How to Evaluate a Micro/Small Genre Press as a Prospective Author

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If you want an experienced author’s perspective I’d recommend checking out Chad Lutzke’s recent essay on the topic here. The following will overlap in many of the same areas, but I hope to add some insight from a publisher’s perspective.

It’s probably useful to differentiate between ‘micro’ and ‘small’ presses. A micro press tends to release a handful of books a year. A small press tends to have monthly releases, year in and year out. However, the number of releases might be very misleading. A specialty micro press might bring in a ton of revenue and have their act together, while a small press might be an author mill perpetually on the verge of collapse. There are a variety of ways to figure out if a press is drawing eyes and driving sales, and whether or not they might be a good fit for your book.

Goodreads and Amazon ratings and reviews numbers are a great way to make a broad guesstimate at sales numbers. Admittedly, there are many different ways to sell books i.e. brick and mortar, crowdfunding, book clubs, book boxes, in person – that a small press might have a good track record with, which won’t necessarily show up in these numbers. Typically you’d like to see a number of a press’ releases hitting 50+ Amazon ratings, 100+ Goodreads ratings. You’d expect a book to have sold a minimum of a few hundred copies at about 100 Goodreads ratings. Again, this number could be very misleading if the press is constantly giving away eBooks for free.

[50+ Amazon reviews/ratings is an arbitrary number. It just means there are at least a couple dozen honest reviews in the mix. Publishers and authors can typically generate a dozen or two ‘friendly’ reviews for each release. It’s a myth that getting x number of reviews on Amazon triggers special promo on the site. And now they’ve added ratings to the review numbers and Goodreads ratings to the listing.]

Is a press routinely giving away its authors’ books? Select giveaways, running limited promotions, and limited exposure freebies are all key elements of book promotion. However, you don’t want a press using your book to broaden their footprint. What does that mean? A press shouldn’t presale your ebook for $0.99 or keep it at $0.99 in the months following release. Your release months are the best chance you will have at generating royalties for your book. A press shouldn’t give your ebook away for free without compensating you for those units. You’re a debut author and a press is going to use your book to drive sales for their other books? Worse. A press is going to generate access and engagement and a readership for their future or past books off of your hard work? C’mon, Bart, say the line about exposure!

Royalty rates and advances are confidential, or ‘industry standard’. There’s nothing preventing a press from stating a range of advances or royalty rates in its open calls. Authors with readerships get paid higher advances than debuts, and can at times command higher royalty rates. ‘Industry standard’ royalty rates are typically under 50% to the author – if the press is a big industry player – but those presses tend to pay out big(ger) advances. A small press should offer royalty rates 50%+ to the author and also pay an advance.

Professional advances: $1500-6400 for novellas, collections, novels per HWA and SFWA rates. $.05-$.08/word 30k-80k words.

It’s exceedingly rare that you’ll get a ‘pro-rate’ advance from a small press — but if a press isn’t paying any advance it might be an author mill. Regardless, this press is telling you it’s unwilling to invest in you beyond the cost of a book cover if they can’t guarantee you some amount, even if it’s just a few hundred dollars – sure they’re investing their hopes and dreams into your book selling…somehow, someway.

Who are the cover artists a press is working with? Do you like their style? Can you imagine your work done in that style? Would you/have you bought books from this press because of the covers? You likely won’t have much say in the artist who is chosen, though you should have input in the elements of the cover.

How many books does the press have in print? This is something that should take only a few minutes to find out by visiting their website. How often do they publish? Have you heard they’ve signed a number of new authors for the following year, yet they only have a handful of books in print? This is a major red flag. There’s a common publishing fallacy that earnings scale at predictable rates based on the volume of releases. If someone released 4 books in year 1 and earned $4,000 they seem to believe they’ll earn at least $10,000-12,000 if they release another 8 books in year 2. Some books earn nothing, some earn well, every once in a while a book will earn very well. It’s not at all predictable. If a press is writing checks based on future earnings they may have a real problem when it comes time to pay a cover artist on book 6, or when book 2 and 3 authors are due their royalty payments at the same time the author of book 7 is due their advance.

