The Nightmare Engine Podcast

Delving Deep into the Minds of Horror Authors: Writing Wisdom, Career Shifts, and Success Stories

December 09, 2021 David Viergutz Season 1 Episode 3
Delving Deep into the Minds of Horror Authors: Writing Wisdom, Career Shifts, and Success Stories
The Nightmare Engine Podcast
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The Nightmare Engine Podcast
Delving Deep into the Minds of Horror Authors: Writing Wisdom, Career Shifts, and Success Stories
Dec 09, 2021 Season 1 Episode 3
David Viergutz

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๐ŸŽ™๏ธAbout the Episode
Imagine immersing yourself in the minds of acclaimed horror authors, navigating their unique journeys and mining for writing wisdom. That's exactly what's in store for you today, as we follow the intriguing paths of David Viergutz and Erik H. Vick. Erik, a renowned horror author, shares his journey into the chilling world of horror writing that began as a childhood love for reading and writing. He takes us through the daunting task of reducing a 1339 page novel to a manageable 800 pages - an essential skill for any author.

But that's not all. We're also diving deep into the life of Erik, who transitioned from a career in academia and the gaming industry into writing. He opens up about his successful horror novel, Demon King, and reveals the secret role Bookbub ads played in propelling its success. Hear about his transition to Kindle Unlimited and the staggering 500,000 page reads he achieved in his first year. Erik also offers invaluable insights into the use of humor and sarcasm in horror, a genre that thrives on the unexpected.

To round it all up, our guests imparts some wisdom on the importance of plotting and pacing in horror stories. He offers expert advice on how to keep readers engaged and maintain a story's intensity. Don't miss this chance to gain insights from some of the best minds in the horror genre, and remember to subscribe to the Nightmare Engine podcast. Come, brave hearts, let's enter the realm of horror authors together!

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

๐Ÿ”—Connect with Jay
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

โญ๏ธ Leave a Review

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, please do leave a 5-star review on Apple P

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

โญ๏ธ Leave a Review

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, please do leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and let us know in your review who you want to see next on the podcast. Thanks!

You can also Tweet me @ViergutzDavid and tell me what horror author you want to hear from next, or what topics you want me to cover. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How did you like the show? Text us and let us know.

โญ๏ธEnjoy the podcast? Do your good deed for the day and leave a 5-star review here ;)

๐ŸŽ™๏ธAbout the Episode
Imagine immersing yourself in the minds of acclaimed horror authors, navigating their unique journeys and mining for writing wisdom. That's exactly what's in store for you today, as we follow the intriguing paths of David Viergutz and Erik H. Vick. Erik, a renowned horror author, shares his journey into the chilling world of horror writing that began as a childhood love for reading and writing. He takes us through the daunting task of reducing a 1339 page novel to a manageable 800 pages - an essential skill for any author.

But that's not all. We're also diving deep into the life of Erik, who transitioned from a career in academia and the gaming industry into writing. He opens up about his successful horror novel, Demon King, and reveals the secret role Bookbub ads played in propelling its success. Hear about his transition to Kindle Unlimited and the staggering 500,000 page reads he achieved in his first year. Erik also offers invaluable insights into the use of humor and sarcasm in horror, a genre that thrives on the unexpected.

To round it all up, our guests imparts some wisdom on the importance of plotting and pacing in horror stories. He offers expert advice on how to keep readers engaged and maintain a story's intensity. Don't miss this chance to gain insights from some of the best minds in the horror genre, and remember to subscribe to the Nightmare Engine podcast. Come, brave hearts, let's enter the realm of horror authors together!

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

๐Ÿ”—Connect with Jay
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

โญ๏ธ Leave a Review

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, please do leave a 5-star review on Apple P

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

โญ๏ธ Leave a Review

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, please do leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and let us know in your review who you want to see next on the podcast. Thanks!

You can also Tweet me @ViergutzDavid and tell me what horror author you want to hear from next, or what topics you want me to cover. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Nightmare Engine Podcast with your hosts, horror authors David Virgoots and Jay Bauer, where they discuss all things horror books, movies, stories. Nothing is off limits, nothing is safe, and neither are you.

Speaker 2:

Since we are not on video, eric, how are we doing? Man, let's just talk a little bit. How are you doing today?

