Here are the top tropes from the Amazon Kindle Mystery, Thriller & Suspense–>Suspense–>Horror list as of July 27, 2017.  As I was investigating the list, I found something surprising…

  • Detective investigates horror – The River Is Dark by Joe Hart
  • Try to find out why loved one did horrible thing – The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
  • Cozy horror (boutique job: blogging house flippers) – The Haunting of Winchester Mansion Omnibus by Alexandria Clarke (Note: I tried to look up the author but didn’t find anything.  This screams “pseudonym” to me.)
  • Normal people are crazy – The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn
  • Serial killer apocalypse – Trackers: A Post-Apocalyptic EMP Thriller by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
  • Haunted house – The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates
  • Detective investigates horror + normal people are crazy – Missing Ones Super Boxset: A Collection of Riveting Kidnapping Mysteries by various (Note: Same style as the Alexandria Clarke series…J.S. Donovan, Roger Hayden, James Hunt are authors.)
  • Cozy horror + haunted house – House of Secrets Super Boxset: A Collection of Riveting Haunted House Mysteries by Alexandria Clarke and Roger Hayden (Alexandria Clarke is listed above; Roger Hayden is also in the Missing Ones box set; same style as Alexandria Clarke and the other box set above).
  • Detective investigates horror – Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
  • Detective investigates horror + normal people are crazy + post-apoc bundle – The Missing Super Boxset: A Collection of Riveting Mysteries by James Hunt.  (Note: Same style as the other box sets.  WTF.)

Okay, at this point, I stopped typing stuff in and looked up J.S. Donovan, James Hunt, Roger Hayden, and Alexandria Clarke.  They don’t have webpages or newsletters or author photos or bios; they all have the same book cover design; they’re all interrelated via box sets.  My suspicion is that they’re all the same author writing under different pseudonyms (or: several ghostwriters writing under the same mastermind publisher, which isn’t listed) and completely dominating the list right now.  Roger Hayden has an actual Smashwords profile, which tells me he’s the most likely candidate for the main writer behind this. He also has by far the largest number of books, going back the farthest.  So…the Hayden Horror Collective?

I stopped to wonder if Darcy Coates is part of the Hayden Horror Collective – but she has her own identity and website, even if she does have a similar cover image and subject matter, so I’d have to have more info before I grouped her with the others. She doesn’t show up in any of their box sets.

  • Detective investigates horror – The Abducted Super Boxset: A Small Town Kidnapping Mystery by Roger Hayden (Same pattern)
  • Normal people are crazy? or haunted house – Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
  • Detective investigates horror with meta touches – Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  • Apocalypse – The Stand by Stephen King
  • Normal people are horrible – Housebroken by The Behrg
  • Apocalypse – Trackers 2: The Hunted (A Post-Apocalyptic EMP Thriller) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
  • Detective investigates horror – The Haunting of Rachel Harroway – Book 2 by J.S. Donovan (Same pattern)
  • Normal people are horrible – The Mist by Stephen King
  • Normal people are horrible – Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus
  • Detective investigates horror – The Haunting of Rachel Harroway – Book 1 by J.S. Donovan (same pattern)

The Hayden Horror Collective occupies 7 of the top 20 spots.  If you want to know why people hire ghostwriters, here’s your example: a writer hits an audience sweet spot, hires other writers to exploit the market, and uses collective promotions between those writers to take over a bestseller list.

I could be wrong, but…

If you liked this post, why not read something I wrote? By Dawn’s Bloody Light, a cheesy ’80s  horror novella with fairies.  Three women looking for revenge. A serial killer who won’t know what hit him.