Category Archives: Uncategorized

On When We Find Ourselves In The Desert

Hello Monster Hunters,

We are still proceeding with caution here at Emby, and while I had hopes of an upturn in January’s revenue numbers, we saw another drop instead. For a full explanation of what I’m talking about, please read last November’s “Threading The Needle”. After you’ve perused that post, it will make more sense that I was cautiously optimistic that revenue would rise in January.

Amazon did after all make a big push during the holiday season to increase Prime memberships and the Kindle Unlimited program, growing in popularity, is essentially streaming for literature instead of music. Despite this, the January payout for the Global Select Fund saw another drop and that does not bode well for the rest of this quarter. Hence the desert.

February figures will be released on March 15th (each month’s exact payout is released on the 15th of the next month) and we’ll see what direction those numbers point in, but my eyes are on the start of the summer reading season as the next best hope for an upswing. Logic has it that the there will have to be a bottom hit at some point. The question is, how many presses will be able to survive until then? We’ve already had some bad news on that front with closures, reduced calls for subs and lower payments for acceptances. It makes very clear sense why this is happening, and in an update from last November’s post I can tell you that the research I have done points to a new reality coming into focus – folks who subscribe to KU will only download books included in that service. For the sake of disclosure, my research consists of talking to people about this (and that, admittedly, is not a large group) and reading feedback from different forums and comment sections. But, if a trend is able to be spotted, it is that people will embrace a lower price (duh) and that the mere presence of that lower price brings with it the concept of a “price ceiling” and a sense of value.

What I mean by that is when a consumer signs up for a service at $9.99 a month, this automatically re-shapes their perception of the value range of that product. You can look at the history of any product that used to be expensive but is no longer to see that once a lower price is established, the higher priced item can’t help but look like a rip-off – it’s just how our minds work. So a KU customer who spends that $9.99 a month to download and read as many books as they want is going to balk at dropping $11.99 for the new Stephen King book. Sure, die-hard King fans will still make that purchase and not everybody is a KU customer. But, the majority of casual readers are going to pass and if you need proof of which way that wind blows, look at the music industry: before digital music and streaming existed, bands used to make their money by selling albums. Even the tours were basically live advertising to spike album sales. Now it’s the exact opposite – the money in album and single sales has dried up and bands are hitting the road to make money from live shows.

Which brings us to the positive and uplifting portion of this update.

First, as mentioned previously, Emby will publish the Occult Detective Monster Hunter, Vol. II anthology as well as sequels to Josh Reynold’s Royal Occultist series and Pegler’s Coppertown Red, among others. But the other anthologies are on hold until we hit a bottom in the GSF payout and I have the ability to make a business plan – I can’t knowingly publish books that will lose money. I’ve apologized for the wait and continue to do. I anguish as much as the authors who have submitted stories that the market has developed the way that it has, but it is what it is and I would rather survive to print another day that go in for a last hurrah and flame out. Please consider these anthologies on hold – I am not canceling any books. Please also submit your stories everywhere that you can and get paid for them. When the time comes, I’ll still print them as re-prints, no problem.

Then, get ready to self-publish. I’ve teased for a while that I was going to promote this and the time has come. I’m going to take you back to to science class to kick this off and recount the story of the dinosaurs. Once, there were massive creatures that ruled the earth. Then an asteroid hit (I’m not going for exact science here, so just roll with me) and the environment changed, killing off all of the massive creature and leaving only the smaller creatures to survive and take over the world. As you read this story, you probably spotted my metaphors with the dinosaurs being publishers, Amazon being that asteroid and independent writers being the smaller creatures that take over the world. This is as should be. The environment has changed and it is time for the independent author to rise. We’re talking about desert survival rules here, and it’s time to self-publish.

Here’s why:

1. You can now afford to produce every bit as professional a book as a publisher, often using the same contractors that they use for editing, formatting and cover art. And, if you are spending more than a thousand bucks to produce your first book, you’re spending too much. So make a point to save that money while you write your book – you can do that to support your dream.

2. The knowledge you will gain by going through the process of self-publishing will forever change your view of contracts and what publishers should make off of you. Seriously, the days of anything less than a 50% percent split on an ebook are as done as the dinos. And your considering letting anyone tie up or even take control of your right to publish your material for extended lengths of time is ludicrous. Our industry is changing by the month. Trying to predict what it will look like in 5, 7 or 12 years is impossible.

3. We are quickly moving toward the reality of author celebrity being the only effective way to market. Really. It’s been a while now that authors have promoted their own work through websites, blogs and social media accounts. But, while that started out as fun, it has quickly evolved into the only effective marketing that a book will get. Unless your publisher has you placed in brick-and-mortar stores or is promoting you in the trades and at shows, you’re already doing all of the heavy lifting. So why split the money?

4. What is author celebrity? It’s a term I use to describe the branding that takes place in today’s world. Look at your favorite author – you don’t just read their books, now do you? You read their blog and enjoy the online personality that they’ve developed. You keep up with their social media accounts, interviews and whenever you want to know what they are up to, you go to their website where all of the current information is kept and is on display. That’s more than a book – that’s a brand – that’s author celebrity. Nobody cares about who published their book anymore.