Say you’ve done your homework on a publisher and have submitted to an open call. The publisher wants to offer you a contract for your book, and now you’re on the inside. What should you be asking the publisher that you’re about to enter into an agreement with?

First off, have someone who has signed publishing contracts help you evaluate your contract. What is the publisher asking for, and what are they offering in return? Before they even send you a contract, ask them to give you the bullet points in plain language, so you can then look at the contract and see if the plain language is being expressed in the contract language. You can ask for language to be changed if it seems weird or if the publisher can’t make an argument for its inclusion in the contract. There is no perfect contract. Often a contract is missing language on how/when an author is to be paid. The language should be explicit about when you can expect your advance and when you can expect your royalty payments.

Ask your prospective publisher how many copies of your book they think they can sell in the first 12-18 months, based on past performance of similar titles! An advance should clue you in to how many units they think they can sell. If you’re given a $500 advance and it costs $300 for a cover, the press needs to move about 300 copies earning $3.50 per unit just to break even on those two expenses – assuming they’re paying you a fair 60% royalty. A quality editor can cost anywhere from $300-1000 based on the length of the work. So tack on another 100-200 copies sold.

[A publisher should be pricing their books to make $2-4 per digital unit, $3-5 per paperback. A pub should be willing to let you know how much you earn together per unit sold. Anything less you’re kind of just spinning your wheels. Imagine selling 500 copies of your book and only making $800 and your share of that is $480. Less than $1 per book!]

Where do most of the book sales occur? Do they have distribution or ‘distribution’ for their paperbacks? How much do they rely on digital sales(eBooks)? Brick and mortar by itself isn’t going to do the job. The sales makeup for a small press should be closer to 50% digital now. Listing a book on Ingram or Amazon isn’t a skill set. Proper distribution for paperback involves partnering with a company that has a legitimate pipeline into institutional and retail sales outlets. You will have a salesperson from the distributor actively trying to sell your book into places, something a press can’t do by themselves at volume.

[To have a successful book the traditional way you’ll often need an agent to say yes, multiple editors and finance types at a press to say yes, and then have a distribution salesperson say yes to championing your book to booksellers – who also have to say yes to stocking your book.]

What is the timeline for your book’s preparation and release? A small press should be nimble enough to give you a release date approximation and then an update as soon as they know they won’t be able to meet that date. How do they generate reviews? How many physical ARCs are they willing to send out? Blurbs, forewords, and a friendly-with-the-press ‘review squad’ are all window dressing. Every release needs new reviewers. A press’ promotional purpose is generating reviews that lead to sales, and a successful press will draw interest from reviewers who’ve never before reviewed one of their books with each new release.

A publisher should be motivated for your book to earn out your advance. There’s nothing more motivating for a publisher when they’ve invested $1000 or $3000 into a book.

Finally, ask multiple authors about their experiences with the press. Every press will have an author or two that’s unhappy. Some books just don’t sell. Ask a few if they’re happy with their book’s performance with the press. It’s such a simple question and not all that invasive. If they’re amiable, ask them what they think their press could have done better.

There are publishers willing to muddy the waters, fudge their sales numbers, reach, and abilities. Don’t be friends with publishers you hope to work with. Actually, don’t be friends with publishers you’re working with. You should be able to tell if a pub takes the business seriously after a few questions. If they tell you not to worry, take a long time getting back to you after offering a contract, they’re not taking you or your work seriously.

Publishing is too often an ego stroke. You see it in real time, a new pub just signing author after author, getting all this social media attention. Sending in Publishers Marketplace deals one after the other when they don’t use the site for any other professional purpose. Folks that have yet to publish a single-author title getting mentioned in the same breath as pubs that have been around 10-20+ years. It’s silly. Success in publishing is nebulous, fleeting. In the short term it’s a faddish popularity contest; in the long term publishing outfits go away and are utterly forgotten while, hopefully, some of their authors go on to have long, lauded careers.

