Publicity! or How Ima Get Everybody To Know My Name

Gentle Readers, I must apologize. it has been inexcusably long since I have sattened down and written a true “Sean the Writer” blog entry. Actually, I do have a good excuse, one that many of you writers out there may be familiar with: I had come down with a serious case of employment. It lasted for eight months and three days, but I underwent a sudden remission on March 31st, when my boss cured me of this particular strain.


“Good news, sir. We have removed every trace of that dastardly ‘affluenza.’ “

Now, while this has had a somewhat negative effect on my immediate financial situation (on a totally unrelated note, did you know that a LOT of people at McDonald’s don’t finish all their fries?), I have been free since the end of March to do the following:

  1. Cry into my booze.
  2. Finish getting the books that were supposed to be published by a certain press actually out there into the world.

The Perdition of Self-Publication

Fortunately the former took up only a couple of days, and I’ve been concentrating on the latter since then. So now I have five—count ’em, FIVE—self-published books out there in the libraverse. Self-publishing is kind of like hanging out outside the gates of Hell, you know? You refuse to abandon all hope and enter, but it doesn’t look like you’ll be experiencing Heaven any time soon, either.


Kinda like this, only while you were in there the doctor retired and the building was condemned.

You are probably nauseatingly familiar with these books, but what the hell, get a bucket while I provide a bit of background on the shocking story behind the self-pubbing of each of them:

  1. Ain’t That America. I first put this out in 2000, before the current craze of everybody who has an email address writing and publishing a book-like entity. It did all right, but I was never really satisfied with how it looked and felt. So in 2014, I changed everything up and published a second edition with CreateSpace. This edition is beautiful and also $14.99 instead of iUniverse’s (the former publisher) kind of extortionate $19.95. It is my most exciting book–find out why by reading the first 150 pages free on my website. Then you will SO want to buy it.
  2. Darwin’s Dreams. Too experimental for mainstream publication, too historical and pensive for genre publication, my tale of Darwin and his Beagle captain came out in 2008 and I still think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. I did this with CreateSpace as well, which gives the author complete control over all aspects of the book’s presentation. (I stayed with CreateSpace for the next three as well.) Take a look at the first half. I believe it will leave you spellbound and wanting to read the rest.
  3. Inappropriate Behavior. My weird collection of stories from pornographic to literary. It came out in 2011 to no fanfare, but those who have bought it seem to have enjoyed it. Want to read a story from the collection? It’s perfect to buy if you’re tasteful and eclectic and generally cool.

Sean dancing at SLCCC

Like me.

  1. Deadtown Abbey. Okay, this is where Permuted Press’s utter anal abuse of its authors comes into play. They contracted with me for this and for 9 other books, but then pulled their shit and I canceled the contract. However, before that happened, I had “published” the advance reading copy of this to sell at Cons and use for reviews and such once the actual book was close to coming out. Now that it will never be coming out from those jerks, I have a new jacket design, have made a few corrections to the copy, and republished it just this past week. It is a riot but also has good horror elements too. Judith O’Dea (“Barbra” from Night of the Living Dead) read it and called it “hilarious.” (I love Judith O’Dea.) You can read the first 100 pages of it for free (and then buy it if you like it) right here.

Me and Judith O'DeaDid I mention I’m a fan?

  1. Reviva Las Vegas! Okay, as much as I despise that joke of a publishing outfit now, I must admit that this book probably wouldn’t exist without the impetus of their (now I know) phony contract. I don’t know if people really get the gag of the title, so I will explain it here: It’s a story about Las Vegas after the zombie apocalypse. Zombies are “revived” corpses. A famous saying (and song) is “Viva Las Vegas!” So I put them together and made it RE-viva Las Vegas! Semi-interesting factoid: This is technically subtitled Book 1: Dead Man’s Hand. That’s because it was originally going to be the first book in a trilogy. That isn’t the case any longer, but Amazon won’t let me officially change the title. Ah, well. I self-published an advance reading copy with a cover I just threw together, but once the contract fell apart, I redid it and made it right as rain. Now it’s available with a real cover, correctly formatted interior, and truly magical words inside. Want to read the first half? Then I bet you’ll want to buy it—you’ll love it.


You, after reading the samples. I can totally shut up and work with you on the money thing.

Next time: The actual publicity what is happening!

♫ Back near the saddle again ♫

I have regaled both of my regular readers with the sad tale of the Press that will henceforth be known as the Publisher That Sucks Dick, or PTSD for short. My fellow authors of that soon-to-be-former e-book factory will agree that this is a fitting acronym. Anyway, I have promised myself and others never to refer to that place by name again, so PTSD it is.


“What was that? A c-c-contract? OH GOD, IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN!!!”

Moving on … or trying to

Frank Sinatra once crooned that after being shat upon by the bird of paradise, one should pick oneself up, dust oneself off, and start all over again. Never one to flout the instructions of Ol’ Blue Eyes, that’s just what I’m doing after the PTSD debacle. How? Oh, let us count the ways.

