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Author Topic: Market for horror?  (Read 2220 times)  

Offline JCon

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Market for horror?
« on: April 10, 2017, 08:52:28 PM »
In anyone's experience, is there a market for self published horror?

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2017, 09:33:18 PM »

  The more important question - "is there a market for you?"

  Can you write compelling stories that enough people love and buy to satisfy you and make you feel its worth it?

  The only way to find out is to write and see.

  I am writing a short ghost story this week because I love ghost stories. I know there are other people who love them, too. Will I get rich? Only time will tell, but I love ghost stories so I'll write them anyway!

   I'm sure if enough other authors respond here you'll get some who say they do/have written horror and done quite well for themselves. While others will say they tried it and hardly made anything, so they switched to something else.

   Success varies for everyone. You won't know how the genre will do for you until you dip your toes into the bloody cauldron. :D

Offline Doglover

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2017, 11:18:11 PM »
The question should surely be: 'is there a market for horror?' The general reading public neither know nor care whether it's self published. In fact, the general reading public don't even know there is such a thing as self published. But, I think it is quite hard to categorise horror these days. What used to be horror in the shape of vampire stories and werewolf stories, are now categorised as urban fantasy. I wouldn't call Anne Rice's vampires any sort of fantasy. Then again, look at the competition. Can you compete with Stephen King? James Herbert?

I love good horror, but I detest zombies and shapeshifters. I'm quite fond of vampires, but as I said, where do they fit now? One of my favourites is Stephen King's The Stand. Another is his Pet Cemetery. There is so much to explore with horror, but blood and guts? No.


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Offline tlbodine

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2017, 11:20:30 PM »
Following with interest, as horror is my deepest literary passion.

Some miscellaneous thoughts I've had while pondering the state of the genre as it relates to indie publishing:

- The horror lists seem to have a tremendous amount of overlap from other genres, notably thriller and paranormal/urban fantasy. Quite a few of the horror best sellers don't seem to be horror at all, which is frustrating from a reader perspective.

- I suspect a good portion of the reason for this is that horror does not serialize well, and the current trend in publishing (particularly among indies) is series. One-shot horror novels would have the same discoverability problem as any other type of one-shot story by an unknown.

- That said, I KNOW that there is a hungry audience out there. Creepypasta is hugely popular and widely read. There are a great many writers on Tumblr and Reddit doing really interesting short-form horror stories; check Unsettling Stories, Sixpenceee, the entirety of the r/nosleep subreddit. Lots of cool stuff happening out there. On Wattpad, it seems like horror is one of the more popular genres, coming in behind romance but seeming to keep pace with or outstrip fantasy and sci-fi.

- I suspect a big part of that is the millennial generation. There's a whole group of us who grew up reading R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike, graduating to Stephen King in our teens and who are hungry for more scares. Add to that the pervasive spread of anxiety (and anxious people frequently LOVE horror stories) in our modern lives, and I personally think we are poised for a horror renaissance.

Is that a wish fulfillment fantasy on my part? Well, maybe. I just know I would LOVE to see more true horror on the page, and I really hope I'm not the only one!

One thing I can confirm: the horror fandom, in my experience, tends to be much more closely knit, loyal, and passionate than other genres. Horror fans love horror in a way that readers of other types of stories often don't; horror forms a greater part of a fan's identity than you see in other types of media.

All of which is to say: I think there is a tremendous amount of potential in the horror niche right now that has not been fully tapped, but it's going to require some creativity to solve the discoverability problem.

Offline ShaneJeffery

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2017, 02:10:02 AM »

- I suspect a big part of that is the millennial generation. There's a whole group of us who grew up reading R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike, graduating to Stephen King in our teens and who are hungry for more scares. Add to that the pervasive spread of anxiety (and anxious people frequently LOVE horror stories) in our modern lives, and I personally think we are poised for a horror renaissance.


Gees that is me. RL Stine to Christopher Pike to Stephen King, in that order.

