I write horror fiction and non-fiction health. This is a problem for author branding or communicating my author style to readers. It’s not a problem for readers going from horror to non-fiction. It’s a big problem for readers going from non-fiction to horror. Some readers expect my fiction to be educational and encouraging like my non-fiction. They end up…horrified. So I followed what turned out to be the worst advice I’ve heard for author branding.
Experts say authors should use different names if they write in different genres. Set up unique author brands for each. So I used J.L. Mayes for non-fiction and Jan L. Mayes for fiction. I set up my author brand social media platforms on twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, and Facebook. Marketed each genre separately.
This is where the advice turned bad. To be successful, social media and marketing take time. Authors need to post original content, comment, and interact with readers. I have health problems including chronic pain and fatigue. I don’t have enough energy to create content and manage 2 separate author brands. The same is true for any author pressed to find time to promote their brand.
After much thought, I stuck with my Jan L. Mayes brand. Four social media accounts instead of eight. That cuts my workload and time by 50%. If you’re an indie author, this is a big consideration when setting up your brand. Well-known authors like Neil Gaiman have this figured out. He writes multiple genres including non-fiction, kid lit, and horror. All from one author platform.
Then I had a eureka moment. I found the common ground for my author brand. A spooky factor that causes unease and fear. With a dash of humour.
My non-fiction covers frightening topics like tinnitus-hyperacusis target market pursuers and cure scams. Researchers causing permanent hearing system damage with unethical experiments. It also includes entertaining stories poking fun at my personal experiments with different coping tools, e.g. the dreaded inversion table accident.
Splatterpunk & Nightmare Fuel
My horror is definitely spooky with a dash of dark humour. Strange and frightening in a weird, spine-chilling, hair-raising way. Because it’s horror, there is blood and violence in some stories. That’s expected. But there’s scary goosebump horror and there’s splatterpunk nightmare fuel horror.
I don’t write splatterpunk. This word was introduced in the 1970s for horror stories with extreme violence and explicit gore. Large quantities of congealed blood are popular with splatterpunk. One reviewer called my Doctor Bell Anthology a blood bath. But although there is a bathtub in one experiment, it was not full of blood. Also, the ears aren’t big bleeders. That’s why you can get your ears pierced at the mall. No spouts of arterial spray or gouts of crimson to disturb shoppers.
I don’t write explicit gore. No detailed descriptions or in-depth agony. Instead of a Subject’s pain, the focus is Dr. Bell’s torment at the prospect of high dry-cleaning bills. He’s horrified how expensive it is to get blood out of a white lab coat. I think dark humour lightens the horror in a good way. This is one of the bloodier scenes.
“I have significantly improved the anastomosis method.” Dr. Bell turned to Control 1, making a long incision up his lower arm to access his elbow radial artery.
“That hurts, man!”
“You may address me as Doctor or Dr. Bell.”
It is an excellent technique if I do say so myself. Although he will never donate blood again.”
“What?” said Control 1. “You never told me that.”
“You never asked. Ah! And so the blood begins to flow.”
Reviewers have said they like Regretfully Invited because “it’s not too gory.” That’s my horror goal. Eerie. Ghastly. Sometimes ghostly. I leave the splatterpunk to other horror writers. This is an example from one of the short stories:
He imagined copying the Butcher. Taking his cleaver and beginning to hack.
Using a bone saw when the going got tough.
Eating away at her piece by piece just like her words ate away at his soul.
The blood would spurt. He’d need to have something searing hot to cauterize her wounds. Keep her alive until the next slice.
“I don’t write nightmare fuel, do I?” I asked my beta readers, expecting a swift no.
There was a long pause. Apparently some of my horror writing might be nightmare fuel. Journalist and blogger James Lileks is credited with coining this term for stories that fuel nightmares or cause extreme emotional distress. Whether a story disturbs your sleep or not depends on your reading history and how much horror affects you.
Fear & Funny
If you’re looking for science-based educational tinnitus-hyperacusis info-something can be done and you are not alone-then odds are you’ll like my non-fiction. Even though it might leave you fearful about the state of Tinnitus Hyperacusis World.
My horror might not be the best choice if you’re young, sensitive, or easily spooked. Even though it’s not splatterpunk, it’s not cozy either. The humour is dark. My goal is to leave you scared or disturbed by mysterious sinister stories. Especially if you’re alone.
So there you have it. My author brand is spooky with a splash of funny. I hope readers enjoy one or both of my fiction and non-fiction writing styles.
Back to Jan’s Books.
[Photo Credit darksouls1 on pixabay]
Jan L. Mayes
Author, audiologist, educator, quiet activist, playing with words.