Hopper, Associate Editor, Horror
Issue #1: 01/01/01
of the Horror Genre
By Ron Brown
©2001, Ron Brown
happened to the horror genre?
is a common question, and the usual answers drive those who wish to write
in the fear-inspired genre toward the nearest pillow to hide their tears.
People who watch the market know that the number of current new
horror titles per year is significantly lower than it was back in the late
80s and early 90s. In
fact, the 1998 numbers were a little more than half the total of the
booming year of 1995.
few people realize that the genre is as healthy now as it was in the days
immediately preceding Stephen Kings series of bestsellers in the 80s
and 90s. In fact, the low
1998 number is still much higher than any year in the early 80s, when
books such as Pet Cemetery were published.
The horror genre has never been very large.
It has always been a niche market for those who enjoy the emotion
of fear and are entertained by the exploitation of it.
Horror has never rivaled suspense or science fiction for number of
fact, though, is little consolation to the writer who wishes to break
into the publishing world with a new horror novel.
However, it must be noted that breaking into publishing is never
easy, even in growing genres. Though
some of the lesser quality books of the short-lived horror boom would
likely not find their way to stands in the current market, there is still
a place for good writing and compelling stories.
many stories that would be considered horror by many readers have been
reclassified in the changing marketplace.
For example, Dean Koontz is now often referred to as a writer of
supernatural suspense, while other writers are lumped into dark
fiction. These differences
are not entirely in name only; the stories do tend to focus on other
aspects of the story as much as fear.
Many writers looking for their first sale may consider slightly
recasting their story if they face a wall from agents and publishers who
do not wish to handle horror.
the market for horror in small press publishers is very healthy.
Some of these outfits are quite small, and some also do not put out
a tremendous product. However,
a good number of them will produce a quality book, pay royalties, and
perhaps even a small advance. Its
true that going this route does not exactly produce the dream of the
beginning writer to quit the day job and write full time, but it is a
possible starting point in a writing career for those who love their genre
and want to work toward making their living writing horror.
versions of Vision