Over the last week or so, I’ve been on the agent and publisher hunt again. And once again, it’s a depressing experience. Horror, it seems, is a dirty word. It’s something to be whispered, to be sniggered at or maybe (if you’re lucky) seen as a bit of a joke. I’ve lost track of the amount of agencies and publishers I’ve looked at who specify no horror in their submission guidelines. Fantasy and SF are sometimes OK, but horror is a definite no-no.
A regular piece of advice given over at AW regarding submissions is to start at the top and work your way down. Good, solid advice for the most part. The problem here is where do you start when a lot of the names at the top aren’t interested in your genre? You work your way down to the smaller presses and the hit another problem. The smaller presses might have the passion and interest in the genre, but they obviously lack the impact of the big boys. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but let’s be honest here: I want to make a living out of this or at least make enough to notice it. Being read and appreciated would be great; being successful would be pretty sweet, too.
Horror goes in cycles. It doesn’t die, but based on what I’ve been reading from certain publishers, it appears to be resting at the moment. I think it’s been put to bed by sexy vampires and ass kickin vampire hunters. Stuff like that is obviously popular with plenty of readers, but so is real horror. I’m talking horror that stays with you, that upsets you, that takes you into the dark and, if you’re lucky, brings you back out. It seems at the moment, the publishing world has forgotten that.
Depressing as it is, this seems to sum up the issue…