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Archive for 'The Loving Dead Online Serial'

What I learned from giving away my first novel

Posted 28 April 2014 | By | Categories: Books, Publishing, The Loving Dead, The Loving Dead Online Serial | No Comments

In 2010 I serialized my first novel The Loving Dead on my website, before giving e-books away on Amazon was a common strategy. The industry belief at the time had been that anyone who read a book for free would have no reason to buy it, and so you’d kill your market.

But my publisher and I were impressed by people like Cory Doctorow giving away their books, so we decided it was a risk worth taking. The novel did well and Barnes & Noble has since called it one of the top zombie novels of the past decade.

What I learned is how the publishing industry has become personal. I also talk about an incident involving free bacon.

Information wants to be free. It also wants to be personal.

As a debut novelist I was bonecrushingly anxious about my book getting attention. I feared it being made fun of or worse, being ignored. I’ve since accepted that I’ll be writing regardless of what happens with the publishing industry, but I want to have a career.

And for me, reading has always been personal. I read author bios. I read the acknowledgements. I want to know who these people are and how they got there.

These days, publishers expect authors to be personally and socially available. Readers expect it too, and there’s a massive industry based around looking good and making friends online. So I try to hold up my end, and I love making friends, but I’ve learned that curating an online personality has to be fun. Stressing over trying to get attention ultimately doesn’t serve my goals.

Because it’s not just about attention: I want my books to make friends. I know how I feel after reading things I like, and I know how I feel after I’ve read things because they were slick enough to get my attention. I want readers who are enthusiastic about horny zombies, readers who want smart and honest writing, readers who feel a connection to my work. I want readers like the young man who told me that The Loving Dead was the first novel he’d ever read. It was the first book he’d found that he could relate to.

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend

I think people choose what books to read the same way we choose friends. The book has to be interesting, and it has to cross your path in a way that gets your attention. It helps if the book comes recommended by someone you trust. There are so many novels out there, and I can’t remember when I last picked up a book based on a book review. I get them all through personal contacts, or chance encounters.

This may go against conventional wisdom, but I don’t think books or even authors are competing against one another. We’re competing for a potential reader’s attention with everything in his or her life. If these potential readers are anything like me, they want the book to be handed to them by a friend. They want reading to be a shared cultural experience, like Harry Potter or Fifty Shades. Most importantly, they want to read stories that speak to their interests.

So my hope is to put my books in front of as many people as possible, so that the books can make friends. Word of mouth is never about promoting a product: it’s about the personal relationship between the person giving the recommendation and the person receiving it. Making the book free is just a way to get more people involved.

Human nature and free bacon

I cowork at an office in Chicago where we recently had a bacon incident. A food truck had made some sort of mistake and had offered to come do a “bacon apology” by giving free bacon to the office members.

Free bacon? 

But when the gent showed up, the offer became “free with purchase” and I lost interest. It was upsetting not just because I’d been excited about the bacon, but because I saw the potential of what could have happened and how badly the bacon promiser had screwed it up.

I don’t think my office mates and I would have taken advantage of the free bacon. The offer was unique and something we’d been looking forward to. We would have responded by buying our lunches from the food truck. We would have told our friends about it, and the company would have cleaned up in sales and good word of mouth. That’s why I want to give more novels away. It’s not just about a single transaction.

For the past decade, publishing has been evolving from the big box model toward the cult fan base. There will always be big trends because humans are social creatures, but I see the 1,000 True Fans method for making money from creative work becoming mainstream. And why not? We get our breaking news through our social networks now, just as we did thousands of years ago. Information has always been personal, that’s why we trust it.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve never had one. People come for the body of work, not the song.” — Joe Bonamassa

Archive for 'The Loving Dead Online Serial'

Online serial disappearing

Posted 28 June 2010 | By | Categories: The Loving Dead, The Loving Dead Online Serial | 2 Comments

Just a reminder that the online serial of THE LOVING DEAD will be taken down on July 1st, a few short days from now. Thanks very much to everyone who’s checked it out, talked about it, and written to tell me what you think. I’m really pleased at the advance feedback from readers — even including a few corrections! Publishing can feel like it’s happening in a vacuum: once the text is out of your hands, you’re waiting to see what the reception will be. So far, so good.

THE LOVING DEAD will be front of store at Barnes & Noble and Borders during July, and is on sale already at independents including Borderlands Books in San Francisco and University Book Store in Seattle. The big online retailers will start shipping soon. I’ve got my author copies. My book is out in the world, and has already started making friends, and is in fact probably hanging around in shady alleys, drinking something out of a paper bag and talking to the kind of people you don’t bring home.

I feel that the online serializing was a success; that the book got more attention as a result of giving it away, and that any sales that might have been lost because people read the book for free are more than offset by the increased profile of the book. Studies have shown a correlation between free e-books and upticks in sales of the physical book, and while correlation is not the same as causation, there’s a few things going on.