Firstly, I have worked to find new publishing homes for the books I’ve already written.

Deadtown Abbey

You may recall that the fantastical Deadtown Abbey was the book that landed me the contract—emphasis on the “con”—with PTSD and inspired them to “buy” that and my next 9 books. So I said to myself, “Self,” I said, “what should we do with Deadtown Abbey now?” And I sat on a stump in the yard (disclaimer: I did not literally do that) and went down the list of what makes that book awesome and more specialer than a kid running with his pants on backwards winning a gold medal:

1. It is Lovecraftian. It’s got your Yog-Sothoth and your Cthulhu the Great Old One, not to mention a thoughtful (seriously!) meditation on what religious faith means in a time of monsters and a serious imbalance of money and power.

Republican leaders Senator Mitch McConnell and John Boehner speak after a bipartisan meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington

Not that anything like that could ever happen in real life.

2. It is funny. It plays with expectations both readers of eldritch horrors and viewers of the BBC show Downton Abbey, with references and Easter eggs galore for horror and zombie aficionados. That said, you don’t have to “get” any of the references to enjoy the book on its own as a horror tale. But it’s still pretty amusing.

3. It has vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, imps, and possessed people shitting themselves. It takes each concept and turns it on its head in the service of this apocalyptic story.

4. But most of all, it’s Lovecraftian.

It was this final point that told me I must send it to the new Lovecraft eZine Press imprint helmed by the indomitable Mike Davis. He had already read it and recommended it on his 175,000-follower-strong Web page, so I thought it would be perfect for his new Press. I bought the first release in print from his publishing arm, The Sea of Ash, and was impressed both by the content and by the perfection of its design and presentation.


A box stuffed full of my former publisher’s beautiful print offerings.

I haven’t heard back from Mike yet—he’s a bit busy with his duties both on and off the computer-based Lovecraftosphere—but if Deadtown isn’t brought on board there, I will send it out to other dark presses, of which there are many in the land. Still, Lovecraft eZine Press would be my number one choice.

Reviva Las Vegas! and the Cthulhu trilogy

This marvelous addition to the pantheon of landmark zombie fiction was sent out after PTSD’s implosion to Severed Press, an excellent horror publisher that gives its readers what they really want and has been quite successful, receiving rave reviews from both those readers and its authors alike.

But sad face! Reviva was praised by the editors, but they had to pass on it because it was a more character-based zombie tale than the good ol’ visceral chomp-a-thon that many zombie fans want in their genre fiction. Think of what they wanted as the parts of Jaws with the shark eating people and boats, and what I wrote as more the scene where Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw are sitting drinking in the boat and talking about their scars while waiting for Bruce to attack again.


“And this one’s from when Spielberg cut me for leaving Seaquest!

However, happy face! Because Severed did like my (one-third finished) Cthulhu: Book 1 and contracted with me for the whole Cthulhu trilogy plus a sea monster book—Severed Press readers love their sea monsters and kaiju—to be written later. Severed stepped up to the plate and, um, swung for the bleachers? Wait, am I the pitcher? Oh, metaphors, you tricky devils!

Ain’t That America

Friends and neighbors, the first edition of Ain’t That America was self-pubbed by Yours Truly back in 2000, with a revised “second edition” being self-pubbed in 2013. It’s a comic thriller along the lines of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen—suspenseful, yes, but also very fun to read for the despicable characters and how they interact (read: fuck each other over). The whole PTSD experience sent me seeking out other (legitimate) publishers, and so I have sent out Ain’t as well, to the extremely exciting crime fiction publisher 280 Steps.

It’s a great book—why not send it out and make an honest author out of myself? Self-publishing is great, don’t get me wrong, but I’m aging like a time-lapse of a rotting tomato. I want to go legit before I drop dead. I haven’t heard back from the folks at 280 Steps yet, but I know some genre publisher will ultimately take it on and love it like a child who’s going to make them pots of money.


“I’d kill you all if I could! Tee hee!”

Darwin’s Dreams

By far the most literary and worthy book I’ve ever written, Darwin’s Dreams is the only non-“genre” book in my lineup, and thus the hardest to figure out where to place it. I self-pubbed it in 2008, and it has made a sizeable impression on everyone who has read it. It’s history, philosophy, drama, all in one 45,000-word package. The only place I can think to send it, the only alma mater for this book, is Prometheus Books. If, however, they pass on it, my head will be unbowed. I’ll keep searching.

Inappropriate Behavior

A collection of short stories ranging from erotica to Buddhist meditation to hookers rubbing the eye sockets of retards in motel rooms, Inappropriate Behavior was self-pubbed in 2011 and will probably never, ever be sent to a legitimate publisher. It’s on Amazon, so peeps can buy it. But it’s so horrifyingly outré I doubt it’s legal to even submit by email in some localities.



The other books

Some of the books that PTSD contracted for were “sequels” to Reviva Las Vegas! and even Deadtown Abbey. They really weren’t meant to be anything other than standalone novels, but I may just write a prequel to Reviva called Pawn of the Dead, the story of how the zombie apocalypse started … right here in Vegas, of course. And I had sold PTSD on another sorta-kinda pop culture and Lovecraft mashup called Grim Acres, the story of a staid lawyer and his eastern European bride moving to the sticks and encountering the community of Innsmouth, Massachusetts.

The other two books, How to Train Your Dagon and an unnamed (and unnecessary) second sequel to Reviva, are just going to fade into the aether. Like much of what happened with PTSD, they really never had any reason to happen.


Pictured: A reason for them to happen.

So what, if anything, have we learned?

Remarkably little. No, I kid—we have learned that there’s got to be a morning after, if we can make it through the night. (If you get that reference, make sure the orderly at your nursing home mashes your canned beets the way you like them.) As disheartening as the whole PTSD experience was, I’m a wiser author. I’m the same writer I always was—FUCKING BRILLIANT—but as an author trying to get his babies out into the world where they can be sold for money, I’m much wiser.


Look at those faces! They couldn’t be happier if they were in color!

 Coming soon: A death obsession is different from a death wish.

About Sean Hoade!

Ehrmagerd, check this out, guys.

My diatribe about that Willy Wonka-esque factory of abused authors, Permuted Press, has brought my blog thousands of new views and dozens of new followers, all of whom woke up this morning taller and—although I know it scarcely seems possible—even more attractive than when they went to bed.

Brad-Pitt-smiling copy

Results totally typical.

Because of the burden I must take on now to keep my new followers entertained and also enlightened, I have been converting my award-winning (Note: not really) website,, over to the magic that is WordPress. I have completed by “About Me!” page, which honestly will change your life and win you lots of money if ever you are on Jeopardy! and your category is “Writers Who Flailed Futilely For Attention” or “Shit Heads,” in which the correct response will have words starting with S and H.

Please have a look and have your friends over to have a look and then sign everybody up like it’s a Tupperware party from Hell. At least the content will always stay fresh! (Note: not really.)

Check out About Sean Hoade!

And now for the thrilling conclusion: How I got pummeled by the pistoning prick of Permuted Press, Part 3

gwtwPart 2 of my series has received comments from critics around the globe!

    • “I’m going to buy some of Sean’s books and read them.” — Kevin Strange, amazeballs author of Strange Vs. Lovecraft, among other vastly entertaining works
    • “While Sean’s language may be provocative, his accounts have so far been the most in-depth and revealing over the Permuted issues.” — Jeff Burk, Bizarro fiction icon
    • “There are other fish in the seat.” — Author W.J. Lundy


I assume this is what he was referring to.

There are a couple of more slights I would like to make against the soon-to-be-former publisher Permuted Press, and then I’ll share rainbows and sunshine and shit in telling you where I’m planning to go from here.

Final Gripe #1: Publicity

When I spoke to the owner of Permuted back in January, one of the things we discussed is why going with Permuted would be more advantageous to me as an author than self-publishing. I now know that this gentleman is the Permuted equivalent of the put-out-to-pasture Mister Bigweld in the movie Robots, but at the time, I didn’t realize his unfortunate irrelevance to the company. They apparently allowed him to say whatever he wanted to authors, possibly while wandering around the office doing the banana dance in his underwear, and it didn’t make any difference to the people running the business. They probably told visitors to the Press HQ that he was the janitor and that his unfortunate outbursts should be ignored.


“Jim? Jim Henson? They told us you were DEAD!

As far as the day-to-day managers of Permuted were concerned, their Mister Bigweld could say I would be emperor of the moon. He could say I would marry his daughter and forge our business bond through blood. Hell, he could say that Permuted Press was committed to making a contract with them worthwhile due to the amount of publicity and promotion their authors’ books would receive.

Oh, wait, he did say that last one. And, as usual, it was not just wrong but bizarrely wrong, like answering the question of “What day is it?” with “That would be the ampersand.”

In the giddy days/weeks/months after signing the contract with PP, I didn’t even notice that I never saw an ad for Permuted Press books anywhere other than in their weekly email newsletter announcing the latest spate of books they were releasing that week. No follow-up, certainly no ad placement in print or in any other medium or even website that wasn’t Now I see this. Now I get it. Right on time, just after the horse has gotten out, I realize that in Permuted’s shell game, there is no pea under any of the shells. Not only can the author not win in this game, but it’s literally impossible for the game to be won. Except by the (publishing) house, of course.

They do no publicity. They have stopped doing printed books. They do a cash grab whenever possible by fucking their authors with contracts chock-full of unethical business practices. They communicate bad news to their authors at 10 pm on the Friday night before a three-day holiday weekend. Permuted Press … I don’t even have the words anymore.


Oh, wait, yes I do.

Final gripe #2 (the final final gripe): Pay not to play?

