The First Decade of Terror: How Author Thomas M. Malafarina Wrote and Contributed to 15 Books of Horror Fiction

The First Decade of Terror: How Author Thomas M. Malafarina Wrote and Contributed to 15 Books of Horror Fiction

Welcome to the third installment of the Sunbury Press author journey series!

In every book, there's a story. And not just the one between its pages.

Every author has a different journey for how they ended up with the incredible book that landed in our inbox. Sure, we loved the book that they sent to us--enough to publish it and share with you all--but we wanted to know what it took for them to write that book, what drove them toward publication, and to get to know them better as artists.

And instead of keeping those answers to ourselves, we thought--to hell with it, let's share it with YOU.

We are thrilled to continue this new author-centric series with the inspirational Thomas M. Malafarina, horror author of The Ridge of Death and many more.


Now presenting...

The First Decade of Terror

"The First Decade of Terror"

by Thomas M. Malafarina

This year marks my 10th year writing horror for Sunbury Press/Hellbender Books. That’s right, I’m an author of horror fiction. Yep, the dreaded genre. In the eyes of many publishers that makes me the ugly three-headed stepchild. Regardless, I’ve written in various forms all of my life from newspaper reporting at the age of 19 to having created thousands of pages of technical documentation during my 43-year career (and still going strong) as a manufacturing engineer. But one thing I always wanted to do was to write and publish horror fiction.

One might wonder why I would choose a genre that most "serious" authors and publishers tend to frown upon. Most of those publishers are often happy to remind would-be authors that Stephen King, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz already do it better than anyone else, so why bother? I’ve had a life-long love of horror from my childhood days of watching the Universal Monster movies and reading Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines. My bedroom was decorated with posters of monsters and my dresser was covered with Aurora monster models, which I built and customized.

Thank goodness Sunbury Press saw past all the prejudice against horror and started me on a journey that has resulted in ten years of publishing with over thirteen books currently in print, close to two hundred short stories to my name, with much more terror on the horizon.

But let’s turn the clock back a decade or so. It was spring of 2010 and I was coming up on my fifty-fifth birthday in July. Having completed my first novel, 99 Souls as well as more than a dozen short stories, I was close to completing my second novel, Burn Phone. I had not yet found a publisher but was nonetheless having a blast writing blood-curdling prose.

After a few failed attempts to find a publisher, I had actually considered contracting with one of the vanity press companies (I was unaware of self-publishing websites, if in fact they existed at that time). The bottom line was, I wanted to know if the work I was doing was any good. Vanity press or self-publishing would not answer that question. Only acceptance by a traditional publisher would do that for me. I had works ready to publish but nowhere to publish them. I was like an atheist at his own funeral, all dressed up and no place to go.

Then one day while cruising Craigslist looking for potential gigs for my part-time blues band, I saw an ad for a publisher from Camp Hill called Sunbury Press that was in the process of growing its business and looking for new authors. I did some research and learned at that time, Sunbury was best known for non-fiction and historical types of books.

Never one to be afraid of having yet another door slammed in my face, I contacted Sunbury publisher Lawrence Knorr to see if he would have any interest in looking at my work, even though it was fiction and horror fiction to boot. To my surprise, he agreed. I prepared myself for yet another rejection letter to add to my growing stack. To my astonishment, he offered to publish three books; my novels 99 Souls and Burn Phone as well as a collection of short stories, which he decided to call 13 Nasty Endings.

I was blown away! I went from thinking I might never be published to becoming a published author with a three-book deal. Unfortunately, like all naive and uninformed writers new to publishing, I was mostly concerned about how I would spend all the money that came pouring in. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Now I can look back and laugh. Writing has not and likely will never make me financially rich (or even comfortable), but it has succeeded in filling my life with the sort of wealth you can only receive from the experience of creating something from nothing and seeing it in print with your name on it. For the record, the tenth or thirteenth book is no less exciting to hold in your hands than the first.

