“free” books aren’t free

Writer Saundra Mitchell posted this on her LiveJournal this morning, and I requested and received permission to reprint it here.

12 January 2011 @ 10:39 am
“Free” Books Aren’t Free

I’m so frustrated.

This morning, I woke up to one of my best author friends deeply upset. A “fan” on Twitter had cheerily informed her that she illegally torrented a copy of that author’s book since the mean old publishers in her region hadn’t made it available. Never mind that it WAS actually available in that region; I hear that a lot.

They don’t sell your book in my $location, so I downloaded it.

I also hear, I will buy it later, and I don’t have any money, but I want to read it. Authors should make publishers print in $region! and I hate DRM. I download it, but then I recommend it to other people to buy!

I’ve been very open about the money I’ve made and not made, to help give the writing community some perspective. So I’m going to be very open about money today. I’ve told you before that I made a $15,000 advance on SHADOWED SUMMER. In two years, I’ve managed to earn back $12,000 of that.

It’s going out of print in hardcover because demand for it has dwindled to 10 or so copies a month. This means I will never get a royalty check for this book. By all appearances, nobody wants it anymore.

But those appearances are deceiving. According to one download site’s stats, people are downloading SHADOWED SUMMER at a rate of 800 copies a week. When the book first came out, it topped out at 3000+ downloads a week.

If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list.

If the 800+ downloads a week of my book were only HALF converted into sales, I would earn out in one more month. But I’m never going to earn out. And my book is never going to be available in your $region, not for lack of trying. My foreign rights agent is a genius at what she does, and has actively tried to sell it everywhere- UK, AU, China, France, you name it, she tried to sell it there.

SHADOWED SUMMER will only be coming out in Italy, because that’s the only place there’s a market for it.

And let me tell you guys… the sales figures on SHADOWED SUMMER had a seriously detrimental effect on my career. It took me almost two years to sell another book. I very nearly had to change my name and start over. And my second advance? Was exactly the same as the first because sales figures didn’t justify anything more. I don’t blame my publisher. There’s weak demand for my books, according to my sales figures.

Meanwhile, 800 copies of my book (worth about $1200 toward my advance, if everyone paid for a copy,) are being downloaded a week.

And now, one of the top search terms on my website for THE VESPERTINE, a book that won’t even come out until March is, “download vespertine +saundra”. They have to put my name in because otherwise, they’re looking for a way to illegally download Bjork’s album.

Guys, seriously. I know it sucks to have to wait. I know it sucks when a book isn’t available in your region. Seriously, I know. I just paid a friend $15.00 for an $8.00 paperback, so I could get a copy of RJ Anderson’s ARROW. A book, I might add, that I read last year when RJ sent me the manuscript.

I know DRM sucks. I know region-limitation sucks. And I know being poor sucks (as I just told you, I’ve made 30k over the course of 4 years now, that’s like $7500/year. I totally know being poor sucks.) But when you illegally download a book, you’re simply guaranteeing that a publisher will look at my royalty statements next year and decide not to publish the next one. Promises to recommend my book to other people never seem to pan out- sales still drop, downloads remain steady.

If you really love books, find a way to pay for them. The WORLD wide web is, in fact, world-wide. I bet you know someone in the region that sells the book you want. I bet even if you don’t, you can connect with a fellow book-lover in that region on Twitter.

If you REALLY can’t afford books, ask your library to order them. I love libraries. I love them so much- they buy lots and LOTS of copies, and will rebuy them if they’re very popular. Many are even starting to buy digital copies, so you can read them on your e-reader. When you check my book out from the library, you’re paying for it, just indirectly.

If you really, REALLY can’t afford books, and live in a mushroom village that has no library, then write to my publisher’s publicity department. Ask them for a review copy. And by god, if you get a free review copy- review it! Send that review to my publisher so they can use it! Post it on bookseller websites! Give the review copy away to other readers when you’re done. Pay for it with sweat equity- spreading the word is buying my books.

And honestly? If you’re just going to download it illegally anyway, don’t tell me. I’d rather not be personally acquainted with the people pushing me out of the publishing business because the book they want isn’t available at the price, or the format, or the region they want it in RIGHT NOW.

Because that’s what it boils down to is convenience. People who illegally download books are more interested in their convenience than in supporting the authors they want to read. It’s not hard to go to the library, it just takes time. It’s not hard to buy a physical copy and convert it to a personal digital copy if you’re willing to make the time and effort. It’s not hard to buy a legal digital copy and convert it to the format you want. Dear Author has tutorials. It’s not hard to ask someone in the $region to post you a copy.

