Carol for a Haunted Man

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As some authors dream into the history of their town or city, Jacob Martin sought to reestablish the comforts of his childhood by moving back to the street where he grew up. Lost in life, newly divorced, and separated from his three young kids, Jacob is driven to write a book worth remembering, as a way of giving his life a new lasting purpose and meaning.

Finding himself at a standstill on the novel, a lonely recluse during the holidays, Jacob manages to connect with an attractive woman, and befriend an older man from his distant past, an author like himself. As Jacob soon discovers, nostalgia can be a healthy distraction, or it can be the noose by which one hangs.

Carol for a Haunted Man is the tale of a daunted man’s will to succeed in the face of despair, inspired by, and in homage to, the Christmas stories of Charles Dickens.

Here’s what people are saying about CFAHM:

“A read designed to harken back to the holiday stories of Charles Dickens, this novella is a really engaging, strange tale that both grabs the dark side of writing as well as gives a cautionary tone for dwelling too much on things that we can no longer control.” — Goodreads reviewer

“Carol for a Haunted Man turns out to be full of creative surprises as it continues, and the story itself is very Twilight Zoneish (I found myself thinking several times back to the original black-and-white television series), so if you’re like me and you like that classic style of eerie story but you also like the cheerful themes of Christmas, you’ll definitely want to read this. I really enjoyed its imagination, its unique characters and its original style of holiday story. This book is not only slightly spooky, but also deeply inspirational and one that everyone should add to their ‘to-read’ list.” — Amazon reviewer

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Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop

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Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop is a thrilling paranormal fantasy novel revolving around a mysterious shop owner and his shop full of hexed antiques.

Retired stage magician Dr. Marvelry prefers to stock his antique store with strange and occult items. He has always enjoyed meeting odd people and hearing their stories, the legends attached to mysterious objects. A phonograph that seemingly replays a tragedy. Fertility dolls that are more than decoration. A bedeviled mannequin. These are just some of the relics this eccentric shopkeeper has collected over the years.

No two customers will have the same experience in his curiosity shop — some walk away satisfied, others are never heard from again. But one thing is certain – when you purchase an item at this store, you often get more than what you paid for.

Follow Marvelry and his hexed objects through twelve tales of suspense, magic, terror, and transformation. Meet his new assistant, fellow illusionists, and some irregular characters along the way. Whatever macabre artifact of the human psyche you’re seeking – you’ll find something special in Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop.

Here’s what some reviewers have had to say about MCS:

“Please, invest a bit of time into reading this book and let it cast its spell upon you, because a marvellous feast of fantastic storytelling awaits you when you open its covers.” — Risingshadow.net

“I truly enjoyed this book and I would recommend to anyone who likes science fiction, occult, fantasy and, of course, all fans of modern horror..” — Fans of Modern Horror

“A delightfully entertaining paranormal, supernatural, magical set of vignettes, tied inextricably to the illustrious Dr. Marvelry, and his gently eccentric boutique, Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop, a bastion of antiques and occult marvels in New York State, owned by an acclaimed former magician.” — The Haunted Reading Room

Purchase your copy at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Add the book to your GoodReads.

Corpse Cold: New American Folklore

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Corpse Cold: New American Folklore is a collection of 20 horror stories with 30+ illustrations inspired by folklore and urban legends.

Fans of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series will enjoy the gruesome art and creepy stories. But be warned — these stories and illustrations are for mature readers. Each story is accompanied by macabre illustrations from the mind of Chad Wehrle

“…there’s something wonderfully nostalgic and charming about Corpse Cold,” — Rebecca McNutt, top Goodreads reviewer

“I would recommend this book to any horror fans looking for a fun read, particularly those who love creepypasta and other similar internet memes.” –– The Shades of Orange YouTube channel

“Corpse Cold had a good variety of stories and was a fun read. If you like urban legends then you’ll probably like this collection.” — The Scary Reviews

Read “Switches,” a sample story from Corpse Cold.

Order your copy via Amazon!

Can’t get enough of the artwork? We also have sets of tarot-size trading cards featuring illustrations from Corpse Cold available!

 

Her Mourning Portrait and Other Paranormal Oddities

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Her Mourning Portrait and Other Paranormal Oddities is the fifth anthology from Brhel & Sullivan. It is a collection of dark fantasy stories which focuses on the interplay between the euphoric and lamentable moments of romantic commitments. These ten tales are light romances, which take turns through various fantasy subgenres, such as science fiction, the paranormal, the occult, and the weird.