Speaker 3:

I'm doing alright, upright and breathing as I like to say.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, out here we've got something. I just sent this out to my people. I've always said a lot of people have never heard of cedar fever, but we have that here in Texas and that's basically where Texas tries to kill you with an extreme allergy to cedar and juniper. So I'm really blessed that hopefully for the next hour I should be able to breathe at least a little bit. But I can see you. People can't see us, but man, you're looking well, you're looking great. We saw each other about two weeks ago. We had 20 books Vegas.

Speaker 3:

Something like that Two weeks or three weeks, almost a month now maybe.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, a month ago, it's been a little bit Good grief. Yeah, hopefully that's already been that long and you're alive. Yeah, we got. I'm already planning for the next one. Man, I'm really excited. I enjoyed that. I enjoyed meeting horror authors. And the thing is, too, is that Jay and I were sitting there saying that, man, we couldn't, we could find the erotica guys, but we could not find the horror authors. Up until the meetup, we couldn't find them.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I don't know if everybody puts something else on their name tag, but I couldn't find very many either.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think my dad joke that. Just that I keep saying and my wife always rolls her eyes. But I'm like every time I tell somebody I write horror, it's like a confession.

Speaker 3:

Right.

Speaker 2:

They always like you know? What kind of childhood did this guy have, you know?

Speaker 3:

And then I throw in that I have a serial killer in every book and everybody gives you that stink eye even more.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's on the page, so it doesn't overflow into your life.

Speaker 3:

Right.

Speaker 2:

Right. That's why we're such cool people, man, is because we don't have that issue of our. Demons are on the page. You know they're not walking around next to us.

Speaker 3:

That's right.

Speaker 2:

So well, let's get into it, man. This is the time to talk about yourself, man. So let's start with the. Let's start at the beginning, let's say why writing, and then let's say why horror.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So if we're going to start at the beginning, we have to start back when I was born in Texas. So yeah, I don't have Cedar fever, but we are planning to get back to Texas someday. But why writing? You know, it's another one of those really long answers. That goes back to when I was in second grade and my teacher ran a contest to encourage everybody to read and she ran this contest that you could, you know, write book reports and whoever got the most book reports would get to go to her house and have McDonald's for dinner after school and day. So I'm dating myself a little bit there, because nobody bad at an eye at that prize. It was today, I don't think that's true, but at some point she said oh, and you could also write little short stories. You know, just a single page seven year old short story and I'll count those as well. So I wrote 77 single page short stories for this contest and so I got the prize and got the happy McDonald's and whatever. But I've just always been interested in writing since then and I've been a voracious reader all my life. So why horror?

Speaker 3:

Originally I wrote Science Fiction, published a cyberpunk novel that was really a closet horror novel in 2001 and then got into doing a PhD, spent all my time doing academic writing and then once about 2009 I think I developed chronic illness rheumatoid arthritis and was disabled and couldn't work anymore and about lost my mind, and my wife, melissa, suggested that I start writing fiction again, and I did that, and when I started again that second time, I'd been reading through my collection of Stephen King books trying to stay sane, although I think that might be a shaky proposition.

Speaker 3:

But I decided that I would try to do something that was like the gunslinger Not trying to mimic him at all, but that kind of big, huge, giant world that spans a multiverse. And so when I started trying to write fiction again, I wrote the first novel that I self-published, which is called Errant Gods, and that first draft was I can't remember now exactly, but I think it was 1339 pages and 240,000 words or something like that. So when I got to cleaning it up to actually self-publish it, I cut it down to about 800 pages, nearly half the book away. But well, I guess not quite half or even close, really, but I cut a lot of the book away. That was an interesting process to try to figure out what I should leave and what I should cut, and all of that.

Speaker 2:

And when did this take place? So this was Was this when you were trying to rediscover your fiction roots or was this your? You were one book in at this point with the, with the cyberpunk, you're disabled, you're at home, your wife's saying, do something. And so first thing you come out with is a 1300 page tome. And and right. So what year was that? Was that at the? The start of the self-publishing era? Right there, and you know, the early 2000s.

Speaker 3:

No, it was 20. So I started writing the book Probably in 2012, 2013, somewhere along in there, and I published it in 2016. It was really slow because the nature of my disease sometimes I can't type. At that time my disease was not very well controlled so I sometimes went six weeks between opening the file and I had to figure out how to keep the story alive In those kind of variable conditions. So it was kind of a really slow process where I stumbled around a lot and made a bunch of false starts and all that kind of stuff. But I had also published a nonfiction book Right as I was getting diagnosed, so that was probably 2008 or 2009. That came out.

