Horror fiction, what’s happened to it? I was wondering about it recently, and thought I can’t be the only one, can I?
There was a time back then when horror fiction seemed bigger. And the demand for it strong. Writers such Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Herbert, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Ramsey Campbell were names you would be familiar with whether you were a horror fan or not.
Now it seems the interest in horror fiction has cooled down. That is not to say that horror isn’t still being written and published it clearly is, but somehow it is now firmly in its niche and fans will have to seek it out.
An important point to bear in mind when talking about horror fiction is the route to publication. There are only a handful of mainstream publishers such as Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and MacMillan that still publish horror or darker fiction which again reflects the popularity of the genre. Remember, the publishing industry like any other business is about making money and will only respond to market demand.
However, the traditional route to publishing any fiction is not the end of the story by any means. Independent or indie publishers are thriving very nicely thank you! British independent publisher PS Publishing will publish darker fiction and horror and have even published titles from Stephen King and Ramsey Campbell. Hardly writers no one has heard of!
Cemetery Dance Publications is a renowned American independent publisher who also publish horror and darker fiction. They have even won awards in their field for excellence!
And then there is self-publishing, always a viable option for getting your horror fiction ‘out there’ or any fiction for that matter! Self-publishing is huge and is set to get bigger as it is becoming increasingly difficult to land a conventional publishing deal.
See my post on the successful self-publishing author Adam Croft. Adam Croft, Her Last Tomorrow – A Book Review
So from a writer’s perspective what is to be done about this genre? It is clearly not disappearing as I have just proven, but what is the way forward?
After a lot of thought I think it is this: find out what really frightens people and write about that! Gone are the days when haunted houses, demonic possession, ghosts, apparitions, and things that go bump in the night would have most of us hiding underneath the covers, the stuff of nightmares! Today, as readers and film buffs we are not so readily frighted by these sorts of things any longer. It’s going to take a lot more imagination!
Horror fiction has expanded and will often contain elements of the paranormal, fantasy, and all kinds of spooky activity! Well, it didn’t do Stephen King any harm!
If you plan to write within the horror fiction genre my advise would be to read loads of contemporary titles in the genre but don’t be afraid to read and be inspired by past writers in this often over-looked genre.
Until next time, happy writing!
Don’t forget to check underneath the bed!