PS. It’s a big financial risk publishing other people’s work. You can try your best and fail and also not screw your authors. It takes thousands of dollars to start a press and you have to be willing to lose all that money, so we have respect for anyone who tries to do this with the best of intentions. We’re in the midst of a very uncertain economic climate and many publishers fund their presses from their day job earnings. Every year a few presses go under following layoffs. They then pay royalties owed and release authors from contracts, reverting their rights. They aren’t bad people for having a failed business.

PPS. Amazon rankings in most categories are super shallow on volume. If you’re top-20 in almost any subcategory it just means you’re consistently selling a dozen copies a day. You aren’t going to drive so many additional sales from that ranking that the $0.99 presale and post release is going to be worth it. Small press publishing is a battle of attrition. You as an author and your pub do everything you can to keep it in front of readers’ eyes, eventually some good review or recommendation, seeing the book cover so many times triggers a sale months, years after release.

PPPS. 2022 might be the calm before the storm. You might be thinking, wait, 2020-2022 hasn’t exactly been calm sailing in the publishing world. Big presses trying to merge and getting rejected, paper shortages, inflation everywhere, tightening reader budgets, etc. Horror and SFF have had a major surge in popularity in the last five or so years. 2023 is shaping up to be very challenging for indie publishing. A looming recession paired with a cooling off in interest in genre books will shake out a lot of weak hands.

Christmas at Wheeldale Inn

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A new novella from Gemma Amor, now available in paperback and eBook here!

Christmas Eve. A horse-drawn coach battles its way through a terrible snow storm, travelling the old Roman road that cuts across Wheeldale Moor. The carriage bears the miserable burden of Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox, a formerly well-to-do couple now fleeing London and the threat of debtor’s jail, for Mr. Wilcox has been imprudent with the family fortune. 

Not that Mrs. Wilcox cares much for money. She is still grieving a great loss, a loss that cannot be replaced with any number of riches. 

As the weather worsens, the carriage is overturned, with deadly consequences. Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox find themselves out in a freezing storm, lost, injured and penniless upon the moors. Salvation comes in the form of Wheeldale Inn: the highest public house in Yorkshire. An isolated sanctuary, yet a peculiar one. The Innkeeper seems welcoming enough, but oddities abound: a corpse, a silent son, a surfeit of victuals, and memories that come and go at a whim.

As the intrepid guests settle in, they realise all is definitely not as it seems at Wheeldale. Both husband and wife are forced to confront truths about themselves, their past, their present, and their future in the most terrifying of ways. Will Christmas Day be a happy one for the Wilcox family, or will Wheeldale disrupt their lives so completely there is no coming back?

Gemma Amor is a Bram Stoker Award nominated author, voice actor and illustrator based in Bristol. Her debut short story collection Cruel Works of Nature came out in 2018. Other books include Dear Laura, White Pines, Six Rooms, Girl on Fire and These Wounds We Make. Her traditionally published debut, Full Immersion, was released in 2022 by Angry Robot books.

Gemma is the co-creator of horror-comedy podcast Calling Darkness, starring Kate Siegel, and her stories feature regularly on popular horror anthology shows The NoSleep Podcast, Shadows at the Door, Creepy, The Hidden Frequencies and The Grey Rooms. She also appears in a number of print anthologies and has made numerous podcast appearances to date, illustrates her own works, and hand-paints book covers for other horror authors. She narrates audiobooks, too.

Campfire Macabre: Volume 2

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Order the paperback or eBook here! Released October 11th.

The second volume in our flash/short horror anthology series. This time the themes are: My Last Trick ‘r Treat, Body Grotesquerie, We Were Getting High, Ominous Visitors From Deep Space, and Out in the Fields, Forests, and Lakes. Cover art and design by Luke Spooner at CarrionHouse.com.