5. You are no longer in the business of just selling books. You are now also in the business of giving them away. Let that settle for a moment. You will always enjoy the revenue created by straight sales from hardcopy signings at conventions or from those folks that will buy your ebook, no matter what. But the majority of your ebooks are now going to be dowloaded by readers for free (or for that flat monthly fee, which is essentially free as far as you are concerned) and you want this to happen. In fact, you want this to happen a lot. The more you are out there, the more you will develop that brand and the more of your books will be read.

6. Stay independent and stay nimble. This means that you can create an Amazon author page and have your books listed there, putting them on sale whenever you want, changing their price whenever you want and adding to the collection whenever you want. The key phrase here is “whenever you want” and in a day and age where it takes publisher a while just to post an update, ahem, you may want to make a move today.

7. Most importantly, you retain your control over your back catalog, and as soon as a person reads and enjoys one of your books, they are going to want to read the rest of them. This reality is only a quick button-press away, you got ‘em. You earned ‘em too, so you may as well enjoy the fruits of your labor. You have the ability to publish novels, novellas, short story collections – it doesn’t matter, because it’s all paid by the page read and anything you have out there is just helping you to gain a new reader base.

Now, there is obviously a lot more to the process than a few simple bullet points, but you can do it. Trust me – writing the book is the hardest part. After that, it’s pretty much trial, error and collection, and saving that money up.

Keep in mind that there is a quality trap to avoid. Just as I council against spending too much money, I council against not spending enough. Don’t even think about not having your book edited. You get one shot per reader – blow it, and they’re on to the next author that they can download for free. So do yourself a service and make editing your number one priority. The next important is formatting. You can be laying down words finer than Shakespeare, but if your book is plagues worth Frma$$ing errors, it goes straight into the bin.

You get one shot.

Last comes the cover, and this is kind of the opposite of what you may think it is. It’s the part that matters the most to you – make no mistake. But when you are selling on Amazon, it’s hard to make out those superfine details, even if you increase the size. You can’t skimp here, but you don’t have to drop crazy bones either. Make sure your title is large enough to read and that you don’t have to squint to make out the images. Remember, you are building the brand of you and that means a lot of folks are already wanting to read your book before they even see the cover.

Do your homework. Research your contractors and compare rates. Find folks that understand your genre. It’s a lot of hours of hard work, but so is writing and you’re used to that. And do it with the idea that you are creating a source of income, just like investing. Once that book is out there, it stays out there. And every time you make a marketing push for new readers, they have a back catalog to catch up one. If they like your stuff, they’ll binge on it just as hard as they do Netflix.

And when the environment changes again, you can adapt again. If publishers come back into style, you can point at your success with sales, your built in audience, and that’ll earn you a lot of positive attention and interest.

So consider selfing it.

The next Emby update will come as we get sales numbers and I have releases to announce.

Until then hunters, adapt to your new environment and win the day.

Miles

Threading The Needle

Threading The Needle

Picking projects, choosing which anthology to release next and forecasting which novel has the right stuff is always a roll of the dice, but over the last four months, it’s been more like threading a needle while wearing mittens, in the dark, and with a stiff breeze blowing.

Hello Monster Hunters, please forgive my being scarce – it’s not for lack of wanting to post. It is because every time I’ve hovered fingers over the keyboard, I simply haven’t had anything tangible to report. Amazon has again dramatically changed the publishing game (as was suspected in July when the new royalty plan launched) and there has been nothing for it but to hit the brakes on projects and wait to find out how all of this turns out.

It is still very early in the process, but it’s past time for an update and we do have four month’s results in, so here’s what I know so far:

More Emby books are being read through Kindle Unlimited and similar programs than are actually selling. Amazon now compensates for this by paying for each page read and so far, that seems to come in around 30% less than the royalty from a straight sale.

But, because Amazon does not guarantee a same month-to-month payout rate, it’s impossible to know if this will stay the same, rise or decline. That means you can toss the old business plan out with the rubbish, and there’s no point in making a new one until there is some trend or foundation to base it on, hence the aforementioned brakes being put upon projects.

Before we go any further, I’d like to be clear that Emby will continue, so no worries there. I’d also like to apologize (or commiserate, whichever is more accurate – this sucks and we’re all suffering it) to everybody who is waiting to have a story published or waiting on notification of a submission. I’m not cancelling any projects. But… I don’t have a schedule for when they might happen. When the majority of your revenue gets clipped by 30%, it does tend to put a cramp in one’s style.

You might be losing your cool at this point and maybe want to throw your drink across the room (I’m not condoning this type of behavior, but it’s possible that my walls have a few dents and the room an air of whisky about it) but please know that I fully understand and share the frustration that surrounds this thing.

For those that have submitted a story and are waiting on word, I feel it is better to hold of on responses until I have a clear picture of when that particular project is going to move forward. Having said that, I completely understand if you have another market you would like to sell it to and as always, I support the author making money from their work. If you’ve done so by the time the project rolls around, I have no problem with reprinting it if that is an option.

Books that are in production will move along first, and the queue on the website will be updated over the next week to reflect this.

I’ve spoken with a great many of you about this and know from experience how confusing all of it sounds, so I’m going to get into details about what has happened. You may want to add a splash to that drink – this is going to take a minute.

For a proper perspective, we start from the beginning. Most authors already know that over the last two decades, Amazon has revolutionized the publishing industry, giving birth to modern small presses and indie authors by making ebook sales easy and distributing print (including POD) books throughout the lands.

What once required an army of people and an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in printing costs, marketing and distribution can now be accomplished by an ambitious individual on a shoestring budget, hence the proliferation of silly but ridiculously cool things like a press devoted to monster hunting.

