Con Game

Want the low down on attending a con as an author? Look no further. It’s one stop shopping time.

Part 1– How to prepare.

Part 2– What it will cost.

Part 3– What you can earn.

Part 4– How you can sell.

Dive in and I’ll see you at the next convention. If I’ve already met you at one, your picture may be on these pages.

The Only Thing Constant…

Last Friday, my publisher, Samhain Horror announced they were closing shop. It was like announcing a death in the family.

Dark InspirationV1

In 2011, Don D’Auria was the editor for the line. The man was already legendary in the horror community. He accepted my manuscript for Dark Inspiration and it became one of the first six books the horror line released. I went from writing in my dining room to being published next to Ramsey Campbell. I wondered how that could possibly be true.

Many months later a box of new books arrived on my doorstep. I opened it up and there was my name on the cover. Every author knows that mind-blowing experience.

Horrorfind 2012


A few months after that, I attended the Horrorfind convention in Gettysburg at the Samhain table. I met other authors from the imprint, Ron Malfi, David Bernstein, Hunter Shea, Brian Moreland, John Everson, Damien Angelica Walters, Mick Ridgewell. I remember sitting with all of them at dinner and wondering how the hell anyone let me into this amazing group. The whole first year of being a published author was a whirlwind.

Since then, Samhain has published five other novels and a novella I’d written. Other authors with the imprint diversified their releases at other presses. But they were far more prolific than I. One novel a year seemed to be my pace. And I liked having a home. I wanted to be part of helping grow the brand, and I liked Samhain. Don was a great editor. The production staff was wonderful. No one ever asked me to change a title. Every cover for each book came from a design I submitted. And all the authors got paid. Every month.

If something isn’t broken…

But something was broken. Sales. A truly phenomenal group of talented authors couldn’t muster the kind of breakthrough sales numbers they deserved. And I know. I read most of them and their work was so good that it made me cringe reading mine. I don’t know enough about the marketing end of the business to know why these authors never caught fire. But without those flames, Samhain couldn’t build the head of steam it needed to move forward. Unlike other publishers who’ve failed due to mis-management, this one just seemed to have been pounded flat by market forces.

Number 1 ghost story

Sadly, this poor sales record wasn’t true for me. A recent 99 cent promotion for that first born, Dark Inspiration, made it a #1 Amazon Best Seller for almost a week, drove continuing sales afterward, and had raised the sales of the rest of my Samhain works.

number 2 horror

I even gave Stephen King a run for his money. Maybe a sprint. A step? Okay, he didn’t notice. But seriously, the company might not have seen the light at the end of tunnel, but I saw it bright and clear.


So my next novel, The Portal will not be released this June. I’d just approved the cover and was really getting excited for the debut. Now the artwork is like one of those promo posters for a movie that never got made. The manuscript will need to find a new home, and I’m daunted by the low adoption rate when you are picky about what family you join.

I’ve gotten some sage advice to look at this as an opportunity. I’ll soon have the rights back to seven books, one unpublished. I also have finished YA and thriller manuscripts to shop around. Self-publishing has worked for me in the past. (My horror ranking on Amazon has always been lower than my sci-fi ranking from my self-published works.) Next year at this time, I could be in a much better, bigger publishing place.

We’ll see. I’m trying to rush through the Five Stages of Mourning and Grief as quickly as I can. I guess this post is part of that process. Lucky for me I have the support of my wife, my friends, the other former (sniff!) Samhain authors, and the readers who enjoyed what I’d written.

If you want one of these future collector’s item Samhain editions, drop by my tables at the LA Festival of Books in April, Scares that Care in Williamsburg, VA in July, or Megacon in Orlando in May. As they say, when they are gone, they’re gone.

Samhain author on backpack

At one of the Horrorhound conventions, Samhain gave us a pin, like we’d pledged a fraternity, which I guess we all had. It’s been on my travel bag for a while now. It may be some time before I take it off.

Another Visit with Brian Moreland

It is winter, and one of the coldest horror novels I’ve ever read is Brian Moreland’s Dead of Winter. I read it in the summer in Florida and had to sit outside in the sun to stay warm. I recommend this one as a fireside read. In daylight. I thought I check in on Brian and see what he’s been up to.

dead of winter

R: I’ve read all you novels and they are outstanding. Did you write the short stories in your collections between novels or as breaks during writing the longer works?

B: Yes, after I finish a novel, which takes about year or two to research and write, I need some time before starting another long novel project. That’s when I write short stories. I’m working on a collection right now that consists of stories that I’ve written over the years. Some I’ve published and some will be new stuff.

R: You’ve announced that you’re currently working on a horror short story collection. What made you decide to put a collection together?

B: I recently read several of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood collections. That not only inspired me to return to writing short stories, it also gave me the idea to take my favorite stories I’ve written over the years and compile them together as a collection.

R: You do all your own cover design, tell me about that process.