This one doesn’t affect me personally, but it was so close that dodging the bullet singed my hair and left my ear ringing. I have been told by trustworthy sources that if one’s Permuted book had already entered the POD phase (but was not yet released, so no books had actually been produced) could cancel their contracts if and only if they paid PP between $2,000 and $4,000 to compensate them for … what, exactly? Emailing a graphics file? Paying proofreaders and graphic artists and layout people? The whole thing is fishier than Abe Vigoda.


If you are old enough to get that joke, please check yourself into the nearest mortuary.

Basically, Permuted has held these writers’ books for ransom: You can keep your book with us, knowing we won’t support it, or you can pay us money not to publish it and we’ll allow you to go to another publisher. (Remember, Permuted has made it very clear that they are under no obligation whatsoever to actually publish any of their authors’ works; they merely have contracted for the option to do so, should it please their fancy.) This is not the work of an ethical publisher or even one that is likely to remain solvent.

Fare thee well, Permuted Press. You coulda had class. You coulda been a contender. You coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what you are, let’s face it: a bum.


“I also charged too much for my e-books.”

Where do we go now, sweet child o’ mine?

I ain’t gettin’ any younger, my eye doctor this week telling me that I have been “incurring nearsightedness” because of all the close-up work I do on computers and reading books and other things that make life worth living. My right eye is nearsighted, but my left eye makes the right one look like the Bionic Man’s. But, even though I will still be sloughing into decrepitude at a rapidly accelerating pace much like that senator in the first X-Men movie, I am a member of the amazing Lovecraftian community now, full of writers and readers and artists. I belong. So I shall continue writing, because this is who I am now.

After the ink was dry on the dissolution of my contract, I started sending out my books again, a bit sadder but a lot wiser. I have sent Deadtown Abbey to Mike Davis’ brand-new Lovecraft eZine Press imprint, and also have been invited to be a guest blogger on his site (which reaches 175,000 people, by the way). I don’t know if it will be accepted, but I am optimistic about its chances.

“Dear Mr. Secretariat, thank you for giving us the opportunity to read your recent submission …”

I have sent Reviva Las Vegas! out to Severed Press, a great small horror press that the Powers That Be at Permuted never ceased to attack and insult. So, if for no other reason that Permuted hates them, I’m giving them a shot at publishing my book.

I got into the submitting mood and am now sending out my thriller novel, Ain’t That America, to a new and hot noir publisher; and my literary novel, Darwin’s Dreams, is headed to Prometheus Books. These all may pan out, or they may not. Either way, I’ll keep on truckin’. Permuted has not destroyed me. I shall keep on keeping on as long as I can.

Through this whole debacle, I have also been asked to contribute stories to a number of Lovecraftian and otherwise spooky book anthologies. Things are looking up. This has been an exhausting experience for both body and soul, but from the fertilizer of Permuted I will rise like a mighty dandelion. And then I shall shoot my spore things and take over the whole lawn. This, my old friends and new, is my destiny.


First the lawn AND THEN THE SKIES.

I’m really glad so many people have found my blog through this whole debacle, and I hope to entertain and enlighten all my new friends. I’m really glad to know you all. Please feel free to visit me at or on my Facebook page or drop me a line at!

Read Part 1: How I got anally violated by the thorny cock of Permuted Press, Part 1

Read Part 2: How I got rectally rogered by the barbed behemoth belonging to Permuted Press

How I got rectally rogered by the barbed behemoth belonging to Permuted Press, Part 2

The reviews for Part 1 are in!

  • “This is possibly the best thing I’ve ever read.” — Jenn Loring, author at Red Adept Publishing
  • “Oh, like you won’t use your fortune to plot revenge! Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.”  —  Ann Hoade, wife at Chez Hoade
  • “A great piece of fiction from a great fiction writer.” — Paul Mannering, author at, um … well, Permuted Press

My blog had a good day yesterday. It had commenting, sharing, emails from Nigerian princes desperate for help. There are a lot of people out there who offered sympathy and commiseration about my experiences, which was greatly appreciated. There were also corrections offered from best-selling Permuted Press authors, which I duly incorporated where relevant into Part 1 and which I’ll talk about in an upcoming post. (Paul’s comment above kinda speaks for itself.)

And this is what it’s saying.

First, however, I must tell you some theories/conclusions reached either by my correspondents or by my own addled brain:

Permuted Press needed the resources for Permuted Pictures, its new film production company.

Your first reaction to this may be to spit-take your coffee or energy drink mixed with vodka all over your computer, tablet, or tragically curved iPhone 6 Plus: “A film production company?!?” you yelp in outrage, “I thought Permuted was saying they didn’t have enough time/money to keep producing, y’know, books.”

