Calling All Horror Readers!
I'm on a MISSION
Can I tell you a story?
I have had a dedicated bookish account on Instagram (#bookstagram) for seven years. Every day, I take photos of my books and share them with almost 30,000 people who are interested in seeing those books. I’m following almost 1,000 readers, authors, publishers, reviewers, and other book industry professionals who also post photos of books every day. I am saturated in an ongoing conversation about books. In the last 4-5 years, an even narrower focus on horror books.
Yesterday, I posted this photo:
Everybody knows who Stephen Graham Jones is right? We don’t need to spread the word about his amazing contribution to horror anymore, his name is out there and nobody needs to recommend his books to anyone.
“It’s not available on hoopla thru my library but there are a bunch of his that are, including another set of shorts-The Ones That Got Away. I’ve never read him but they all sound good.”
“I've recently fallen in love with this author - I'm on the second Indian Lake book "Don't Fear the Reaper" now 📚💕 I'll have to try to get a hold of this”
It’s easy for us who spend time on #bookstagram and other social media platforms to think that all readers are as well-versed in books as those we see online. But my eyes were opened when Ashley and I started running our horror fiction subscription company Night Worms. We would see all of our mutuals with ARCs of an upcoming book we were carrying in a package and get bummed out,
“Man, everyone already has this book and they’re going to be upset they’re getting a duplicate from Night Worms.” But there was nothing we could do to prevent our customers from getting early review copies or pre-ordering books, especially if they enjoy being surprised with what’s inside our packages each month.
However, we quickly learned that what we saw online was a tiny fraction of our customer base. Most avid readers and horror junkies do not have dedicated #bookstagram accounts. They are not active on Twitter and Facebook. They’re not following all of the same people I am and they are not saturated in awareness of every horror title released in any given month or year.
Customers email us all the time telling us how excited they are to have found a new horror author to collect (V. Castro) or that they had no idea Victor LaValle had a new book out. When we sent out Malorie by Josh Malerman, our customers were frustrated to learn it was a sequel and they would now need to buy Bird Box. I swear to the Dark Lord, it never crossed our minds that they didn’t own or haven’t read Bird Box. It’s a horror staple, right?
Wrong. We no longer make the mistake of sending sequels to books with the assumption that everyone trying our package has read everything we have or is as up-to-date as the people we see online in our bookish corner of the universe.
There are always people out there who need to know what horror has to offer. The full spectrum. All the horror. Anyone who is not Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or Anne Rice. Ask a stranger on the street if they’re a fan of horror fiction. If they say yes, ask them if they’ve read the latest 2023 releases. Ask them if they know who Gemma Amor is, or Clay McLeod Chapman, or Cassandra Khaw…
This is the mind frame I had to have when writing my book:
I would sit there writing up a selection on the list and think to myself, everyone already knows this book. I’ve seen it on TikTok a dozen times in the last week alone. But if you actually watch those TikTok videos (I have) they are just discovering authors that I was reading several years ago. One reader was like, “I never see this book or author on TikTok so I feel like I’m about to blow your mind!” And this was an author I had been on to since like 2016, so somewhere along the line, this reader discovered their next favorite author and was just now starting to enjoy their work.
One of our first Night Worms packages included the author, Chad Lutzke. Ashley and I were already fans. Our friends were fans. And now, all the people we sent his book out to, didn’t know who he was and now THEY are fans and they tell more readers, and so on, and so forth.
One of our longtime customers doesn’t even buy horror titles on his own very much, he waits for his Night Worms package and reads everything we send him. He’s always saying in his photo caption something like,
“This book was awesome! Thank you @night_worms for putting this in the package. Coupling this with the equally awesome Rootwork makes for your usual amazing monthly package 😊”
One time, I posted a photo of all my Adam Nevill books. All horror readers know Adam Nevill right? He’s had his books made into adaptations for Netflix!
“That cover is amazing 😍 I've yet to read anything by him. That needs to change!”
“I NEED to read one of his books”
“Wyrd was incredible! I’m looking forward to reading the rest - do you have a favorite of his books?”
“Okay. I need to read his work asap!!”
“The artwork 😍 I’ll have to bump him up on the tbr!”
And on, and on, and on. That post got over 2,000 likes! 45,000 people saw it! It still gets engagement. People STILL don’t know who he is. I think people who are in the industry and know all the horror writer names forget that like billions of people out there couldn’t tell you a single horror author’s name. There is so much work to be DONE
I was shocked at how many of my mutuals have never read someone that I feel is an iconic voice, a “big name” in horror.
We kept this in mind when we curated our Human Monsters anthology. We wanted the TOC to capture a broad spectrum of what horror has to offer, seasoned authors who have been around a long time, up-and-coming authors, and brand-new authors who are just getting started! We also wanted to bookend the stories with poetry because I actually didn’t even discover dark/horror poetry until very recently, like 2018 or something. We didn’t want to assume all readers know there is horror poetry out there who is even writing it, so we made sure to whet their appetite!
Many of our customers read Samantha Kolesnik for the first time when we sent WAIF in our package. Gemma Amor when we sent Full Immersion. So many readers found Nat Cassidy and Andy Davidson for the first time in this anthology. LP Hernandez and Craig Cisco too. People didn’t know Caroline Kepnes wrote horror or even read her books, only knew her from the YOU series on Netflix or knew of the series but had no clue who wrote the source material (even though it says somewhere in the credits)
Anyhoodles. My point is this:
I’m on a fucking mission to promote horror to people at every stage of awareness: Brand new, intermediate, moderate, expert, and JUNKY. 101 Horror Books to Read Before You’re Murdered has something for everyone and it’s not going to stop there.
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