Series: Sons of Darkness Series, Book 1
Author: Joseph Spencer
Genre: Crime, Dark, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller,
Publisher: Damnation Books
When everything is taken from him, Detective Adam White must choose what’s most important. Does he stick to the heroic ideals which made him a famed paragon of justice and take down a murderous madman? Or does he give in to his vigilante impulses, avenge his wife’s murder, and become the type of killer he’s hunted for so many years?
Adam heard a few sounds of Velcro peeling from its straps. Suddenly, Black Mask shed the mystery and ambiguity of his head gear. He became another mystery altogether. What happened to this guy? He looked like he’d seen hell, escaped, and doctored his face to give everyone else on Earth a preview.
Black Mask obviously suffered from rosacea because his skin was inflamed, swollen, and the angriest shade of red Adam had ever seen. A jagged circular scar similar to a clock face ran from Black Mask’s forehead down his cheeks to his chin. A vertical scar ran straight down the middle of his forehead and along the bridge of his nose. Two horizontal scars extended from the side of his nose and curved upward toward the temples. Two additional scars extended outward at angles from just under his nose, across his lips and ended on either side of his chin. All of the scars connected to the outer circular one like spokes to resemble a starfish shape. Adam struggled not to have any reaction, but failed to keep the corner of his mouth from inching up into a grimace.
Black Mask smirked and put his right hand up to his face. He pretended to be admiring himself in the mirror. “It’s okay, Detective. Your reaction is fairly common and a lot more subdued than most. Of course, I bet you’ve seen a lot of horrors in your line of work.
“So, you want to know the tale of Heath Grim, do you?”
Five Mistakes Writers Make When Querying Publishers
You’ve finished your manuscript. You’ve polished it in the editing process to the point you’re convinced it’s the best it can be. You’ve sent a dizzying amount of queries to agents. Yet, for all of your hard work, you just keep getting form letter rejections. You’re fed up, and you don’t think an agent is going to bite on your work. You’ve invested too much time and energy to give up. What’s next?
Most debut novelists don’t realize that a significant amount of books are published every year without representation from an agent. In fact, many independent publishers stamp their approval on unsolicited manuscripts. The key to breaking out of the slush pile and making your publishing dreams happen is to create an audience for your work. That starts with winning over the acquisitions editor, and making that person a believer in your work. If the acquisitions editor believes your book can sell, that person will either ask to see the whole manuscript or suggest right away to the publisher to offer a contract for your work.
It sounds like a fairly easy process, but if you make a few mistakes your manuscript will likely be overlooked regardless of the skill of your writing.
1. Do your homework
If you blindly start submitting your work to publishers without doing research, you’re expending a lot of time and energy which likely won’t bear any fruit. Publishing professionals are busy people. They don’t have time for writers who don’t respect their time. It would seem common sense that a romance writer shouldn’t query a house which publishes only horror or science fiction, but it happens every day. Each publisher usually sets forth conditions in which they’ll accept unsolicited manuscripts. It’s up to the writer to cater their query to those conditions. There are a number of online resources to help you find information on publishers such as www.pred-ed.com or for horror writers like me there is www.horror.org and www.darkmarkets.com.
2. RED = Reread, Edit and Detect
No matter how skilled of a writer you are, you’re going to make mistakes. It’s up to you to find these errors and polish as many of them as you can on your own to make your manuscript more attractive to publishers. As stated above, publishers are busy people. They won’t accept manuscripts which aren’t finished, or ones with horrendous spelling and grammar mistakes, holes in the storyline or point-of-view glitches. They expect a certain amount of professionalism when they are giving your manuscript a first read, and it’s up to you to deliver. It’s also up to you at this stage to detect any major problems with characters, plot or story arc which could prevent you from being published.
One of the biggest surprises for me when I was going through the publishing process for the first time was the varied demands on formatting. Each house can request a different set of fonts, sizing, line spacing, editing style, and specific demands on page numbering, headers and footers. Some of these requests are made with the digital publishing process in mind because there are certain fonts and formatting which make the conversion to an ebook easier for publishers. It’s important to follow specific guidelines provided by each publisher.
It’s not uncommon for an acquisitions editor to suggest some reworking of the manuscript. This isn’t a blanket statement that the writing is substandard. It just means that with a few changes the editor will be more willing to accept the work. It’s up to each writer to make judgments on what is acceptable to change. However, refusing to make suggested changes will likely end that publisher’s consideration of your work.
A large part of what appears on the outside of the book is also up to the author. Most publishers ask writers for suggestions on cover art design, inclusion of any recommendations from well-known authors and cover blurbs. It’s important to take time to make good decisions as to the look of the book and to the message being portrayed on the cover. Readers do judge a book by its cover. Think about it practically. When you’re in a book store, what jumps out at you and makes you buy a book? A failure to have answers when publishers ask about ideas for marketing can also get your manuscript thrown into the slush pile.
About the Author:
Joseph Spencer is the author of the Sons of Darkness series launched by his debut novel, Grim, on September 1, 2012. Work on his second book of the series, Wrage, is already underway and is expected to be released some time in 2013.
THE ROAD HERE
The Sons of Darkness is a series of paranormal crime thrillers following investigations into mysterious deaths in the central Illinois city of Prairieville. Home of the notorious serial killer, The Reaper, Prairieville has had a history of violence centered on an ongoing feud between the Marino and Black organized crime families. When bodies start showing up again at the abandoned Marino State Hospital, many fear the Reaper has returned. The people of Prairieville are about to find out their problems stem from a supernatural source which has lurked in secret for decades.
THE STORYTELLER’S STORY
As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.
Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating with honors from Clinton (IL) High School in 1996 and summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2000. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.
Joseph was married Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph and Amy look forward to their honeymoon in Paris in September 2012. Murphy, a 15-year-old orange tabby, is perhaps the most vocal member of the family. The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from The Princess Bride, Rain Man, Bridesmaids, and Office Space.