The top 100 lists for horror have been hijacked by other genres it's true - and one reason is because Amazon classifies Dark Fantasy as a subgenre of horror (it's not).

There are other ways to find true horror authors though, and usually you start with the actual real horror books that are charting, check out their also boughts, and then check out the also boughts of those books. Real horror books are out there and being written by indies, and some of them are selling too.

In terms of visibility I guess real horror is competing with urban fantasy etc. but we're not competing for readers because no one goes to the horror lists to find urban fantasy.

So there is a market out there (on Amazon) and it's under served, for how wide the potential net is. More people writing horror might eventually bring more people to reading it.

Offline Flopstick

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2017, 05:09:11 AM »
All of which is to say: I think there is a tremendous amount of potential in the horror niche right now that has not been fully tapped, but it's going to require some creativity to solve the discoverability problem.

Word. That's the crux of it, imo.

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2017, 06:04:35 AM »
- The horror lists seem to have a tremendous amount of overlap from other genres, notably thriller and paranormal/urban fantasy.
Don't confuse what appears on the bestseller lists with "overlap." 80% of it is simply miscategorization. Horror as a genre has been abused by both trade publishers and indies who have no patience to bother learning what horror actually is nor do they seem to care. People put their paranormal romances under horror because they include shifters and vampires. "But there are scary scenes in my book, so it is horror okay?" NO. a few scary scenes no more make a book horror than a few kisses makes a book a romance.

So people put their romances or urban fantasies or cozy mysteries with witches under HORROR. Because, gee, if it has witches in it is has to be horror, right? And because Amazon doesn't have a clue what the word genre actually means, it just calculates rank based on sales and doesn't actually realize these books don't belong in horror. Which exasperates the problem because then the algorithms send emails to horror readers like me recommending these non-horror books as horror because I told Amazon I like horror...

Sorry, a sensitive topic for me.

Quote
- I suspect a good portion of the reason for this is that horror does not serialize well, and the current trend in publishing (particularly among indies) is series. One-shot horror novels would have the same discoverability problem as any other type of one-shot story by an unknown.

It is only a problem if you are dependent on Amazon for discoverability in the first place and you have no clue where your target audience is. Serialization discoverability is a specific marketing technique that works on Amazon, but it is not the only marketing technique on the planet and has never been the best marketing technique for a great many genres (horror among them).

Quote
- That said, I KNOW that there is a hungry audience out there.

And they are rabid and loyal. You just have to go where they live and not expect them to come to you. Most horror readers I know don't bother with Amazon unless they are looking for a specific title in print (then they go to Amazon to buy what they already know that they want). But they aren't "discovering" new horror on Amazon because Amazon sucks for horror. They are reading horror zines and hanging out on horror forums or attending horror conventions. So if you are writing horror, those are the places you need to be.

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Offline Jessie G. Talbot

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2017, 06:07:37 AM »
I started with King! No wonder I'm warped.

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Offline KateDanley

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2017, 01:22:23 PM »
What I've heard is that horror is one of the smaller demographics in publishing, so not only do horror authors have to fight for visibility, they have to fight for visibility in a smaller pool of potential buyers.  Publishers Weekly said that horror sales decreased in 2015 by 33% and decreased by 26% in 2014, buuuut...

Horror was up by 7% in 2016 (reported January 2017).  Furthermore, BookBub says they have over 1.1M subscribers for horror (https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing). 

I went over to the Amazon Top 100 Horror bestselling list.  Good news!  #1 in the horror category is #9 in the entire store!  Except... it looks like there might be some strong UF crossover... #2 in the list is a total UF book...  Stephan King is #3...   Some more UF...  *scrolling down the list*

The first "strictly horror" book that seems to be on the list is #10 - Cold Lake by Jeff Carson.  It is #508 in the entire store.

If I scroll down to #99 on the Top 100 Horror Bestsellers, the book ranks #3103 in the entire Amazon store.

