Online Scares to Hardcover Hits

The legitimacy of internet expression has been exploding in recent history. The democratization of content that online platforms afford means that authors can go straight to the source in search of readers. David Wong began stretching his literary legs moonlighting as a writer for his humor website Pointless Waste of Time. He began to release chapters of a horror/comedy series on his website every Halloween, a series which would go on to be read an estimated 70,000 times. With feedback from his early readers, David was able to put together these chapters and craft his first novel, John Dies at the End.


Imagine having 70,000 workshoppers seeing you through your creative process. Powerful, if not intimidating. Once tweaked, David self published the complete book online, and was almost immediately contacted by a small print publisher with a book deal, and subsequently contacted by a director for the movie rights.

After the movie deal, John Dies at the End was already in the process of a more widespread hardcover publication. The internet is a crazy place. From hobbyist to novelist, David Wong managed to create a direct relationship with his readers without any of the traditional go-betweens and used the dialogue to craft a novel with the right blend of Lovecraft’s horror, Kevin Smith’s slacker wit, and the universal humor of absurdity.


 Photo courtesy of

Stories like David Wong’s will only become more  commonplace as the power of online self-publishing increases. In hopes of finding the next Wong, I turned my attention to Reddit. I stumbled upon a popular subreddit called No Sleep, in which authors post short horror stories or series’ in the same way Wong did with his own website. The process of sifting through the horror stories made me feel like a kid by the campfire, listening closely as those around tried their best to ruin the chances of a good night’s sleep. What a strange, morbid pleasure.

The most popular story up at the moment is “How a Single Flat Head Screw Destroyed a Research Lab“. Excellent pacing and an engrossing narrative voice really make this a great read. It definitely pays to keep an eye out for all the diamonds in the digital rough, you never know when you could stumble upon your new favorite author.

Feature image courtesy of