B: When writing a book, I start to get a sense of what I’d like to see on the cover. Usually it involves the setting where the story takes place or something that symbolizes the evil of the story. For The Witching House, it was the abandoned rock house that I had envisioned, with bloody witch symbols painted on the boarded windows.

witching house

For The Girl from the Blood Coven, I thought it needed to feature the mysterious girl covered in blood who wanders out of the woods.

blood coven

For The Devil’s Woods, I chose the entrance to the forbidden forest that borders the haunted Cree Indian reservation. That’s where people keep disappearing.

 devils woods

And for The Vagrants, I decided to feature the subway tunnel where a cult of homeless people called “The Seekers” live and do sinister things.

moreland vagrants

I create these covers using Photoshop. All four of these covers are composites of images that I found at a stock photo site. I’ll search through hundreds of stock photos until I’ve found images that fit the cover idea I have in my head. I’ll find a background, like a forest or urban setting, and then composite individual images on top of it. For instance on The Vagrants cover above, I had found a photo of a subway tunnel and then individual shots of the creepy people and positioned them all in place with the shadowy hooded character in the foreground. The hooded character represents the mystery of the Seekers. The bald guy in the background with the tattooed face represents their cult leader, Mordecai. Then I play with color schemes, adjust the light and shadow, then add the title and my name. I originally had real dripping blood behind the title, but my art director adjusted the color and texture, along with the title font. When building a multi-layered cover composite, I’ll spend hours trying out different looks until I design a version that I’m happy with. It’s a lot of fun creating visual art for a story that I’ve written. I used to design these covers just for my own amusement and to show my editor what I think the cover should look like. It just worked out that the last few covers my publisher liked them and decided to use my versions.

R: What was the oddest inspiration for one of your novels?

It would have to be when I was writing Dead of Winter. I had been stuck on the book for some time. I was living in Dallas, Texas and ready for a career change. So I moved to Hawaii to live a year and a half on the island of Maui and just write fiction. I had just sold my first novel Shadows in the Mist to Berkley-Penguin, my first book deal, and was feeling on top of the world. While on Maui, nearly every day I went to the beach or hiked to a waterfall. Just living in the moment, I felt very inspired to write. My creative juices were flowing. Then I started getting visions of how I could get past my stuck point with Dead of Winter and jumped back into writing that novel. The irony was the story is about a fur-trading fort in Ontario, Canada that’s trapped in a snowy blizzard. While conjuring scenes with frost-bitten characters and below freezing temperatures, I was sweating my ass off in the tropical heat of Hawaii. Every day was bright and sunny, while my characters endured the hostile winter. While I may have gone a far distance from Canada to write my second book, it was that free-spirited time in Hawaii that inspired me to finish what has become my favorite novel to date.  

R: Do you have a personal favorite part from Dead of Winter?

B: There are many scary scenes in Dead of Winter I enjoyed writing. A couple come to mind. The first is near the beginning of the book. In Montreal, Father Xavier and his apprentice go down into the underground tunnels beneath Laroque Asylum to exorcise a demon from a prisoner known as the Cannery Cannibal. That whole scene gave me chills when I was writing it. Next would be the scenes at Fort Pendleton in Ontario, when the demon plague begins to spread to the fort colonists and animals and Inspector Tom Hatcher has to do detective work to solve the mystery. The fact that he is desired by two women, both belonging to his boss, Avery Pendleton, added some fun when writing those characters and subplots.    

R: What else is coming down the pike from Brian Moreland?

B: I’m currently working on that short story collection that I plan to publish at some point this year. I’m also working on a novella called The Darkness Inside that will either be a part of that collection or a standalone eBook. Then, of course, I’m plotting my next novel but it’s too soon to reveal anything about it. For booklovers who prefer audio books, I did learn from my publisher, Audio Realms, that Dead of Winter, Shadows in the Mist, and The Vagrants will be releasing as audio books this year. Right now, The Devil’s Woods and The Girl from the Blood Coven/The Witching House are available as audio books.  

R: You share your skills with other authors. Tell me about some of the services you offer.

B: Yes, when I’m not writing novels and short stories, I provide professional services to other writers. I consult over the phone, edit manuscripts (both fiction and non-fiction), design book covers, format the interior layout for print books and format ebooks. I also help authors self-publish their books. My website is

R: What upcoming cons can fans expect to see you at?

B: As of now, I don’t have any signings lined up at the horror cons. I’d love to be at HorrorHound Cincinnati in March, but that will be a game time decision. In May, I will most likely attend Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas as a fan, since I live in Dallas. You should come visit Dallas for Texas Frightmare some time. It draws a few thousand horror fans and is loads of fun. Thanks so much for having me as a guest on you site.

About Brian Moreland

moreland 3 book

Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His books include Dead of Winter, Shadows in the Mist, The Girl from the Blood Coven, The Witching House, The Devil’s Woods, and The Vagrants. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror book.



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Now available in audio book: The Devil’s Woods and The Witching House.