Chiral Mad, the second psychological horror anthology by Written Backwards, has been out for just over a month now. Official publication date: 10/11/12. Unofficially, it was released at the second annual AnthoCon (hosted by The Four Horsemen) in New Hampshire exactly two weeks ago: 11/10/12, so it’s really only a few weeks old. We had a launch of the book with readings and signings by Gary A. Braunbeck, P. Gardner Goldsmith, Meghan Arcuri, Jon Michael Kelley, Patrick Lacey, and yours truly. To celebrate, 50 copies of the book were donated (purchased beforehand by a generous third-party, a $600 donation) and handed out via swag bags to the first 50 to register at the event. Nearly all of the copies I brought with me sold out, and there seemed to be a lot of buzz over the charity (Down syndrome), the cover, and the fine contributors of this project.
Gary A. Braunbeck gives quite the performance with his readings (I’ve had the opportunity to hear him read four times in my life), and likewise gave an emotional reading from his story “Need.” I had someone after the launch comment, “Man, that guy gives a performance…” Meghan Arcuri held listeners at the edge of their seats with her reading of “Inevitable” and shocked everyone in the room afterward by admitting it was her first publication, and her first reading experience. P. Gardner Goldsmith, as always, gave a memorable reading of his story “Sigil.” I would hire this guy to be the voice behind any of my works (audiobooks someday). In fact, since I’m not a fan of reading my work aloud, Gardner ‘volunteered’ to read my short story “Plasty” at a separate reading event, and had the crowd both laughing and holding back the bile in their throats with his audible charisma. Patrick Lacey was in attendance at the book launch as well and remarked that his story “Send Your End” was his first publication, which resulted in a round of applause. From reading his story, one would guess Patrick to be a veteran of the craft. We were limited by an hour for this reading/signing event, so a few of the authors, like Jon Michael Kelley, volunteered to instead discuss an important object in his story “The Persistence of Vision,” captivating the audience with his description of thaumatropes. Many authors approached me at the event and asked if they could submit something for the next project.
“How did you gather all of this talent?” I was asked regularly at the convention. “How did you get [fill in any of the following here: Jack Ketchum, Gary Braunbeck, Gary McMahon, Gord Rollo, Gene O’Neill, Jeff Strand] and all of these other awesome people into one anthology?” The answer I gave was simple, but longwinded: “These are all great people, in- and outside of publishing. Every one of them. I sought out 1/2; the other 1/2 came to me. I mentioned that all proceeds (every cent) from the anthology would go to Down syndrome charities, and gave a challenge of interpreting chirality, and they came to me.”
A month earlier, at KillerCon in Las Vegas, I was able to meet with seven of the Chiral Mad contributors, including Jack Ketchum, Gene O’Neill, P. Gardner Goldsmith, Eric J. Guignard, Monica J. O’Rourke, John Palisano, and Aaron J. French. There was a lot of early buzz for the project at this event as well, and we took some photos, signed a few things, and had a wonderful time. All great people, as I mentioned before. Not only do these individuals have immense pools of literary talent trapped in their minds that somehow find way onto paper, they are some of the finest examples of humanity.
Viral marketing is what really made this project take off. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter and various blogs by contributors spread word of this anthology like the overused analogy of online wildfire. Creating a teaser book trailer (and later an official version) helped as well. The few days following the book trailer launch resulted in a couple hundred additional submissions. If you’re wondering, over 400 short stories were submitted to Chiral Mad. 28 made it into the book. 1/2 of the 28 were personally invited and submitted something extraordinary; the other 1/2 sought me out and submitted something incredible. All 28 authors tackled chirality differently, and all 28 created amazing stories.
So, where are we at after just over a month, or two ‘unofficial’ weeks? Let’s just say that the first charity anthology released by Written Backwards, Pellucid Lunacy, has raised a little over $2,300 to date. We’ve met that mark with Chiral Mad already, which is something incredible.
How do we keep the ball rolling and raise even more money/awareness for Down syndrome? Viral marketing. Word of mouth. Reviews (they are starting to surface). Social networking. Sharing. Blogging. Giving copies as gifts. Donating copies to libraries. Let’s spread some Chiral Mad.