I "met" Armand Rosamilia a while ago. He was kind enough to include a then relative stranger on his Summer of Zombie Blog Tour. A Jersey boy living in the retirement Mecca that is Florida, he spins a wicked zombie yarn and only looks scary. I give you Armand Rosamilia...no seriously, he's yours...take him....
Your Summer of Zombie Blog Tour seemed to be a real success. Any plans on doing that sort of thing again…or did it just eat too much of your time? Lessons learned?
It definitely ate away my time, but I chalk that up to time spent promoting. Instead of wasting time flailing away in random directions promoting my own work, I got to get focused and help all six of us. I'm hoping to do another one in the near future, maybe a Winter of Zombie for three weeks, and definitely another Summer of Zombie blog tour next year. Ideally, keep about three of us in it and add three new zombie authors to keep it fresh. Something like that.
What are some of the lessons you have learned as a writer that caught you off guard?
That my discipline needs constant work. On paper, 2,000 words a day is no big deal, especially when the ideas are flowing. Yet, I will struggle to meet that goal and sometimes have to force myself to stay in the chair and not watch a movie or go swimming or take a nap. Then, I get days where I get up, and don't get distracted until 5,000 words is done in a couple of hours.
The “contributor’s copy” anthology has been taking a beating in some of the social media circles lately. Where do you stand on the subject?
I don't think every publisher can offer pro rates, but they should offer something, even if it is a token payment. Heck, I only offer $3.00 plus royalty share for Rymfire Books anthologies. I know it is nothing, and I know some people won't work with me because of it. I'm fine with that because everyone has their own career path to follow. But there comes a point when you have to figure out if this is a hobby or a career, and you can't build a career with free.
You have A LOT of followers on Twitter and Facebook…explain. You aren’t a warm and fuzzy kind of guy. So what is the secret?
Some might call me gruff… like you, Todd. I have an obsessive personality, so when I put my mind to something I run it to the max. As an example, as a kid I loved collecting Boston Red Sox baseball cards. I'm a huge fan. A normal kid would try to get one of each card from each year. Not me. I amassed over 1 million Red Sox cards by my mid-twenties and was featured in a hobby magazine about it. Obsession. I'm currently over 14,000 Twitter followers, and I got them one at a time. No gimmicks, no paying for them. I've devised my own formula for getting followers into horror, zombies, heavy metal, steampunk and me.
What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?
Traditional publishing needs to learn to adapt quicker and bend their own rules. Most traditional publishers are still putting out the same formulaic book, one we've been reading forever. That being said, the indies need to stop dumping a ton of books into the system before their time. Quantity over quality is not a long-term way to grow. People always bitch about indie books being unedited and badly formatted. While I hate blanket statements, we still need to do our part to make sure our books aren't that way and stop giving people something to complain about.
The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up in the Indie world? Solutions?
I told this to another writer on the phone last night (Vincent Hobbes, a great author): It's like the comic book boom of the eighties. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon, buying hundreds of copies of limited edition covers and special issues, thinking they'd get rich quickly. It never happened. I see this mentality in writing: everyone trying to put out their book and expecting the money to flow in. When it doesn't they attack reviewers, Amazon, other writers, and blog crazy things, thinking if they shout loud enough people will read their book. It always backfires. And we all know someone like that, which is sad.
The social media is…
Orange. How's that for abstract? Overwhelming at times. It is a time crusher, an ego booster, and we no longer write alone in the corner of the living room with no interaction. When I started seriously writing in the 1990s, you wrote and then crossed your fingers you could find a market for the story. Now, with the internet, you have a dozen choices to write to. If your story doesn't sell, you publish it yourself. There's no risk of wasting your time, because there is this huge audience waiting to read you. You hope.
Share some information about your work with us:
I guess my 'bigger' books are the Dying Days series of zombie novellas. I didn't start out to be a zombie guy, but I seem to get the most response from my character-driven zombie stories. The next book, Still Dying: Select Scenes From Dying Days, will be out in the next few weeks, and then I have three more books planned.
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?
I've gotten several people who, when I say I'm a writer, will tell me they'll be going to WalMart in a few hours and will look for my book. When I tell them I'm not in WalMart they ask a hundred questions, but it's really one question: why the hell aren't you in WalMart? I never knew for some people that meant you'd made it.
How do you deal with negative reviews?
I find out where they live, their children go to school, and map the routes to all their relative's houses… heck, what can you do? You suck it up. If a review is critical I want to know why. I'll take a one star review as long as you tell me what you hated about it. To me, any review helps. You might only like fast zombies and hate my slow, shambling ones and say it in the review. The next person might read that and think it would be a perfect fit. I never respond to them. Everyone has their own opinion and even 'classic' books have tons of bad reviews.
How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
Didn't Stephen King say over and over you have to read in order to be a good writer? I agree. I spend at least an hour every night before I fall asleep reading something on my Kindle. Anything. I might read a thriller today and a biography tomorrow, followed by a horror short and then a how-to book on pinterest.
When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?
When that's all you do. How many commercials do you really watch? After awhile you automatically tune them out. Same with constant barrages of promotion. I find that if I post constant links to my work I sell a book a day. If I re-tweet great author's tweets and blog posts I want to be associated with, I sell ten a day. If I am just myself, interact with followers and people and be myself (even though some say I'm gruff) I sell fifty books a day.
What projects are you currently working on?
I'm always working on three projects at a time. I can't help it. Right now I'm writing the first draft to my Death Metal sequel, Death Cult: Death Metal 2. I'm also working on Dying Days: Origins, a prequel tale for one of the DyingDays characters. And a zombie novella that doesn't fit into the DyingDays world that I plan to shop to a certain publisher I really admire and want to work with.
What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
I'm not that gruff. So stop saying it. Now. I am actually quite humorous and have a sarcastic, dry humor. I am definitely a Jersey boy and it shows. But one thing that might surprise you is that I might look like a biker, a pro wrestler or Kerry King from Slayer, but I am actually a quiet teddy bear in person.
Tell us a secret.
I cry watching chick flicks. Even sappy moments gets me teary-eyed. I watched Contagion last week and cried at the end, with the U2 song playing. I cried watching the Billy Joel/Shea Stadium documentary. I cried watching ET as a kid in the theatre when he died.
Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?
There are a few writers out there that I love reading. I have no stake in their sales, no pat on the back for being my buddy, they just rock as horror authors. Mark Tufo is a zombie genius with a rabid fan base, Bryan Hall is an up and coming horror author and his Southern Hauntings series is going to be huge, Tim Baker writes incredible thriller books set in the town I'm living in and we're working on a book together, and Billie Sue Mosiman is a prolific author who's been in the game a long time and offers help and advice, besides great stories. I'd also mention Todd Brown (editor's note...the five bucks is in the mail) as a favorite zombie author as well.
What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
Let me grab my Kindle… the order I will be reading the next few eBooks: Mark Edward Hall Library Vol. 1, Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates anthology, Epitaphs: The Journal of the NEHW anthology, 450 Things You Didn't Know About the Boston Celtics, and Skin Trade by Tonia Brown. And the other 457 books in there.
Thanks to Armand for not only taking a time out to share some time, but also for being an increasingly good sport as he gets flooded with stuffed grouchy teddy bears once his fans get a hold of this interview.