For my wonks (and just because it’s interesting), Amazon began as an online bookseller in 1995, so books have always been their jam. However, and most importantly for us, the Kindle device and ebook library were introduced in November 2007, a mere 8 years ago, and that changed everything.

Since that fateful day, Amazon has owned the ebook game. There have been and are other companies that sell ebooks, but their sales and reach pale by comparison.
For a small outfit like Emby, there are a handful of reasons to deal only with Amazon, the foremost being that they demand ebook exclusivity to enroll your book in the Kindle Select program.

And, in 2015, enrolling your ebook in the Kindle Select program is one of the most powerful marketing moves that a publisher or author can make. In addition to better placement and your book being recommended to readers (as opposed to other, similar titles that are not), enrolling in Kindle Select makes your book available to be downloaded through Amazon programs like the Prime membership lending library and Kindle Unlimited.

This can be viewed as a blessing and a curse, but there is no question that it greatly increases awareness of your ebook, hopefully leading to additional print book sales and ensuring that many more readers have access to the author. As a publisher, I’ve always looked at it as an obligation to the authors that I put the Emby books in front of as many eyes as can be, and this is the most effective way to do that.

Frankly, I’ve tried many other marketing methods and come away wanting. Press releases, blog tours, post cards, social media presence – I’ve dibbled and dabbled with all of it and wound up facing the reality that Amazon is a better marketer than I am. Go figure.

The trick is, doing business with Amazon is tricky.

Amazon, being the innovative maverick that they are, does not work with publishers and authors so much as they just tell you how things are going to be. After all, 1 hour deliveries and drop-offs by drone don’t come cheap, and when you are one of the world’s largest business empires with an eye toward growth, you’ve got to be a bit ruthless about how and where you can accomplish this.

One way that Amazon does is by adding on value, or “value added” for short. Value added is when a company sweetens the pot with a tasty little offer that pushes your decision to buy into the “let’s do this thing” category.

Your Amazon Prime membership will run you $99 bucks a year for what is primarily marketed as complimentary two-day shipping. But wait, there’s more – they also add on “free” videos (think Netflix) and “free” books through their Lending Library.

And that’s the crux right there. You see, when they allow their customers to read your book for free, it changes the game. And by compensating you in a way that cannot be predicted, they eliminate your ability to plan. Before we go further, going into any business without a business plan is a bad, terrible, just-don’t-ever-do-it kind of thing. But what are you supposed to do when you can’t plan?

And by “can’t”, I mean this: back in the day, a publisher would print 10,000 books and have a record of what happened to each of them. Say they cost $1 apiece. Come auditing time, you either have $1 for each book sold or a pile of books that didn’t. Either way, you know what happened to all of them and you benefited from the data that you gathered from the experience.

These days, you agree to let Amazon sell or distribute your ebook in any way that they see fit and you agree to be compensated through their Global Select Fund, which varies from month to month, cannot be predicted and is subject to any number of different forces, all of which are up to Amazon.

A couple of points here, the first for the sake of disclosure:

I’m an Amazon Prime member and I love it the way the desert loves the rain. This is not an Amazon bashing post, but rather a treatise on modern small publishing and how to avoid losing your shirt in a very quickly changing environment.

Every author has the ability to decline the Kindle Select option and deal with straight sales only. I do enroll in KS and this post is about that.

Now back to that whole “can’t plan for the future” thing.

Without a plan, there are no goals to reach. Without goals, you’re left with kind of a lottery system – you just wait for the ping-pong balls to settle and get what you get – and while it’s fun to throw a few bucks at a Powerball ticket and the chance to win millions, it’s not a good idea to spend thousands on producing books in hopes that you make a profit or at least break even.

Emby has always operated under a very firm plan and set of goals, the idea being that part of a publisher’s responsibility is to stay in business and to remain as capable as possible to sell books.

So what does an enterprising small press do when the industry titan changes the way everybody does business? You wait and see which way the wind is going to blow and adapt. Simple enough, right? But what about when these changes are spread out over a multi-year period and when there is no way to know what comes next? We’re in the middle finding out, but part of that answer is that you become very careful with the books that you release so that you don’t lose money. A couple of years ago, I might have released a book that I had a good idea would sell and then take a chance on another. That is no longer an option in the current marketplace.

The Amazon Prime program began years ago but truth told, their Lending Library and Match program (free ebook with a hardcover purchase) never did represent more than a blip on Emby’s radar, and the compensation that they included for the books they gave away did not factor heavily into the bottom line.

Kindle Unlimited is a much different story. For $9.99 a month, you download books to your heart’s content and happy reading to you.

Kindle Unlimited made its debut in July 2014 – just a year and a half ago. It’s a genius product and I’m sure it has made many a reader very happy. Sure, they give a lot of books away and pay you 70% (so far) of what an actual sale would have netted. But, it also offers a lot of potential for a small press with a niche theme…

Look at it in terms of an open bar – when you’re paying for your own drinks, you stick with your budget and that limits what you’ll have. When you’re at an open bar, you’ll drink stuff you’ve never even heard of and price is no object.

Same thing with KU – if you have to choose between the latest bestseller (a known quantity) over a Legends of the Monster Hunter anthology, odds are you’ll go with the bestseller. But, if you can download both books for free, you let it ride and download those suckers.

