, werewolves do not date, Witches do not scour Tinder for Virgins and ghosts do not declare their undying love whilst tidying the apartment... This is horror...