So, you want to be a horror writer? Make lots of money like Stephen King?
Writers don’t tend to make lots of money but if they work hard – if you work hard – a living can be made.
There is, of course, an element of luck in everything – however – last year someone had the nerve to call out Sarah Pinborough and say she’d been lucky because of her success. I doubt very much they’d ever say such a thing to Stephen King. The thing is, I’ve known Sarah many years and she has worked her arse off to achieve what she has done.
There lies the key to making a living as a horror writer
Knowing Your Industry
That’s just for starters
In this post I’m going to talk about knowing your industry; namely, horror.
Right, let’s start by pretending the debate on ‘what is horror?’ ended decades ago.
There are plenty of genres and sub-genres out there, and the best way to know what’s happening currently in the industry is to read, read and read some more.
Not just actual horror books and stories, but the stuff that surrounds horror.
Now, this won’t work for everyone, but these are the things I do to keep up to date with the industry, in which I’m writing.
I aim to spend three hours a week on my horror education.
Use connections and social media – to start with I follow as many well known and emerging names in the horror genre as possible – across all platforms. On Twitter, Facebook and newsletters I follow as many prose writers, publishers, editors, directors, actors, screenplay writers, and artists as social media will allow. I’ll check out links which are shared and follow those down the rabbit hole – unless it’s Sasquatch porn – until I find out something relevant and/or new. And the amazing benefit of this, apart from knowledge of course, is that I make actual friends!
Subscriptions and Memberships – I frequently see people questioning whether societies and organisations such as HWA and BFS are worthwhile. The quick answer is – yes! For starters, you have the benefit of increasing your network, plus the potential of members-only anthology invites. The newsletters can also contain information on new releases, submission calls, and conventions or book events worth attending. I back up my HWA membership reading with a couple of magazines or e-zines I regularly read. As a HWA or BFS Member, you also get access to things like Award recommendations lists. I also include podcasts here.
This list is personal and not exclusive –
The Horror Zine
Ginger Nuts of Horror
This Is Horror
Brian Keene’s Horror podcast
Three Bearded Guys
Best Of anthologies by Ellen Datlow, Stephen Jones, and Johnny Mains
Some of these are hard to get in the UK but you can subscribe, get kindle or get ad hoc issues from Forbidden Planet London or newsagents online resources.
Netflix, Amazon Prime, and DVDs. I make it a habit to follow friends’ recommendations for challenging TV and film viewing. Netflix is really pushing boundaries right now and is a haven for geeks like us. As well as hosting The Haunting of Hill House and the forthcoming V Wars plus Behind Her Eyes, you can access international gems such as The Ghoul and indie films.
Now, you’ll probably think – when does Theresa sleep? The thing is, I don’t do these things every day, or every week. In between conventions and TV binging I do other non-horror related activities – if you don’t, you’ll burn out. I haven’t read everything, I haven’t seen everything – but what I have done, is gained a flavour of what’s now, what’s current.
These things influence my writing, increase my awareness of the genre and entertain me.
I’ve touched on this earlier, but trust me, nothing will e hands your love of horror more than attending a convention where you Can meet like-minded folk. And for me, the top ones are:
StokerCon- coming to the UK 2020, this is a fantastic networking opportunity and I’m sure it’ll be the experience of a lifetime too.
FantasyCon – focusing on a blend of genres, this UK Con is a book lovers dream come true.
Edge Lit – held every year in Derby, this is a writers’ weekend getaway
USA based cons on my bucket list are;
Merrimack Halloween Book Festival
No, I won’t hit them all, but I’m already registered for StokerCon UK, and with Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane at the helm, it will be great.
So, off you go young Skywalker – open your eyes to the beauty of horror and see what you can find.