Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Writing Biz as Compared to the Rock Music Biz...It's All Art, Baby!

I've been at the writing thing for the better part of eight years. I sold my first story seven years ago for a ten spot and a contributor copy (note the word 'sold'--I foolishly gave a few stories away for contrib copies as if those publishers had some kind of audience. believe me, they didn't). In that time I've made a ton of virtual acquaintances and a lot of friendships. I've met a few of these people, and hope to meet many more in the future. The number of people across the world writing horror and, hopefully, publishing their material is staggering. I've watching so many people give it up and others succeed, and still other struggle to keep afloat. It's a cutthroat business in many ways, and yet I think that, for the most part, we are here to help each other out whenever possible. Writers make friendships and bonds with other writers and, for the most part, we stick together, because if we aren't for ourselves, who will be?

In the past eight years I've seen some of my writerly brothers and sisters achieve noteworthy success, some of them publishing on the regular with the great small presses and even a few landing book deals with the Big Five (though this is atypical). I'm always excited to see someone succeed, no matter how much I get down on myself for my lack of success. It gives me hope in what would otherwise seem like a crushing series of rejections and near misses. Let's just say I make the short list a LOT, there's just so much great writing out there that I'm nudged out.

So, how is this like the music biz? Well, I've long thought of my roll in horror publishing, at this point, as being comparable to a band playing local gigs here in, say, San Diego and getting the chance to gig up in LA from time to time and maybe even as far as Vegas, though not in the strip, but some shitty dive bar where the floors are sticky and the top shelf liquor bottles are filled with swill. It's better than playing the same local gigs, but not exactly where you want to be. Remember, this is an analogy and my description of the dive bar is in no way comparable to the publishers I work with (people in the Internet have this way of taking things out of proportion and getting butt hurt over nothing, so I feet it's necessary to clarify that). If my fellow writers were bands, those who have made it to the Big Five are headlining world tours (remember, not so many people there, not in the horror biz), and those who have found homes with the cream of the small press are hitting the arenas and taking names. They too played local gigs and dive bars and while some of them catapulted to success, others had opening slots on the arena tours, playing for audiences they may not have even been ready for, but were more than happy to rock all the same.

I know, this might be kind of abstract, but let's take it a bit further, shall we? We shall. I would say that Stephen King is the Rolling Stones of horror fiction. He's been at it longer than just about anyone publishing today and when he puts out a book (yearly as opposed to how infrequently the Stones tour), he packs the house, and he's always playing at the biggest stadium in town. I went to Barnes and Noble the other day (an event that's always depressing--maybe I'll write a separate post on that) and saw that there were four horror novels in the New Releases section, all in glorious hardcover: Pressure by Brian Keene, Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones, Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay, and The Fireman by Joe Hill (there may have been a fifth that I didn't see or was sold out, but I kind of doubt it). These are the folks who are currently doing stadium tours. Some of them have been on the stadium and arena scene for many years, and others are only now embarking on what, hopefully, will blossom into a fulfilling and successful career. I must say, seeing those books on the New Arrivals shelf made me feel just a little bit better about the blatant lack of horror represented in the Fiction section (remember, they did away with their horror section years ago), and the fact that they only had one Robert Bloch book. One. At least there were three Shirley Jackson books available, and, of course, rows of Stephen King (he's playing the pyramids in Giza by now), but, sadly, so many authors seem to have been forgotten. This sort of thing happens in music as well. I don't have to give examples; bands come and go like the tides.

So there you have it. The writing biz is kind of like the music biz, and I'm certain I could make similar correlations to just about any popular art form. Yeah, I hope I find success, but I'm also happy to see my fellow writers find that lucky break, because I've heard from many a pro that talent is important, but success doesn't come without a little luck.

My new novella Salpsan is now available exclusively for kindle download.

"Robert Essig has crafted one Creepy-as-hell tale of modern horror that sets an ominous tone from the first few words and never lets up."

            --James Newman (author of Ugly as Sin, Odd Man Out, and The Wicked)

 "With Salpsan Essig takes you through a twisted journey through the Spanish hillside; one full of intrigue, memorable characters and hellish encounters. This is a story that will stick with you long after you turn the last page."

            --K Trap Jones (author of The Charm Hunter and The Harvester)

Available in the US HERE
Available in the UK HERE

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