That suggests that you only have to hit #3000-ish in order to have visibility on the Top 100 Horror Bestseller list.  That's great!  It means there is a steady group of horror readers.  If #99 on the Top 100 Horror Bestsellers list was sitting at #60,000 in the overall store, that would mean there wasn't a solid base of buyers.

But the Top 100 Overall list also suggests that the horror market isn't going to support a pure horror book much above #500 in the entire store (unless you're Stephen King or can crossover into UF.)

So, I guess the upshot is that if there is a horror story burning in your brain, write it!  You probably won't hit USA Today or the Top 100 Overall without a traditional publisher and their marketing machine.  But it looks like there are enough readers to give you a solid base and a nice midlist career.

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Offline MattGodbey

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2017, 06:50:02 PM »
The first "strictly horror" book that seems to be on the list is #10 - Cold Lake by Jeff Carson.  It is #508 in the entire store.

That doesn't seem to be a "horror" book, or am I missing something?

Offline ShaneJeffery

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2017, 07:02:48 PM »
That doesn't seem to be a "horror" book, or am I missing something?

I agree. Cold Lake is Mystery / Thriller not Horror.

The first real horror book on the list (excluding IT) is The Haunting of Winchester Mansion: Book 1 ranked at #437.

Offline The Bass Bagwhan

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2017, 04:27:31 AM »
I spent some time as a trad-published, midlist author in Australia publishing four horror books through Pan (before suffering the fate of many midlist writers). Those same books are now available through a digital publisher. At the same time I'm self-publishing more novels/novellas that aren't a series as such, but clearly branded as connected ( have a look http://graemehague.com.au/the-horror-story-volumes/ ). I'm not making a million. These are "classic" stories of ghosts and ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. There's not a chainsaw in sight.

It's a frustrating dichotomy. As others have said, horror readers are very keen to find the kind of stories they like, yet it's difficult to reach those readers. True horror is buried under UF, vampire romances and werewolf/bearwolf erotica (to name but a few). I'm not complaining about overlap and cross-genre titles, it's unavoidable - only that it's a real puzzle that genuine horror writing has a clear niche and dedicated audience, so you'd expect authors could precisely target them in promotions and such, but it doesn't work out that way. Exactly why, I haven't figured out yet. Probably Jules has got the best handle on it.

There is a market, and there is a readership. But for me, reaching them is an unexpected challenge. I'm keen to get involved in any discussion about it. 
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Offline KateDanley

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2017, 02:34:03 PM »
The first real horror book on the list (excluding IT) is The Haunting of Winchester Mansion: Book 1 ranked at #437.

#437 is even better news!  To the OP, I would recommend stalking the Top 100 Horror list for two weeks.  Note the top indie horror book, note where it is in the overall bestseller list, and note how volatile the list is.  Is the #1 book only hitting the list for a day or two and then disappearing?  Does it hang around?  Every book is different, every indie author is running a different marketing machine, but volatility of that list can be a good indicator as to how hard you're going to have to work to maintain visibility. 

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Offline Melody Simmons

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2017, 02:44:07 PM »
Don't confuse what appears on the bestseller lists with "overlap." 80% of it is simply miscategorization. Horror as a genre has been abused by both trade publishers and indies who have no patience to bother learning what horror actually is nor do they seem to care. People put their paranormal romances under horror because they include shifters and vampires. "But there are scary scenes in my book, so it is horror okay?" NO. a few scary scenes no more make a book horror than a few kisses makes a book a romance.


If I look at the Horror Bestsellers I must say Urban Fantasy has pretty much taken over the genre:

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Horror/zgbs/digital-text/157060011

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2017, 03:59:07 PM »
For several years I had a hard time getting any traction with my horror novels, but the collection of horror short stories (Night Conjurings) that I published back in October has done a little better. It has managed to stay under 100K for six months, with little marketing, and for the first four months or so it generally stayed under 20K. That's still very prawny, but I think it suggests that readers of my novels have slowly accumulated into a small but reliable fan base. I think if I had known anything about marketing when I published my novels, they would have done better when they appeared, but as an inept marketer (I don't have a website or mailing list) I'm beginning to believe that horror fans tend to stick with writers they like.