If you total all the books I've published through Sunbury and their imprint Hellbender Books, the number is actually much higher. Some of my earlier works are out of print. I reworked several of them over the years, which we retitled and re-released. 99 Souls is now available as What Waits Beneath. Burn Phone is now Burner. My large novel Fallen Stones has been re-written, streamlined and re-released as Circle Of Blood. 13 Nasty Endings is now available as 13 Deadly Endings and my dark and some say frustrating Eye Contact is now available under the title From The Dark. Three short story collections, Malafarina Malefacarum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 as well as Gallery Of Horror have been discontinued. Their stories have been sprinkled in with new stories for my current series called Malaformed Realities.

Oh, and another thing, we published a collection of my bizarre cartoons called Yes, I Smelled It Too.

Hellbender has published my series of three zombie apocalypse novels called the Dead Kill series. Will there be a Book 4? Time will tell.

So, what does the future hold for me? What does my next decade of terror look like? Shortly, Hellbender will be releasing a short story collection I co-curated with Catherine Jordon (she did an excellent job of editing—thanks, Cathy!) called Hellbent, which consists of stories from many Hellbender authors. As I mentioned earlier, Malaformed Realities 4 and 5 are slated for 2020 release, unless COVID-19 screws that up. Also, scheduled to be released will be a new novel, which might become a series called, Death Bringer Jones, Zombie Slayer. He is a spinoff character from my Dead Kill Series.

I'm also working on a new novel (which has the potential to become yet another series), a novella or two and a ton of short stories so new, this is the first I’ve mentioned them. I'm always writing something. I love to write. I never tire of writing and never seem to run out of ideas. Professional writers take vacations to get away from writing; I look forward to writing while on vacation. Writing is actually a sort of vacation for me.

So now you know why the past ten years with Sunbury Press have been so rewarding to me. It's not about the money. Publishing my books allows me to share my crazy ideas with many readers. It permits me to proudly call myself a published author. Most importantly, it offers me a platform from which I can launch many, many more stories for as long as I can keep coming up with fresh new ideas. Be ready, folks. The next decade of terror is right around the corner.


About the Author

Thomas Malafarina

Thomas M. Malafarina is a horror author from Berks County, Pennsylvania. He has been featured in over 15 books, including seven novels and even one book of often-strange single panel cartoons called Yes I Smelled It Too. Learn more on his website.

Get 15% OFF these books by Malafarina below. Click on the cover photo and use SPRING15S at checkout.


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KDP and the death of free

Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is the platform through which readers can access books without paying per title. The publisher, usually an independent author, is paid a penny or less per page read. Please note, a page to KDP is not necessarily equal to a page in the printed book. Essentially, Amazon is paying by the word for content. Many in the publishing community have been complaining about the underpayment of royalties on this platform–that Mr. Bezos is effectively taking 70% or more of the proceeds from these books and pocketing them. Our friends in the movie and television content business are also complaining about the royalties paid on this platform for their properties. Again, a typical “sale” might result in a $1 when the property would normally sell much higher. At Sunbury Press, we are not participating in this platform and will not do so until Amazon reforms its practices. There are a number of groups going after them.
Which brings me to free. Back in the day when you had to pay for an eBook when one was offered for free or at a much lower cost through one the many promotional services or opportunities, there was a sizable response. At one time, I could count on gaining a couple of thousand readers by giving an eBook away for a day or two. These days you are lucky to get a couple of dozen readers. I believe KDP has diluted the pool so much that free offers no longer work because the books on their platform appear to be virtually free to the reader who subscribes to Amazon Prime.
There have also been a number of scams regarding authors or publishers gaming the system by packing books or falsely increasing readership. Below is a link (again — I also included in last month) to a story about the scam.

