I was reading this article from i09 titled “10 Science Fiction And Fantasy Stories That Editors Are Tired Of Seeing.”
Number one on the list, as it has been for the last four years is “Zombies.”
There is a LOT of zombie fiction out there. And a lot of it is absolutely “Former military guy gets the gang back together to kick some zombie ass while describing guns in extreme detail and getting laid.” I can name at least twenty books that would fit that description.
The Rolling Stones have been touring for 52 years. In that time they have performed (at least, according to the Google) more than 2057 concerts. And they play Satisfaction every single time.
How tired do you think Mick Jagger is of singing that song? I mean, 52 years, and $300 million, and he STILL “Can’t get no satisfaction.” He tried. And he tried, oh yeah he tried. As a Stones fan, I’ve seen them in concert a few times, and I’d be sad if I didn’t hear that song.
While I certainly understand these editors being tired of reading zombie stories, the fans clearly are not. I wrote zombies. I made it to #1 on Amazon’s best-seller list with What Zombies Fear. Then I got a little tired of Zombies, and wrote some other stuff. Really good stuff. I stand by The Evolution of Vaughn as the best book I’ve ever published.
The point of all of this is that it’s not up to an editor’s personal taste, it’s up to them to pick out what sells. And, as much as we (in the industry) may be tired of zombies, they still SELL. I recently launched Hell on Rails, a zombie-esque story (Zombie-esque in that zombies were the cause of the apocalypse, but aren’t the focus of the story.) and it’s getting more traffic than anything else I’ve written. Last night even beat out WZF book 5’s launch post for “most traffic in the first hour” on my blog. And that’s saying something.
If you want to write about Parallel Universe Steampunk Time-travelling Pregnant Zombie Mermaids, then do so. Self-publish, and you’ll find a niche market and make a few bucks. Hell, I’d probably read that book. But it would never get published by a traditional publishing house. They are too slow to market. When I self publish a novel, I can go from typing “The End,” through the editing and cover design processes in less than a month. A traditional publisher will often sit on a book for 18 months before it finally hits the shelves. For them, if there are two years left in the height of the zombie craze, they’re not taking any more books on.
Zombie fans are alive and well, and buying books right now. Eventually the cycle will slow, the craze will cool off, but according to book sales, zombies aren’t done yet. The zombie market was worth $5,000,000,000 (That’s 5 billion) in 2011, and in 2013, the total was 7.75 billion dollars. Even if 2014 starts the decline in popularity, there are still several years of zombies left. At least, that’s how I see it.