Before Permuted Press said no to print books and let authors out of their contracts before lawsuits could be filed, I was psyched about Permuted Pictures. They said they would be making low-budget films from some of their authors’ works. Great! I thought, What could be more better than movies from my wonderful apocalypse-obsessed publisher? Of course, “Not fucking their authors” would be the answer to that question, but I had no idea that PP was scuttling the whole ship with enough lifeboats only for management and Permuted Platinum authors.

Der Untergang der Titanic

In this metaphor, the ship is its own iceberg. MIND: BLOWN.

No, at the time I was a happy little camper, because Permuted assured everyone that the film was being financed through Kickstarter. Awesomesauce! I thought, Crowdfunding is the future! But, Dear Reader, remember your question from the first paragraph of this section. You said, and I quote:

I thought Permuted was saying they didn’t have enough time/money to keep producing, y’know, books.

Good point, hypothetical reader. While Kickstarter is the funding source for One-Stop Apocalypse Shop, doesn’t putting together and managing a Kickstarter campaign—not to mention producing and distributing a fucking movie—take up a whole lot of wo/manpower? Like, maybe 41.65 percent of a publishing company’s human resource time, as in:

41.65% of our production team’s time [is spent] …  making print on demand versions of our books, but those products account for only 7.41% of our income. This disproportionate figure revealed the need to make prompt changes to our previous policy.

Yes, that is a direct quote from Permuted’s “turn around, you’re going to feel a slight prick” email to its authors that I talked about yesterday.


“Dr. Compensation, your three o’clock is here.”

So putting together print versions of ebooks, which I and many other self-published authors have done multiple times (and we’re not even graphic artists!), is too time-consuming—but writing, producing, directing, releasing, distributing and publicizing a movie isn’t? What the actual fuck?

I don’t doubt that Permuted apologists and authors still signed with them will say things like:

  • “The movies are made through a totally different process, much like Right Twix.”
  • “The Kickstarter is paying for all staffing for this Permuted Picture. No one at the Press has anything to do with it. Not one dime or second of person-power has been taken from our book business in order to make this completely free-to-us motion picture.”
  • “A great piece of fiction from a great fiction writer.”

The replies I would have to these authors and others, all of whom are entitled to their opinions and also to be as happy as they like with Permuted Press, would be something like this:

  • I know movies are different from books. That’s why I don’t pay $10 to go sit in a bookstore for two hours staring at a wall. Also, Right Twix killed my parents.
  • If it’s totally separate and not even the effort required to set up a Kickstarter project was expended by Permuted Press to create Permuted Pictures, if it has nothing to do with PP other than using its authors’ works as source material, then what’s the point? Is the book side going so well it doesn’t need the TLC provided for the new and shiny film arm? Why not do a Kickstarter to help get POD books designed, produced, and distributed?
  • Stop it, Paul.

“What? I’ve got something in my eye! Yes, again!

Anyway, moving on to the next theory, and oh, Lord, it is a doozy:

Permuted signed as many authors as possible, with full knowledge that it was too much too fast and that they would not be producing POD books for these dozens of recently signed writers. They did this so that they would have lots of almost-free material for Permuted Pictures to choose from.

I hope that this one is not true, because, in the words of Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree quoting his (apparently way spooky) grandfather, “When Hell is full, the dead will walk the Earth.” And I do not want to see anyone with Permuted Press wandering around one minute longer than absolutely necessary, and this theory being true would mean that they are Hell-bound for sure.

You may remember from my award-winning and close personal friend Part 1 that PP stipulated in its contracts—which were mainly to contract newbies like myself who wouldn’t notice it—that ALL rights were Permuted’s, including movie rights. This meant that PP could sell Deadtown Abbey to Paramount for $2 million … and I would get my usual 7 percent royalty. I’m no one to sneeze at $140,000, but I would be even less allergic to $1.7 million, which would be my take after a very fair 15 percent paid to my publisher.

However, this theory isn’t about Permuted selling rights to big studios. This is about Permuted being completely legally allowed to make movies out of the work of any of these brand-new authors through Permuted Pictures, its completely coincidentally timed new project. Since they don’t get paid for the rights by an outside studio, they don’t have any purchase price to pay the authors even that 7 percent. No, authors would get 7 percent on the net profit of money made on the movie by Permuted Pictures. Net profit.


Pictured: Net profits.

Permuted Press is deeply fucking evil.

This theory, I can tell you right off the bat, is not true.

Despite my “Hell-bound” comment above, I actually don’t think Permuted, its owners, it management, its workers, and certainly not its authors, are doing anything other than what they think is best. They are not evil, they are not demons, they’re not trying to ruin anyone’s life or even their livelihood.

They’re just a bunch of jerks.

Inconsiderate? Yes. Short-sighted? Certainly. Opportunistic? You bet your sweet ass.

But they’re not evil. There’s still a chance that they’ll see the heartache and disillusionment they’re causing and rethink their latest business strategies, and that chance existing means that they aren’t deadites moving people-puppets around to satisfy their blood lust.

They’re not evil. But that makes this whole situation all the more disheartening. We don’t even have the comfort of truly demonizing those who have done us wrong.