Book Publishing Annual StatShot Survey Reveals Religious Crossover and Inspirational Books Supported Trade Book Growth in 2016

Print books account for 70.6% of all units sold; eBook revenues decline
Washington, DC; August 1, 2017 – The Association of American Publishers (AAP) announced today that the U.S. book publishing industry generated $26.24 billion in net revenue for 2016, representing 2.7 billion in units (volume). Books with religious and inspirational themes from religious presses and trade publishers were among the best-selling books.
StatShot Annual estimates the book publishing industry’s size and scope, tracking the sales and volume data for trade (fiction/non-fiction/religious), PreK-12 instructional materials, higher education course materials, university presses, and professional books.
While publisher revenue (1.5%) and units sold (2.8%) both increased for trade books, the overall publishing industry saw a decline in revenue (-5.1%.) This may in large part be attributed to a challenging year in the education and scholarly publishing markets, which together comprise about 40% of tracked revenues.
Publisher revenue for trade books grew by $231 million from 2015 to 2016. American publishers sold nearly 2.5 billion trade books, including print, eBook and audiobooks.
Trade Books
Most of the inspirational and religious crossover books that were popular in 2016 are found in the religious presses and Adult non-fiction categories. Since 2014, Adult non-fiction has been the category with the greatest revenue growth, gaining nearly $1 billion. The category went from $4.97 billion in 2014 to $5.87 billion in 2016. Among other books, the category includes memoirs, biographies, inspirational books, political books, and adult coloring books. Within Adult non-fiction, about 80% of the books sold were print, the majority being paperback books. Religious presses, imprints that focus on religion, spirituality and faith, grew by 6.9% to $1.13 billion from 2015 to 2016.Area of Growth: Inspirational and Religious Crossover Books
“Books that emphasized values, simple living or had inspirational messages like the Magnolia Story, Present Over Perfect, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Uninvited were among the most popular in 2016,” said Tina Jordan, Vice President of Trade Publishing, Association of American Publishers.
Childrens/Young Adult Books and Adult Books
Both fiction and non-fiction Childrens and Young Adult Books saw revenue and unit growth. The overall Childrens/YA Books category grew by 5.9% from $4.22 billion in 2015 to $4.47 billion in revenue in 2016. In all, about 1 billion Childrens/YA books were sold to bookstores, online retailers, directly, or otherwise. Nearly 90% of the books sold in Childrens/YA books in 2016 were print books. eBooks declined from a high of 8.6% share of market in 2012 to 3.3% in 2016 and downloaded audio rose from 0.3% share of market in 2012 to 1.2% in 2016.
The Adult Books category shrank 0.9% in 2016 vs. 2015. The nearly 1.3 billion Adult books sold in 2016 encompassed 65% of trade publisher revenues for the year. While publisher revenue for Adult non-fiction has grown every year for the past five years, growing by 22.9% since 2012, Adult fiction has done the opposite, slowly bringing in less revenue each year.
Within the Adult books category, the fastest growing formats in terms of units sold were downloaded audio (up 18.8%), and paperback (up 7.3%). In 2016 print books comprised 66.9% of the books sold, audiobooks were 5.9%, eBooks were 23.1%, and other formats were 4.7%. In 2012, the mix was 66.4% print books, 3.6% audiobooks, 28.4% eBooks and 2.7% other formats.
 
 Trade Formats: Downloaded Audio Grew Significantly, eBooks Declined
 
 Paperback books: Remaining the most popular format overall in terms of units sold, more than 1 billion paperback books were purchased in 2016, comprising 41.7% of the market. Mass market adds another 7.4%. Revenue was up for paperbacks in 2016 to $5.57 billion from $5.29 billion in 2015. This is the most popular format for Adult non-fiction book readers.
Downloaded audio: As they have each year for the last three years, both unit sales and publisher revenue grew by double digits. More than 16 million additional units were sold in 2016 than in 2015, representing 24.7% growth. While downloaded audio represents a small percentage of books sold (3.3% of units) it’s becoming an increasingly popular category – especially for Adult fiction readers. Both unit sales and revenue have more than doubled for this format since 2012, growing from $299 million to $643 million in 2016.
eBooks: Publisher revenue and unit sales for eBooks declined for the third year in a row, losing about $1 billion since their peak in 2013 when revenues were $3.24 billion. In 2016, publisher revenues for eBooks were $2.26 billion, down 16.9% from 2015. Unit sales also declined by 14.7%, with eBooks now making up 14.0% of the trade book market, down from 16.9% last year. Within the Adult fiction book category, eBooks are the most purchased format with 33.0% of the market.
Hardback books: While they are not the best-selling format, hardback books remain quite popular. Both unit sales and publisher revenue increased for the second consecutive year. Revenue was up $265 million (4.9%) in 2016 and 10 million more units were sold (1.7%).
Number of Trade Book Units Sold by Format
 