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Offline Guy Riessen

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2017, 04:25:31 PM »
If I look at the Horror Bestsellers I must say Urban Fanta.sy has pretty much taken over the genre:

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Horror/zgbs/digital-text/157060011

To clarify, it has in no way taken over the genre. Horror readers are not reading urban fantasy instead of horror. Amazon is simply listing UF as horror. If you go to other places that don't use an algorithm to categorize you'll find actual horror in lists of top horror.

How can you use Amazon for discoverability anyway? Well, for a new author it will be difficult. Once you begin to show up in other horror authors' also-boughts, you'll pick up readers. And as mentioned above, horror readers are extremely loyal and don't require, or perhaps even want, series exactly. But you can tie novels together by using cross-over characters or world-building or investigative departments/leads etc. You can look at horror movies to understand how it is possible to tie horror novels together.

For Amazon discoverability, you might consider making use of AMS. I'm no expert by any stretch, but you can gain a touch of the 'also-bought' crowd by hunting authors who write similar horror and then sticking their titles and their names into your AMS campaign keywords. With a high enough bid, you should start to appear in many searches in the "sponsored products" section below the also-boughts.

And of course, make sure your cover kicks-ass at thumbnail size compared to other top-ranked horror. And if your writing isn't tense, scary, and full of dread and horrific situations, go write Care Bear Horror...I mean Urban Fantasy and get yourself a slot in Amazon's Top 100 Horror  ;D  hehe, I did not call UF "care bear," You must be mistaken, move along now.

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Offline delve

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2017, 09:50:07 PM »
I love horror but Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance are far more popular genres right now. UF and PR uses traditional icons from horror like vampires, witches, and werewolves but they're NOT horror at all even though there is a bit of overlap in readership.

What used to be horror in the shape of vampire stories and werewolf stories, are now categorised as urban fantasy. I wouldn't call Anne Rice's vampires any sort of fantasy.

I don't think Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles is horror. She was a pioneer and one of the people who caused the vampire genre to branch out. Her books are definitely closer to Urban Fantasy than traditional horror. The Twilight books have vampires and werewolves but those aren't horror either, they're paranormal romance.

Personally I love horror and UF but I hate paranormal romance. Paranormal romance is taking over all of the horror related categories and it's impossible to find anything if you're a reader of any of those genre's that amazon thinks are all the same.

Offline Doglover

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2017, 10:43:28 PM »
I love horror but Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance are far more popular genres right now. UF and PR uses traditional icons from horror like vampires, witches, and werewolves but they're NOT horror at all even though there is a bit of overlap in readership.

I don't think Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles is horror. She was a pioneer and one of the people who caused the vampire genre to branch out. Her books are definitely closer to Urban Fantasy than traditional horror. The Twilight books have vampires and werewolves but those aren't horror either, they're paranormal romance.

Personally I love horror and UF but I hate paranormal romance. Paranormal romance is taking over all of the horror related categories and it's impossible to find anything if you're a reader of any of those genre's that amazon thinks are all the same.
The first books in the Vampire Chronicles were definitely horror. I don't think anyone had ever thought of urban fantasy back then, it didn't exist as a category. What would you call Stephen King's Salem's Lot? That, again, was horror long before anyone thought of a UF category. I wouldn't class Dracula as urban fantasy either.


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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2017, 06:01:22 AM »
The first books in the Vampire Chronicles were definitely horror.

Yes, the first few Vampire Chronicles was horror in the sense of classic gothic horror. It was not UF in any way, shape, or form. There was throughout the books an undercurrent of palpable dread, despite the sensual nature of the world. Later books started to steer away from the gothic horror context as she became a bit too enamored with her own creations and started romanticizing them a bit much. But the early books were true horror in the sense that they constantly fed the undercurrent of dread and hopelessness.