Okay, maybe a little.

Read Part 1: How I got anally violated by the thorny cock of Permuted Press

Read Part 3: My story of triumph and plan to rebuild the kicked-over blocks of my literary ambitions!

How I got anally violated by the thorny cock of Permuted Press, Part 1

Read Part 2

“Those whom the gods would destroy, first they make proud.”
— Ecclesiasticles the Tempurpedic, c. 500 BCE

“If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
— Extremely pessimistic Minoan folk saying

“Those who would put off writing a painful blog entry, first they stuff in a bunch of unreliably attributed epigraphs at the beginning.”
— King Haypulmafinga, Feb. 30, 1852


Well, this sucks.

For the majority of 2014, I have been waxing philosophical (if that phrase means “doing the happy dance while bragging”) about my 10-book contract with the formerly respected publisher, Permuted Press, who had taken me on after I submitted Deadtown Abbey kind of on a whim.

The owner of Permuted himself called me during an NFL playoff game and I went in the other room to take the call. I repeat: this was during the game. That is how serious this was to me. And oh, the delights that this gentleman filled my PTSD-shaken mind with:

  • Permuted was the original publisher of one of your favorite books which was made into a movie, John Dies At The End!
    • They wanted movie rights, audiobook rights, e-book and print rights—they wanted everything! YAY!!!
  • My books in stores! Such as at Barnes & Noble! Or, like, Target!
  • They want to publish my series(es)! They demanded all my ideas so that they could contract with me for those, too—that is how much they loved Deadtown Abbey!
  • My books. In actual stores without having to work out some third-party arrangement like Al Capone trying to launder his money through publishing. My books. In stores.
  • They pay an advance. Of money.
  • If I go into a bookstore after my book is published, there would be a good chance that my books would be in them.
    • “I want you inside me, Sean’s books.” — Bookstores, allegedly
  • Essentially they would be the State Lottery giant check that would be move me out of the self-publishing ghetto and into a dee-luxe apartment in the sky.


Which would come pre-furnished with sassy neighbors.

This utterly intoxicating conversation was followed up by communications with the director and contracts person at Permuted Press, and ultimately we worked out a $350 advance for each book on each of 10 goddamn books, three series(es) and a standalone zombie book. (For those of you who don’t know, Permuted made its bones [HA!] on zombie books and was now reaching out to embrace the incredibly hot apocalypse genre in general, which I thought was aces since I love that stuff.) A 10-book contract. I had never even heard of anyone getting that size of a contract! OMG, I MUST BE SO INCREDIBLY AND WONDERFULLY GREAT! AND SEXY!!!

There are probably several elements of that list that might give pause to a non-middle-aged-desperate author. Two of them appeared to me early on (but after the ink was dry), with the angel Gabriel ditching his trumpet to play a sad trombone.

rusty trombone

As opposed to a rusty trombone, which could never be sad.

  1. The advance was on publication, not on acceptance. This kind of betrays the concept of an “advance.”
    1. However, I just figured I would use the advance to buy a bunch of author-discounted print copies to sell at Cons and send to reviewers and such. No biggie—probably a better deal for me, since I’d just blow an earlier advance on shit like food and shelter and stuff.
    2. I didn’t realize at the time that they never had to release any book of mine. They had no advance invested in me, everything was electronic—even the contracts which were emailed to me, with me paying to send back to them by mail the signed papers. They literally had no financial incentive to do anything.
    3. After the entire debacle, this last realization hit me. And oh, it hurt. Anyway, moving on.
  2. These 10 books were to be delivered by August 2016. That meant me turning in a finished manuscript every four months. Far from impossible—hell, Stephen King hisself says that no one should spend more than three months on a first draft—but these weren’t supposed to be first drafts (although a peek through the PP catalog shows that many of their novels were just that). These were supposed to be polished and ready to go after an alleged copy editor ran her eyes over it.
    1. I should mention that I felt like the production schedule was more of a challenge than a dealbreaker. I did Deadtown Abbey in several months leading up to a zombie Con in Atlanta, and I got Reviva Las Vegas! done on schedule as well. This was while I was otherwise unemployed, however, and I once I got started working at a job that paid actual money, my productivity took a punch to the groin that proved … daunting … to my zip-zip-zip novel assembly line dreams.


Pictured: Stephen King’s brain.

Before I tell you of the dick moves of Permuted Press, you should know that they were termed “fuckery” by horror luminaries like Brian Keene and garnered the following from amazeballs author and promoter Gabrielle Faust:

I’m so incredibly beside myself with outrage at this inexcusable betrayal of the trust of so many talented writers, you can’t even begin to imagine.

Allow me to put this in perspective for you: Gabrielle Faust was Permuted Press’ fucking Director of Marketing. She had no idea what the Powers in the publishing hotspot of Franklin, Tennessee had planned for their hundreds of authors. (More on that bullshit below.) They canned her, saying they needed a “butt in a seat” at their hopping headquarters, something that now boggles the mind because what PP had in mind for its authors was this, and this is a direct quote from their middle-of-the-night email to all its authors:

We will be ceasing the production of print-on-demand books.