Such tales include:

“Lady of Cayuga Lake,” which recounts the last hurrah of a separating husband and wife, a final vacation which takes a turn toward the paranormal when they both spy a ghost over the lake. Will they have what it takes to work together, confide in each other, and solve the mysterious disappearance of Mary Gold?

“The Lost Cache” tells of the strain an obsessive hobby can have on a marriage. Hillary appears to give Eric every chance to engage her, and work his way back toward an intimate companionship, she even goes so far as to plan out a special evening of hiking and geocaching in an old cemetery with her husband.

“Side by Side” is a quirky cemetery tale about a confrontation between a long-dead man and his widow’s second husband, regarding the final resting place of their beloved-in-common.

“Her, He, and a Corpse Makes Three” focuses on a love triangle between a living couple who work in a funeral home, and the woman’s recently deceased, yet spiritually returned, ex-boyfriend.

Here’s what some critics and people have had to say about HMP:

“This is my favorite work of Brhel & Sullivan’s yet. The stories- all of which are short- all have fantastic twists to them that really rev up the vibe; just when you think they’re coming to a nice, neat ending, something off-kilter pops up, and the story flies off again. I’m such of a fan of the writing style and overall work- I think these collaborators get better with each new work.” — Melody, Goodreads reviewer

“The stories here are also heartfelt and tender, offering insightful ideas about relationships and love. And not only that, but there are quite a few references to Brhel and Sullivan’s other works, weaving the stories into a tight universal knot… a very smart move considering the world’s current obsession with fictional universes.” — Cameron Chaney, BookTuber

“As always, these authors write interesting stories with a twist. This was a fun, fast and entertaining read!” — Kat Loves Books

Purchase your copy at Amazon!

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Resurrection High: A Black Comedy

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READ THE FIRST CHAPTER!

 

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Resurrection High is like Carrie, but without the telekinetic powers; like Donnie Darko, without the time travel; like The Karate Kid, but our protagonist is training in poetry. A subversive, spooky tale set in the days when America Online, The Smashing Pumpkins, and The X-Files reigned supreme.

At Lestershire High, Eric Verlaine is seen as a freak, even by alt 90s standards. His best friend is dead, his only living friend is tied up with a girl, and a group of vile bullies make his time at school unbearable. Eric would rather spend his days in the local cemetery than go to school, or even home, where he is ignored by his mother and abused by his stepfather. He’s planning one last adventure with his deceased pal, an exhumation to get at the small safe in his friend’s casket, the contents of which Eric believes will provide some form of closure. After visiting the grave of his friend one evening, Eric is shown a curious monument to a trio of artists who died mysteriously a century prior, sparking an investigation into his town’s unsavory past.

Resurrection High is a nostalgic, darkly comic story of a teenager finding a passion for life after insurmountable loss.

Here’s what some reviewers have had to say about RH:

“It was a heart-breaking, rage-inducing and all-around a pretty damn good coming-of-age story about losing a very close friend.” — Sci-Fi & Scary

“The authors did an excellent job of capturing that time when we all struggled, and the mood and feel were right there. It transported me right back to my days in school and I forgot how much I hated most of it..” — The Scary Reviews

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At The Cemetery Gates: Volume 2

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Through these gates we shall see the souls which misery doomed…

A man finds himself camping in the middle of a serial killer’s burying grounds… Two brothers uncover a secret more heinous than they ever imagined when snooping around their neighbor’s house… A graduate student captures an urban legend on his school’s famed Suicide Bridge…

At the Cemetery Gates: Volume 2 is a book for hellhounds, nostalgic crypt keepers, and creepypasta aficionados. It features 16 new stories by Brhel & Sullivan, and is follow-up to our 2016 release, At The Cemetery Gates: Year One.

Here’s what some reviewers have had to say about RH:

“This would make a wonderful seasonal Halloween read.” — Rachel (The Shades of Orange Booktuber)

“Great collection of short stories. Although I should not have read these before bed.” — Steph Loves

Order your copy today!

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Read two stories from Volume 2 for FREE!

“The Devil’s Cabin”

“Mixtape: Halloween ’84”

An Indie Publisher’s Guide to Launching and Supporting a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

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We’ve only run one successful Kickstarter campaign as a publisher, so most of this will entail what worked for Cemetery Gates Media in raising $29k last October for Corpse Cold. But if you’re an indie publisher in the horror/sci-fi/fantasy genres, I think our lessons learned will most readily apply to your crowdfunding project.