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Offline Doglover

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2017, 06:07:38 AM »
Yes, the first few Vampire Chronicles was horror in the sense of classic gothic horror. It was not UF in any way, shape, or form. There was throughout the books an undercurrent of palpable dread, despite the sensual nature of the world. Later books started to steer away from the gothic horror context as she became a bit too enamored with her own creations and started romanticizing them a bit much. But the early books were true horror in the sense that they constantly fed the undercurrent of dread and hopelessness.
I gave up after the fifth book. I thought they were past their sell by date by then, but the first four were brilliant. And I just loved her history of the vampires and where they came from. Wonderful stuff.


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Offline alawston

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2017, 06:08:51 AM »
TL;DR

Yes, there's a market for self-published horror. But it's not an automatic license to print money or anything.


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Offline MattGodbey

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2017, 01:37:30 PM »
So, I'd like to know where some of you find new horror in the indie world. I get lost on Amazon and either go in circles or never find something that looks promising, so I go back to a lot of 70's horror from the local library. What might be some good outlets for horror discussion on Al Gore's intranet about new books?

I've been re-reading Michael McDowell but would love to find some equivalent indies to follow.

Thanks.
M.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2017, 03:26:17 PM »
Horror is so difficult to classify. Clive Barker, Stephen King, James Herbert, Peter Straub, etc wrote horror. All good stuff, but they weren't generally ghost stories. The Rats was one of Herbert's most popular series, but it wasn't about ghosts, werewolves or vampires. It was more post apoc. The Stand was classified as horror, but nowadays it's probably post apoc/fantasy. Books of Blood were largely horror, but some of the stories were outright fantasy.

Even as an avid horror reader I struggle to define what makes a story horror versus fantasy or post apoc. The Pan Books of Horror were probably a better yardstick for me. And then horror evolved to splatterpunk, which was around about when I gave up on the genre. So, the definition of horror remains a moving beast.

As to the OPs question. I've written horror stories, or at least what might have been called horror in the early days, but advertisers classify it under science fiction. Given the content of the story, it fits under that genre as well as horror. I've also got a straight up paranormal haunting story, but I classify it as a thriller more than horror because of how it ends. So, yes, there is a market, but you can be fairly liberal in categorizing depending upon the slanting of the story.

Offline Kate.

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2017, 06:12:58 PM »
Most genres get their categorization from their setting or key themes. Outer space? Probably sci-fi. People battling trolls in olden-times? Probably fantasy. Etc.

But horror can be anything. It can be set a thousand years into the future, or a thousand years into the past. The threat can be human, an animal, something supernatural, or the threat can even be the character's own mind. Stories can be impossibly violent or without a single drop of blood spilt. Horror is created not by a location or a monster, but by the feeling it evokes. And that lets it blend into other genres incredibly well.

An easy example is sci-fi. Aliens, Gravity, Life, and John Carpenter's The Thing are all great horror films, but if you asked people to choose one genre, they would be more likely to categorize them as science fiction.

In some ways it's good - horror has such a broad scope that there's something for everyone. But it also leads to these genre debates; a story can have horror elements, but it ends up being called fantasy, or a dark suspense, or sci-fi, or mystery.

Offline jaehaerys

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2017, 10:39:58 PM »
Seems like miscategorization can happen easily with horror. I have a hard time nailing down just what constitutes horror and what doesn't when comparing all of a story's elements.

I suppose for some books it's rather obvious, but what about a book like 'Jaws' by Peter Benchley? Is that considered horror? Or is it more of a thriller/adventure? Action/suspense? Horror/thriller?

Anyway, regardless I do believe there's enough of a demand out there for self-published horror, however you define it.


Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2017, 06:14:54 AM »
Horror is NOT HARD to categorize. Horror is ridiculously simple. It very specifically sets out to scare or terrify the reader. It is designed to provoke a feeling of dread and fear. If the fundamental purpose of the work is to create an atmosphere of fear, dread, or terror, then it is horror.