  • Print
    • Paperback & mass market: 1.22 billion
    • Hardback: 580 million
    • Children’s board books: 96 million
  • Digital
    • eBook: 348 million
    • Downloaded audio: 82 million
  • Other (includes physical audio, bundles, books with unconventional binding): 147 million

Meet Sunbury Press' Owner Lawrence Knorr! by Tammy Burke

http://glvwgwritersconference.blogspot.com/2014/03/meet-sunbury-press-owner-lawrence-knorr.html

LvK by Tammi KnorrHow delightful having you back at the “Write Stuff” conference again! And wow! Is it coming up fast. Anything new and exciting you can share regarding you and/or the Sunbury Press?  
 
Lawrence Knorr: Yes!  It is an honor to be asked back. It is hard to believe two years have passed since the last time! Sunbury Press just completed its best year ever from a sales perspective. We continue to grow and succeed in a very tough, competitive environment. We are celebrating our tenth year in business in 2014 — but I can tell you it feels like 100 years! We’ve transformed ourselves twice in that span — caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly — what’s next? Most recently, we have seen ebooks peak, their growth rate slowing, while independent bookstore sales have picked up. While our Amazon business has continued to grow, other channels are growing faster. We have dubbed 2014 our “Year of Collaboration” focusing on ways our 120+ authors can experience better results by helping each other and by working together in teams. So far, there has been a lot of positive energy. We also opened, February 1, our first company bookstore in Mechanicsburg, PA, where our headquarters is located. Our goal was to provide a storefront for all of our books — and a venue for our authors to meet the public. We really want to be an important part of the local community for our local and regional authors — and provide another option to our more far flung partners. It’s a great place to meet prospective authors and to talk about books with the general public.
Based on your webpage, I understand the your company holds a “Continue the Enlightenment” mentality from the 18th 3609278century and the “Age of Reason.” Could you expand more what that means to you and to the Sunbury Press?
 
Lawrence Knorr: “Continue the Enlightenment” is a motto that represents our mission statement. Simply put, we are a publisher of diverse categories, but we are always seeking to bring new perspectives and voices to the marketplace. The Enlightenment was about a new order of things — not unlike what is happening in publishing today. The old order governed by a strong center of control is being challenged by more democratic ideals. This is what the independent publishing movement is all about — whether doing it yourself or with an independent publisher. We are experiencing an era of rapid democratization of the publishing industry. If only Hugh Fox had lived a little longer! I’ll never forget the day he called me – Hugh Fox – one of the founders of the Pushcart Prize. He revealed he was dying of cancer and offered me the opportunity to publish his remaining works. He said Sunbury Press was exactly the kind of publisher he was looking for. I was very grateful for his offer, and encouraged him to spread the dozen or so works around to other presses, keeping two of them for ourselves. Hugh liked the motto, and we think it is very appropriate at this time.
What was the motivation to start the Sunbury Press? What makes it different than other publishing companies?
 
Lawrence Knorr: I started the company in 2004 because I wanted to publish some family histories. I didn’t want to pay someone else to do it, so I Ambit_Island_Series.inddembarked on figuring out how. While this was only ten years ago, it was when vanity presses were a cottage industry and print on demand and ebooks were in their infancy. I just wanted to sell some books at cost to family members. But, I really enjoyed it and realized I could publish other books — not just my own. Two hundred and twenty titles and one hundred and twenty authors later, we have really grown thanks to our business model and our philosophy. We are different for several reasons:
1) We are very tech-savvy. My wife and I both have long careers in IT and understand the Age of Content and the importance of search engines, ecommerce and mobile commerce.
2) We do NOT charge for services. Many publishers are experimenting with vanity, hybrid or subsidy models. We refuse to go in this direction, instead making our money by selling books.
3) We have editors working for us as employees of our company. We take quality very seriously.
4) My wife and I are also photographers and digital artists, able to design book covers, marketing materials, graphic designs, web content, etc.
5) We are “generalist opportunists” — working in a broad number of categories. We understand the advantages of breadth and scale to the economic sustainability of an enterprise.
6) We love what we do. I really enjoy working with authors to bring their work to the marketplace. It tickles the soul.
 
tsarr_pubI was wondering…Is there anything in particular you are looking for in an author and his or her manuscript?
 