Sure, the publisher may lose a sale because someone (with exceptionally good taste) that already reads the LotMH series and would have purchased it will now download it for free. But, a lot more people that didn’t know about the series now have a greater chance of discovering it.
And that’s all good. I like the potential I see so far in terms of numbers of pages read. But it earns less money and there is no telling where the payout system is going to go.

This is how the Global Select Fund works:

In July 2014, along with KU, Amazon introduced the aforementioned Global Select Fund. This is the fund that all of the KU and lending library downloads are paid out of.

When it began, Amazon compensated the author based on the person that downloaded your book needing to read at least 10% of it. Until that much was read, you got bupkis.

Needless to say, the Novella Revolution quickly commenced. Logic has it that if you can bust out 20,000 words (of which the reader must only read 2,000 words for you to be paid) or a 150,000 word classic (of which the reader must read 15,000 words for you to be paid) and get paid the same amount for either, your ass is going to start chopping up that classic into books 2, 3, 4, and 5 with a quickness.

The system was gamed and Amazon wasted no time in changing it. This past July they announced an all-new payment plan – they now pay by the number of pages read. Fantasy authors rejoiced and the Novella Revolution ended as quickly as it began.

However, publishers were left with the same problems from the old system and a few new ones.

First, Amazon does not tell you when the book is downloaded. They only tell you when the pages have been read. That means that marketing efforts and dollars can easily be wasted. What if a large number of folks already have the book, but are planning to read three others before they start yours?

In the past, sales numbers were the way to know if a title was successful. The more sales, the more interest, the more chance that the publisher would ask the author for a sequel or announce another anthology.

In the current system, people might be downloading your book, but all you hear is crickets and your attention turns to other projects. Or, maybe you plan to drop a few bucks to target market your audience and stimulate sales when in fact, they already have your book and you just don’t know it.

Even worse is trying to figure out how to explain this to the authors of novels. As you may have guessed, an accounting nightmare was born and instead of “you sold 10 books this period” it turns into “I have no idea how many books have been downloaded because Amazon doesn’t tell me that (which is maybe why you see reviews but have received no royalties, because if they read the book out of range of their network, they’d never know and you won’t get paid). But, I can tell you that 100 pages of your book have been read, to which you have earned such-and-such amount. Please keep in mind that this amount will not be same month-to-month as the GSF is different each month and Amazon does not ever project it, but reports it after the month’s sales. Which is to say, it looks like your book isn’t selling at all, but it might be on fire and we just don’t know it yet. Or it might be tanking. Either way. Keep the faith and stay cool!”

It’s problematic and at some point, we all have to look at each other and admit that we’re flying by the seat of our pants. But that’s the price we pay for surfing the Amazon wave. It’s not a system that you want to bet too heavily on, but we’re all in it from the indie author to the Big 5. Nobody controls Amazon but Amazon.

That brings us to another point – Amazon wants to be your publisher. That’s a whole different kettle of fish and we’ll tackle that one in another post, but you’ll notice a trend in all of these points that highlight the declining roles and powers of a press in general, and make it easier and easier for the author to decide to self-publish through Amazon. Which means more money for Amazon.

The Kindle Scout program already offers a better deal than most small publishers and when you factor in that as the author, you have complete control over your own schedule, complete control over your cover art and you receive statements directly from Amazon, the odds are not in favor of the small press. Once you realize that most of today’s marketing muscle comes from Amazon anyway, that’ll push a decision over the edge. There’s more to it, but like I said, we’ll cover that in another post.

Back to where we started, my observations can be summed us as follows:

Amazon is the industry giant and to not sell with them would be a disservice to the books by greatly limiting their availability. The best chance an author has of selling a book or being discovered is through Amazon.

KDP Select is equally unavoidable. To not list with KDP Select would be a disservice to the book by making it compete with “free” books. Readers have a larger selection of titles to choose from than ever before. Don’t be the title that costs $3.99 surrounded by a handful of others that are free – you’ll never sell any books.

There is no way to know in advance what Amazon will pay through the GSF. That means there is no way to make a basic business plan. Maybe they’ll pay more next month – maybe they’ll pay less. You can plan to be paid something and make smart bets as to how much to invest in a title, but for the small press where pennies count, treading with care is the order of the day.

Again, on a large scale, this does not matter much as much. But for a small press or an independent author, a few dozen books moving makes a difference.

And so, Emby finds itself on the slow-and-careful path. I’m not abandoning any projects as my initial passion and interest have never wavered. But I’ll be being much more careful as to how and what I release.

For instance, I planned The Ghost Papers as a 4 volume project – a big passion project for me. Now I have to look at it through different eyes, and while the first volume is still on, I need to wait to see if it sells before moving forward with the others. My best bet on a Volume 1 release is next summer, but again, that’s a bet.

I will be mixing the themed books in to other releases. Revolver and Wasteland will need to wait as I promote a new project, an easier to grasp and back to the basics concept that I’ll be announcing before Christmas.

There will be novels. The third adventure in the Royal Occultist series is close to release and the sequel to Coppertown Red is in production. There will be other anthologies. Vol. II of The Occult Detective Monster Hunter is on the way along with a shared-universe project team-up between Emby and Thom Brannan that is currently accepting subs @ darktomorrow.net .

Novel submissions and Monster Hunter Quarterly are on hold for a while, at the least until I have a good number of months to track the GSF and to figure out how to make this work at the lower margin.

