I have been talking about what makes something a horror story elsewhere and considered IA stories as examples of stories with terrifying monsters, life threatening and intense scenarios, but they just are not horror. I’m trying to articulate why, and I would be interested in Ilona’s take. What makes something a horror story? Will Hugh’s next story be a horror story?NI
A horror story’s primary function is to terrify. Horror strives to put the reader into a state of fear or helplessness. You should walk away from it deeply disturbed and relieved to be back to your normal life.
When Gordon was in boot camp, I was by myself with two small children in a ramshackle house. For some reason I thought it would be a great idea to read a collection of Dean Koontz’s horror short stories. I was in a fragile state of mind and that collection had a severe effect on my mental wellbeing. I haven’t touched that book since. Well written horror should leave its mark.
Another example. I once read a very short story, and I don’t recall who the author is or what the title is, but the entire story was the author confronting this slimy, algae-dripping, small, nasty creature that crawled of the swamp. I didn’t even finish. I was like, “I’m out.”
Our work isn’t horror, because its primary function is to leave you happy. Our narrative can be very scary and gory, but there is always a happy ending, and such terrifying moments are not the focus of the narrative. The focus is usually on characters, their interactions, the conflicts related to their values, and their search for personal happiness.
When coming up with storylines or plot twist how far out/ ahead are you? Same book? One book? Two books out?
It depends on the book. Right now we are 4 books out on planning. But mostly, we don’t plan that far ahead. It’s just turned out that way with this project.
I’ve noticed that you take time and space to show characters dealing with the after effects of trauma/ ptsd. (Kate, Penelope, Sean…) You show other characters reacting suppotively and with care. Is this simply a by-product of your characters dealing with war/battle type experiences, or do you have experience/ know people who have experiences which have informed your writing/ characters?Victoria
It’s personal experience and things we’ve seen our friends, coworkers, and family struggle with. I’m not going to talk about it in detail, because these are private issues, but to give you the mildest example. I was never in the military, but because I was Gordon’s dependent, we lived on post at Fort Sill. Fort Sill is the home of field artillery. They shell the hell out of neighboring wilderness. It becomes a soundtrack to daily life.
Not that long ago I was doing something in the kitchen, and I heard a very familiar boom followed by two smaller booms. I stopped what I was doing and thought, “Why is there artillery fire?”
It wasn’t artillery fire. A transformer blew up down the street. It’s been almost 10 years, and I went straight to Howitzers.
It stopped me cold and I had a moment of anxiety. How much worse would it have been if in my mind, the artillery fire was associated with me needing to run for my life, or hunkering down, or watching people I know die?
Sending people to war damages them. Some people like combat and the new version of themselves; some people are permanently altered by it in a terrible way; some people are able to compartmentalize that part of themselves, and some people take the Rogan route where they come back and separate themselves from the society for a while until they can cope with civilian life. And for those who are struggling with the aftermath, the symptoms are not always the “classic” PTSD.
For every conflict our nation is involved in, we need to consider whether the price of doing that to our soldiers is worth it.
Looking forward to all of it. One thing I’m wondering: if you’re now self-publishing, there’s no publisher to find nor contract to negotiate, so what does your agent do for you?Robert
In traditional publishing, the role of literary agents is clearly defined. They serve as an author’s business representative. They submit their clients’ work to publishers, they vet the contracts, they negotiate advances and royalties, and generally vigorously advocate on the author’s behalf. For that they collect a flat fee of 15%.
For self-publishing, each literary agency’s scope of services is different. Some agencies choose to not be involved with it, some offer bare minimum, and others, like NYLA, are “full-service.”
I know a traditional and beloved author, who is enjoying a very successful career completely unagented. She parted ways with her former agent, and since she mostly works with only one publisher, she is comfortable sticking to the same terms. In self-publishing, an agent seems even less necessary. Why have one, right? There is no publisher.
It’s not that cut and dry. A good agent doesn’t just handle things project by project. They steer the author’s career, and the need for that business partnership doesn’t go away when the traditional publisher is out of the equation. Also, self-publishing generates a significant amount of extra work that has nothing to do with writing.
Here are some of the things our agency does:
- cover design, ebook, print, and audio
- book summaries for retailers
- editorial input
- formatting ebooks
- formatting print
- upload to various retailers in ebook
- upload to print distributors
- maintenance (correction of typos, etc. in published works)
- finding and vetting artists
- negotiating contracts with artists
- finding and vetting audio readers
- quality control of audio recordings
- negotiating contracts with audio readers
- selecting audio distributors and negotiating terms
- finding and vetting editors
- actively seeking and screening promotional opportunities
- negotiating contracts with collector edition publishers
- marketing to foreign publishers through the foreign agency partners
- maintaining brag sheets*
- generating 1099s and reporting taxes
- monitoring compliance with US tax laws via filing foreign exemption forms
- career planning (how many units sold for each title, where, when, what panned out, what didn’t, which series would be advantageous to continue, etc.)
*Brag sheet is a record of the author’s professional accomplishments and sales, listing website statistics, units sold, foreign rights sold, bestseller list placement, awards, and so on.
Some of it we could do ourselves. But some of it we couldn’t. For example, the post about Hoopla which you read on our blog happened because the distributor that NYLA found for the audiobooks happened to be running a promotional ad there. We didn’t know what Hoopla was until that point. We didn’t know we could distribute to it.
Other things that out poor agency handles.
They researched and fixed it.
Copyright Infringement on Amazon
They have their own Amazon rep, so it was taken down in record time.
GA extras, from agent
As you can see, House Andrews generates a massive amount of work. We also generate income, don’t get me wrong, but in the end keeping the self-publishing machine rolling is very much a team effort. Once I’m done writing this, I’m going to go right back to our current project instead of sorting through mountain of admin matters and I think we all benefit from this arrangement.