The Horror Writers Association took part in SlavConf. Reinforcement for a second consecutive year with a discussion dedicated to explaining professional as well as aspiring horror and dark fantasy writers how to thrive in the contemporary publishing industry. Authors Brad C. Hodson, Rena Mason and Tess Arnold discussed the necessity of a strong community and of forming relationships in the industry, the current trends, how horror has changed over the past years and what difficulties writers experience around the world. With members from more than 28 countries, the organization is focused on growing and creating more and more opportunities for writers and publishing professionals such as mentorship, resources, conferences, community events, scholarships, etc.
The panelists shared how they started their careers with the help of the organization and answered many questions by the audience regarding the everyday challenges they face as creators. Rena Mason remembers being assisted by HWA as a new author years ago: “I finished my first novel in 2009 and from there I really didn’t know where to go. I had met an editor and that is how I got into the Horror Writers Association. And from that point on it seemed like the association got me meeting people in the industry and that is how I found a publisher and got my name out there. And since then it’s been great for the same reasons – meeting people whether it’s virtually or in-person, it’s pretty amazing how strong the community is and how friendly, welcoming and willing to help everyone is.”
Brad C. Hodson shared he has had a very similar experience when he first joined the association: “That’s kind of how I got my first book published too. It’s funny how it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. And these conferences can be such a great networking opportunity. When you are just starting out and don’t know how to navigate things, meeting other people who have done it and are willing to point you in the right direction is invaluable.”
A major part of the discussion was focused on the importance of engaging the fan community and connecting with readers to form a relationship with them. According to Tess Arnold: “You can buy advertising on social media or whatever but the thing that sells your book is the readers. Getting readers to write reviews and talk to their friends is the biggest challenge.” One of the best ways to be part of a community according to the panelists is to attend events where writers can meet members of the publishing industry and receive feedback on their work.
Tess Arnold stated: “I think the important thing, whether it’s indie publishing or traditional publishing, for newer writers is the community. That’s one of the great things about conferences. The first Horror Writers Association conference I went to was 6-7 years ago and I met a lot of people there. There were pitch sessions, but what was the best for me was meeting other writers and having a community of people to talk to.”
In the new virtual era, communication has been facilitated and resources have become much more accessible. As explained by Rena Mason: “A lot of the community and friendships we have made over the years have started virtually.” The opportunities today are much greater compared to a few decades ago, when reaching beyond your local market was nearly impossible for dark literature.
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