Someone on Facebook pointed out that the zombie bestsellers right now are largely self-published titles. Even on the print side, where POD books are ruling the roost. I saw a thread on KB recently about how well someone was doing with clean urban fantasy (no graphic sex), even though they’ve been told nobody wants this.
You hear it a lot in this business. “Vampires are done.” “Zombies are tapped out.” “Nobody wants that anymore.”
Who is the “nobody” here? I don’t think it’s readers. There are new readers being born every second. There are new people hitting the age where they become absorbed in fiction. Right now, at this very moment, while you are reading this sentence, some child is hurriedly scanning the final paragraph of a great book. They just finished. They are now realizing that they haven’t been breathing. There is a gasp, a feeling like crying, like sobbing, an overwhelming joy at how frickin’ awesome that experience felt, a need to call a friend and beg them to read this book, but also a pit in their stomach, a hunger, an absence.
That person — they are real, even if we don’t know their name or where they live — is now a reader. They just had that experience that so many of us have had. And they are going to love a zombie story. They are going to love reading about vampires. Everything in the world is new to them.
This constant replenishing of the reading public means nothing ever grows old. It means your stories will be out there to be rediscovered over and over again. And it means we have to stop worrying about genres being “tapped out.”
I think what really happens is that agents and editors get weary of the same stories. They just decide one day that they’ve seen enough of this theme or setting, and it’s time to move on. They chatter on about this at conventions, and so it becomes self-fulfilled prophecy. Meanwhile, a new reader is being born. Someone else just turned to the last page. The process is still happening, still happening. These people are going to want new books to read. Whether that agent thinks those books are needed or not, I’m going to write them.