And that’s the long and short of it. I wish it was better news, but it is what it is. We’re in the middle of a crazy time for publishing and book selling and I’m going to predict that we’ll see further innovation sooner than later.

I’ll continue to post updates as to the GSF and how things are going in general and I’ll post more about the self-publishing phenom that seems to be shaping up and how I expect that to shape the marketplace.

Until then, my best.

Miles

Imitation Is The Most Sincere Form Of Flattery

For months now I have been planning a big day where all of the Emby titles will be on sale. Evidently, Amazon found out about this because now they’re having “Prime Day” and while all of their other deals may prove to be distractions, I’m going to go through with Emby Day as planned.

Which is to say, big sale on the 15th y’all. Seriously, while the average shopper’s eyes twitch with deal-lust and their fingers flash across their keyboards, I figure a few might search EMBY PRESS to be directed to the Emby bookstore. They will not be disappointed, I guarantee it.

In addition, I’m kicking a new program into gear. This will be a rewards-for-reviews program and the idea is simple: authors need book reviews like the desert needs the rain and if you leave 2 of them (must be for an Emby book but can be for any format) I’m going to treat you to the Emby ebook of your choice. Reviews must be left on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and all you have to do is email or message me and let me know which book you’d like in your choice of Epub, Mobi or PDF formats.

In other news, progress continues to march forward with releases of Thom Brannan’s Before the Dawn and Superhero Monster Hunter: The Good Fight. Doomsday is next, so look for that title to pop up over the next few days and then Occult Detective Vol. II and The Dark Monocle will be next in the spotlight.

Production is my primary focus now, but I will have acceptances to announce in short order and I do very much appreciate everyone’s patience as I catch up with the schedule!

Last but not least, I’ve been working on a new Emby logo, posted below. It’s been two and a half years since Emby cranked to life and an updated look will reflect how much the “monster hunting press” has grown and continues to do so.

That’s it for now. Stop by Amazon tomorrow for Emby Day deals and remember that the summer months are Chupacabra season, so keep your eyes on the skies.

Miles

Emby Orange_clipped_rev_1

My Schedule Is Like A Good Ol’ Boy’s Pickup

Beat all to hell my schedule is: dented and scratched, sometimes it starts and sometimes it don’t, thrashed, trashed and on occasion, sour-mashed. But when she runs, she runs well. And lately, she’s been running pretty well.

The edits for Occult Detective Monster Hunter Vol. II are finished and all authors will have theirs by the end of this weekend. If all goes well, we’ll see it printed in July.

Vol. I has finally made it onto Amazon and is available in Kindle format, Trade Paperback and Hardcover. Payments and author copies will begin going out next week.

Doomsday and The Good Fight are in the can and going through final formatting before being released. They’ll be ready anytime now and I will, of course, announce when they are available. The Kindle version drops first with dead-tree versions to follow, hopefully more quickly than the last few releases, but Lightning Source/Ingram and Amazon do their work in strange ways these days.

The Dark Monocle, Leviathan and Reconstructing The Monster will follow for summer releases.

The Ghost Papers plan has folks confused and I am directly to blame for that – it started as one anthology and developed into a 4 book series due to the number of stories that have been submitted. I have not finished choosing the stories for each and if you have not received an acceptance or a pass, your story is still being considered! Vol. II acceptances will go out soon and I will announce the date as soon as I have zeroed in on it.

As always, I am happy to read for early decisions. I absolutely understand the author’s need to shop work and I support that. On the same hand, I’ve decided to curate the collection myself instead of hiring editorial assistance, simply because I have an idea and vision for this series that would impinge on an editor’s free-hand to do their job. Nobody wants to work like that and I won’t ask them to, so please be patient and keep your spirits up as this series comes together.

I am admittedly behind on reading for Revolver and Wasteland. I will announce the accepted stories for both of these books in mid-June, as soon as I have a few other projects wrapped. I will also leave novel and MHQ submissions closed until I have finished with the slush pile that came in like last winter’s snow, fast and heavy.

All of this is to say that the monster hunting business is good and that time is the greatest resource one could wish for.

We’re in a bit of a horror renaissance my friends, and between television and film, pop-culture and literature, our favorite genre and sub-genres are receiving more attention than they have in years and it’s absolutely intoxicating. It makes us all want to write.

There are other Emby projects afoot, which will be announced in due order. There are Emby authors returning with sequels and new authors ready to debut. Emby Kids will see some exciting titles released this year and that shared universe project I’ve been teasing is mere moments from (seems like we’ve waited a CENTURY for it) being ready to open.

That’s about it from the campfire. As always, I’m easy to contact through the website or on facebook, so please don’t ever hesitate to do so.

Keep your eyes peeled for the new releases as they come out and for any demons that need vanquishing – this seems to be shaping up to be a bad year for ‘em.

Miles

Occult Detective Files #3: William Meikle

Reposted from Josh Reynold’s blog

A GRIMOIRE OF ELDRITCH INVESTIGATORS: DEREK ADAMS

My guest today is William Meikle, writer of “The Inuit Bone”, featuring Glasgow P.I. Derek Adams. Meikle is the author of The Dunfield Terror as well as ‘The Midnight Eye Files’ series (also starring Derek Adams). You can find out more at http://www.williammeikle.com/.

“THE MIDNIGHT EYE”

*Reprinted from William’s site, with his gracious permission*

I read widely, both in the crime and horror genres, but my crime fiction in particular keeps returning to older, pulpier, bases.

