Ty-ing Up the Genre debuted in February 2010 with an article I wrote entitled “An Introduction.” It was basically a set up of things to come. It’s suitable, I think, to end the column with the title of this article. Although, I suppose it would have been more fitting if I had called the first one “A Prologue.” In any event, the idea behind the column started for me to give general ‘how to’ advice for folks interested in wanting to write horror and then morphed into bringing in guest columnists to write articles, do interviews, etc. I for one think Ty-ing Up the Genre became what it is today because of those people. It wasn’t me, but them. They made the column into something that people looked forward to month after month. The majority of people I invited are war veterans, while I’m just a grunt trudging through the trenches. Though, if you follow my website at all (and if you don’t, you really should), you’ll see that I’m trying to climb up the other side of the ditch and run out into the battlefield with guns ablazin’.
But I digress.
The main reason I wanted to host a column such as this was to give aspiring horror authors some guidance from veterans of my chosen genre. I personally didn’t have a mentor or anything of the sort when I started writing in early 2008 and pretty much just blazed my own trail into the great unknown (which isn’t always a bad thing). And while I think I’m doing OK with my ‘vision’ I often wonder what I’d be writing or even how much further I’d be if I did have a General ordering me to do this or not do that. But as I’ve stated elsewhere, I dig the business side of writing. In fact I get off on it. Nothing excites me more than pitching a project to a prospective publisher and the next thing ya know you’ve got a contract sitting in your mailbox waiting to be signed and returned. People often ask me, “Ty, how the hell do you do what you do?” Basically, they’re referring to me only being in the game for a relatively short period of time, but I keep announcing new book deals.
To which I always tell them…
If you want something bad enough and you feel that fire burning in your gut that writing is the only thing you see yourself doing in ‘X’ amount of time, then YOU have to get out there and bust your ass. Do the work. Write like a crazy that just broke outta the loony bin. Make contacts in the industry. Go to conventions and meet the same writers you read and admire. Meet your future editors and publishers.
And ask. Ask what, you say?
Haven’t you ever heard the old saying – ask if you want something? No? Well, if you want something it never hurts to ask. Never. Do you think publishers are going to come to you in the beginning even if YOU think your stuff is as good or better than King Kong? Hell no. Especially today, when the business model of publishing is changing. Instead, you have to pimp yourself now more than ever – from the initial pitch to marketing the book after it’s released. Do you think everything I have coming out was by way of chance? No. It was because I busted my ass and went out and got what I wanted. Now, don’t take this like I’ve got a big head or anything, because those of you that have met me know I’m far from stuck up. It’s more of a confidence thing. It’s about being honest, compassionate and friendly to people. Be Yourself. Though, if you’re an asshole in ‘real life’ but try to play the part of the ‘nice guy’ around other writers and publishers they’ll probably see right through you and you’ll end up nothing more than a hack. I hope people that have met and/or know me see me as an honest, friendly, down to earth person and I plan to be the same in 3 years as I am now because…
I better stop there. The ‘3 years’ is when I plan on my ‘vision’ coming to fruition and if I told you anymore you might just wanna steal it and run away into the sunset laughing like a hyena. Kidding. Of course, if your skill set isn’t good enough then it really doesn’t matter how friendly you are, how much ass you kiss (which ultimately won’t work for very long anyway), etc. Anyone can write. Anyone. Hell, my 4-year old can sit down and scribble letters in crayon on colored construction paper, but that doesn’t make her a writer (insert wide grin here). It takes time and a whole lot of effort to craft a well-written and effective story. So, like everything else in life, you have to do the work. Yes, I know you’ve heard that before. But it’s so true that’s why almost every published person out there says the same thing.
Just don’t take everything I’ve said here as the end all be all. If you haven’t already, go back through each article or interview that I’ve hosted on Ty-ing Up the Genre and read what the veterans of the horror genre have to say about writing and the publishing world.
Because someday, with a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, your ‘vision’ could come true too.
Ty Schwamberger is growing force within the horror genre. He is the author of a novel, multiple novellas, collections and editor on several anthologies. In addition, he’s had many short stories published online and in print magazines. A short story of his, Cake Batter, was optioned for a short film and was released in early 2010. He is also the Acquisitions Editor of Ambrotos Press, a highly selective horror imprint of Dark Quest Books. You can learn more at: Ty Schwamberger