Horror fiction can be a commercial success

People love to be scared. If they didn’t there would be no need for horror films, Halloween, or the nightly news. It’s in our nature to crave that rush we get by fright. Alfred Hitchcock once said “People like to be scared when they feel safe.” And this is very true. Why? For some it’s merely a means to feel “alive”. Maybe it’s a hidden desire to be reminded just how safe our every day lives are. To some connoisseurs of the macbre, the viewing of a good horror film is more an indictment on the ever-crumbling state of society.

But what about fiction? Horror fiction seems to not enjoy the same truths as are applied to horror cinema. Although it would be unfair to say that the majority of horror lovers are more prone to watch a movie than read a book, that is most likely as safe a spring board as any.  Think about it this way: Of all the book genres, Romance consistently pulls in a staggeringly high percentage of book sales each year (some years as high as 51% of all book sales).  Why is that? If I were to venture a guess I would say the vast majority of romance readers are women and since women also outnumber men in readership – the genre already has a leg up on all others. And since the majority of horror fans tend to be male, the genre already has a hurdle to over come.

But change is blowing in the wind and that change might well boost sales of genres, such as horror, that have suffered because of the lack of a sizable fanbase actually buying books. That change is eReaders. Face it, men like gadgets and one of the most popular gadgets today is the eReader (be it in the form of the Kindle, the Nook, or the iPad). With a good gadget the male audience will more than likely start plunging into our the worlds we horror writers have fashioned. But that means we must get those books published!

A few months ago I finished the final draft of the first part of a series of Zombie fiction called I Zombie I. Naturally, being proud of this work, I wanted to go the tradition routes of publication. But as I have been pimping that work to publishers and agents I started coming to a different conclusion – the publishing industry is heading for a collision course with change. Think about it this way: As a niche writer (although zombie fiction is quite popular now, it still is considered “niche”) you have two options:

  • Go the tradition route and find a small press to sign you to a contract and hope that your “officially published” book is sold.
  • Go the new-traditional route and use a service like Smashwords to publish your work in a format that will then be sold (simultaneously) for the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad, and other sources.

Although there is a certain status that comes along with the former route, the latter route might well bring the writer a far higher number in sales. Although you won’t make as much money per book, you do stand to make more overall.

For my first books (Shero, A Blade Away, and Gothica) I opted to immediately go the eBook route.  With these books I have discovered the absolute necessity to self-promote your books. And with Horror fiction that is made ever-more crucial. Why is this? With fewer readers searching specifically for horror, you MUST market yourself (as a writer of horror fiction) and your books. If you do not do this, you may as well not bother writing your books.

Horror fiction need not fall under the weight of all other genres of books. To anyone that would say horror writers are inferior to all others I say “nay nay”. Yes, there are plenty of horror writers who are quick to give the genre a bad name (let’s not even bother discussing what the “Twilight series” has done to adversely effect the Vampire myth), but for every bad writer there is a great writer.

For anyone that hasn’t given horror fiction a chance, I ask you to try. But before you go about downloading one of the classics, or one of the many books by the genre’s grand marshals (King, Koontz, etc), you should give a new writer of horror a try. For those with a Kindle, a Nook, or iPad…do yourself a favor and download a novel of horror by a new writer. And if you are a writer of horror, do yourself a favor and review other books of horror. The more we promote our fellow writers, the more we are seen and the more we are seen the more success our genre will enjoy.