Six months ago I wrote not one, but two posts about my experience selling books at HorrorHound Indianapolis. One was beforehand, kinda self-pitying and the other was after, in the triumphant glow of having moved a few of my novels to new homes.
During the show I kept marveling to the Samhain staffers and my fellow authors, telling them how surprised I was at how enthusiastic con attendees were to pick up some books. In response, all they kept telling me was that Indy was the smaller of the two HorrorHounds and that I should get a load of the Cincinnati convention.
This time next week I’ll know if they were right or not. I won’t say “I can’t wait” for March 20th-22nd because I am able to, that would be a lie, but I do know that waiting is hard.
If you’re within driving distance, I urge you to come down and check out the show. And if you’re going to be there: please stop by the Samhain booth and say hi. Of course I will be ruthless in giving you the hard sell*, but after that we can just chill and take selfies if you want.
If you need extra incentive, I’ll be joined by fellow authors Glenn Rolfe, Jonathan Janz, Tim Waggoner, Brian Pinkerton, Matt Manochio, and Kristopher Rufty (who I’m really looking forward to meeting for the first time!).
Even if you don’t pick up a book to put this remarkable bookmark in, if you come within swiping distance of the table odds are you’ll be handed one of these:
That layout and printing was done by author Scott Cole and those quotes are 100% real pull-quotes from Goodreads reviewers who received an advanced copy the book via NetGalley and were not fans.
I’ve had the cover and link up on the sidebar for a few weeks now, but let’s back up and get a little info about Mercy House.
A year and a few months ago, I got a message from someone with an @randomhouse.com suffix on their email address asking if I would be interested in working on something with them. Needless to say, I did a standing backflip and then answered back in the affirmative.
The result was Mercy House.
Not that I’m a big enough deal to do a FAQ, but here are the answers to a few questions I’ve been asked more than once:
What’s it about?
Don and Nikki are bringing Don’s aging, deteriorating mother to an expensive rest home, the titular Mercy House. Upon arrival an unknown phenomena turns all of Mercy House’s elderly residents into monstrous killing machines.
What flavor of horror is it?
In interviews and on this site, I’ve talked about my desire to hop around to horror’s different subgenres and this book is no different. Just yesterday a reviewer (who liked the book) described Mercy House as “survival horror” which, despite being a genre I would normally associate with video games, is pretty much right on the money.
Although there are no zombies in sight, Romero’s Dead films were a clear touchstone for me, and they ended up being mentioned in my initial phone conversations with Random House. There are also DNA strands from sources as disparate as J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, Cocoon, Richard Laymon’s The Cellar, and Dead-Alive (for its splatschtick), so hopefully I’ve woven them into something worthy of your attention.
I think I have.
Is it a novel or novella?
Mercy House is my fourth full-length novel. In fact—if you’re one of those people that likes to buy their fiction by the pound—it is comfortably my longest novel by a few thousand words. What a value!
All wise-assery aside, I truly believe this is my best novel, and with the might of a big publisher behind it, MH could end up selling literally tens of copies.
Did you have to “tone it down” for a major publisher? (I know, this is a question that sounds like I made it up in a totally self-serving and humble-brag-y way, but no joke: I’ve been asked this exact thing by at least three different people on Facebook and twitter)
I guess I’ve somehow acquired the reputation of being a hardcore horror writer. I’m guessing it’s the online social circles I run in (God damn you, Shane), more than it is anyone actually reading my books, but I would contend that my most “extreme” titles (Tribesmen or Jackpot for content and The First One You Expect for general bleakness) would get me laughed at by fans of Edward Lee, Monica O’Rourke or Wrath James White. I enjoy the extreme sub-genre, but I certainly wouldn’t label myself among their ranks. I’m too tame.
That said, Mercy House certainly isn’t me “toning it down.”
If anything there are sequences here that are way more hardcore than any of my previously published stuff. While I was writing the first draft of Mercy House I had similar concerns about whether the editors would be cool with the “mature” content meant for the horror-faithful, but after handing in the manuscript the only recurring creative note I recieved was: “can we make this darker?” And I was more than happy to oblige.
That link in the sidebar is only for the ebook, when does the paperback come out?
Never, probably. This is an ebook-only release.
I realize that a lot of my readers are old-school and enjoy reading physical books, but there is no planed paperback release of Mercy House and, as much as I’d like one, I have zero influence over that. If the book becomes a runaway success then it isn’t impossible that one day in the distant future there will be a hardcopy, but I’m not holding my breath and there are no plans to do that.
Warning, here’s where I begin to grovel:
Unbeknownst to me, at the same time Random House Hydra was approaching me they were also getting in contact with bizarro legend Carlton Mellick III to do some work for the label. The result was Clownfellas and it’s already being heralded as Mellick’s best work to date (which is saying something, considering how much the man has done).
Look. You can be the reader who doesn’t like ebooks or you can be the reader who votes with their dollars and helps send big publishing the message that you want literary weirdness/sickness and are willing to pay for it.
If you are the least bit interested in checking out Mercy House (or CM3’s book), I urge you to pre-order.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive to pay for a book you’re not getting until June, but pre-ordering not only helps to show the publisher that there is interest for this kind of thing, it helps Mercy House become more visible to people who might not otherwise hear about it.
Here is a link that includes all possible pre-order destinations: amazon, B&N, Kobo, and even a few I haven’t heard of. Most of those places don’t charge you until the book comes out and will credit your card with the difference if the price should happen to drop before press time. A huge thank you to anyone who pre-orders or wishlists the book, I look forward to hearing what you think.
As I’m finishing wrapping up this post there are 2 months, 24 days and 54 minutes until the Mercy House is released. Not that I have a countdown clock on my phone or anything strange like that.
The waiting is the hardest part.
*Just a reminder that, since Samhain is hosting me at HorrorHound, I will only be selling copies of Video Night, The Summer Job, and Exponential. If you want any of my other books signed then you’ll have to bring them from home. Which would be amazing.