That was presented with the same offhandedness with which you would tell someone the relative humidity. That person being one who didn’t even have any interest in the hygrometer reading in the first place. In other words, Permuted was trying to make it sound like “Hardly worth mentioning, really, but it’s just a spot of bother” when to the people it was sent to it was completely DEFCON 5 WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A MOTHERFUCKING GAME, JOSHUA.

Remember the quote about gods punishing pride at the beginning of this blog entry? It is in reality unattributed, but I had enough hubris (thanks, 9th grade English!) to think, “Well, this doesn’t 100 percent affect me, because the owner told me in no uncertain terms that my books would be available in stores.”  Which POD books are most certainly not unless one has a relationship, probably involving either sex or the possession of legally incriminating murder photos or both of the store management. Permuted had a new arm called “Permuted Platinum,” which was books in warehouses available for stocking by booksellers without hoops and such.

My brain said, “Don’t freak out, man. This is a bad thing for many authors, but not for you. You had a promise. The owner didn’t call anybody else before signing them”—this I verified by asking every other PP author I knew if it had happened to them—”and so I must be safe. Whew. I must be a Platinum author. I’ll just send a little missive to the managing editor to make sure we’re cool.”


“Whew! Thank goodness I’m not in any danger.”

We were most definitely NOT COOL. It turns out that a verbal contract, even one executed during an NFL playoff game, truly isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Permuted gave many excuses regarding why this was a necessary step, and also said that if you look very carefully at your contract, you’ll see that PP had the option to publish your books in print, not an obligation to do so.

Holy shucking fit. They were screwing me—I was going to be “published” only in e-book format. They apologized but they had just signed too many authors too quickly—and were publishing five books per week now—and so they were going to all e-books for everyone but a very small elite of their authors who were already in the Platinum program. If the phrase “all e-books” doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, then you have never been an indie author.


“So this is where books go to die!”

Many wonderful books—heck, most books published these days by the Big Five in New York as well as more independent presses—are available in e-book format. Stevie King, John Grisham, the late Maya Angelou, the President of the United States—all have seen their books in e-format and sold a ton of books that way. Kindle and iPad are the wave of the present, let alone the future, and e-books are awesome. (I love to read e-books, for Chrissake, so this isn’t some weird Luddite rant.)

But you know these authors’ work because of print books. Paper, glue, cardboard, slick dust jacket. You may sell your work in many different formats, but print is what makes a writer—and a publisher, for that matter—look and feel legitimate in the literary and intellectual marketplace. That said, the traditional publishing model has long been lamented for its high costs and low, low margins of profit. It’s a well-known fact that most fiction books never earn back the advances paid to their authors.



“Oh God, here it comes.”

Permuted Press didn’t cancel its Platinum line (although some in the know say that it has failed miserably, with only about 10 percent selling to consumers and 90 percent going back to the publisher). It didn’t say “no more print books, period.” No, what they said was much more troubling and, frankly, a kick in the face to its non-Platinum authors. They announced that they would be stopping their print on demand books. You know, those that are produced only if someone orders one? You know, those that authors of any stripe can take to conventions, book fairs, farmer’s markets, bazaars, and many other places to sell? You know, those that authors can give as gifts or send out for review? You know, those for the majority of readers who don’t own an e-reading device and aren’t even interested in one? Yeah, those. Permuted said that it was investing

41.65% of our production team’s time … making print on demand versions of our books, but those products account for only 7.41% of our income. This disproportionate figure revealed the need to make prompt changes to our previous policy.

Some have questioned these figures. Permuted Press covers are very nice, especially compared to many self-published covers or those from other POD publishers. But they’re still essentially stock pictures and art with text laid over them. But think about it for a second: Instead of trying to bring those production numbers more into line with what they want or promoting the POD side of the business more, they essentially said, “You know what? Why don’t we just throw away almost 10 percent of our income as a company?


Pictured: Permuted Press board meeting.

[Update: Permuted Platinum author Jessica Meigs corrects me: “In actuality, they’re only ‘throwing away’ 2% of the company income. You forgot to account for the bestsellers that will remain in POD production (which account for around 5% of the company’s income).”]

In fact, this makes so little sense that some commenting on the entire clusterfuck have speculated that something else is behind that unprecedentedly weird business move. PP did bring in a silent partner recently, and maybe that partner is one of those slash-and-burn types who want immediate profit.

[Update: Jessica Meigs informs me that this partner has been with PP since the beginning of the new management, and that he is quite rich and thus doesn’t need a quick buck. So my theory is shot full of holes, which leaves me wondering about PP’s actions: Why, then? WHY?)