Here is the complete table of contents:

My Last Trick ‘r Treat

“Candy Corn Kid” Angela Sylvaine

“Blow Me a Kiss, Said the Jack o’Lantern” Scott Cole

“Knot House” Anthony J. Rapino

“9:03 PM” Jeff Provine

“Before I Let Go” K.S. Walker

“Last Halloween” S.H. Cooper

“Who Are You Supposed to Be?” Patrick Barb

“Welcome Back My Friend” JG Faherty

“This is Not a Haunted House” Tiffany Michelle Brown

“Mr. Sprinkles” LP Hernandez

Body Grotesquerie

“Siren” Zach Friday

“How To Love In An Apocalypse” Ai Jiang

 “scratch ‘n sniff” Clay McLeod Chapman

“A Mother is a Kind of God” Eric LaRocca

“A Feast for One” Marisca Pichette

“The King of Rooms” Jessica Ann York

“The Claw’s Blessing” Eric Raglin

“Five Visitations” Joe Koch

“Penelope’s Body” Ali Seay

When We Were Getting High

“Of Bongs and Birds” Corey Farrenkopf

“Corkscrew” Chad Lutzke

“The Farmer’s Son” J.A.W. McCarthy

“No Sticks, Some Seeds” John Lynch

“Outbuilding” John Boden

“Out at the Old Trestle” Christi Nogle

“Trip Sideways” Tyler Jones

“We Are All Stars” Wile E. Young

Ominous Visitors From Deep Space

“Never Go in the Attic” Stephen Kozeniewski

“When an Alien Calls” Bev Vincent

“Funny Faces” Eric J. Guignard

“To Become” Eddie Generous

“Indrid Cold is Alive and Well” Tom Deady

“The Room” L. Marie Wood

“The Joining” Michael Harris Cohen

“Greenglow” Jonathan Duckworth

Out in the Fields, Forests, and Lakes

“The Heart of the Everglades” P. L. Watts

“Outside” Tim Waggoner

“Farm Hand” Joshua Marsella

“We are all lost” Die Booth

“Off the Beaten Path” Mark Allan Gunnells

“Catamount” Brennan LaFaro

“Danny Boy” Robert Ford

“Lakebottom Charlie” Laura Keating

They Mostly Come at Night

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Order the collection here! Released November 8th.

A high class restaurant where the food brings out the worst in its patrons…

A man whose mind won’t stay inside his own body…

A mother and daughter’s trip to a zoo full of dead animals…

An Italian immigrant’s idea of the American Dream ripped from his grasp…

A mysterious woman’s unquenchable hunger for negative energy…


Darkness looms ahead in these eleven short stories from the Splatterpunk Award and Imadjinn Award-Winning author Wesley Southard. With an introduction by horror master Brian Keene.

Keep the lights on. It’s a long time before sunrise.

“Southard’s work bends the mind and punches the gut. His chilling tales offer all the carnage and chaos horror fanatics lick their chops for.” ― Kristopher Triana, Splatterpunk Award-winning author of Gone to See the River Man

“Southard writes true blue collar characters who are achingly real and endearing, and monsters that absolutely terrify. While one might note echoes of Richard Laymon, Southard’s voice is all his own, and he uses it to deliver a compelling and powerfully enjoyable read.” ― Mary SanGiovanni, author of Beyond The Gate

“Wesley Southard’s writing thrums with uninhibited energy that’s both infectious and entertaining. Discovering Wesley’s work has been a joy, and you should seek out his books too. He’s definitely a writer to watch.” ― Jonathan Janz, author of The Siren and the Spector and Exorcist Falls

“Southard writes with an intensity not seen since the original splatterpunks. I devoured every page.” ― Wile E. Young, Splatterpunk Award-winning author of The Magpie Coffin

Cemetery Gates’ Upcoming Releases and Some Insight Into Small Press Publishing

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This is our biannual update about where our press is at and where it’s headed. This is kind of a companion piece to our presentation at the Buzz Book Expo that will take place September 17-18 https://www.buzzbookexpo.com/. If you’re a writer, editor, publisher, reviewer — involved or invested in dark fiction — it’s probably worth checking out at least some of the presentations to see where the genre’s at right now.

Release schedule:

September saw the release of Chandler Morrison’s #thighgap novella, #2 in the My Dark Library line. Paul Michael Anderson’s collection Everything Will Be All Right in the End: Apocalypse Songs was released soon thereafter. September 27th will see Kelsea Yu’s Bound Feet get its release, My Dark Library #3.