Horror works on the most basic, visceral level of human existence. Horror does not require ghosts. Horror does not require vampires or werewolves. All horror requires is something that reminds the human psyche that there are horrible, terrible, things lurking just outside the periphery of human consciousness. That despite all of mankind's so-called scientific advances and powers of reason, there is something primal waiting quietly in the shadows for us. And no matter what we think, it will always be there waiting for the right moment. That is horror.

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Offline ShaneJeffery

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #26 on: April 19, 2017, 07:13:28 AM »
Horror is NOT HARD to categorize. Horror is ridiculously simple. It very specifically sets out to scare or terrify the reader. It is designed to provoke a feeling of dread and fear. If the fundamental purpose of the work is to create an atmosphere of fear, dread, or terror, then it is horror.

Horror works on the most basic, visceral level of human existence. Horror does not require ghosts. Horror does not require vampires or werewolves. All horror requires is something that reminds the human psyche that there are horrible, terrible, things lurking just outside the periphery of human consciousness. That despite all of mankind's so-called scientific advances and powers of reason, there is something primal waiting quietly in the shadows for us. And no matter what we think, it will always be there waiting for the right moment. That is horror.

Agreed 100%

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #27 on: April 19, 2017, 07:27:36 AM »
Horror does not require vampires or werewolves. All horror requires is something that reminds the human psyche that there are horrible, terrible, things lurking just outside the periphery of human consciousness. That despite all of mankind's so-called scientific advances and powers of reason, there is something primal waiting quietly in the shadows for us.
Or a rabid St Bernard and a broken down car. :)


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Offline KennySkylin

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #28 on: April 19, 2017, 09:44:18 AM »
Are there any horror series out there that might not be really connected by recurring characters but more based on some recurring situations or lightly connected plot? I'm thinking of something like the Final Destination or Saw movies or American Horror Story tv series. Or maybe like the Freddie/Jason type movies where usually the only recurring thing is the killer. Do you think something like this would work instead of a series that needs to have the same protagonists getting into horrific situations over and over?

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2017, 10:26:42 AM »
Are there any horror series out there that might not be really connected by recurring characters but more based on some recurring situations or lightly connected plot? I'm thinking of something like the Final Destination or Saw movies or American Horror Story tv series. Or maybe like the Freddie/Jason type movies where usually the only recurring thing is the killer. Do you think something like this would work instead of a series that needs to have the same protagonists getting into horrific situations over and over?

While it can be done, keep in mind that print is not the same thing as film. What works in a horror film doesn't always translate to print (and that is really true of all genres). If you look at the genres that really benefit from series, they are all highly CHARACTER DRIVEN genres. YA, romance, mysteries, even fantasy to a certain extent: these genres cater to character-driven stories that allow readers to bond with the characters. Horror is more narrative driven than character driven. You generally don't pick up a horror novel expecting a happily ever after or the good guys to "win." You aren't looking to bond with characters over the course of two, three, or ten books.

Horror is to literature what a roller coaster is to leisure activities. For most people, a roller coaster is a great thrill...once in a while. But we wouldn't get on a roller coaster EVERY DAY. I might bike every day. I might go for a jog every day. I might even enjoy going for a swim every day or bowling every day. But even if the option existed to get on a roller coaster every day, most people wouldn't do it. Because a roller coaster is a different type of entertainment. It is much more intense and visceral than other activities. Horror is the same way. The average horror reader isn't necessarily interested in a "series" What they are interested in is that intense feeling a good horror story provided when they want a good horror story.

Again, not saying it can't be done. But just pointing out that, if you intend to do it, don't assume you can just take what works in another genre and slap it into horror and expect it to work.

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #30 on: April 19, 2017, 01:04:43 PM »
Horror is NOT HARD to categorize. Horror is ridiculously simple. It very specifically sets out to scare or terrify the reader. It is designed to provoke a feeling of dread and fear. If the fundamental purpose of the work is to create an atmosphere of fear, dread, or terror, then it is horror.

We'll have to agree to disagree. In my view there's a lot of gray area when it comes to genre. Based on the above you could classify Orwell's '1984' as horror, to me that would be a miscategorization regardless of the fear and dread that book dredges up.