Lawrence Knorr: Quality Manuscript + Motivated Author + Publisher = Success
We are always looking for high quality manuscripts — in a variety of fiction and nonfiction categories. Quality is more than just well-written / grammatically correct. Quality is about fresh ideas, new found truths and entertainment. We like material that brings value to our readers.
We like to gauge an author’s motivations. Gone are the days of sitting at a typewriter, mailing a box of paper to a publisher and then waiting by the door for the checks to arrive. Authors need to be involved in their success. While we provide editing, design, formatting, ebook creation, printing, distribution, marketing, etc., we do best when authors are out and about advocating their work and promoting themselves. We are an ideal option for authors whose work is good enough not to have to pay to publish — who want to be writers and not start their own publishing businesses. Most writers are not business savvy. We bring the business expertise to the mix.
 
Anything you’d like to see more of? Anything you’d like to see less of?
 
ktcw_pubLawrence Knorr: Thankfully, the vampire craze has past. There’s probably a metaphor somewhere in that regarding the publishing industry! We are always looking for more history and historical fiction — more clever YA and more entertaining police procedurals and mysteries. We like good literary fiction too! We’ve had a lot of inquiries about poetry — something we rarely publish.
 
Do you work with authors to help them increase sales? Or do you allow them to do that for themselves?
 
Lawrence Knorr: We generate our revenue exclusively from selling books. So, we are ALWAYS looking for ways to sell more books — whether a new channel to open, a new retailer to call upon, a new country to access, or an author’s activities. As I stated in the opening, we have dubbed 2014 the “Year of Collaboration” and are seeking new ways to collectively leverage our scale. There are opportunities for Sunbury Press authors to go beyond our activities and their individual efforts — to work together within a category or region.
 
I understand you have authored eight books on regional history. Could you tell us more about them? What were their inspiration.  
 
JFR_fcLawrence Knorr: Where did I ever find the time? My early books: “The Descendants of Hans Peter Knorr,” “The Relations of Milton Snavely Hershey,” “The Relations of Isaac F Stiehly,” “General John Fulton Reynolds,” “The Relations of Dwight D Eisenhower” and “The Hackman Story” were family history / genealogy focused. I wanted to write about my relations — a very deep and rich history linked to important people and events in Pennsylvania and the nation. While researching at the Lancaster County Historical Society, I also stumbled upon the journal and letters of my great uncle David Bear Hackman, describing his adventure to California for the Gold Rush. I edited and contextualized this treasure into the book “A Pennsylvania Mennonite and the California Gold Rush.” My more recent works have been collaborations:  “Keystone Tombstones Civil War” with Joe Farrell and Joe Farley — about famous people buried in Pennsylvania who played a part in the Civil War and “There is Something About Rough and Ready” about the village in the heart of the Mahantongo Valley at the center of that region’s Pennsylvania Dutch culture. I have several other projects under way for release in the coming years: “The Visiting Physician of Red Cross” – about the career of Dr. Reuben Muth of Red Cross, PA (I have his collection of visiting doctor records from 1850 to 1890), “Palmetto Tombstones” — about famous people buried in South Carolina, “Scheib of Shibe Park” — a biography of the former Philadelphia A’s pitcher — and youngest American Leaguer ever — Carl Scheib of Gratz, PA.
 
Being born and raised in the Susquehanna Valley myself I was wondering if you’ve done anything regarding Sunbury, particularly the Hotel Edison or Lewisburg?
 