The following is a questionnaire that one might ask themselves before launching any Kickstarter, followed by my answers as related to launching a book.

Do I have a unique product?

The most successful books are illustrated, representing visual arts as their major selling point. This coffee table book on Norse Mythology is a gorgeous collectible. It raised 75k last year!

Are you filling a niche in demand? Handcrafted spell books and books about witches tend to do well because there is a strong online community of Wiccans and Neopagans. Warning: niche impostors won’t attract the same interest as someone with a preexisting presence in the genre, community, or lifestyle.

Launching a single-author general anthology is a difficult task, even if it’s illustrated. Which is why so many books launched are group anthologies. Everyone needs to first identify their crowd, the characteristics of who might support their project before running a campaign. A group anthology often attracts a crowd by including authors with the desired characteristics of their targeted crowd i.e. authors who’ve been featured in other anthologies in their desired genre, authors who’ve had success on other platforms like Reddit, Tumblr, YouTube, etc.

Can I expect to reach consumers outside of my family, friends, current social media reach?

Establishing a brand that can be promoted is so much more important than establishing your author ‘name brand.’ You need to have a finished product to show, a back catalog of work, even if it’s only a few paid anthology credits. You need new eyes to be able to trust that your work is already well-regarded by an audience, any audience. Launching a Kickstarter to gain your first exposure, to build your first brand is incredibly difficult, and likely an insurmountable feat in the publishing world.

If you can’t dip into the audiences where your work has had some traction, then you’re going to have to rely too heavily on Kickstarter itself as a promotional tool. This is the death knell for most failed projects on Kickstarter. The Kickstarter algorithm pushes traffic from within its site to your campaign on par with the traffic generated by you, from off the site. If you’re successful in generating traffic to your campaign page, Kickstarter will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in driving pledges.

Do I have to RISK money on advertising?

Even if you have tens of thousands of followers on various social media platforms, have an existing marketing pipeline for selling books, you’ll need to spend hundreds of dollars and be willing to risk losing that money. There’s an incredibly common misconception that you can really start to promote a Kickstarter campaign after its been funded — when the marketing is already paid for.

If you don’t hit half of your goal within the first two weeks of launching, your project might not get funded. Projects tend to lag ¾ of the way through. There will be days that you remain flat or even lose money from backers withdrawing their support. The most exciting times for a campaign are at its launch and conclusion. If you fund your project early, you can count on the interest of latecomers, watchers, fence riders, to propel your funding in the final week.

How much should I spend on advertising?

You should aim to hit 10k eyeballs a day for the first week using a static image with your brief message. Facebook is still the most efficient way for small budget publishers to generate traffic to a Kickstarter page. Rates have increased, but you should still be able to target genre readers for $40-60/day, or ~$350 for the first week. I think we spent $1400 for our 30 day campaign on FB alone.

You have one shot at capturing someone’s attention with your image as they scroll by. Use little to no text in an image, using the book cover is fine if it’s a great cover, but you can get creative with the image you choose. The ad text needs to be brief. What brand are you selling and why should someone click your link? The link can go right to the campaign page, but it’s not a bad idea to have a landing page to continue the argument for why someone should back your project. The project landing page is your full sale for what you’re doing and should be promoted in your video and on your Kickstarter page.

We spent a small amount on Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, but they were largely inefficient for generating traffic. We weren’t able to get any deals done for promotion by social media influencers or YouTube personalities during our campaign. However, the micro-influencers were key in promoting our project on social media. Once you hit your goal you become a news piece for your genre and then it’s incredibly easy getting people to work with you in getting your message out.

Should I promote my campaign video?

Yes, and no. You shouldn’t spend money on promoting your video. It’s unlikely that it’ll be a viral sensation even if it’s a good/funny/creepy/emotional professional production. You want people to go to your campaign page to watch your video to garner information about why they should pledge.

You should promote the sharing of your video with press releases, through your existing network of contacts. New eyes aren’t going to watch any video for more than ten seconds as they scroll through their feeds.

What does a good campaign page look like?

A few images associated with your work. A few paragraphs summing up the message of the video and some additional information from your web page, including a link to your web page which should have at least one full story for a potential backer to sample. Don’t include anything about stretch goals until you hit your stretch goal! It’s clutter.

If you’re promoting a book the reward tiers shouldn’t be all that complicated.

Digital

Paperback

Hardcover

Bundle -offer things associated with your genre, an audio version, things readers might appreciate.