You simply have to want to. So if you were inclined to illegally download anyone’s book, if you’re one of the people trying to find an illegal download of my brand new book that’s not even in stores yet: please buy it. Or check it out. Or ask for a review copy.

Or please read another book that’s instantly, and legally, available to you so that books continue to be instantly, and legally, available to you.

Thank you.

an agreement with hell


In the divine struggle between good and evil, humans are hardly noticeable to the mal’akhim, but when an ancient seal is broken on the grounds of a California college campus, beings from dimensions beyond the balance of holy and unholy erupt from the earth. A retired priest and an ailing magickian must trust the mysterious Walker Between the Worlds and his skin-eating demon familiar as they step through Heisenbergian passages of probability and battle forces that are so far beyond demon they cannot be fully seen in earthly dimensions. Amidst the earthquakes and interdimensional intruders, the students and staff of California Hills University step across the boundaries of their knowledge and faith, revealing their true natures as the night erupts in earth and blood.

an occupation of angels – lavie tidhar

After Archangels materialize over the bloodbaths of WWII, they take up residence in most of the world’s major cities. But what would happen if, more than quarter of a century later, something somehow managed to kill these supreme beings? Killarney knows and, as an agent working for the Bureau, a British agency that’s so secret it doesn’t officially exist, she finds herself embroiled in the consequences as, one by one, the Archangels die.

Assigned to trace a missing cryptographer thought to have information on the murders, she travels from England, through France, heading for the frozen wastes of the USSR. But there’s an unknown third party intent on stopping her, and there’s God, who also has an agenda. Not knowing who is friend and who is foe, and with only a brief glimpse of a swastika on angel wings as solid information, Killarney struggles to remain alive long enough to glean sufficient information to put together the pieces of the puzzle and complete what is, without them, an impossible mission.

Come celebrate Apex Book Company’s latest launch and pick up your own copy.




1. The study of literature-based artifacts left by the authors and editors of Apex Publications, particularly dark or horrific stories.
2. An anthology of horror containing disturbing, dark imagery and twisted fiction.

Contained within are twenty-one stories to showcase the unique talents that Apex has published and employed in the past five years. Apexology: Horror contains work from two Campbell Award winners, a Hollywood screenwriter, a NYT Bestselling Author, Nebula and Hugo nominees, Stoker Award winners, and Mari Adkins!

Get a taste of some of the best Apex has to offer. Study Apexology: Horror.

This is a digital only release!

Introduction: Five Years and Counting by Jason Sizemore
“It Tasted Like the Sea” by Paul Jessup
“Summon, Bind, Banish” by Nick Mamatas
“To Every Thing There is a Season” by Dru Pagliassotti
“Life’s a Beach” by Alethea Kontis and Ariell Branson
“Kusatenda Uroyi” by Gill Ainsworth
“Lottery” by Gene O’Neill
“Cerbo en Vitra ujo” by Mary Robinette Kowal
“The Spider in the Hairdo” by Michael A. Burstein
“The Dark Side” by Guy Hasson
“With the Beating of their Wings” by Martel Sardina
“Enough to Make a Devil” by R. Thomas Riley
“Flash of Light” by Jason Sizemore
“Transylvania Mission” by Lavie Tidhar
“Inside Looking Out (or: Falling Through the Worlds)” by Mari Adkins
“Powered” by Deb Taber
“Disturbing Things” by B.J. Burrow
“Eulogy for Muffin” by Jennifer Brozek
“Hands of Heritage” by Elizabeth Engstrom
“The Junkyard God” by M. Zak Anwar and O.M.R. Anwar
“Bessie Green’s Thumb” by Fran Friel
“Big Sister/Little Sister” by Jennifer Pelland

Download your copy here today!

Available as PDF, EPUB, MOBI, LRF, PDB, and LIT.

apex open to novel submissions

We are open to novel submissions for our book line from November 1st until November 30th.

1. We are looking for dark science fiction novels.
2. Submissions must be between 50,000 and 100,000 words.
3. Use standard manuscript format
4. Please send a query letter in the body of your email, and attach the first three chapters and a 1-page synopsis of the book as .doc or .rtf files. All three chapters should be a single attachment, with the synopsis as a separate attachment. Submissions containing other file types will not be read.
5. Email submissions ONLY. Please send to apex.novels@gmail.com
6. No multiple submissions (i.e., only send us one query package at a time—don’t send the next until you hear back from us on the first).
7. Simultaneous submissions are okay.
8. Remember to include your contact information–including real name, pseudonym if applicable, email address, and phone number—in both your query letter and the manuscript.

