Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including Move Under Ground, I Am Providence and Sabbath. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy,, and dozens of other venues. Much of the last decade's short fiction was recently collected in The People's Republic of Everything.

Nick is also an editor and anthologist: he co-edited the Bram Stoker Award-winning Haunted Legends with Ellen Datlow, the Locus Award nominees The Future is Japanese and Hanzai Japan with Masumi Washington, and the hybrid fiction/cocktail title Mixed Up with Molly Tanzer. His short fiction, non-fiction, novels, and editorial work have variously been nominated for the Hugo, Shirley Jackson, Stoker, and World Fantasy Awards.

Starve Better by Nick Mamatas

Starve Better offers practical advice for making a living as a writer. In Apex Publications' survival guide, Nick Mamatas touches on both craft and business.

Starve Better makes no promises of making you a best-selling author. It won't feed aspiring writers' dreams of fame and fortune. This book is about survival; how to generate ideas when you needed them yesterday, dialogue and plot on the quick, and what your manuscript is up against in the slush piles of the world. For non-fiction writers, Starve Better offers writing techniques such as how to get (relatively) high-paying assignments in second and third-tier magazines, how to react to your first commissioned assignment, and how to find gigs that pay NOW as the final notices pile up and the mice eat the last of the pasta in the cupboard.

Humor, essays, and some of the most widely read blog pieces from Nick Mamatas, author and editor of fiction that has caught the attention of speculative fiction's most prestigious awards, come together for the first time in a writer's guide that won't teach anyone how to get rich and famous… But will impart the most valuable skill in the business; how to starve better.



  • "Culled from blog posts and various articles published online and in print, Mamatas offers no surefire formulas, no proven templates, and nothing close to a guarantee of success. Instead, he offers insights and instructions for earning something of a living through writing fiction and non-fiction, while establishing your writing cred with editors and publishers."

    – Bookgasm, Alan Cranis
  • "… I don't think there's anything quite like it on the market. In part, I think this is because I don't think anyone looks at the business and art of writing (or articulates those views) quite like Mamatas."

    – Rocket Kapre, Paolo Chikiamco
  • "While some aspiring scribes may be scared off by the author's realistic look at what a writer's life entails, others will find encouragement, challenge, and potent advice on how, at least, to 'starve better.' One comes away from reading this book convinced that, as Mamatas wrote in a pre-recession, 2005 essay, '… if you could not make a living as a freelancer it is because your standards were too high, both for what counted as writing and as what counted as living.'"

    – ForeWord Reviews, Kristine Morris



"Advice about writing reminds me of nothing so much as the underrated feud between The Undertaker and the late Yokozuna in the early 90s WWF. The Undertaker was and is a stiff and Yokozuna was a butterball better suited for a sideshow than athletic exhibitions, but there was an element of unpredictability that gave their matches something special. I remember watching their infamous Casket Match at 1994's Royal Rumble with my then-roommate who took great joy in reminding me that wrestling was 'fake.' Yes, yes it is. Also fake: situation comedies, Farscape, soap operas, and half the news. This is known. Doesn't make the television less entertaining.

But my roommate just loved pointing out how fake it all was. During the match, the goal of which is to shove one's opponent into a coffin and shut him in, Pablo pointed out that the match was no-disqualification—the only rule was that the match ended when the casket was closed. 'If it's no rules,' demanded Pablo, 'why don't ten bad guys show up, beat the shit out of the Undertaker, and shove him into the casket?'

About a minute later, that's exactly what happened. He shut up after that.

Those ten guys remind me of writing. There are no rules. Only the results matter; the process of shoving the kindhearted zombie mortician into the rented coffin is irrelevant. The problem is that when people can't get the results they want, they become obsessed with process. Nobody holds forth on the writing advice like barely published neophyte writers, and it makes me want to get together a posse of masked men and beat them down.

Recently, I got to witness somebody flip out over adverbs. The Harry Potter books, you see, are full of 'em. If you're flying, it's swiftly, if you're tip-toeing, it's stealthily. This, according to Mister Flippy, was wrong. 'When editors see -ly words from newbies, the submission goes right in the round file! Why can Rowling get away with it?' he wanted to know. He had a readymade answer, too—money-grubbing publishers foolishly allowed adverbs into Harry Potter titles because the books sell. Big Name Authors can break the rules.

Of course they can. So can you. Using lots of adverbs and adjectives is a newbie mistake. Declaring the use of adverbs and adjectives forbidden due to some secret publishing industry decree is another newbie mistake. Engaging in conspiracy theory about the adverbs you do happen to see in books is a medical mistake by the newbie's doctor. Up the dosage, Bones."