Lawrence Knorr: We borrowed the name Sunbury from the town in Pennsylvania because it was near the Mahantongo Valley — and I liked the name. But, that’s about as far as it goes. We have yet to publish anything about Sunbury, the town in Pennsylvania or nearby Lewisburg. However, our book “Digging Dusky Diamonds” by John Lindermuth is about Shamokin, PA and the nearby coal regions. Our best-selling “Prohibition’s Prince” is about the famous moonshiner Prince Farrington from Williamsport, PA.  Our “Keystone Tombstones” series spans the entire state and often touches on historical figures from the Susquehanna Valley.
 
Do you have favorite time period and place regarding history?
 
Lawrence Knorr: I teach Comparative Economic and Political Systems at Wilson College once a year. I really enjoy teaching this class because it allows me to span economic history from classical times to present. My favorite time periods / places are the Roman Empire in the first few centuries AD and 19th and early 20th century America. I am intrigued by our industrialization in the early 1800s — and the entrepreneurship and personal responsibility that was present. Most of the people living today would feel very insecure without their comforts, insurances and government safety nets. I long for that time when individual hard work and creativity could amount to something tangible — and when we relied on ourselves, our families, our religious institutions and our communities.
 
What did you like best about holding the office of president for MidAtlantic Book Publishers Association (MBPA)?
 
Lawrence Knorr: I was honored to be elected the President of MBPA for one year. I met a lot of great people, including my predecessor Mary Shafer. My goal was to make sure our organization survived the struggles it was going through and could become sustainable. The new team that formed was very motivated to do so, and they continue on without me. Unfortunately, the demands of my growing business prevent me from volunteering at this time.
Your digital photography is quite beautiful. I particularly enjoy your vibrant use of color. How long have you been practicing this art and I’m curious…how many book covers have you designed?
 
Lawrence Knorr: Thank you! I’ve been a photographer since I was 12 years old. I began showing my work in 2006, after a local gallery liked my attempts at “Photo Impressionism.” I was one of the pioneer artists who was trying to make photographs look like paintings. My work has been shown around the country and has won awards — and is in collections and even a museum or two. While I have not been as active at showing my work, I have designed over 100 book covers over the last three years. My wife says they are getting better!  I really enjoy doing it, and most of the authors are very pleased with the results.
 
What are your thoughts on selling internationally? Do you find that foreign bookstores cater to the same reading choices as here in our area?
 
Lawrence Knorr: We sell our books in at least a dozen other countries — UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Australia, India, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan … even Lebanon! We’re developing expertise in foreign rights as well as foreign distribution. We have found the rest of the world lags the US in eBook adoption — and still have a very strong book retailers. We’ve had the most success in the UK, for obvious reasons – but have also broken through where our titles touch on target markets.
 
I want to thank you for taking time out for this interview, Lawrence. We look forward to seeing you soon!
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Lawrence Knorr has been involved with book publishing for fourteen years. His  company, Sunbury Press, Inc., headquartered in Mechanicsburg, PA, is a publisher of trade paperback and digital books featuring established and emerging authors  in many fiction and nonfiction categories. Sunbury’s books are printed in the USA and sold through leading booksellers worldwide. Sunbury currently has over  120 authors and 200 titles under management.
Lawrence has taught business and project management courses for ten years, and is the author of eight books. He is also an award-winning digital artist, and has designed dozens of book covers . Lawrence is the former President of the MidAtlantic Book Publishers Association (MBPA)
Most interested in U.S. & World history and other nonfiction (sports,
professional, hobbies) — also historical fiction, mystery/thriller.

Will consider YA fiction, contemporary and historical romance, horror (no
vampires), literary fiction.

Not looking for children’s picture books and poetry at this time.

————————————————-
Tammy Burke, GLVWG member, 2011 conference chair and past president, has published around 400 newspaper and regional magazine articles. She has interviewed state and local government officials, business and community leaders, everyday folk and celebrities, in addition to helping write scripts for over a dozen television commercials and writing various business communications. Currently, she is in the revision stage for her first YA fantasy adventure book, the first in an intended series. When not writing, she works in the social service field and is a fencing marshal in the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA).