An interview with Books of the Dead Press’ founder James Roy Daley
Today we spotlight horror author, musician and publisher James Roy Daley, and put him In The Crosshairs. He gives some advice to horror authors seeking to get published and tells us what he thinks about zombies.
Daley studied film at the Toronto Film School, music at Humber College, and English at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Hanging Tree, Into Hell, 13 Drops of Blood and Zombie Kong. In 2009, he founded Books of the Dead Press, now one of the most successful small press companies in the horror genre and a leader in the eBook revolution. His publishing company has published work by New York Times bestselling authors such as Tim Lebbon and Jonathan Maberry, and award winning writers such as Tim Waggoner, Michael Laimo and Ray Garton. In August of 2001, his company re-released Gary Brandner’s famous The Howling Trilogy. Daley is also known for publishing works by little known and up-and-coming authors.
ZEA: It’s difficult enough as a writer to get published, but you went the next step and became a publisher at a time when even major indie publishing houses were struggling. So what made you decide to take the risk and form your own company?
Daley: Actually, I didn’t want to start a publishing company. All I wanted to do was release an anthology. Before I started Books of the Dead Press I had an idea for an anthology. I pitched it to a couple of the publishing companies that I had been working with and they turned me down. A few months later I saw that a completely different company released the same book that I had pitched, which didn’t sit well with me. Six months later I had a new idea. Once again I pitched it, but before the companies had a chance to give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down I decided to release the book myself. The result was Best New Zombie Tales Volume One. The book started selling thousands of units. I decided to put out a few more titles, and they started selling, too. After a year or so I quit my job and focused on the company full time.
ZEA: What is it that you look for in a manuscript, when seeking out new authors to sign?
Daley: What I’m looking for keeps changing. I try different things and I don’t always get the best results. In the past I’ve turned down titles from New York Times Bestsellers and I’ve accepted titles from first time authors. I’ve turned down lots of well-written titles and I’ve said yes to a few clunkers. The artist in me likes to say yes to titles. The businessman in me likes to say no. When something comes down the pipeline I follow my instincts, not conventional thinking.
ZEA: As a publisher, what is the most import piece of advise you can give an aspiring horror author?
Daley: Lose the ego, edit more than you write, and don’t be an asshole.
ZEA: You’ve published three anthologies of zombie stories, Best New Zombie Tales: Volumes 1-3, which gave a lot of new and emerging writers a great deal of recognition. Do you plan on doing any more zombie or other fictional creature anthologies?
Daley: Yes, but not this year.
ZEA: As a published author is there any advise you can give writers who are still trying to get published?
Daley: A writer’s job isn’t to get published. A writer’s job is to write something worth reading. Focus on the craft, not the sale.
ZEA: Many writers don’t necessarily start out writing in the genre they become known for. Have you always written in the horror genre or was there another genre you tried your hand at?
Daley: I started off writing movie scripts. From there I continue to write comedy, horror, drama, science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction.
ZEA: What is your favorite kind of horror to write about? And why?
Daley: I want to say that I like writing about monsters, because there’s not much reality in monsters, but apparently I’m best at writing about serial killers. Perhaps it’s because I understand people, and how rotten they can be.
ZEA: Do you believe in the possibility of a zombie apocalypse?
ZEA: Would you plan on bugging out or hunkering down and fortifying in there was one?
Daley: Those are my choices? In a crisis situation I’m the guy that tries to stay levelheaded, making decisions based on the current information.
ZEA: What would be your firearm of choice?
Daley: I’ve never shot a gun, so I have no answer to this question.
ZEA: What would be your edged or blunt weapon of choice?
Daley: A Louisville Slugger aluminum baseball bat.
ZEA: Who would be in your survivor group?
Daley: My family, friends, and anyone that needed help.
ZEA: My final question: Who was the person that most influenced you to become a writer?
Daley: Stephen King. Or my script teachers in film school. I guess the answer depends on how I look at the question.