Special Version -additional material, not just rejected material.

Ultra Tier -you might offer your time, mentorship, handmade items.

People get hung up on creating wacky reward tiers, largely for their own amusement; or trying to convey what might happen if funding is successful early on. You should be offering a boutique experience as a publisher. You need to convey the idea that you are putting out this limited product for, and only because of, your backers, and not because you’re using Kickstarter to jump-start your writing/publishing career.

If you’re launching a campaign from the US, include the cost of shipping in the cost of the book! International shipping will cost $15-35. We purposely set our international shipping at a flat “deal” rate to generate more international buys, because we included excess cost of a couple dollars in our domestic shipping calculation.

How much money should I ask for?

The minimum amount that makes the project work for you. Assuming $350 dollars is your minimum advertising fee, your goal should be 10x your risk, before taking into account other costs.

Shipping to 100 unique buyers isn’t a big deal, and isn’t that costly if you’re in the US and shipping to mostly American backers. Shipping to 500+, when you have closer to 100 international buyers, is labor intensive. The last I checked, you could ship flat rate international for $30-35, but it’s constantly increasing.

If you have a successful campaign you will be contacted by distribution expediters, some of them are worth their fee, some aren’t. Are you willing and do you have the time to be a distributor yourself?

Producing paperbacks is cheap! You can get your cost to about $4 per book shipped to your distribution area. Hardcovers are a different story. If you only have to produce 30 hardcovers you might end up paying $16-18 per copy.

Let’s assume that you hit 100 unique physical item backers at an average cost of $35 per sale to hit your goal, and that you’ll have to produce 90 paperbacks and 20 hardcovers. ($360) + ($340) = ($700) just to get your books to you, before shipping to your customer. If you’re shipping these yourself, you average $3.50 book rate in the US w/tracking, so 100 packaged x 3.50 = ($350).

So, now your expected costs are ($350 advertising) + ($700 books) + ($350 shipping) = ($1400). Remember, our tentative goal is $3500, so we’re in great shape. But we’re also going to lose ($385) in Kickstarter/Transfer fees. Everyone is going to have to spend money on a cover, editing, and if it’s a group anthology, you have to pay for the material you’re publishing.

Professional cover: ($300)

Editing services: ($100-300)

If you’re trying to put out an illustrated book, 100 unique buyers won’t be enough to cover that cost, even if the illustrator is partnered with you for the project.

Token payments for a group anthology might run $30-80. 20 stories x $50 = ($1000)

Now our cost for 100 unique backers is approx. ($3285). $3500 – 3285 = $215 which covers a few credit card charges that won’t go through, a few international packages lost, and materials for shipping. So, if your author payments were more than $50/story, you’d be losing money.

I just wanted to show one model for calculating a doable group anthology, since they usually have the best chance at funding. You’re going to want to get more than 100 unique backers. It costs more to get those eyeballs. I promise you, you can’t hit the volume you need to hit through your normal social media channels. A 500k reach on all your social media avenues through everyone involved in the project won’t be close to enough(you can’t possibly contact every follower, fan, subscriber.) Ideally, you want your project ad in front of 200k-1M people in your genre, to return you 500+ unique backers. 500k eyes for 500 backers, a conversion rate of 0.1%! That’s $350 per week of your campaign toward advertising.

Does seasonality really matter for Kickstarter projects?

Yes! You shouldn’t run a Kickstarter campaign in December or January, no matter the content of your book or product. If you have a Christmas book you launch in September or October into November, ending before December and promising to deliver by early- to mid-December.

People love to buy books for presents in December, but they’re less likely to back your book Kickstarter. January is a retail wasteland, don’t fight 100 years of sales knowledge. People don’t have excess income in Jan/Feb.

Am I looking to fund my project based on its merits, or am I looking for donations?

Kickstarter is not GoFundMe, or even Indiegogo! Kickstarter is now a decade-old community with its own culture. The pledges are only considered ‘donations’ for boring, legal reasons. What you offer your backers has to resemble what they’d pay at market for equivalent items. The Kickstarter community knows and accepts that they’ll have to pay a reasonable premium over the market price of a new book in order to get your project off the ground, but it’s not over 10x the cost of actually producing the book!

-Joe Sullivan

This is a really brief guide. If you have any additional questions, you can hit me up on social media or via email. Cemeterygatesmedia@gmail.com facebook.com/cemeterygatesmedia u/EldraziHorror