My series character, Glasgow PI Derek Adams, is a Bogart and Chandler fan, and it is the movies and Americana of the ’40s that I find a lot of my inspiration for him, rather than in the modern procedural.

That, and the old city, are the two main drivers for the Midnight Eye stories.

When I was a lad, back in the early 1960s, we lived in a town 20 miles south of Glasgow, and it was an adventure to the big city when I went with my family on shopping trips. Back then the city was a Victorian giant going slowly to seed.

It is often said that the British Empire was built in Glasgow on the banks of the river Clyde. Back when I was young, the shipyards were still going strong, and the city centre itself still held on to some of its past glories.

It was a warren of tall sandstone buildings and narrow streets, with Edwardian trams still running through them. The big stores still had pneumatic delivery systems for billing, every man wore a hat, collar and tie, and steam trains ran into grand vaulted railway stations filled with smoke.

To a young boy from the sticks it seemed like a grand place. It was only later that I learned about the knife gangs that terrorized the dance halls, and the serial killer, Bible John, who frequented the same dance floors, quoting scripture as he lured teenage girls to a violent end.

Fast forward fifteen years, and I was at University in the city, and getting an education into the real heart of the place. I learned about bars, and religious divides. Glasgow is split along tribal royalties. Back in the Victorian era, shiploads of Irishmen came to Glasgow for work. The protestants went to one side of the city, the catholics to the other. There they set up homes… and football teams.

Now these teams are the biggest sporting giants in Scotland, two behemoths that attract bigots like bees to honey. As a student I soon learned how to avoid giving away my religion in bars, and which ones to stay out of on match days.

Also by the time I was a student, a lot of the tall sandstone buildings had been pulled down to make way for tower blocks. Back then they were the new shiny future, taking the people out of the Victorian ghettos and into the present day.

Fast forward to the present day and there are all new ghettos. The tower blocks are ruled by drug gangs and pimps. Meanwhile there have been many attempts to gentrify the city centre, with designer shops being built in old warehouses, with docklands developments building expensive apartments where sailors used to get services from hard faced girls, and with shiny, trendy bars full of glossy expensively dressed bankers.

And underneath it all, the old Glasgow still lies, slumbering, a dreaming god waiting for the stars to be right again.

Derek Adams, The Midnight Eye, knows the ways of the old city. And, if truth be told, he prefers them to the new.

Plus, there are antecedents – occult detectives who may seem to use the trappings of crime solvers, but get involved in the supernatural. William Hjortsberg’s Falling Angel (the book that led to the movie Angel Heart) is a fine example, an expert blending of gumshoe and deviltry that is one of my favorite books. Likewise, in the movies, we have cops facing a demon in Denzel Washington’s Fallen that plays like a police procedural taken to a very dark place.

But I think it’s the people that influence me most. Everybody in Scotland’s got stories to tell, and once you get them going, you can’t stop them. I love chatting to people, (usually in pubs) and finding out the -weird- shit they’ve experienced. Derek is mainly based on a bloke I met years ago in a bar in Partick, and quite a few of the characters that turn up and talk too much in my books can be found in real life in bars in Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews.

He’s turned up in three novels so far, THE AMULET, THE SIRENS and THE SKIN GAME, all out now in print and e-book at all the usual online stores. There’s also a film company looking for funding to bring him to life and several short stories.

Derek has developed a life of his own, and I’m along for the ride.

A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests: Occult Detective Monster Hunter,Volume 1, edited by Josh Reynolds and Miles Boothe, with an introduction by Bob Freeman, is now available in digital format. Grab your copy today, on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Hardcover and Trade Paperback versions are available through BN.com and soon from Amazon.

Occult Detective Files #2: I.A. Watson

Reposted from Josh Reynold’s blog:

A GRIMOIRE OF ELDRITCH INVESTIGATORS: VINNIE DE SOTH

My guest today is I.A. Watson, writer of “Vinnie de Soth and the Vampire Definition”, featuring down on his luck occult detective Vinnie de Soth. I.A. Watson is the author of Robin Hood: King of Sherwood and Sir Mumphrey Wilton and the Lost City of Mystery. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies. You can find out more at his website http://www.chillwater.org.uk/writing/iawatsonhome.htm

“AN INTERVIEW WITH THE JOBBING OCCULTIST”

INTERVIEWER: So, Vinnie, your business card calls you a “Jobbing Occultist”?

VINNIE DE SOTH: Um, yes. I wanted it to say “Consulting Occultist”, because, you know, it sounds better than “Desperate guy working out of the back of a seedy Soho bookshop, please, please hire me because I need to pay my rent,” but the extra letters would have put the printing up a price bracket.

INTERVIEWER (distracted): Ah. I was wondering whether the tiny broken desk in a cluttered new age store was a life choice. Maybe it has some mystical significance?

VINNIE: I suppose I might still be working off a few karma curses from my mother. Or my brother. Or my sisters. Or my ex-fiancée. Or any of my other enemies. Mostly I’m just not that great about collecting fees for the work I do.

INTERVIEWER: But you are an occultist? Who presumably jobs.

VINNIE: Well, I’m also an alternative lifestyle consultant, feng shui advisor, astrology chart debugger, and emergency exorcist. Whatever brings the work in, really. My landlord can be pretty offensive otherwise. Well, his t-shirts are.

INTERVIEWER: That’s an unusual career choice. What made you take up that kind of job?