October 4th is Michael Harris Cohen’s collection Effects Vary release date. October 11th will be the release of Campfire Macabre: Volume 2.

November 8th will see the release of Wesley Southard’s collection They Mostly Come at Night, with introduction by Brian Keene. November 22nd is Tim McGregor’s Taboo in Four Colors release day, My Dark Library #4.

Early December our editors will announce the details for a 2023 dark academia themed anthology, with the open call coming sometime in early 2023. Tyler Jones’ novella Full Fathom Five will come out not long after.

Jan 2023 should see the release of P. L. Watts’ The Bonny Swans, My Dark Library #5. Our unique four author mini-collection anthology featuring Tantlinger, Farrenkopf, York, and Lagoe should also see its release in January.

Feb/March we wrap up the first series of My Dark Library with R.A. Busby’s Corporate Body, MDL #6.

April will likely feature Kenneth Cain’s collection.

Liminal Spaces: Strange Geographies ed. Kevin Lucia should be announcing the details for an open call around this time.

May will see the release of Stephanie Parent’s debut novel The Briars.

Late-August we aim to release Gemma Amor’s novella tentatively titled The Once Yellow House.

Salacious Behind the Scenes Stuff:

A project that has changed time and again, a compendium of non-fiction and fiction regarding original creepypastas, urban legends, folk horror, folklore essays, interviews with horror artists, and real creepy locations outside of N. America has enough material right now to release a neat book, but we want it to be exceptional, so there’s no release date set yet for that one. Jeff Provine is working on that book with us.

The goal is to begin an open call for Places We Fear to Tread: New York sometime in 2023. The first volume recently made back its $5500 investment, right around two years following release. Typically we pay about $4000-4500 to put out an anthology, but that one was especially pricey due to the number of stories we bought.

The formula for anthologies to break even seems to be about 60,000-70,000 words at $.05/word, then you buy your cover art, maybe have an editor or additional specialists to pay, spend a few hundred on promo. You need your four or five writer invitees that draw eyes to your book, sometimes you get them a little more for their trouble. We stopped doing invites for our main anthologies because it seemed like everyone else was inviting the same people and it was getting kind of stale. However, we still encourage the editors running our additional anthologies to invite folks and also do a broad open call.

Starting out a press by doing an anthology, or just doing one for fun, is probably the easiest way to lose a couple thousand dollars.

Publishing single-author collections largely of reprints is a terrible investment, though we love short stories so we’ll be looking to purchase some single-author themed collections. Basically, cool themes that would work well for anthologies also work well for collections. So if you’re going to write a dozen stories with shared characters or at least a cool setting, we’d be interested in hearing about your project. We want to put out mostly unpublished material.

There’s a certain amount of window dressing that we’ll continue to do, though begrudgingly, because it makes our authors feel good. The small press world is still trying to mimic our much wealthier brethren in big corporate publishing, and you honestly don’t have a chance doing it their way.

We’ve made most of our revenue through digital sales since 2020. We share our sales revenue with one other partner, not multiple. The Kindle Unlimited program is the Netflix for books. There’s no competitor. You can see books being read cover to cover, daily. There’s nothing comparable for tracking reader interest.

We sold 500 hardcovers of one title in 2017-2018. I’d give my first, second, and third born to sell another 500 hardcovers at $30+ — before taking into account paperback and electronic revenue — but we’re not PRH or a limited edition business, so why would we chase that? We’re a digital book seller because that’s where we can grow and that’s where PRH refuses to grow.   

We’ve done deals directly with independent booksellers since we started in 2015. We don’t do consignment or accept returns. A distributor who doesn’t provide you a salesperson to sell your books into stores is most likely going to cost you revenue. No offense, but the handful of cool book people who like horror aren’t going to change the business culture of the corporate behemoth who crushed indie booksellers in the 1990s.

Any small indie press less than 3 years on the scene offering an author less than 50% of paperback and eBook royalties is a huckster who couldn’t sell your book to your own mother.

Every single-author release (collection, novel, novella) is a minimum $1000-2000 investment. The new pub that puts out a couple books over the course of 18 months, then all of a sudden signs a dozen books for the following year, doesn’t seem to realize they need to actually have $12,000 in the bank in order to put those books out. There’s this weird idea that there are just thousands of people anxiously awaiting SpookyOoky Press’ entire catalog and they can sorta just float along and rely on sales to put out those next 8 books.

If you’re able to make an average of $3-4 per unit sold you only need to sell about 500 copies to break even on a book. Only 500 copies…release after release. 😉

Every press and author is going to have a book that tanks. When a couple of those happen in a row the smart small press types stop putting out books and reimagine themselves. There’s this hubris and excitement and a wanting to be on par with presses that have been around for 10, 15, 20+ years — when you know next to nothing about the business and have gotten some social media excitement for releasing a handful of books. The lifecycle of every press ends in either flaming disaster, sale to a bigger press, or more often than not, petering out and becoming utterly forgotten.

There’s been a spate of pubs not paying authors and canceling contracts for no good reason. You don’t have to make it public, but let some other pubs and editors know what’s going on so we don’t work with them and we’ll warn our authors about them.

To end on a good note; we’re putting together our final say on 20th century urban legends and folklore, our final homage to the scary stories we grew up with. We’ve picked out a dozen or so archetypical tales that we’re going to ask/beg certain writers to make their own. Such Things Happen: 13 Classic Tales Retold. We’ve been planning a book like this for years, and it might take a couple years to do it properly and release, but it’s going to be tremendous.

Get your stuff out there, cultivate your own readership, and enjoy what you write/publish/read/create!

Joe

Effects Vary

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Michael Harris Cohen’s collection was released October 4th. Order the paperback and eBook here!

Effects Vary features 22 stories of dark fiction and literary horror that explore the shadow side of love, loss, and family. From an aging TV star’s murderous plan to rekindle her glory days, to a father who returns from war forever changed, from human lab rats who die again and again, to a farmer who obeys the dreadful commands of the sky, these stories, four of them award winners, blur the thin line between reality and the darkest reaches of the imagination.

Praise for Effects Vary

“The stories in Michael Cohen’s Effects Vary are sharp and hard-hitting, small blades that make one see the world through a dark and eerie lens. While these stories are chilling, what will stop you cold is how deeply they explore what makes us human. A must-read literary horror collection.”

Danielle Trussoni, New York Times bestselling author of The Ancestor and NYTBR Dark Matters columnist

“Cohen’s fictions are knife flashes, quick and deft and so sharp you don’t know you’ve been cut until the blood starts to flow. Whether he’s in the mines of South Africa, the court of Charles the IV in Spain, or in places that seem like odd doppelgängers of the ones we know, his work unsettles in the best possible ways.”

Brian Evenson, Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Award-Winning author of Song for the Unraveling of the World

“Cohen offers up a myriad of dark worlds, both real and supernatural, each exquisitely rendered, each with its own unnerving brand of darkness. Deeply eerie and unsettling, Effects Vary is a treasure trove of dark gems, written in a strong and distinct voice.”

A.C. Wise, Nebula and Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of The Ghost Sequences

A world of nightmares and haunted spaces that might crack open at any moment. Cohen’s prose is gorgeous and full of menace. I tore through this collection of dark delights.”

Lincoln Michel, author of The Body Scout

“Provocative, heartbreaking, and compelling—Effects Vary is the must-read collection of the year.”

Samantha Kolesnik, author of True Crime

“An adoration of the strange and spectral, Effects Vary is exemplary macabre literature.”

Eric J. Guignard, award-winning author and editor of That Which Grows Wild 

Effects Vary offers a rich and bleak sea of stories, dotted by islands of trapped and broken fragments shaped like people. It creeps into you, finds your unfilled corners, and claws them into deeper hollows. A startling and gripping collection.”

Hailey Piper, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Queen of Teeth

“A pleasure ride to hell. You will read Effects Vary with a scorched smile and a horrified heart. And then you will re-read it, as I did. An unforgettable collection.”

Martín Felipe Castagnet, author of Bodies of Summer and one of Granta‘s best of young Spanish-language novelists

“An exquisitely written collection steeped in sorrow, full of quiet pain and beauty. Hold each story in your mouth like a pearl but know that it will make your heart hurt in the loveliest of ways.”

Mercedes M. Yardley, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of Little Dead Red

Effects Vary by Michael Harris Cohen is, hand on heart, one of the best collections I have ever read.”

Catherine McCarthy, author of Immortelle

Everything Will Be All Right in the End

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Paperback and eBook now available here! Released on September 6th.

What happens…after?

In Everything Will Be All Right in the End: Apocalypse Songs, you’ll see the lengths a father will go in order to protect his child, the emptiness that revenge can harness, gods compelled to act after being forgotten, a boy carrying the weight of decisions he didn’t make, and monsters both within and without. You’ll meet people who have lost everything, faced everything, lived through the worst that could happen, attempted to pick up the pieces of their shattered realities, and you will hear their apocalypse songs.

Listen closely.

Praise for Paul Michael Anderson

“Everything Will Be All Right in the End is a breathtaking accomplishment. An incredible collection of visceral, unforgettable stories, Paul Michael Anderson’s brand of horror is as heart-stopping as it is heart-wrenching. This one’s sure to be among the very best collections of 2022.” —Gwendolyn Kiste, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens and Reluctant Immortals

“What I love about this collection is that every dark, original, and unsettling story ends with a satisfying resolution. Sometimes the horror wins, but more often than not, there was a light at the end of the tunnel—and it wasn’t a train bearing down, but a flashlight showing the way out. And that’s what I need right now, more hope, amidst the horror.” —Richard Thomas, author of Spontaneous Human Combustion

“Every Paul Michael Anderson story feels like an all-time classic that’s been around for half a century. These stories are confident, heartbreaking, and full of original, exciting ideas. Nobody has a finger closer to the pulse of human emotion than Paul Michael Anderson.” —Max Booth III, author of We Need to Do Something

Spinal Remains

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The eBook and paperback are now available here! Released August 9th.

In his third short story collection, Lutzke offers yet another blender-tossed concoction of fiction colored dark. Fourteen tales covering a multitude of subgenres, including: psychological, crime, extreme, human horrors, bizarre, coming-of-age, and humor.

SPINAL REMAINS is the perfect illustration of why collections are so important. If you think you know Chad Lutzke, travel down these paths that take you far from expectations. At turns nostalgic, horrifying and downright disgusting, but always intensely human and gorgeously written. My favorite Lutzke so far.”

Laurel Hightower, author of CROSSROADS and BELOW

Twilight At The Gates

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Preorder the eBook here! To be released July 19th.

Twilight at the Gates is a short story collection written in homage to programs that once featured speculative tales such as The Twilight Zone. Mark Allan Gunnells is a master craftsman of the short story form and in these stories and poems he hopes to proffer the weird, the strange, and the uncanny from the darkest recesses of his psyche.

A couple watches night after night as the stars quietly disappear, breathlessly waiting for their own star to fade…

A group trapped in an abominable situation, a storm of the century with no end in sight…


Stories dealing with time travel, grief, and even a Halloween tale await readers of Twilight at the Gates.

Beautiful Atrocities

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Order the Beautiful Atrocities eBook and paperback here!

Beautiful Atrocities collects eighteen stories of literary dark fiction from the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Ross Jeffery, who terrified us with the sensational Juniper Series. These chilling stories run the gamut of modern horror and will leave the reader entertained, breathless and horrified in equal measure but still wanting to turn the page.

This is a masterful debut collection from one of horror’s bright shining lights.

“Even though most of the stories contained in this collection deal with cruelty in some form, one must not forget the importance of the word “beauty” when coupled with the word “cruelty.” Ross executes these moments of barbarity, of viciousness, of unbridled depravity with the tenderness and care of an accomplished surgeon. Of course, this unique coupling of “beauty” and “cruelty” conjures the likes of writers who have dabbled in the area before with uncompromising skill and verve. I think of authors such as Clive Barker or Michael McDowell—veterans of the grotesquely beautiful horror, writers who conjured the most horrific and unsettling images and rendered them as things of beauty.”

Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke