Saturday, May 25, 2024

[Link] No one buys books

Everything we learned about the publishing industry from Penguin vs. DOJ.

By Elle Griffen

In 2022, Penguin Random House wanted to buy Simon & Schuster. The two publishing houses made up 37 percent and 11 percent of the market share, according to the filing, and combined they would have condensed the Big Five publishing houses into the Big Four. But the government intervened and brought an antitrust case against Penguin to determine whether that would create a monopoly. 

The judge ultimately ruled that the merger would create a monopoly and blocked the $2.2 billion purchase. But during the trial, the head of every major publishing house and literary agency got up on the stand to speak about the publishing industry and give numbers, giving us an eye-opening account of the industry from the inside. All of the transcripts from the trial were compiled into a book called The Trial. It took me a year to read, but I’ve finally summarized my findings and pulled out all the compelling highlights.

I think I can sum up what I’ve learned like this: The Big Five publishing houses spend most of their money on book advances for big celebrities like Britney Spears and franchise authors like James Patterson and this is the bulk of their business. They also sell a lot of Bibles, repeat best sellers like Lord of the Rings, and children’s books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. These two market categories (celebrity books and repeat bestsellers from the backlist) make up the entirety of the publishing industry and even fund their vanity project: publishing all the rest of the books we think about when we think about book publishing (which make no money at all and typically sell less than 1,000 copies).

But let’s dig into everything they said in detail.

Read the full article:

For a response to this article, check out this link:

Friday, May 24, 2024


Hunter, hunted...Or dare to tame the Behemoths?

In the untamed wilds of Aluria, where colossal creatures roam and ancient magic thrives, one rule reigns supreme: hunt or be hunted.

Enter Age of the Behemoths, a thrilling gamelit/litrpg adventure series that thrusts you into a primal world where your survival depends on mastering the art of the hunt.

Step into the boots of Noah Parker, an unassuming IT technician seeking escape from the mundane. In the virtual realm of Age of the Behemoths, he becomes a hunter, venturing into breathtaking landscapes where colossal beasts hold dominion. These creatures range from the legendary Wyverns and Leviathans to completely unique monstrosities.

In this system, every resource, weapon, piece of armor, and epic loot is earned through the thrill of the chase and the spoils of victory. Noah must learn to track, hunt, and harvest from the very giant monsters that could crush him with a single blow. Experience colossal encounters with epic-scale fights and visceral combat battles.

But Age of the Behemoths is more than just a game. With cutting-edge technology, the lines between virtual and reality blur. Noah soon uncovers whispers of a dark mystery that threatens the very fabric of the game and the lives of its players.

Will Noah rise to the challenge and become a legend? Or will he succumb to the perils of the wilds and the shadows that lurk within this mysterious epic fantasy?

The hunt begins NOW.

Available on Amazon.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Paul Landri: The Darker Side of Nostalgia

Paul Landri is a writer, voice actor, and chihuahua enthusiast. He's also somebody you should meet. So, because I love you so much, here he is.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

Back in October of 2023, my Cowriter Jason Clark and I announced the publication of our debut novel, Return of the Crimson Howl. A cross-country murder mystery featuring original golden age superheroes. When the grandfather of the golden age of superheroes, Parker McCoy, is brutally murdered, it is up to two federal agents of a slowly becoming defunct Federal agency known as the Golden Age Task Force to find McCoy’s top three heroes, the Crimson Howl, The Automatic Man, and the Swami to figure out who killed him and why. It is a thrilling cross-country adventure that explores the backstories of these amazing heroes…but things aren’t always what they seem.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

I suppose the themes we are working with now are the darker sides of nostalgia. Return of the Crimson Howl is a real “never meet your heroes” type of book. The storytelling lays bear the attitudes and mores of the folks who grew up in that era where certain beliefs are commonplace and tend to leak out in even in the face of polite society. We asked ourselves, “What would a superhero be like in real life, if he lived long enough to see the present day? How would their cultural biases and upbringing affect how they see the modern world.” That isn’t to say every person who grew up in that era (in this case the Golden Age of comic books, 1930’s-1950’s) was extremely prejudicial, but these characters definitely are in their own way and we wanted to explore that.

I have a degree in history. I studied propaganda during World War 2. My thesis was based around this and how powerful propaganda can influence people. Aside from engaging in some historical realism which helps to ground the book in reality, I make mention how Superheroes themselves are great for propaganda purposes.

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

I’ve always had an inclination to write. I think because it came so easily to me. My father (rest in peace) read to me as a child and it helped establish, first, my love of reading. Stephen King said if you want to write, you must also read, and I was a pretty voracious reader from the get-go. My father was also a big reader so seeing him reading definitely influenced my love of books, horror books in particular because they both terrified and fascinated me.

What inspires you to write?

I usually have a story or two rattling around my head. It starts as a bit of dialogue and goes from there. Dialogue is my favorite thing to write because I’m also a voice actor so making conversations sound authentic is important to me. I feel like I can tell stories from the very depths of my being (as pretentious as that sounds) because writing allows you to become less inhibited. There’s nothing stopping you from writing that gory scene or that sex scene if it contributes something important to the story itself.

What would be your dream project?

So, I’m a 90’s kid. I grew up with the X-Men cartoon which got me into comic books, which also influenced my writing quite a bit. One of my favorite group of character are the youngsters of Generation X. I remember when the pilot for the live action TV show came out on Fox. I stood up late to watch it and was so excited afterward I barely slept. This cemented my love of those characters. I would love to write a mini-series for television around those characters but with a slight twist. I’m a huge punk and ska fan and the premise would be Jubilee (who aside from being a mall-rat, would also be heavily into the punk and ska scene, which was pretty huge in the 90s thanks to the Warped Tour and Skate and Surf Festival on the Jersey Shore, which is where I grew up,) being sort of “demoted” from the mansion in Westchester by Charles so she could focus on her schooling, to the satellite school on the Jersey Shore (I always pictured Wilson Hall at Monmouth University, my Alma Mater and the setting for the movie version of Annie, for this) which is run by Banshee and Emma Frost. She reluctantly goes and meets the Generation X crew -- Mondo, Skin, Husk -- all those merry marching mutants- and gets them to steal a car so they can go to the Warped Tour in Philadelphia. On the way, they learn more about themselves, their powers, and how to deal with prejudice from a world that hates and fears them. No villains, just Banshee and White Queen trying to find them and bring them home. It would end, of course, with them making it to the concert.

This would be my swan song to the 90’s with the punk rock and ska I grew up with supplying the soundtrack. Think Bad Religion, Rancid, Operation Ivy, Less than Jake, and Reel Big Fish and NoFX.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

Actually the Crimson Howl books are a hard reboot of characters based on a project I did in college that, in retrospect, was complete trash. It’s amazing what time, maturity, constant reading, and collaboration with a writer who is on the same wavelength as you, can do to a story.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Stephen King is my favorite author and I believe his writing style has influenced mine the most. I read mostly his books because one, they scare the crap out of me in the best way, and two, you can’t beat King when it comes to characterization. I am constantly trying to make my characters as real as possible. Do I fall short? Sometimes, but I keep chasing that dragon and probably will until I can’t type anymore. Neil Gaiman and Simon R. Green definitely have an influences in helping with world-building, especially Green.

As I said earlier, dialogue is my favorite thing to write and I don’t think I could have written what I did without acknowledging Quentin Tarantino as an influence, at least when it comes to smart, convincing dialogue.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Writing is an art when you are in the process. It is a science when you are finished and making it commercially viable.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

I would say keeping continuity is the most difficult part. The Crimson Howl series is three books (so far) with Books 2 and 3 coming out hopefully soon. I was constantly going back to Book 1 to make sure I wasn’t breaking continuity or doing something that violated the laws of the universe Jason and I created. It was a hard go writing Book 2, but I think I did ok with it.

Sometimes, the hardest part is starting. I dreaded starting Book 2 until I actually bit the bullet and started it. After that it was like an avalanche and I had the first draft done in a few weeks. Jason is editing it. We work well like that. I take the story and, like Hawkeye Pierce, put it together in a rudimentary way and send it over to Jason, who, like Major Winchester, puts the fine touches and polishes it up into something extraordinary.

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

I don’t talk a lot about the process with my other writer friends but we do encourage each other and celebrate our successes big and small. I feel like we are all working toward different goals and have different stories to tell. Writing tends to not be one size fits all so what works for my fantasy writer friends and their network might not work for me, but we are definitely celebrating when they break a sales record and vice versa.

What does literary success look like to you?

I just had my first book signing on May 4th at a local comic book shop. Convincing total strangers that this book was worth buying and collecting their cash was a huge thrill because I managed to sell them on the idea of the book and they believed in that idea strongly enough to give it a chance. My hope is to one day see these characters come to life on the big or small screen.

Our first quarterly sales actually broke all of our publisher’s records and that was just due to me constantly promoting the book on Facebook. I think, once we venture out onto other social media platforms and do other signings at conventions, people will take notice and maybe that big dream of mine will come true one day.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug? 

I have the absolute honor of working with the Estate of Captain America co-creator, Joe Simon. Jason and I have been turning a few of his and Jack Kirby’s lesser known superheroes, The Vagabond Prince, The Black Owl, and Blue Bolt, into radio plays for The Atlanta Radio Theater Company. We’ve done this for three years now and will (hopefully) be back at Dragon*Con 2024 with another thrilling episode of The Golden Age Action hour.