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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2017, 01:49:48 PM »
We'll have to agree to disagree. In my view there's a lot of gray area when it comes to genre. Based on the above you could classify Orwell's '1984' as horror, to me that would be a miscategorization regardless of the fear and dread that book dredges up.

1984 is dystopian fiction, and yes, you could make an argument that it is psychological horror.  People would only be opposed to calling it psychological horror if they have a general knee-jerk reaction to calling "serious literature" horror. There are actually several works that could easily be considered horror that aren't, not because they don't fit the definition, but because certain movements in literature don't consider horror real literature. To a thinking person, the palpable sense of dread in 1984 would easily be considered horror, though it doesn't meet the more generic tropes that people associate with the horror genre.

But that is the problem: people tend to treat horror like the proverbial red-headed stepchild (no offense to redheads or stepchildren). They think horror is about vampires and buckets of blood and cheap scares. But horror can be nuanced (and the best horror usually is). I've watched people do all sorts of mental gymnastics to insist some film or book was not horror, not because it wasn't horror, but because people look down their noses at the horror genre. For a long time, romance writers had a similar issue because "serious" writers didn't want to be classified as having written a romance,even if the book had all the tropes and trappings of a romance.

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Offline Guy Riessen

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #32 on: April 19, 2017, 02:49:00 PM »
Horror is NOT HARD to categorize. Horror is ridiculously simple. It very specifically sets out to scare or terrify the reader. It is designed to provoke a feeling of dread and fear. If the fundamental purpose of the work is to create an atmosphere of fear, dread, or terror, then it is horror.

Horror works on the most basic, visceral level of human existence. Horror does not require ghosts. Horror does not require vampires or werewolves. All horror requires is something that reminds the human psyche that there are horrible, terrible, things lurking just outside the periphery of human consciousness. That despite all of mankind's so-called scientific advances and powers of reason, there is something primal waiting quietly in the shadows for us. And no matter what we think, it will always be there waiting for the right moment. That is horror.

This is exactly why it IS hard to categorize--because the categorization is so simple and broad there are an overwhelming number of stories which would easily fall under horror's umbrella yet be unsatisfying to a reader looking for a specific  "pure" horror story.

Nearly all broad categories suffer from this, which is why we have sub-categories. A reader looking for psychological horror might well enjoy 1984, but a reader looking for a ghost story might not. Similarly, a reader looking for a hot romantic mystery set in 19th century London may not be interested in reading a hot romantic mystery set in 19th century London with a werebeagle as the protagonist. Yet Amazon is happy to fill the category with werebeagle stories if they're selling, and then the traditionalist is no longer helped by the algorithm or the category.

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #33 on: April 19, 2017, 03:30:35 PM »
1984 is dystopian fiction, and yes, you could make an argument that it is psychological horror.  People would only be opposed to calling it psychological horror if they have a general knee-jerk reaction to calling "serious literature" horror. There are actually several works that could easily be considered horror that aren't, not because they don't fit the definition, but because certain movements in literature don't consider horror real literature. To a thinking person, the palpable sense of dread in 1984 would easily be considered horror, though it doesn't meet the more generic tropes that people associate with the horror genre.

But that is the problem: people tend to treat horror like the proverbial red-headed stepchild (no offense to redheads or stepchildren). They think horror is about vampires and buckets of blood and cheap scares. But horror can be nuanced (and the best horror usually is). I've watched people do all sorts of mental gymnastics to insist some film or book was not horror, not because it wasn't horror, but because people look down their noses at the horror genre. For a long time, romance writers had a similar issue because "serious" writers didn't want to be classified as having written a romance,even if the book had all the tropes and trappings of a romance.

I agree with this, Julie. When I wrote The Cthulhu Child, it was specifically to demonstrate that horror is a case of perspective. If you were to look on Goodreads you'd see that book has some great reviews, though even then a number of readers question whether all of the stories qualify as horror. This is because it includes crime, illness, social degradation, and domestic violence, but all are horrific stories aimed to unsettle. Simply put, what creeps the heck out of reader A. may seem like candy to reader B., and that's all part of the fun.

