On this month's Special Page:

Filmmaker and graphic novelist Nicholas Tana gives us advice on how to promote your work


Elizabeth Massie
Jonathan Maberry
Stephanie Charles
Mort Castle
Josh Darling
Ellen Datlow



Nicholas Tana is an award-winning writer, producer, director and CEO of Smart Media L.L.C. and an active contributor of short stories and poems for The Horror Zine. His films, Hell’s Kitty and Sticky: A (Self) Love Story have been seen by millions worldwide. Tana released his highly-anticipated sci-fi, horror graphic novel, eJUNKY (Scout Comics/Simon & Schuster), which he is actively promoting and marketing today.

For upcoming book signings or appearances, go to: https://smartmediallc.com/ejunky.


Surviving the Nightmares of Promotion: A Horror Writer's Guide
by Nicholas Tana


You’re alone in an empty parking lot at night with no car in view, and only a flickering street lamp lighting your way. The journey here is a blur, leaving you isolated and vulnerable. The scent of stomach acid and stale coffee— a putrid reflux soup—assaults your senses with every deep inhale, followed by a long, sibilant sigh. Your yearning for solace drives you to seek companionship, something or someone, anywhere safer. This scenario parallels the life of a modern writer: echoing screams, a chorus of crickets, the howling of wolves, and those voices in your head.

In today’s landscape, making a living as an author is a maze of darkness, veiled in mystery and uncertainty. Yet, within the gloom shines a glimmer of hope. Advancements in technology have made it easier to etch your name onto the tablet of life through writing. Self-publishing, blogs, and worldwide distribution are within your grasp.

But, fellow wordsmith, beware.

Gone are the days of benevolent gatekeepers and guiding editors to navigate the treacherous waters. Now you’re adrift, surrounded by a sea of mediocrity that hungers to devour your voice like a relentless beast seeking fresh prey. To rise above this spectral sea and avoid being lost in the abyss, you must conjure readers from the farthest reaches of the world, enticing them to your work like moths to a sinister flame. Despite the Herculean challenge, remember that the heart of horror lies in conquering the most daunting odds. Armed with a quill and an unwavering spirit, let's unearth the cryptic secrets of book promotion and marketing; where true horror takes root.

1. Create an Online Presence

Step into the digital realm and craft an author website that beckons readers, much like an enigmatic haunted mansion. Nurture an active blog, akin to a leather-bound journal, revealing your innermost thoughts and secrets. Weave connections between your site and others, constructing backlinks to guide visitors into your lair. Don’t forget to promote yourself on social media!

First, research publications and influencers and groups and websites dedicated to the types of stories you like to write about.

Once you do, you’ll likely find websites you can link to from your own website. You’ll also want to check out your favorite author pages to emulate how they create an online presence. Try to be unique, but also make sure you’re doing what the very same people you admire do. They have discovered information over their many years of writing and are experts. Your website is your mask in the digital age and, like Jason’s famous hockey mask, you’ll need one to be seen and to stand out.

2. Overcome Social Media Dread

Embrace the delicate balance as you navigate these treacherous waters. Master the art of social media, conjuring spirits from beyond to engage with your readers and forge a sinister following. Personally, I stick to no more than three but you can use as many as you can manage. From Twitter to Facebook to Instagram to TikTok, (even Linkedin), you’ll find they all have their own audience and ways of communicating and connecting with others.

Though the siren call of social media is alluring, it can ensnare the unprepared. Assume the role of a master illusionist, captivating your audience with live videos, offering live Q&As, and tantalizing book giveaways. Social media will assist you in forming crucial connections and aligning with fellow industry members who will champion you and possibly become your next reader! If you’re willing, divulge your personal side, within limits, of course. Share your writing process, sources of inspiration, and motivations. Let readers see a glimpse behind the curtain. If you prefer not to share such intimate details, strategically reference your favorite authors and influential books. This connection may link you to them and vice versa. Everyone appreciates a bit of promotion. By promoting their work, they might consider promoting yours!

3. Collaborate with Influencers and Bookstagram Ghouls

Hidden within the web’s shadows are potent entities—bloggers, vloggers, and Bookstagrammers. Form an alliance with these enigmatic figures to unleash their followers. Imagine them as an army of restless spirits, eager to devour your tale. These alliances could lead to your next book review, a powerful enticement for potential customers! Be sure to peruse what they do; what they write about, their likes and interests and try to start by commenting or complimenting them for it. Locate them on social media, and take a subtle interest in their passions and preferences. Engage with their content, whether it’s a like or a thoughtful comment, and express gratitude for their ideas. This strategy helps build connections. The same approach applies to reviewers, which brings us to the next point.

4. Embrace the Power of Book Reviews

Delve into the enigmatic realm of reviews. Seek out reviews from reputable sources, as they become your protectors, guiding readers to your work. Utilize Google to your advantage. Search for top horror reviews in the relevant year or explore the best horror books and stories.

These searches will yield results, which can help you identify potential reviewers. Track them down on social media, their websites, or LinkedIn. Establish connections with reviewers before soliciting their opinions. If you have the resources, a publicist could help with these connections. If not, initiate these relationships independently. At the very least, engage with their content and share their articles.

After a few months, revisit their work and inquire about their current reviewing status or seek advice on securing reviews for your upcoming book. Seeking advice builds rapport and mutual respect, and you don't necessarily have to directly ask for a review, if you're hesitant. Launch feedback campaigns and welcome candid opinions. Your connections can yield book reviews and introduce you to other readers and writers.