Speaker 3:

And then, you know, everybody always says, oh man, it would be awesome. You can just, you know, do whatever you want. And I always tell people Be so careful what they wish for, because it's not like being on vacation. Sure, you know it's yep, there's only so much television that you can watch, even if you have to go back and Re-watch all your favorite shows from childhood or whatever. There's only so much you can do with that before it starts to grade on you. I used to tell people it was like being in prison, but the warden was really sexy, right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think. I Think having that kind of outlet is important, especially when you enjoy it, especially when you enjoyed and it could make you an income. I think that's that's really important and it gives you the flexibility to kind of deal with the things that you're dealing with at home, you know, without, without putting a lot of sacrifice in, because there's a lot of us that we were, you know, we're working full-time jobs and Having to squeeze an hour in here and an hour in there, and I'm the type of writer that I've got, I've got to have some time, sit down, two, three hours where I can get into the story. You know, I can expect that my first, probably 30 to 40 minutes is probably gonna be useless, you know, just trying to get back into the story, especially if it's one I haven't picked up in a while, right, so? So since then you've um, I know you've got some, some, some books out there. You're pretty prolific man. So how many books have you written since that first one? That really kind of took off?

Speaker 3:

So I've published 20, not counting a little weird experiment that I did. I have 20 for sale right now is what I should say, and I've written 22 at this point. Sure at the beginning, you said plus the other two, so I've written 24.

Speaker 2:

And so you said at the beginning that you, you've got serial killers and in all of your stories. Is that, is that the main feature? Or would you say you've got some of the weird stuff in there too, like a paranormal, you know, some demonic stuff, zombies. What do you got? What can people look for?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I do have serial killers in every book. They're usually either partnered up with Demons or are possessed or something like that. You know, I'm I'm a big proponent of trying to figure out different mythologies and why they are the way that they are, and as part of that I always think oh well, what if we took this chunk of whoever Sumerian mythology and drug that into modern times? What would it look like? And, generally speaking, when I think of demons and possession and things like that, I think of serial killers. I don't know why.

Speaker 2:

No, I mean it makes sense. I mean, and serial killers, I say I think I feel like I say this a lot, but I'm like that's, that's something that I think people could could relate to a little bit more than you know. So, you know, maybe a zombie apocalypse, I don't know these these, these bigger ideas, these bigger tropes serial killers are so I Mean, common.

Speaker 3:

I mean I hate to say it, but it's like every time you turn around, somebody's getting, somebody's getting killed by somebody and there's multiple murders happening, and it's just, I think we're so desensitized now to it, I mean well, you know, it's funny because the FBI statistics for a while we're saying that serial killers were on the decline and then the most recent thing that I saw Was it went from being very few active serial killers and now they think there might be between two and three thousand serial killers. Actually, they're just smarter because of all the media and you know Minehunter and all those things, I guess yeah, we've shown them how to do it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, these documentaries show them exactly what the police are looking for.

Speaker 3:

All right right.

Speaker 2:

So so let me backtrack a little bit. Eric, before, before your your diagnosis, you were in academia, was that? Is that? Is that right, or do you?

Speaker 3:

what other?

Speaker 2:

jobs did you hold oh?

Speaker 3:

God, how much time do we have? So I was teaching at Rochester Institute of Technology when I was diagnosed. I was in their video game design and development program. I have worked in the game industry. I've been software CTO, lots of different stuff. My parents always told me you can be whatever you want to be, and I believed them. And so whenever I said, hey, I want to do this, I want to change careers and whatever, I would just go do it.

Speaker 1:

So I've got lots of stuff yeah.

Speaker 2:

My wife, so her her name is Melissa too. I think we've made a smart, smart decision there. We've great.

Speaker 2:

Um, my wife, bless her heart, is a, is a, she's a licensed therapist. She's not what she does now, she's a. She's a police officer, like I am, but Prior, prior to this, she was a licensed therapist. And I made a mistake there. I think in in marrying a therapist now I'm gonna end up being diagnosed and and and stuck somewhere.

Speaker 2:

But she, um, she had this thing that she said to me and I'm, I feel like I said this in an episode or two, but it's okay, it's a great message. What she said was yeah, you can, you could do anything, and that's what scares me, because there's no solid path. You know, I think that's a, that's a potential that you unlock when, when One one door is closed, like in your case, when you're, you know, you were diagnosed Um, that that door of traditional work kind of closed for you, and so, you know, while your wife may have said, hey, get a hobby, you saw it as man, there's a spark I need to rekindle. You know, there's something I need to Reapproach from my past. I mean that that's kind of how I view my, my education. Like I've got and, as of speaking right now, I've got, I've got two degrees, two associates and I'm on my capstone, away from my, my bachelors, and the only reason I'm getting it is because it is a stone left unturned.