(By the way, since the time that books were first published to be sold, everyone involved knew that publishing is not a get-rich-quick—if ever—kind of business. You do it for the love of books, authors, and reading. Money is there to be made, but it must be cultivated. This is a truth universally acknowledged by anyone who knows anything about publishing, including self-publishing.) This speculation about a greedy partner bending the company to his will is plausible, if not very likely. A person seeking profit is not going to cut off 7.41 percent of his new company’s income. S/he will make people work smarter or harder, pay them less or tie their pay to profits, but to cut off income for no apparent reason? Senseless.

Anyway, whatever the reason for Permuted’s odd move from POD, what’s done is done. They knew they were in deep doo-doo, because they sent out a message saying that they would allow any authors who wanted it to be released from their contracts. This is unheard, of but I got on that pony before you could say “What pony?” I was the first to dissolve my contract with PP, and a large contingent of their author pool has followed suit.


A Permuted Press author waits his turn.

It was only after I had cut my ties to these not-technically-lying-but-totally-lying sons of bitches that I started reading the blogs and Facebook postings of other authors and publishing wags about how much of a bullet I and my fellow ex-Permuted authors had just dodged. Here are the highlights, all of which applied to me as well as all the others:

  • In the contract, Permuted stated that it was buying (for $350, mind you) all rights to the author’s work. E-publishing rights, natch, but also audio rights, movie/TV rights, toy and other ancillary rights, and any other rights one could think of. They would pay the authors as promised: a 7 percent royalty.
  • These rights would never revert back to the author, his or her heirs, nobody. For that 7 percent royalty, PP was buying ALL RIGHTS IN PERPETUITY.
  • This meant that any sequels, spinoffs or like whatnot would have to be either accepted and published by Permuted, the rights to do the sequel would have to be purchased from Permuted Press by the author or that new publisher, or never be published legally at all.
  • According to Permuted, “We are pausing the release of most new titles until early 2015. This will grant us the time necessary to increase margin in our production schedule … When publishing resumes in early 2015, our release schedule will be less aggressive.” This was a huge letdown for their authors because some of us weren’t going to see our books published until 2018. Deadtown Abbey was due for release in February 2015, Reviva Las Vegas in October 2015, the three volumes of my Cthulhu trilogy in 2016, and so on. That was fine with me—I know the wheels turn slowly on the professional publishing machine—but now they were going to be “less aggressive”? What, did that mean 2019? 2025? Never?
    • But here’s the real bitch about this “less aggressive” publishing schedule, which they also said was needed because they “now have a clearer idea of the production volume of our staff.” Wait, what? Didn’t you just fucking say that 41.68 percent of your production time was being cleared immediately? How long does it take to format a goddamn e-book, even including the cover and registration to sell on Amazon and such places?

It has been speculated that PP was actually trying to get rid of as many authors as it could by making these nonsensical, self-contradictory pronouncements. I don’t have any insight or information as to whether this is true, but it pisses me off so much even to think about that I’m just gonna let that one go. Stopping head explosions starts with yourself, people.


Fight it … keep fightinnnnnng … you can do eeeeet …

Now, as you all know, I am not one to mope or carry a grudHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA OMG I CAN’T BREATHE LOL. No, of course at the slightest setback I will mope like a tranquilized sloth who just fell out of his tree. And I literally still have not forgiven my (now deceased) mother for throwing away my EXCLUSIVE TO THE STAR WARS FAN CLUB 8×10 glossy stills from The Empire Strikes Back when she was cleaning my room when I was 11 years old. (YOU NEVER CLEANED SHIT, MOM! WHY THEN? WHY MY ROOM?!?) So no, fuck Permuted Press and I will feel that way until the day that I die.


Ah, dammit. He was so close.

However, I did decide to wait until I was no longer lying on the couch, staring off into space and mumbling “Why me?” to a woman who has been painfully crippled by rheumatoid arthritis since she was 7 fucking years old to write this blog entry. So you see that my compassion was at full power and in no way compromised by my experience of the past two weeks. Ahem. I thought it might be better to just wait for a bit before spewing venom all over your precious Internets.

Part 2: Some theories on what Permuted might actually be doing, and it is awful.


Part 3 (coming soon): What I have done to redeem myself and regain your faith in my awesome utterness as an author, a fighter—and yes, as a man.


“The Author Apocalypse”

My own extremely long (hello, ladies) essay on the Permuted Press fustercluck is coming in a little bit, but here’s another voice from the wild. It’s by James Roy Daley, who was abused by PP in ways I hadn’t even thought about, and he has started his own imprint, Books of the Dead Press. Solid stuff:

A shit storm has been brewing within the horror community, and it seems to be powerful enough to rip the populace in half. Permuted Press, which was founded by Jacob Kier, but was recently sold, has damaged their reputation in a way that will most likely never be undone.

On Monday, July 8th, 2013––as a Permuted Press author (The Dead Parade)––I received an email from Jacob, stating:

“Something big has been in the works the last few months” …

Read the rest of “The Author Apocalypse”!