Meet Fundead Publications - Local Authors and Publishing Company
Q: How did FunDead Publications begin?
A: Once upon a time, FunDead Publications was a joke blog where the undead could write to ‘Dear FunDead’ with their problems and get a ‘Dear Abbey’ style response featuring advice for everything from curing werewolf husbands who drink from the toilet to beauty tips for decaying zombies. We created self-help pamphlets filled with romantic advice for the undead, or tips on how to inform your family that you’ve contracted the zombie virus. It was a fun little exercise in comedic writing while it lasted, but eventually, life got in the way and I began to get more serious about my writing and the blog fell silent… until I found another use for the website.
After I self-published my first novel, writers among my friends and family began to ask how I did it. Then, they’d be greeted with an overwhelming amount of information and tips from me (which was sort of how publishing was introduced to me by another self-published author). The folks asking for advice would go from excitement and interest in self-publishing .... to overwhelmed and terrified, regardless of how I kept saying “It’s not as hard as it sounds,” and “If I can do you, you can do it!” There would be many conversations about how to submit manuscripts to traditional and independent publishers, which seemed to overwhelm them in an entirely different way.
I wanted so badly to help them, to give them the encouragement they needed, especially because I knew many of them to be talented and accomplished writers. Often, they’d be burnt out on attempting to be published traditionally, or just didn’t know where to start. Some wanted complete control of their work, but were too afraid of the editing process and the technical side of formatting. A whole other problem was the worry about how to self-market. So, I began to think about how I could get them to dip their toe in the water. I figured I wasn’t that scary of a person, so if I asked them to write a story, maybe they’d be willing to let me walk them through the early stages of getting a story independently published.
Little did I know that when I posted that initial submissions call for Shadows in Salem in 2016, I’d receive hundreds of submissions from all over the country, let alone all over the world. Suddenly, the tables had turned, and I found myself flooded with quality stories to publish. It was then that I finally began to accept help from friends who had offered their assistance. FunDead has since grown into a team of four, including myself and Laurie Moran as editors, and Bret Valdez and Erin Crocker as proofreaders. All four of us are contributing writers, as well.
When it all started, I was simply trying to help like-minded friends and writers dip their toe in a treacherous and difficult to navigate ocean. I never realized the reach and the number of writers we’d be able to help get their work published for the first time, or even for the fiftieth time. When I understood that FunDead Publications could become a viable outlet for me to help writers share their work with the public while also helping them learn the ropes for submissions and manuscript prep, I knew it had become something more than I ever intended in the very beginning.
Q: What sets FunDead apart from other Indie & genre publishers?
A: FunDead Publications specializes in Gothic and Horror fiction, but I like to say that we publish ‘the strange and unusual’. We choose themes that we want to write about, and try to add an edge to whatever that theme may be. For example, our recent anthology, One Night in Salem featured short stories set in Salem on Halloween nights throughout history. It’s a time-hopping collection featuring many local and far-flung writers. Because of the unique theme, readers glimpse Salem in different time-periods throughout history, allowing them to see Salem’s Halloween festivities across 400 years! Our current submissions call is for traditional literary Gothic short stories with non-traditional main characters. Whatever the theme, we always try to put our own spin on the subject to breathe new life into the concept.
FunDead is also known for the way we market, by spotlighting each author included in our collections across our social media, and by providing special release events when our books come out. We make a point of building unique events in all sorts of locations, like a tattoo studio, a brewery, and a historic home, to give our audience a special place to listen to our writers read their work aloud. We also pride ourselves in our collaborative connections and love working with other local businesses to create exciting events. On February 3rd, we’ll be hosting our second annual Write Like A Girl event at The Witch House. It’s a celebration of women who write in the gothic and horror genres, in honor of Women in Horror Month.
Q: How do you choose subject matter or themes for your anthologies?
A: As I said above, I usually choose subject matter that I want to write about. I also try to take into consideration the possibilities for keeping each story unique and interesting for the readers, but I also try not to do something that everyone else is doing at any given time. It’s important to stay fresh and set yourself apart from other presses in the Indie community. Not just for the sake of staying original, but also to allow our peers to do well with the anthologies they release. It’s not about competing, it’s about providing a varied and quality docket for our shared audiences.
Unique ideas aren’t so hard to come by when you’re a little nutty, and you must be if you’re a). a writer, and b). a publisher. The ideas are there, it’s keeping track of them that is the hard part! Sometimes I’m driving and have to pull over or take a voice memo because I’ve been in my own head and suddenly think, “That’s a great idea for an anthology/novel/something-or-other!” I even keep a running list of ideas and titles that changes and grows over time. They aren’t all winners, sometimes the ideas get vetoed, which is why I like to do a little ‘market research’ and see what my friends and team think of the ideas before making them public. I’ve deleted a few things from the list, but for every one I delete, I seem to add five more. I suppose that’s the challenge of being a creative with ADHD… my brain is always on and I can be a little prolific on occasion… especially when I least expect it. If only I had the time, funding, and man-power to do them all! Imagine what that bookshelf might look like… I bet it’d be spooky, and it’d probably smell incredible because, let’s just be honest, books smell amazing.
Q: What has been your proudest moment with FunDead Publications thus far?
A: It’s hard to say. I find myself constantly astounded by the interest in this project, as well as the reach. If you’d asked me where FunDead would’ve been after a year, I never would’ve guessed we’d have released 5 books in that amount of time.
I’m proud of every release because I know we get better and better with each book. We learn as we go, and we’re not ashamed of that. Like any artist or business owner, learning along the way is as much an achievement as getting an ‘A’ on an exam or finishing a semester at school. When you aren’t growing, changing, and learning along the way, you’re not trying hard enough. There will always be room for improvement and new things to matriculate. As long as I’m able to see that and know I’m making the most of those experiences by giving other writers the chance to find a new audience, then I’ll be proud of what I’m doing.
If I had to choose exactly one moment of pride, I’d say it was when I first realized a release had covered its own expenses. Might not sound like much, but there’s a big difference between being in the red and being in the black, and sometimes that difference means Ramen Noodles from a bag and Ramen Noodles from a restaurant. I’m not saying I’ve made a fortune by any small means, we are starving writers, after all! But, the moment I knew my next project would be funded by the last was huge.
Q: What’s in store for the future of FunDead?
A: Flying cars. Hopefully someday…
In all seriousness, I hope to see FunDead moving forward and branching out with releases for teens and children. We have plans for an illustrated anthology in 2018 with artists Matt and Ryan Murray helming the illustrations. I plan to eventually have some special releases that include collectible editions and art prints and even hardcovers with dust jackets! I’m considering special collaborations and the potential for publishing novels and single-author works sometime in the future (I won’t say when, because we’re still doing research), but it’s definitely something we hope to eventually provide to our writers and readers.
We’ve been asked by our writers and fans to provide more video content, so we’ll be hosting a monthly Facebook Live episode. We’re also partnering with Cabot Street Books & Cards in Beverly on a series of workshops on self-publishing, self-marketing, and more. Look for details about these and our other upcoming events on our Facebook or Instagram feeds!
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