Speaker 2:

Yeah that's it. Right it won't benefit me in my job. It won't benefit me and my. I've had multiple businesses and multiple success and never once have I attributed it to traditional college and I'm not saying that's you know, that's Uh right for everybody that I think. I think there's some people that need college.

Speaker 3:

It it's not you know there's so many different paths to success, you know They'll go. Yeah you know they all start with you and go through whatever path you need to take. Yeah, yeah so.

Speaker 2:

so let's talk about um. So, speaking of path taken, let's, let's talk about yourself publishing From an, from an author perspective. Sure, well, give me, give me the one thing, that that you said you know what? This is, this, this clicked, this is what started making the sales come in, and, and I don't mean say, oh, I started doing Amazon ads. I mean, you were doing Amazon ads and then you, you, you clicked a certain button and you said that's the right targeting, that's the right to add spend. You know, did you have a golden moment, man, where it's like you went from From publishing books to to selling books?

Speaker 3:

because I think there's a difference you can publish all day long, but if you're not selling them, that's the whole another story right and um, you know, unfortunately a lot of people get into writing, thinking that, uh, being a writer means that you sit around in your office and write books all the time. And While I do write almost all the time, uh, it's still not what I do most of the time. Yep it, it may be fighting for what I get to do the least amount of time with this, um, but so I think what it was that clicked for me unfortunately no longer works. But I wrote my first horror novel, which is called Demon King. I wrote that when I should have been editing Errant Gods or not editing Errant Gods, but editing the second book in that series and I wrote it because the story wouldn't get out of my head. It kind of grabbed hold of my brain and demanded to be written, and so I wrote the story and then I thought, well, I wrote this, I might as well put it out. So I published it and I did a launch targeting dark fantasy readers, which is what Errant Gods is, and it went okay.

Speaker 3:

But what really kicked it off for me was two things. I got a bookbub feature deal and I started running bookbub ads and I ignored all of their advice and all of Mark Dawson's advice and just went in and did what was working for me and it worked very well for me, to the point where bookbub went and changed their recommendations on how to do ads. At the time it was CPC was the great evil, and that's what I did. My mindset at the time was you know, I'm only going to have to pay for the people who have a chance at buying the book, so the people who've clicked on the ad.

Speaker 3:

I disregarded all of the advice on how to make a good looking, successful bookbub ad graphic and just did it my own way. I did follow Mark's advice on targeting bookbub. That worked very, very well for me. I jumped into KU with that book I think I don't know maybe two months after I had launched it wide I thought, well, I'll try Convillum Limited and see how that works. And it was incredible for me that first year I think I did over 500,000 page reads that year with Demon King alone Wow. And so that I got two featured deals from bookbub that first year and I ran the hell out of bookbub ads on Demon King.

Speaker 2:

So some things have changed. Full price what Full price?

Speaker 3:

Full price yeah.

Speaker 2:

Wow, yeah, that goes against what bookbub recommends too, but it's hard to imagine running ads at a 99 cent book, you know, on bookbub I just I see I like bookbub, I like the platforms for very specific reasons and I like bookbub because it's almost instant results, right, I don't have to wait around for a week or two. Yeah, but also it makes you think you say, okay, am I ready to click go, Because as soon as I click go, bookbub's going to take your money.

Speaker 3:

Going to spend that money yeah.

Speaker 2:

And I like Facebook because the targeting options and the data they provide is excellent. Now bookbub is starting to do a lot of that. Yeah, but also my readers are not on bookbub. They're not, and that's really weird because your readers, you know you write horror, I write horror, but I know for a fact my readers are not on Facebook or, excuse me, they are on Facebook, they're not on bookbub, and they're 40 year old plus and the majority of them are women. Yeah, that is who my readers are.

Speaker 3:

I think part of the reason that is is that's the demographic for Amazon. What's? That 40 year old women, 40 year plus women, you mean.

Speaker 2:

Facebook.

Speaker 3:

No Well Facebook too, but also for Amazon Kindle books. I think that's their biggest demographic. So I think it's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy that all of us are going to have that as our biggest demographic, because we're selling there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

So the thing about bookbub is is that back then it was they had just started the Bookbub Ads platform and it was kind of the wild west, and what I did then absolutely will not work now, for a couple of different reasons. They've changed the way CPC works for bookbub. Back then you could run a CPC ad and it was all driven through their email and you only had to pay for that person who opened the email, saw your ad and clicked it. Now that they're splitting between the website and the email, it has really. For me anyway, it just killed performance of CPC and I don't run any CPC ads on bookbub anymore at all.

Speaker 2:

And for those who are unfamiliar with CPC, you're talking about cost per click, right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, and that's what they call CPM, or cost per mil, cost per thousand impressions. Right, and I cannot run full priced ads on bookbub anymore either. At the time I could, and I think the horror list there was more open to paying full priced books because they were kind of starved for content. These days, the way I use bookbub is for around the launch or around the promo, when I do have a book that I can drop to 99 cents or to free to bring traffic basically.

Speaker 2:

Sure.

Speaker 3:

And so you know I just ran a massive Black Friday sale. It's become a huge part of my yearly plan. I drop a couple of books to free and then I get a massive tale that lasts me into February.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, from that sale that I have yet to Go ahead.

Speaker 2:

I was just saying I've yet to. I have another series, a dark fantasy series, that still to this day won't sell and I'm okay with that. It was my first book, my first series, and I have a duty to finish it. But yeah, just a trilogy, but I'll give away. I mean, I think the last time that I did a promo stack and I think Amazon helped me out there too I gave away 5,000 copies and I had zero buy through to book number two. But also, I like to think there's a weird attribution from Amazon and from readers for a three book series. So when there's only two out, I think readers might be a little reluctant. But as soon as that third book came out like my zombie series, my third book came out the organic sales just started rolling in. It came out of nowhere.

Speaker 3:

Well, there's a huge thing now that I was talking to a lot of people, but especially Craig Martell, at the 20 books conference, is that people are now looking for complete series because people are now binge reading the way that we binge watch streaming shows, now right, and I totally get that. And then there's the whole thing with George RR Martin series. That has been kind of mired in the mud forever and so people are gun shy, like I've had people actually say to me is this series done? Because I'm not going to buy it unless it's finished.

Speaker 3:

I'm not going to get stuck in, you know, some ice and fire again.

Speaker 2:

So or whatever it is. Yeah, that's that's really interesting, and especially in horror, because Jay and I are both really focused on making sure that we are writing in a series and that's kind of tough to do in horror when everybody dies. So it's been a fun challenge. You know, one of the concepts that I'm really focused on is universal fantasy, so like a big, big world, kind of like supernatural. That way I can write the haunted house story, I can write the possession story, I can write whatever story I want in that universe and still be part of the series.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I think Stephen King has blazed that trail for us by. You know he didn't set out to do this, but as he's gone back and tweaked all of his books into the same kind of multiverse setting, it makes it a valid approach for us to do.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and he wasn't explicit about it either. He didn't say that this is all part of the same universe, which is kind of done, and I think I think the media helped with that too. You know, in movies and stuff like that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So let's talk about, let's talk about readers a little bit here, man. Let's talk about, let's talk about what your readers have come to expect in your books. So when they, when they pick up, when they pick up an Eric Vick book, what are they going to expect out of it and what would really piss them off if they didn't get it?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I started. So 2019 for me medically was horrible. I was in a wheelchair for about seven months that year and on all kinds of crazy meds. And so the Melissa and I could have something to do. We pick up the old Law and Order series, the one with Jerry Orbach, the original, and we watch that. And under the influence of pain meds and anti spasm meds and all this nonsense, I had these kind of strange thoughts like well, what if Leary was?

Speaker 3:

what if Lenny Briscoe was a werewolf right there, so I ended up spinning off. Couldn't get that idea out of my head so I ended up spinning up an urban fantasy series. So right now my readers are kind of split between team Leary Leary is the Lenny Briscoe character and the Clown Warder series and Team Scary, which are all of my die die hard horror fans. So what my horror readers want is a big, thick book. That's a very complex plot, lots of characters, demons, serial killers. You know something crazy and scary.

Speaker 3:

A woman on my art team recently said that during the last book that I had the arc for that she had to go to book funnel and find a bunch of different short, non scary books because the book was scaring her too much. So she would. When she got really scared she would put it down and then read, you know, whatever it was, that she was reading somewhere else. So I think on the horror side what people expect from me is a very complex plot with a lot of bite. On the urban fantasy front, people are expecting lots of humor and a lot of kind of gallows humor the way sure jury or box character in law and order Would walk onto the crime scene and drop some little joke. That made us all laugh while they're standing over a body.

Speaker 2:

Sure, well, and let me speak to that. I've it's been a long time so I can I can speak to this and not get in trouble. I Remember standing over a particular so I'm a police officer, so I remember standing over a particularly bad, one bad body, been there for a little bit and I was with a rookie officer and he had never dealt with one before, and so it's an experience that for every police officer to encounter a encounter a dead body and you know and bless those souls, man, I don't I'm not trying to belittle them or anything like that and it's really tough, but you know a lot of what we deal with we.

Speaker 2:

We handle via sarcasm and humor and so it's a blowoff, oh it is, it is, and so, while having this discussion with this rookie officer, I asked her so kind of pizza do you want, man? And so we had this full-on conversation in order to pizza, while standing over this guy waiting for the funeral home, right, and I think that helped pass the moment. So, yeah, I definitely get those types of that type of humor from that series.

Speaker 3:

It's real, it's really does happen. Right, it's um. You know, it's that old adage laugh or cry, you know. I think in certain situations it's laughter, scream, and laughter is always better.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So let me ask you a little bit now. Let's talk a little bit about the marketing side of things, especially in horror. We're starting to see, I Like to believe, that there's more horror coming. I think people are less afraid of it it's now, and what I mean by that is people are more willing to pick it up because it's not associated with just a Splatter, gorefest of of nastiness that's gonna make you cringe. You know people think of that when they think horror, but I think that's a little more to the extreme stuff I Think that people are starting to, especially when I started, I moved all my dark fantasy people over to my horror series and they they bought it up, they ate it up, they loved it.

Speaker 2:

They're still with me to this day and they were not adverse to that because they were so used to my writing before. I think that helped. But Well, what I'm starting to see is is more people picking it up and realizing that it's, I Don't know, something that they'd experience, something they can relate to, something that people say you know what? This is as close as I can get to a terrible thing that would happen in real life, right, you know, or, or some or some sense of it. You know, while you you know what. You might not have Somebody floating in front of you because they're possessed.

Speaker 2:

We've seen plenty of cases in the news of possession, people talking about possession. We've seen plenty of movies about possession. We've the Catholic Church has designated Demonologists and people that that go out and perform these exorcisms. So it's, it's real, it's there, and so I think that people are starting to pick these books up and really dig into them. But you said your books are longer on the horror end. Let's see, my readers are the opposite. They want something fast-moving, they want it punchy, they want it, they want a wicked twist that they didn't see coming. So I tend to write on the shorter end of things. The thing my shortest books are about 50,000, my longest or about 70.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I, you know it's for me to get a really complex plot with a Lot of twists that nobody sees coming. I End up just really long. I don't know why. That is the. I use this terrific voice actor named Kair Lordigan in the recent books and he was kind of half joking, half seriously complaining about the number of voices he has to come up with, and I think the last book he said there were 50 that he had to use. So it's, you know, I think Amazon on the whole books are trending shorter.

Speaker 3:

When I first saw the Statistic, it was like the average book length was 270 pages and now I believe it's right under 250. So it's going shorter and shorter. But at the same time, I think there is a demographic that wants longer and longer and longer. I know a lot of my readers say they will not read a book that's less than 400 pages. Hmm, I'm running a contest of my readers group right now, which is primarily to encourage people to participate in a whole bunch of polls that I thought of while we were at 20 books, and one of them is about book length, and While there is a very vocal Component of my reader base that says longer is better.

Speaker 3:

I won't read it if it's short. The when I did the book length poll, the biggest category right now is it doesn't matter, as long as the story it's good, and so I think that's that's really the key. If you, if you write a book that you're intending to be short, just so that it's short, and that means you have to cut out Parts of the story, I think that's a bad idea. But if the story that you set out to write only takes you 40,000 words or 30,000 words or 5,000 words, you should write it that long.

Speaker 3:

You know and I think readers know when you're Skipping things that you know, you know those points when you're writing and you go hmm, let's see, if I write this, this is gonna add 15,000 words, or if I Skip it I'll just be able to finish sooner. I think they recognize those points in the plot too. You know, they don't know what your idea was or whatever, but I think they see that and Don't take it positively when you For sure do that so yeah, I so I've been.

Speaker 2:

One of my big focuses was when I first started this was making sure that my readers knew that this was personal. Yeah, because in in any other business, your relationship with your let's say it's business to consumer, that relationship is so flimsy. We're talking so superficial, based on the service or a good.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

With us. There's so much opportunity to be personal that if we're not doing that, I think we're missing out on really cultivating that relationship to where, in a normal business transaction, you have to get somebody to know like and trust you in a matter of seconds.

Speaker 3:

Right and the goal is for them to buy something.

Speaker 2:

Right At the end of it. You want them to take action? Yeah, and.

Speaker 3:

I think for us. Yeah, we still want people to buy our books, but that's not the you know, at least when I'm we're very active in our readers group.

Speaker 3:

My wife is kind of part of it, because in the Errant God series there's a family unit in there that has a profiler who gets who's cursed, and what he's cursed with essentially is the disease that I have, and then he's got a wife and a son just like me, and all those characters names are our middle names. So it's very much loosely based on us and we used to do a segment on our blog called Hank and Jane in Real Life.

Speaker 3:

Jane is Melissa's middle name, henry is my middle name and it was just a glimpse into you know what we're going through with my disability as we try to do this writing thing and honestly, I think if Melissa and I broke up which is never going to happen, but if we did I think I would lose half of my readers because they would go to whatever she was, you know. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So we're very active, or?

Speaker 3:

very present. We're real in those situations and we've gained so much out of it. Both of us just feel like we have this huge worldwide extended family. Now, instead of this is a group of people that I go buy my book. You know it's more like we go there when we're feeling down, we go there when we're feeling good about something, and you know they've become a real part of our lives. So you had said, when you were kicking this kind of topic off, you had said that you know we were missing an opportunity, and I think that's 100% right and I think when a lot of authors view their readership as that target, their sales targets, I think they are missing an opportunity to have that deeper connection. The feedback that you get from readers who think who are your friends and who think of you as a friend is so much better than from the people who come by every once you know, once a month or whatever to see which are up to yeah, I mean and out of my readership.

Speaker 2:

I do have those that I've collected, that I was, I say, collected, but I have their contact information. For those who are Speaking of pseudo-killers Right, they're in my basement.

Speaker 2:

So I have segments of my readership. I've got people that are diehard fans, that will buy up everything. I'll give them free copies. They'll sell them to you. They'll buy up everything. I'll give them free copies. They'll still buy copies. That's how they are, yeah. Then I've got the ones that I know are just here for when the new books come out yeah, that's okay. And then I have the ones that are just here to be entertained because they like my emails that go out.

Speaker 2:

I send a weekly email. So I've been doing weekly from the beginning. Mm-hmm, and I want so there's a double reason for that is that my entire business model is built on transparency, and so that's transparency with other people, that's transparency with other authors, that's transparency with my wife, that's transparency with my readers, and so I explain to them every step of the way what I'm doing and why I'm doing it, and I do that on a weekly. And one of the things I explain to them is that I don't have corporate sponsors, I don't have a CEO, I don't have a team of people that I've got to make payroll to. It is me when you get an email. It's me when you're hearing this. This is me, this is raw, I'm going to cough into the microphone and I'm going to swear. There's no script here.

Speaker 2:

And I think building that that's a level of trust that we build with our readers and it's so powerful so that when we go and we say I've got a new book now, they say I want to support you, regardless, you know, if I like it, regardless if I just want to help. And I've got a young lady and she'll probably listen to this and she'll call me out on it later because I talk about her a lot. I've got this young lady from the Netherlands and she reads all of my books. She beta reads them. Her first language is not English, so she finds every little mistake.

Speaker 3:

Right.

Speaker 2:

And she sends it back to me in a Word document. Here's all the issues. And then I'll go and I need to send her a pile of gift cards. I've got a pile of gift cards ready, because she's on disability too, so I cannot send her cash. I want to send her money because of how much work it didn't start like this. It started off as hey, I need somebody to help.

Speaker 3:

Right.

Speaker 2:

And after I think now my beta and my art team, they're kind of combined. I sent one mass email to those guys and they jump on it. Some people review, some people do beta. I don't track it. I say, hey, honor system, you know I've got like 60 people and she's been around since the beginning. She'll review everything and she'll put a beta read for everything and I attribute that 100% to just being transparent and just being authentic.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, just being real, being who you are. Yeah, I agree completely. We recently went through a thing where we had a personal assistant in the group and it was just weird to because they would post as me but they're not me, you know and we never actually let those posts stay around for very long because it was it felt like breaching the trust. You know what I mean To have somebody post something in your name. That is not something that you would ever say or do. It's just a different dynamic, I think, than what a lot of authors do. One of the polls that I ran is what are we doing right? Why are you still here? Why are you sticking around in our group? And I was surprised to learn that there are a lot of authors who, even on Facebook, have their group locked down so that nobody can post, which, to me, is the entire point of having a group over a page, is letting people do whatever they want and then you can laugh at them more than them.

