NOTE: Originally posted on the Zé Burns Blog (December 2019)
By Zé Burns
A month ago, I had a revelation as I was voting for the Wonderland Awards (given to the best bizarro novel and collection each year). As I struggled to choose my favorite among so many great titles, I felt wistful that the majority of the world knows nothing of these incredible books. I’ve made a resolution to do all the below and I hope you’ll join me.
Word of Mouth
More than anything, bizarro fiction will grow through word of mouth. I would say 9 out of 10 people that I talk to haven’t heard of the genre, and of that 10%, most are either frightened of it or have misconceptions. Just think: if everyone who reads this post told 10 of their friends about bizarro fiction, nearly 2000 new people would become aware of the genre.
Looking for good ways to describe such an enigmatic genre? Bizarro Central has some great definitions.
All the above can be done over social media. It can be as simple as retweeting a bizarro book release or liking a promotion on Facebook. If you enjoyed a bizarro book, take a picture of the cover and post it on Instagram. It’s ridiculously easy to promote on these sites. Just a click and you’re done!
Also: Follow bizarro authors, blogs, and publishers on these sites. It’s a great way to stay in the know!
The 3 R’s – Reading, Reviewing, Recommending
Obviously, purchasing bizarro books and enticing others to do so as well are cornerstones of growing the genre. While buying paperbacks can be costly for some, most eBooks are the price of your latte. Also, publishers are always having sales, another reason to follow them on social media.
Who you buy books from means different things. While buying directly from the publisher helps presses financially, purchasing a book through Amazon shows the site that it is indeed in demand, thus giving it a better ranking in their convoluted system. Alternatively, many authors will sell their own copies (usually signed). It’s the best way to support the authors themselves—moneywise.
Looking for a book to read? I’ve highlighted dozens on this blog. The sites below are always putting up new books:
- Eraserhead Press site lists their new releases
- The blog Biblioculus is full of great reviews
- Looking for more horror-based books? Check out the Deadite Press site
- Habla Español? Check out Spanish-language publisher Orciny Press
- Though not as often as they used to, Bizarro Central still posts new releases
- Not to mention many other small publishers list their new works as well
Once you’ve read a book, share it through online reviewing (Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, etc.) and—if you enjoyed it—recommend it to your friends and family in person and on social media.
Reviews have incredible power, especially on Amazon, which features books with more reviews over others. Also, reviewing doesn’t mean gushing and giving 5 stars to a book you didn’t enjoy. Be honest. The author will appreciate it.
Pre-ordering books before they come out is a superb way to help authors and publishers.
10 More Suggestions
- Most libraries—even the big ones like my own Seattle Public Library—don’t have many or even any bizarro books. Recommend bizarro books for them to add to their collection!
- Gift bizarro books to family and friends! Either Madeleine Swann’s Fortune Box or Danger Slater’s He Digs A Hole are great places to start for new readers to the genre.
- Follow authors’ websites and blogs. Many bizarro authors have them. It’s a great way to give them some love and keep up to date with their work and what they’re up to.
- A bizarro signing or event in your area? Attend and invite others to do so!
- Support bizarro authors on Patreon (the less they’re worrying about money, the more effort they can put into their writing).
- Give authors some love on Goodreads. Currently the Bizarro Fiction group is defunct. How about we breathe new life into it?
- Follow bizarro YouTube channels. Right now there aren’t many, but both Madeleine Swann and Luciana Williams have channels. Eraserhead TV has some great content coming up in the next year.
- Listen to bizarro podcasts! I recommend the Bizzong Podcast and John Wayne Lied to You, and there are more.
- Support publishers by buying their merch. (You’ll never run out of black t-shirts.)
- If you loved a book, contact the author through their website or social media and tell them just that. It’ll make their day.
Of course, bizarro fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but is a wide genre, a lot more than most people think. I’ve talked to many who think it’s just horror, but it extends into sci-fi, fantasy, western, crime, the list goes on. And as a literary genre, there are some damn good books just waiting to be found and shared.
If you’ve done something on this list, show it off to us! We’d love to see. You can contact us on:
Zé Burns is a Seattle-based author of horror and the surreal, an avid proponent of bizarro fiction, and a lover of all things weird. He is the editor-in-chief and owner of Babou 691. You can find him on Twitter at @ZeBurns or on his site: zeburns.com.