5. Unite with Fellow Authors for Cross-Promotion

Engage in an unholy alliance with fellow scribes. Book clubs, meetup groups, your local bookstores, and libraries can all be places to find other authors, readers, and people with whom you can connect. Don’t forget that the websites of zines and blogs or magazines, can also contain people you can befriend.

Don’t be afraid to leverage organizations and clubs like the Horror Writers Association (HWA). Combine your forces through cross-promotions and embark on joint book tours—a collective parade of literary nightmares. Discover platforms like The Horror Zine and similar outlets for publishing.

Conduct a search for the authors you find, and reach out on social media to discuss their work. Begin by promoting their content, and afterward, express your appreciation for their creations and your reasons for doing so. This approach fosters connections with active writers and offers a starting point for new friendships.

Don’t forget your local bookstores or libraries. These institutions often host readings and signings, presenting an ideal opportunity for networking. For instance, I spoke about my latest book, eJUNKY, at my local Redondo Beach library. Attend such events to learn how they operate and establish connections.

Also, explore book conventions, clubs, and consult your neighborhood bookstores for potential writer contacts. In this fellowship of the damned, find strength and support. By collaborating with like-minded writers, you might even arrange your own book tour, either in person or through platforms like Zoom.

6. Navigate the Depths of Audiobooks and Podcasts

Embark on an expedition into the audio realm, akin to a spectral entity haunting the airwaves. Numerous resources can aid your journey. Produce audiobook versions of your stories, weaving your tales into the minds of listeners. Initiating production and overseeing publication are the primary steps. As always, the internet is a rich resource. Search “how to turn your book into an audiobook” and “how to publish your audiobook” for a wealth of guidance on the process. Your creativity can flourish within your budget constraints. Seek out pertinent podcasts, where your presence lingers like an entrancing melody. Perhaps consider inviting your favorite podcaster to contribute audio content to your own book!

7. Foster a Cursed Mailing List

Gather your devoted followers within a cursed mailing list, forming a coven linked by shared purpose. Offer them exclusive content, much like ancient scrolls imbued with arcane knowledge. Shower them with personalized updates from your crypt through monthly or bimonthly newsletters. Keep these newsletters relevant and concise, focusing on your writing or the latest accolades and publications. Ideally, readers should find information on where they can obtain your stories or books. Mailchimp is a widely known service for curating email mailing lists, although alternatives exist that are more budget-friendly. Search for Mailchimp alternatives to discover a plethora of options.

Utilize such tools to craft monthly newsletters to help you build a readership. If your writing doesn’t have noteworthy updates for the month, discuss books you’ve read, authors you admire, or promote your writer friends. Once your book is released, you can ask them to reciprocate the favor. The newsletter can also promote pre-orders, signings, and all of the above, while gathering valuable marketing data.

Just remember there is a fine line between contacting someone and spamming that person. It must be a two-way interchange of information. Don’t push.

8. Harness the Magic of Data Sorcery

In this era of data-driven sorcery, uncover the secrets of analytics from Amazon, Goodreads, and the shadowy corners of social media. Ensure that you’re measuring the right data. For instance, use your dashboard in mail list services to track email open rates and click-through rates. Research metadata and construct a demographic profile of your readership. The more you know about your readers’ preferences and hangouts, the better you can target them.

Google Analytics can unveil how many individuals land on your social media posts concerning your stories or books. Apply the same practice to your websites. Each person who likes or engages with your posts is a potential connection. Take a genuine interest in their content, leave friendly comments, and express gratitude for their engagement. This knowledge allows you to fine-tune your approach, directing your efforts toward reaching new readers.

9. Conduct Enchanting Book Launches and Virtual Gatherings

The book launch serves as a venerable ritual, summoning readers to celebrate your work with a fervor akin to cultists drawn to a forbidden ceremony. Embrace the synergy between the physical and virtual realms, orchestrating hybrid events that captivate both local followers and distant admirers.

Plan a launch event at a favored library or bookstore. Make direct contact with your local bookstores and libraries, pitching your book and yourself. Present yourself as a local author interested in delivering a reading or a talk related to your book’s subject matter. Such an approach could entice them to host your event, particularly if you can assist in promoting it within the community.

If you notice other authors conducting readings at the library, attend to observe their methods, and approach them afterward for advice on engaging with bookstores and libraries. This engagement fosters awareness among bookstores and offers viable venues for selling your stories.

10. Attend Conventions to Market and Sell at a Booth

As horror maestro, you will want to venture into the eerie abyss of conventions. These sinister gatherings of fellow fiends, writers, and fans offer a spine-tingling chance to connect with your dark-hearted audience. Set up a booth that exudes a chilling ambiance, a gateway to your nightmarish realm. Always hand out business cards. Sell your books at a slight discount. Unveil exclusive convention-only editions of your books and twisted merchandise, luring unsuspecting souls into your sinister lair. Engage in conversations, share your passion for the genre, and leave attendees quaking as you inscribe your dark signature upon their souls, I mean, books. It’s not just about selling tomes; it’s about forging connections with fans that thrive on the macabre. The nominal cost of most convention booths vary but may prove worth it and can be a lot of fun.


In the end, fellow sojourners through the shadows, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for triumph. The path to success is rife with challenges and terrors, yet every writer harbors the yearning to be read. Embrace the horrors of book promotion and marketing, integrating them into the fabric of your literary journey. With creativity and unwavering determination, you can emerge triumphant from the abyss, a survivor in the realm of the published. Much like Clive Barker’s Pinhead, adorned with a jeweled pin driven through the bone, you too can leave your mark, if only you strive to make your voice heard.