Select Page

A lot of people think that authors who get a book published simply sit back and wait for the checks to roll in, but the reality is drastically different. You have to be crazy to chase this lifestyle for years. Plenty of driven writers sacrifice a lot and end up eating a college student style diet of Ramen noodles, Hot Pockets, and rejection.

Okay, that’s not entirely true because no one is crazy enough to eat Hot Pockets after the college years.

What actually happens when you get a book deal is you hope you don’t become one of the folks whose book fails to earn out whatever advance is paid, even though nine out of ten books fail to do so. And it’s a lengthy list indeed of authors who’s books came and went like what Warden Norton from Shawshank State Prison would call “a fart in the wind.”

So I was motivated and ready to do whatever media blitz was necessary.

But here’s another thing a lot of people don’t realize about the publishing industry: Most authors are responsible for the lion’s share of their own publicity. I wrote a lot of articles, blog posts, and more to promote my book, and I spoke anywhere I could to support Undead. I also made a number of appearances in full zombie costume and makeup. All while teaching a number of classes at three different colleges and universities.


This particular article was one of my most ambitious efforts for promoting the book. One Saturday morning in Pittsburgh, I nabbed a press pass and traveled to the Run For Your Lives 5k with my sister Bethany.

Run For Your Lives is a cross between a race and flag football. Runners–many costumed amazingly and wearing three flags hanging from their hips–try to complete the obstacle course populated with people dressed as zombies. The Zs are trying to snag every last flag. It’s zany and fun.

Bethany and I weren’t there to compete, although she would kick some serious zombie butt. Rather, I was doing research to use that event as the backdrop for explaining the cultural fascination of zombie culture, which was at the heart of my book.

Patheos is a prominent site with a bunch of interfaith blogs, from Protestant to Catholic to atheist and much more. My publisher had the in with them, so it was easy to pitch this story.

One of my favorite parts in writing every story is the moment you realize that you have the perfect lead. As my sister and I stood near the starting line, watching a fresh horde of doomed racers being amped up and warned by the official, the entire opening appeared in my mind. I hope you like it to.

Run for Your Life: Faith in a Zombie Culture