Speaker 3:

The case may be.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, if there's something twisted on there, you don't.

Speaker 3:

For us, yeah, the negativity thing is the only people that we've ever been there are people who just like, exploded with a bunch of bile at somebody else in the group for no reason, and some guy that I'm 90% sure is a is a stock or in real life. So we just let him post whatever they want to post. You know, if they spoke, spanx them. They spoke, spanx them. But we never do unless, like I said, it's, you know, like road rage, right? I think that we have social media rage and when somebody explodes like that, we just move the ball on.

Speaker 2:

For sure. Well, eric, you provide a lot of valuable insight today, especially into you and your journey and the things that that you've got going on to build your business and to to reach out to your readers. You know, I've heard two different ways of people saying you know, I'll never write myself into a book, you know, but it seems like that's worked really really well for you and I bet that's probably a relief. You know, a blow off valve, like you said.

Speaker 2:

So I'm really glad that that's worked out for you. We don't have much time left here today, so let me, let me let me ask you this If you give me one message, one sentence, whatever you got to go out to the authors that you would say, moving into 2022. What, what would you do and it doesn't have to be specific, it doesn't have to be you know build a mailing list, give one piece of advice that you might just give to somebody, clap them on the shoulder and you tell them something good. What would you say to another author, especially horror authors?

Speaker 3:

A beginning author or just anybody.

Speaker 2:

You pick.

Speaker 3:

So to the beginning authors I would say shut up and write. To more established people I would say shut up and go do your marketing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, definitely, yeah, that's. We all want to think that. If only it was as simple as just put words on a page. Yeah, but there's so much more to it. Just like we're doing here today, this is. This is fun. If it pays off, great. If not, it was something that we took a risk on. It took an hour of our time that we could have been putting words on a page, but I think there's a lot of value here, so I'm going to keep doing this as long as people keep listening to me.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

And so then, going out to the, to the readers out there, man, to the, to those who read horror, that includes other authors, I know you guys are readers too. So to the horror readers, what do you got to say, man?

Speaker 3:

Take a chance on in the horror, because I think that's where horror I think that's where your meat and potatoes are now is in the indie. It's kind of it has to be right, because traditional publishing won't do very much horror at all. So don't be scared. Didn't even mean that to be a pun, but don't be scared to take a chance on a new horror writer If they're jumping.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and he's Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

And if you look at it today, the products that are being put out by indie authors in general, you can't tell the difference between Trad and Indie guys. Yeah, we have, we have. We all pay editors, we pay for beta readers, we pay for everything and you're going to get, I think I would say, the majority I'm going to take a risk on saying this, but I think the majority of time. If you pick up a book and you say, man, it's a cool looking cover and you dig into the, look inside and you look in the first couple of pages, then there's probably a pretty good, pretty good product. If you've got a good impression off of that, I think it's a good product. I think that's something that, if you know, do like you said, take, take a chance.

Speaker 3:

So, yeah, all right.

Speaker 2:

Like, ladies and gentlemen, mr Eric Henry Vic horror author. Eric, where can people find you and what's the name of your most recent release you want people to take a look at?

Speaker 3:

Most recent release is a book called Black Bags. It's the second book in a series called the Rational man, which is a series about a very known on sense FBI agent confronted with a lot of supernatural hijinks. And they can find me at EricHenryViccom that's Eric with a K, henryviccom.

Speaker 2:

Excellent, ladies and gentlemen. My name is David Goodtime, your host of the Nightmare Engine podcast. Like subscribe, mash whatever button it takes to get notifications from me and upcoming episodes. Next week, hopefully, we'll have Mr Jay Bauer back and move into a little bit more of the nitty gritty as far as how we plot and move forward in our stories and making sure that we're keeping up with keeping up with the pace. So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time. I'm out.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to the Nightmare Engine podcast with your hosts, horror authors David Virgoots and Jay Bauer, where nothing is off limits, nothing is safe, and neither are you.

Horror Authors Discuss Writing and Inspiration
Career Changes and Successful Self-Publishing
Horror and Urban Fantasy Book Lengths
Advice for Authors and Readers
Nightmare Engine