Is the (insert trope) field dead?

I’ve seen this type of question pop up several times in the last few weeks:

  • Is the vampire genre dead?
  • Are zombie markets dying?
  • Is the horror market in decline?

The answer is actually simple: it doesn’t particularly matter in 2013.

Yes, there are thousands of vampire/Twilight books available in the marketplace, particularly ebooks. With the success of The Walking Dead, there are hordes of zombie books clamoring for a piece of your brain. Now that it is relatively simple to submit a horror story that never sold to Smashwords for distribution, the horror market is saturated with 99-cent stories, novellas, and novels.

So what?

It’s always been that way. There are huge volumes of horror works getting published right now as you read this blog post. For example, there’s a list of recommended reading posted at the Horror Writers Association. Just in the novel section, there are almost 70 works listed. Overall, there’s more than a year’s worth of reading on the list, assuming you have a day job/kids/a life.

What does this mean for you, the aspiring horror author?

It means there is a lot of competition out there. You need to only publish work that is ready to go out into the world. If you take that drawer full of novels you wrote when you were an angsty 15 year old, back when you were failing English classes because “these vocabulary words are, like, OMG stoopid, because nobody uses those dumb words and I can write just fine and I remember my book kicks ass and no, I don’t know, what’s a run-on sentence?”

Polish. Proofread. Get others to proofread, especially enemies who want to torture your ego with small details like misspellings, plot holes, and forgetting to actually replace {insert huge fight scene here} with an actual fight scene.

The real secret to getting published is to actually craft something special. Something that takes that vampire romance story and twists it to make it unique. Make fun of Twilight all you want, but Ms. Meyer is laughing all the way to the bank. She made a book that pulled in a huge market slice, and kudos to her for being able to do it. Take that zombie novel and make it special. Do something different with the tired trope of zombies chasing humans in a shopping mall.

A genre will always be passé or deceased until someone with skill comes along and resurrects it from the dead. When that happens, it generates excitement and copycats. Don’t be a copycat, be the innovator.

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