I am also doing a production at the Academy Theater in Hapeville with ARTC on May 26th where I will be playing a mischievous little goblin in a fantastic play called Pilgrim Souls which was written by my dear friend and musical collaborator on the Simon and Kirby Scripts, Ellie Cook.

Lastly, Reign of the Crimson Howl is being edited by Jason as well and I am starting the third book in the series, Ruin of the Crimson Howl, a little later this month.

For more information:



Saturday, May 18, 2024

[Link] Ten Types Of Authors Who Can Go F*ck Themselves

Gabino Iglesias shares his list of ten types of authors who can go fuck themselves and explain why some crime writers deserve such an insult. 

Back in 2017 I was writing a piece for LitReactor and suddenly realized the amount of reactions it was surely going to get. You see, at that point, I had already been doing the columnist thing for almost a decade. It had all started back home with a monthly political column I wrote for Puerto Rico’s largest newspaper.

By the time I stopped writing it in early 2016, I’d received four death threats, thousands of “corrections,” and enough insults to last me a lifetime. In any case, I tweeted this after finishing that column: “Everyone who’s gotten angry at one of my columns should hear the stuff I don’t even bother to pitch.” The result was almost immediate; a bunch of authors said they wanted to read some of the stuff I didn’t bother to pitch to editors.

I’m all about making my friends happy, so I wrote the first incarnation of this list and it was published in a venue that’s now defunct. There were angry emails, insults, invitations to fight, blogs written in response, etc. Sadly, I see some of the same behavior that inspired that column still happening. So, here we are. I’m ready to make some more friends. Let’s get started, shall we? Here are ten types of authors who can go fuck themselves (God I’m good at making friends!)

Read the full article:

Friday, May 17, 2024

Mythside Publishing is Looking for Storytellers!

Calling all #authors, #writers, and #storytellers!

Mythside Publishing is accepting story submissions for 7 upcoming pulp digests. Earn 7 cents per word crafting the next thrilling adventure! 

We are accepting stories in the following genres:

  • Hardboiled Detective Capers
  • Sword and Sorcery Adventures
  • Femme Fatale Thrillers
  • Shocking Science Fiction
  • Fantastic Fantasy
  • Weird Wild Westerns


  • Under 10,000 words.
  • Original works.
  • Submit as a PDF. Must include a title page including the name/pen name to be published under, the genre, and word count.

Email submissions to

Make the subject line of the email the genre of the story and the word count.

Mythside publishing -- Return of the Pulp.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The Cover Story: Crime Fiction Now and Then and Now Again

Let's talk crime novel covers. My, how they've changed over the years. Don't believe me? Let's go back to the (almost) beginning (we'll skip over Sherlock Holmes who-dun-its for this article). The that, we need to visit the pulp mags. 

The Pulp Era

The covers of the classic pulp era stand alone as works of "cheap," "vulgar," and "violent" art -- just to mention some of the adjectives thrown at them. But works of art they remain. They knew how to attract a reader with scenes of danger and drama (and more than a little sexual titillation, of course). 

In fact, because of the patriarchal views (some might say misogynistic) of the time, it was hard to find covers that didn't have some helpless woman in various states of either torture or undress. However, even when they didn't have such covers, the images were always high points of action (maybe or maybe not related to one of the stories between the covers) or danger or violence. 

Suspense was the key question when you saw one of these covers. Will the hero save the day? Will the beautiful dame get shishkabobbed? 

These covers screamed and begged you to drop a few cents and find out. And they did it very, very well. 

The Contemporary Summer Bestseller 

Things have changed between then and now. Book covers, even thriller and crime novel covers, are more about mood and tone than telling a story it seems. That's not a judgment, just an acknowledgment. On the plus side, we're no longer inundated with helpless women and burly men saving the day or gore-adjacent covers or some of the darker pulp mags, but I'm not sure the covers to many contemporary mysteries are doing the job they're supposed to (at least supposed to in my opinion). 

As I look at the covers below, I'm not sure I can tell you what the story is actually about. Or, honestly, I don't think I would recognize the book as a mystery/crime book if it weren't shelved in that section of the bookstore. 

Modern covers, while great examples of color, texture, and typographic art, don't feel as immediate to me. I don't get a sense of why I need to open the book oftentimes. I don't feel pressured to ask the questions that make me want to see what happens. 

A quick glance below says these books could just as easily be literary bestsellers or romantic dramas as they could be any other genre of fiction. (On a related but different note, not even the titles convince me they're thrillers, but that's an article for another day.)