VINNIE: Honestly? When I sort of walked out on my family there wasn’t a lot else I knew how to do. House De Soth has been doing the weird for more centuries than you’d believe. When there was a bit of a falling out and I needed to leave I had to find some kind of paying gig. It was this or burgers. Actually, a fast-food chain would probably pay more.

INTERVIEWER: This is a family business, then?

VINNIE: Er, no. My family, my ex-family that is, is more on the cause-the-arcane-problems side usually. I suppose I’m the white sheep of the de Soths. The rest are… not so white. But I will say this for growing up in a clan of murderous evil mages, you really get to practice your arcane survival skills.

INTERVIEWER: I can never tell when you’re being serious.

VINNIE: I don’t know why you have to be called “Interviewer”. Honestly, Annette, talking like this is difficult enough. Why can’t I just call you by name?

INTERVIEWER, WHO MAY OR MAY NOT BE ANNETTE: It’s a professional thing. Like you not giving your hair and nail clippings to witches. Anyway, you owe me for nearly getting me killed by those punk vampires.

VINNIE: I know. Who still goes punk? Even if you were sucked dry in the 70s or early 80s, it’s time to move on.

INTERVIEWER: Can we just… not talk about the blood-drinking undead? Let’s try and keep this normal enough so I can sell the piece to one of those far-out alternate lifestyle online blogs. Nobody is going to believe you hunt vampires for a living.

VINNIE: Good, because I don’t. Not just vampires, anyway. Ghosts. Poltergeists. Werewolves and other skinshifters. Brain-eating Ghouls – the evil ones anyhow. Saaiitaii manifestations if they’re not too big or gross. Fairies.

INTERVIEWER: Vinnie…!

VINNIE: What? There are fairies. You just have to know not to take their bribes. They always turn to piles of leaves by morning. Even the ones made by credit card.

INTERVIEWER: Well apart from the, um, those things you just listed, what sort of services do you provide? More normal services.

VINNIE: Mostly small stuff. Curse removal. Karma readings. Online tarot fantasies. The odd bit of editing for ghost writing. Wart charming if I have to. But sometimes something a little more serious comes along and I have to get a bit more proactive.

INTERVIEWER: Like the thing with the vampires?

VINNIE: Kind of, yeah. Look, you survived. That’s generally a plus in these kind of encounters. You even got a story out of it.

INTERVIEWER: A story my editor dismissed as fiction. The only place I could get it in print was in a horror anthology. Look in a collection called “Occult Detective Monster Hunter: A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests.” You’re in there.

VINNIE: That’s sort of nice. Great-granddad was in Heinrich Kremer’s Malleus Maleficarum. My sister thinks she’s in the Book of Revelations.

INTERVIEWER: There is one more thing I should maybe mention, Vinnie. And I’m really sorry about this. My editor wasn’t one hundred percent approving of your expense and fee vouchers for that vampire thing.

VINNIE (WINCING): What percentage of approving was he, Annette?

INTERVIEWER: Zero percent? I’m sorry, Vin. I mean, there you were saving the world and stuff, and you don’t even get to collect for the Tube fare. It’s not right.

VINNIE: Hey, you wanted to know what Vinnie de Soth is about? Now you get it.

INTERRUPTION FROM ALTO TUMOUR, OWNER OF THE OCCULT BOOKSHOP WHERE VINNIE WORKS: Hey, de Soth! There’s some guy out here says he needs help with a cursed dagger. Could you get it out of him before he bleeds on the carpet any more?

VINNIE: Ah. Sounds like I have to go. Sorry Annette – I mean, Interviewer. Coming, Alto! Does the guy with the cursed blade also have a wallet…?

Vinnie de Soth: Jobbing Occultist by I.A. Watson will be available from Chillwater Press in June.

A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests: Occult Detective Monster Hunter,Volume 1, edited by Josh Reynolds and Miles Boothe, with an introduction by Bob Freeman, is now available in digital format. Grab your copy today, on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Hardcover and Trade Paperback versions are available through BN.com and soon from Amazon.

Occult Detective Files #1: David Annandale

Reposted from Josh Reynold’s blog

A GRIMOIRE OF ELDRITCH INVESTIGATORS: ARABELLA LETIFER

My guest today is David Annandale, writer of “The Broken Choir”, featuring occult investigator Dame Arabella Letifer. He is the author of Crown Fire, Kornukopia, and The Valedictorians, thrillers featuring rogue warrior Jen Blaylock, as well as Gethsemane Hall. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies of horror fiction. He teaches literature and film at the University of Manitoba and lives in Winnipeg. You can find out more at David’s blog.

“I must have been nine or ten when I read my first occult investigator story, and it was a formative experience. I had been voraciously consuming ghost stories, primarily in the Armada Ghost Book collections, and one day, despite my mother’s best efforts to convince me to buy Tom Sawyer, I spent my pocket money on Ten Tales Calculated to Give You Shudders. Despite being marketed as a children’s book, this collection had some pretty disturbing stuff in it. The first story was Robert Bloch’s “Sweets to the Sweet,” and reading that was so traumatic I put the book aside for many months. When I dared to pick it up again, I read William Hope Hodgson’s “The Whistling Room,” and that story would help shape my imagination to this day”.

“ ‘The Whistling Room’ is a Carnacki story, wherein he confronts a force that is essentially a wronged ghost that has festered into something utterly inhuman and evil. That concept gripped me, and its influence is clearly felt in my novel Gethsemane Hall. As for Carnacki himself, I did not know at the time that this character had many other adventures, but his voice was so authoritative that when he said this haunting was scarily bad news, I believed”.