Expected response times: We will endeavor to answer all queries within one month. If your full manuscript is requested, it may take up to three months for a decision. Some query letter tips:Keep it brief and to the point. Just introduce yourself, tell us the genre and word count, and sum up the most important aspects of the story in a sentence or two. Previous publishing credits are great, but not having any won’t hurt your chances. Compensation terms: We will be paying an advance as well as royalties against the advance.

apex publications signs horror legend gene o’Neill

PR – Apex Publications signs horror legend Gene O’Neill
Apex Books, A Division of Apex Publications
Contact: Jason Sizemore, Publisher
(859) 312-3974

“Man, something must be wrong with me, big time, he thought. Maybe the Puerto Rican had bruised more than his brain the night of the championship. Scarred something deep inside, hurt his ability to feel much of anything. ”
–from “Bruised Soul”

From Stoker Finalist Gene O’Neill

A Taste of Tenderloin

Apex Publications brings together eight tales of the dark side of San Francisco’s ‘Loin sector in this collection by horror legend Gene O’Neill. Several of the short stories included have appeared in prestigious magazines such as Cemetery Dance Magazine, Dark Wisdom, and the anthologies Unnatural Selection, Horror Beyond II, and The Grand Struggle. The tale “Balance” was a Stoker Award Finalist.

The ‘Loin, Mr. O’Neill explains, is “a colorful section of [San Francisco], but rundown now like the famed Bowery used to be in NYC, hookers, pimps, junkies, all kinds of scam artists, but a certain kind of sleazy excitement in the foggy air at night […] Some of the characters in the various stories are composites of real people living in the ‘loin back then. E.g.: There is a description in “The Apotheosis of Nathan McKee” of an aging junkie playing classical music on a corner for hat money, a tawdry angel trying to flap her broken wings and fly up out of the sleazy muck.” The ‘Loin will also be described by one-time resident and Mr. O’Neill’s son, Gavin O’Neill, in the introduction to the collection.

Some of the tales included in this collection are “The Apotheosis of Nathan McKee,” about a man who discovers a very special ability after receiving a vicious beating; “Bruised Soul,” the story of an ex-boxer returning to the Tenderloin after a stay in a Sate Hospital, but still battling his own demons; and “Lost Patrol,” which follows a wounded vet after his return to the ‘loin after Vietnam, who is stalked by a supernatural presence. The collection also includes the original tale “Bushido.” The book will be approximately 200 pages long.

Publication date: August 2009

APEX PUBLICATIONS (www.apexbookcompany.com) is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of dark science fiction and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the critically acclaimed Apex Science Fiction and Horror Magazine. In 2006, Apex Publishing branched into producing novellas, collections, and anthologies, earning a 2007 Bram Stoker Award nomination for the Aegri Somnia anthology.

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free fiction!

Permuted Press has teamed up with Apex Digest Online to bring you a free apocalyptic story every month! This month’s selection is “The Finger” by Matt Hults. “The Finger” first appeared in Permuted’s zombie anthology The Undead: Skin and Bones edited by D.L. Snell and Travis Adkins.

To read “The Finger” by Matt Hults: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/apex-online/2008/08/permuted-press-presents-the-finger/

To buy The Undead: Skin and Bones from the Apex aStore (Amazon): http://astore.amazon.com/apexsciencfic-20/detail/0978970748/104-6660227-2301553

orgy of souls

fresh from the Apex blog:

Orgy of Souls officially released

I’m pleased, no, I am thrilled to announce the publication of Orgy of Souls by Wrath James White and Maurice Broaddus.

About the Book

Twenty for one.

Twenty souls for his brother’s life is a price that seductively beautiful Samson is willing to pay. Twenty souls drenched in blood, powdered with cocaine and more than one kind of ecstasy. A fair trade for the life of a brother. A fair trade for the life of a priest. And everyone he meets seems so willing to give theirs away.
It’s a darn good book. See:

“ORGY OF SOULS is a gripping tale of two brothers whose lives have taken radically different paths – but those paths intersect via some surprising twists and turns. With raw prose, vividly drawn characters, and a chilling touch of the occult, Broaddus and White draw you in and belt you right in your emotional gut.”
–Stephen Mark Rainey, author of BLUE DEVIL ISLAND and THE LEBO COVEN

“Broaddus and White are an unlikely pairing of talents that works astonishingly well. Orgy of Souls is a powerful, innovative work of fiction and one I recommend wholeheartedly. A damned fine read!”
–James A. Moore, author of DEEPER and CHERRY HILL

There’s two editions. A signed, limited and numbered edition. 350 copies. And a standard trade paperback.

Available for sale at lots of places, but my two preferred locations are: