Wednesday, November 22, 2017

no one wants my zombies!

My first book has zombies in it. I knew it would be a hard sell because of them, but I didn't imagine just how difficult it really is. I'm confident in my query and pages, but I've had a ton of agents reject based on the zombies alone. I got a rejection the other day that said she really liked my pages, but couldn't sell it. So now I'm thinking about trying to find a more zombie-friendly option, like small press or even self-publishing.

BUT I also have another book. It's way more marketable than my zombie one, and I think with some work, I could make it shine. So my question is, should I wait on searching for small presses and query this second book when it's ready? Is it better to wait and see if I can get an agent with the second book and see if they want to try selling the zombie book too? The zombie one is important to me, and I definitely want to publish it in some form, some way. How important is a debut book to a brand new author?

Under ZERO circumstances should you self-publish a book unless you are willing to become a publisher. Finding an audience for a self-published book is a big job and what I hear you saying is you want to be a writer, not a publicist, marketer, salesperson, returns manager, bean counter.

And while small presses are terrific, and I've sold to more than a few, they're not more likely to take on a book with a dwindling market than a larger publisher.

Pay attention to what that last agent said: she can't sell the book. And it's not cause she's a twit. Zombies are a hard sell right now because of market saturation.

Even Stringer Bell knows about market saturation!

The good thing about market saturation? It's not set in stone. One of these days zombies will be back. And you'll be ready. In the meantime, polish up that second novel and query on it.

When you have an agent, tell her about the zombie novel. She's going to throw her hands in the air and rend her garments as she wails, but assuage her pain by saying you don't expect her to sell it NOW. It's part of your inventory.

And I've had authors dusting off inventory left and right lately.

The best thing about zombie books? They're never really dead.


Kitty said...

They're never really dead.

HA HA HA !!!

Kregger said...

All I know...
I only have one cell phone.
So, no market saturation for me.
No, never.
But zombies?
Yeah, in spades.

Timothy Lowe said...

Any Stringer Bell mention is a good mention. Period.

It might be easier to be a gangster than a writer, but I digress.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Zombies, vampires, lycanthropes- they may hibernate for a time but they will come back. Like our queen said, never really dead.

I can’t imagine writing to the market is ever the best idea because by the time you are done with your book, the market has moved on.

Well, I have a plane to catch. I am off to New York for Thanksgiving and boy, does my kid have plans for me.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Like KITTY, "...they're never really dead." Hahaha.

Here's a suggestion, change the word "Zombie" to the word "politician," and you have a NYTs bestseller with a movie deal.
Love it !

Kitty said...

I have always been in awe of the Pilgrims, especially when I learned that one of my ancestors, Moses Simmons, had arrived on the ship Fortune in Plymouth, MA, in November, 1621. He was 16 years old. Moses Simmons not only survived his first winter in 1621, he lived for another 68-70 years. I would have made the sorriest excuse for a Pilgrim. I feel certain that had my ancestors’ survival depended upon me instead of Moses, we would have surely perished.

Happy Thanksgiving to Janet and all the Reiders.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Funny stuff around here, as usual. That last sentence, "...never really dead.". And 2Ns, HA!

Speaking of fun and funny stuff: to coincide with Janet's love of pens, I just found these woodland creature pencils. We Reiders can chew on them! (First time attempting the linky thing).

julieweathers said...

Hold on to it. Zombies will be back. As the queen says, they're never really dead. hahahaha I'm so glad I wasn't drinking when I read that and spit coffee all over my son's fancy lit up demonic red keyboard.

When I was querying Far Rider, I never once had a person mention they didn't want it because of the zombies. It never occurred to me I even had zombies until someone said, "That is a really fresh take on zombies. I love it and want to know more." I thought, I don't have zombies. Well, I guess I do. Spirit walkers are people who have died and been brought back to life.

The big fashion in western boots now is the square toe. Everyone thinks they are really uptown and in the latest style. Sorry, square-toed boots cycle around periodically and have for decades. Robert E. Lee must have been a real fashion icon in his square-toed boots.

Someone is going to write a fresh zombie book that will rock everyone's boat and people will be scrambling for zombies again, just like no one wanted vampires until sparkly vampires appeared.

Hang on to your zombie, write something new. You'll be ready when they hit again.

Most importantly, have a zombie plan.

Janet Reid said...

I just bought two of Melanie Sue Bowles woodland creatures pencils for my younger nieces!They are amazing readers and perhaps future woodland creatures.

James Leisenring said...

The last line of this blog post killed me. Thankfully I'm back, although suddenly I have a craving for brains? Weird

John Davis Frain said...

As much as I love the last line, I love the total answer even more. THANK YOU! (Not my question, I don't mean to usurp anything from Opie. But I'm lovin' it.)

Sherry Howard said...

Bwahaha! This whole post was made for JR to be able to use that ending that's probably been in her inventory dying to show up in a blog post. No, really, the word "inventory" cheered me up immensely. I have a huge collection of work, and henceforward I shall refer to it as my inventory and beam widely.

I'm doing all the from-scratch baking. I'll be knee deep in flour and sugar today!

BJ Muntain said...

One of these days zombies will be back.

I try to tell people not to write to markets. "I'm going to write the next best seller because I'm writing about [insert current topic here]." Then you get others who say, "I have this great story about [insert current topic here], but it will never sell because of market saturation."

My first advice: Write the damn book. Write the book that wants desperately to be written. It may need to sit for awhile. You don't have to wait until they make a comeback, though. Just wait until there's no longer the market saturation. After all, your book may be the one that brings zombies back from the dead market. :)

Kathy Joyce said...

I feel like a zombie after a crazy couple of weeks! I'll settle and move on, but I know zombie days will return at some point. I used to tease my mom about keeping so many outdated clothes. She always said, "Everything comes back into fashion again." Take heart OP!

Love the idea that agents want inventory. All the "failures" are moving toward success. Now I just have to finish them.

Happt thanksgiving all.

Joseph Snoe said...

Happy Thanksgiving to all, the living and the dead.

Do zombies read books?

Craig F said...

Feed your zombies more Brians so they can become high concept zombies. Make sure they are all cleaned up and ready for prime time because as soon as rumor of a new concept in zombies is nigh the other zombies will come out of the woodworks. Then that market will be saturated too.

It amazes me that when you look at places like Watt Pad you see that many people still want to read zombies, vampires, goblins, shape shifters and lycanthropes. All the stuff that the big five say are saturated.

OT: Sent out the first few queries for my thriller. I am not sure if I should bear down on it at the moment or not. I don't want agents to think it was something smashed out during Na No.

Kerry Bernard said...

That's frustrating OP. One of the reasons I've been putting off querying is a vampire antagonist. I feel like my manuscript is doomed. Janet's advice is heartening though.

Karen McCoy said...

Craig F Ha! And good luck with the querying.

I've never been a big fan of zombies (sorry, OP), but it's heartening to know that things in the market are cyclical. I mostly write YA Fantasy, and I know that market is pretty saturated too. I also saw this tweet from NYT Bestelling author Karen McManus (author of ONE OF US IS LYING) that offers a good reminder.

Colin Smith said...

Another one of those "I have nothing to add" questions and answers today. Janet even got the best joke in there.

So I guess I'll just be quiet, and go update the Contest Spreadsheet... :)

John Davis Frain said...


Speaking on behalf of the suddenly fearful Brians of the world, we now know typos can kill like commas. (Let's eat grandma.)

On a less serious note, good luck with your query. Agents will be able to tell instantly that you didn't send in your Nano project. Maybe you're playing contrarian, and agents will be so sick of seeing the slosh from Nano draft 1 that your project will stand out like a lighthouse through the fog.

Colin Smith said...

John: I'm probably wrong about this (and I'm likely wrong about a lot of things, but Janet figures no-one pays me any attention anyway so it doesn't matter), but I recall reading that, generally, this fear of NaNo projects turning up in agent inboxes on Dec 1 is unfounded. By and large, most people get that their NaNo projects need a lot of work before the rest of the world sees them. Not to say there aren't one or two gung-ho n00bs eager to see their names in lights. But for the most part, people know better.

Colin Smith said...

PS: The Treasure Chest now contains an updated Writing Contest spreadsheet. Congrats again to Richelle, a TWO-TIME winner. What was her other win? Check that out for yourself. Clue: She was co-winner with Nate Wilson.

Panda in Chief said...

I loved the last line too.

A Happy Thanksgiving to Janet and all the Readers of the Lost ARC! Remember, if no one sees you eat that second piece of pie in the kitchen, it didn't happen!

Panda in Chief said...

Dang that Otto Correct! That was SUPPOSED to be "REIDERS of the lost ARC"

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Happy day, everybody! And Happy Thanksgiving, to the U.S. Reiders! My oatmeal rolls are baked and I now have an assortment of veggies to slice and dice for the veggie dip. Tomorrow we travel to the feast, where Mom and my sister like to cook the traditional foods.

Congrats Richelle for winning the latest flash fiction!

And congrats to Colin for already getting your word count in for NaNo.

Thanks for that link, Karen. It's encouraging to read of other people's persistence and success stories.

Colin Smith said...

Thanks, Lisa!

Also, if there are Janet articles that you think need to be linked in the Treasure Chest (see "Gems from Janet's Blog Archive"), please email me and let me know. Cheers, y'all! :)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Dang it! Messed up linking the linky thing. So glad you got a kick out of the pencils, Janet.

Craig, YAY you, on hitting the query trenches. Go forth with gusto!

Jessica said...

Ah, I'm just getting home from work, but thank you for answering my question, Janet! Time to get to work on my second novel :)