Original Novels and the Hard-Boiled Pastiches

Let's step back a few decades now, shall we? Inspired by the pulp mags, novels of the '30s and '40s through the '60s and '70s tried to recapture the awesome of the pulp aesthetic without the awful of the pulp aesthetic. Violence was back. Sex was back. And danger was once again front and center. 

Now, the violence and sex tended to be far more subdued, maybe even subtle, as it the semi-open door (still locked) or the look of fear for The Glass Key, but it was there. And it while it also conveyed mood, it didn't shy away from actually teasing the story. There was no way you didn't know what kind of novel you were buying based on the covers on the paperback racks (or most of the hardcovers over earlier years). 

The genre grew up and became procedurals in addition to private eyes. Big thrillers replaced small-scale-one-man-against-the-bad-guys of Key Largo. And the covers grew with them, distancing themselves from the "thing of the past" ideals and values of yesteryear (as you move into the '70s particularly), but the hints were there to see what you were getting into. There was no confusing even the semi-vagueness of these spinner rack covers with a copy of a literary classic or a contemporary lit hit. 

Hard Case Crime 

Hands down, my favorite publisher nowadays is the retro-pulp, hard-boiled, noirish, crime story, private dick publisher Hard Case Crime. The stories are often reminiscent of early crime novels but updated for the present or written with modern sensibilities (sometimes not). And their cover game is top-notch. They do the best job I've seen of capturing the story sensibilities of the early pulp-inspired novels of the '30s and '40s and even tease it a bit with the voyeurism of the original pulp covers before Werthem's Seduction of the Innocent shut down the fun machine. 

To be fair, a lot of these covers do play up the big strong man trope and you see a lot of sexy women on the covers, but they are rarely women in peril. More often than not, they're holding either the gun or all the cards. 

But the thing that really draws me to Hard Case Crime is how I can usually tell exactly what I need to know about the book before I buy it. I can see it in a catalog or on a shell, and bam, I know the kind of story I'm about to spend good money on. To me, that's the main job of a cover. 

And That Leaves Us...

A cavaet: There's always an exception for every rule, and for every cover I've shown here, there a several that make an equal and opposite statement to prove me wrong. You can find vague, artsy '60s paperback covers or even pulpy cover versions of classic literature. You can find gripping, story-driven contemporary covers for thrillers that don't hide the genre in colorful photographic dreamscapes. But for this article, I'm addressing the generality, so don't feel the need to play the "what about" card. I'm not taking the bait. 

Let me reiterate, these are just my opinions about covers for mystery thrillers. Your mileage may vary. You may prefer pretty covers that tease the eye like an impressionist painting or a soft-palette photo of a beautiful tree. If that works for you, fine. You do you, boo. 

Personally, I'd like to see crime fiction return to the style of the paperback racks before the sort of homogenous look took over publishing. I like the covers that tell the story to sell the story. Now, that doesn't mean I want to see a return to the ideals and patronizing and patriarchal values of the '30s and the '40s those old covers may have reflected, just that storytelling style. 

But, as they say, if wishes were horses... 

Saturday, May 11, 2024

[Link] Ranking The Most Popular and Beloved Books Of All Time

By Jason Pasos

It's hard to say exactly what makes a book great; they are after all, pieces of art that are just as subjective as anything else. However, there are some books that seem to endure for longer and resonate with more readers. Whether or not you're a fan of literature, these are the stories that some might consider required reading. So, did you read all the best ones, and did your favorite make the list? Read on and see!

Read the full article:

Friday, May 10, 2024


From popular writer Frank Schildiner, comes a swash-buckling adventure set in a time of romance and intrigue. The forces of evil assail the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV of France. Devils and demons from the deepest depths of darkness weave their terrible spells upon the nobles of the young King’s court. At the suggestion of his ailing advisor, Cardinal Mazarin, the son of a legendary warrior receives a call to service. The infamous Count Rochefort, son of the enemy of the Three Musketeers, will now battle, The Seven Circles of Satan! 

Artist John Gallagher provides the black and white interior illustrations with Pulp Factory Award winner Rob Davis delivering the beautiful color cover and book design. Here are both familiar and new characters, good vs evil, with a kingdom at stake. Here is a classic adventure with a pulp twist. So grab your sword and En Garde!


Available now from Amazon in paperback and soon on Kindle.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

The Free Comic Book Day Wrap-Up

Really enjoyed spending the day with folks like Robert Pope (Peanuts, Looney Tunes) and others at the Free Comic Book Day event in downtown Lawrenceville, co-hosted by Galactic Quest. Here are some of the pictorial highlights. 

Not Quite a Booth Babe

Like a Good Neighbor, These Folks Were There

Cosplay Exhibit


Convention Sketches

Little Red Hot drawn by Robert Pope

Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes (from Robotech)
drawn by Jason Kochis

Thanks again, all, for making it such a fun event!