One is that the publishing industry is still feeling around for ways in which to monetize electronic publication, in the context of an internet culture where content is expected to be free (never mind that the ways in which books and writers are publicized have changed dramatically). When I wrote up the summary of magazines published in 2009 for the February 2010 issue of Locus, I found that of the various publishing strategies, the commercial models that seemed most viable had both print and electronic components, models like online content as a loss leader to get traffic to the print books. And there’s also the voluntary donation model used by established authors orphaned by recent slashes in publishing; i.e. Tim Pratt’s BROKEN MIRRORS serial.

Publishing is all a matter of distribution, and electronic distribution skips the obvious cost involved with paper and printing and shipping, etc., but content is not free to generate; there are costs associated with writing, editing, proofreading, art, design, and running a business. That’s the second half of the famous quote about information wanting to be free; information also wants to be expensive.

So do the devices that let you access this information, in its many forms. I’ll read on my iPhone, but I’ve held off on buying an e-reader in part because of the regular generational shifts in technology; there’s no guarantee that the books you buy will be accessible in a few years. I’ve already found this to be the case when I let my Audible subscription lapse: I have to start paying them again in order to be able to download the books I’ve already bought, and that doesn’t feel entirely right. Sales of e-readers and e-books are a huge growth market, though, and as a working professional I’m happy to see growth.

Archive for 'The Loving Dead Online Serial'

Chapters 1-4 of The Loving Dead

Posted 07 March 2010 | By | Categories: The Loving Dead, The Loving Dead Online Serial | 10 Comments

Please note that the following text has not yet been copyedited. Pardon any typsos. -AB

The Loving Dead
By Amelia Beamer

For Charles N. Brown,
whether or not he would have appreciated it.

I owe my gratitude for advice and support to Mars Jokela, Gary K. Wolfe, Tim Pratt, Liza Groen Trombi, AAron Buchanan, Francesca Myman, Jeremy Lassen, Cecelia Holland, Nalo Hopkinson, Joe Monti, Alan Beatts, Michelle Boussie, Zachary Smith, Joel Brandt, a number of Beamers and Jokelas, and the Second Draft writers group.

“Everyone was gray and speaking in monosyllabic tones. There was no class, no race… We’ve been beaten up. I mean, it’s so much easier to forgive a zombie.”
—Alaina Hoffman, in the Chicago Tribune, May 4, 2009

Chapter 1

The sun had set by the time Kate left the bellydance class. Jamie, the instructor, had stayed late showing Kate a move called “the sprinkler,” where you swing your hips in a smooth figure eight, then four sharp ticks back to center. It looked like a lawn sprinkler when Jamie did it. Kate, watching herself in the mirror, thought that her attempts looked more like a dog with a hose. But after a few minutes, after all of the other girls had left, she got it.

They walked out together from the converted warehouse. This part of Berkeley was mostly artist studios.

“See ya next week,” Jamie called. She turned, away from the streetlight.

“See ya,” Kate called. “Thanks again.” Despite her best intentions, she didn’t attend every week. She walked towards her car, pleasantly tired. The party Michael was throwing would be in full swing soon, but she would have a few minutes of quiet between now and then.

“Hey,” a woman’s voice called. It sounded like Jamie. Kate looked back. Some guy had pushed Jamie up against a van. His face was dangerously close to Jamie’s. She was pushing him away. “Fuck you,” she shouted. She kicked at him. “Hey, anyone, help?”


Archive for 'The Loving Dead Online Serial'

The Loving Dead Online Serial Coming Soon

Posted 03 March 2010 | By | Categories: The Loving Dead, The Loving Dead Online Serial | 2 Comments

Starting Monday, March 8, I’ll be serializing the complete text of The Loving Dead here on I’ll start off with the first four chapters, then will be releasing one chapter a week on Mondays thereafter, leading up to the publication of the novel in July from Night Shade Books. Subscribe to the RSS feed.

The Loving Dead is a zombie-comedy-romance that reads like the love-child of Chuck Palahniuk and Christopher Moore. It tells the story of Kate and Michael, twenty-something housemates working at the same Trader Joe’s supermarket, who are thoroughly screwed when people start turning into zombies at their house party in the Oakland hills. The zombie plague is a sexually transmitted disease, turning its victims into shambling, horny, voracious killers after an incubation period during which they become increasingly promiscuous. Thrust into extremes by the unfolding tragedy, Kate and Michael are forced to confront the decisions they’ve made, and their fears of commitment, while trying to stay alive. Kate tries to escape on a Zeppelin ride with her secret sugar daddy — but people keep turning into zombies, forcing her to fight for her life, never mind the avalanche of trouble that develops from a few too many innocent lies. Michael convinces Kate to meet him in the one place in the Bay Area that’s likely to be safe and secure from the zombie hordes: Alcatraz. But can they stay human long enough?

Named one of the “20 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2010” by science fiction blog io9, The Loving Dead will be published in July, but io9 doesn’t have to wait till then to read it, and neither do you!

For more information contact Night Shade Books publicist J.J Adams at or me at