“So writing an occult detective tale has felt like something too long in coming, and an enjoyable way of repaying a creative debt. As for my detective herself, Dame Arabella Letifer’s direct inspiration is the character played by Beulah Bondi in The Invisible Ray (1936), perhaps my favourite Kaloff & Lugosi pic. Bondi’s Lady Arabella Stevens is no-nonsense, clear-eyed, and equally at home in the jungle or in high society. Her unapologetic colonialism is less endearing, of course, but she is, in many ways, a remarkable character for the period, and I think it says something that this supporting role stands out as much as it does in a movie where Boris Karloff glows in the dark and murders people with a radioactive touch”.

“Letifer is my thanks to Hodgson and to Bondi. And her story is something of a nexus point for my own fictional universe. She is the great-great-grandmother of Jen Blaylock, the protagonist of my first three novels (Crown Fire, Kornukopia, The Valedictorians). As well, “The Broken Choir” has ties to the revelations of Gethsemane Hall, and gesture toward the events of the books I have planned next in that cycle. This has been a wonderful chance for me to move my Great Evil Master Plan ™ forward. And so it seems I now have another debt of gratitude, and that is to Josh Reynolds for giving me the opportunity to write this story”.

A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests: Occult Detective Monster Hunter,Volume 1, edited by Josh Reynolds and Miles Boothe, with an introduction by Bob Freeman, is now available in digital format. Trade and hardback versions are forthcoming. Grab your copy today, on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

And Now, A Word From Joshua M. Reynolds:

Reposted from Josh’s blog.

ELDRITCH INVESTIGATORS

The digital edition of the first volume of A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests has been out for almost a month now, and with the trade and hardback editions imminent, I decided that now was a good time to introduce readers to some of the occult investigators who populate these twenty-two tales of mystery and monsters. To that end, in the coming weeks I’ll be hosting a number of guest-posts by authors such as Tim Prasil, I.A. Watson and William Meikle, where they talk a bit about the likes of Vera Van Slyke, Vinnie de Soth and Derek Adams.

So join me every Friday, starting this week, for a look at the eldritch investigators who pit their wits, wiles and weaponry against the forces of darkness. Up first, a look at Dame Arabella Letifer, who appears in “The Broken Choir” by David Annandale!

A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests: Occult Detective Monster Hunter,Volume 1, edited by Josh Reynolds and Miles Boothe, with an introduction by Bob Freeman, is now available in digital format. Trade and hardback versions are forthcoming. Grab your copy today, on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

I Like My Update Like I Like My Martinis

Fast and dirty. This is more of a drive-by update than anything else, so hang on to the bar near the roof:

October House and Help for the Haunted have been released into the wild and are ready for your reading pleasure. Check them out on Amazon.

Occult Detective Monster Hunter: A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests Vol. I is finished and will pop-up for sale by mid-week with the usual first appearance in Kindle format, followed by the trade paperback and hardcover versions. Editing has commenced on Vol. II and authors will be receiving stories for review.

Galleys for LOTMH VII: Doomsday, Steampunk Monster Hunter: The Dark Monocle & Superhero Monster Hunter: The Good Fight are being prepped and will fly to authors as they are finished.

And, this site does now seem to be working. I’d like to think that it will continue to do so, but in the event that something else goes awry, it will be repaired in due haste, so no worries.

On that note, you can check on the progress of any and all anthologies at any time by clicking on the “Book Release Schedule” link.

You’ll also see a new link for an author blog roll, so if you appear in any of Emby’s works (or have been chosen to appear) hit me with a link by email or Facebook and I’ll post it.

The Monster Hunting Quarterly link is being updated as well with new stuff and upcoming release dates!

One other note for folks who submitted stories for The Ghost Papers project: there will be three more rounds of choosing stories for the next three volumes. If you have a story submitted, you will absolutely receive an yea or new, so please don’t worry. It’s not the usual selection process to be certain, but it’s going to be an amazing series. I’ll have cover peeks for the 3 other covers soon. As always, if you need an early decision, email me or hit me on Facebook.

Now back to galley construction!

Miles

If A Website Is Hacked On The Internet And No One Is There To Hear It, Does It Make Any Noise?

And the answer is yes! Although the noise does actually occur after the hacking and I’d like to go ahead and apologize for the profanity laden curses that have disturbed so many over these last days. The well trained ear of the author will have recognized the agony and frustration in those raging curses and said to themselves “hark, that’s the sound of a writer or publisher battling with a hacked website!” – but to the untrained ears of non-writers and small children, these cries in the night can be truly terrifying.

A great deal of that frustration has been due to the fact that even as one problem has been repaired, another instantly pops up like some insane version of whack-a-mole.

The Contact page is back up. I know that this worried a few folks who are not on Facebook, so please know that it was only a glitch!

The book details (submission guidelines and descriptions) are being restored.

New books are being added and a new Schedule page is being put together so that you can swing by anytime (well, anytime the site hasn’t been hacked…) and check on the progress of the book you are in or waiting for.

Fortifications have been made to prevent this sort of thing from happening again (although I am much handier with traditional methods of battle and admittedly do not enjoy digital versions).

News for Help for the Haunted and October House is forthcoming.

Stay tuned for updates.

Boothe out.