I do get a bit disgruntled with Amazon's mix-and-match charts, but even though much of the disruption is down to vampire/shifter-romance, the fact remains that horror is a tough cookie to nail down (at least chart wise).
« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 03:33:40 PM by David Brian »


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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #34 on: April 19, 2017, 05:15:27 PM »
1984 is dystopian fiction, and yes, you could make an argument that it is psychological horror.  People would only be opposed to calling it psychological horror if they have a general knee-jerk reaction to calling "serious literature" horror. There are actually several works that could easily be considered horror that aren't, not because they don't fit the definition, but because certain movements in literature don't consider horror real literature. To a thinking person, the palpable sense of dread in 1984 would easily be considered horror, though it doesn't meet the more generic tropes that people associate with the horror genre.

But that is the problem: people tend to treat horror like the proverbial red-headed stepchild (no offense to redheads or stepchildren). They think horror is about vampires and buckets of blood and cheap scares. But horror can be nuanced (and the best horror usually is). I've watched people do all sorts of mental gymnastics to insist some film or book was not horror, not because it wasn't horror, but because people look down their noses at the horror genre. For a long time, romance writers had a similar issue because "serious" writers didn't want to be classified as having written a romance,even if the book had all the tropes and trappings of a romance.

I agree with this. Well said.


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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #35 on: April 19, 2017, 09:54:03 PM »
I think the definition of horror changes with the ages. Frankenstein was written and accepted as horror; now I just find it sad comedy. Dracula terrified readers on its first appearance; read the original now and it is just boring. I suppose if it frightens you, it is horror, but that is harder for some to define than others. I have lived for 69 years, devoured early horror films as soon as I was old enough to be allowed into the cinema, read Edgar Allan Poe from cover to cover, in fact anything supernatural I could get my hands on. I have yet to see or read a horror that frightened me in the least. When Carrie's arm shot out of the her grave and the rest of the family jumped three feet in the air, I didn't react at all. Yet my daughter has only to be told that a film is a horror to be grabbing a cushion to hide behind.


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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #36 on: April 20, 2017, 05:29:44 AM »
I think the definition of horror changes with the ages. Frankenstein was written and accepted as horror

Frankenstein is more accurately science fiction. In fact, it is often considered the first true science fiction novel as it looks at the consequences of man playing god through the use of science. (remember, science fiction does not have to be accurate, it only needs to be plausible IN ITS TIME). Shelley actually attempted to be accurate with her science as the science was understood at the time. It was originally termed gothic literature more because the term science fiction was not widely used yet.

The definition of horror doesn't change so much as people do. No work exists in a void. Every work is a reflection of the society in which it was created (as I have often argued in discussions about "dating" a work.). Dracula may not terrify modern readers, but that is because it was not written for the fears of modern readers. It was addressing fears of the time period. It is always important to interpret a work based on the time period it was written. Much of Dracula's theme depends on a certain understanding of the Victorian era and the psyche of the time period.

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Offline Guy Riessen

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #37 on: April 20, 2017, 11:11:58 AM »
much of the disruption is down to vampire/shifter-romance

This is really the primary issue.

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #38 on: April 20, 2017, 11:20:53 AM »
Even as an avid horror reader I struggle to define what makes a story horror versus fantasy or post apoc.

If the writer's main purpose is to scare the hell out of you, the story is horror. If the writer succeeds, it's good horror.

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #39 on: April 20, 2017, 10:44:52 PM »
If the writer's main purpose is to scare the hell out of you, the story is horror. If the writer succeeds, it's good horror.
That's what I said earlier, but I've yet to find anything that scared me. I have no nerves.


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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #40 on: April 20, 2017, 10:55:43 PM »
If the writer's main purpose is to scare the hell out of you, the story is horror. If the writer succeeds, it's good horror.

It's simple, not complicated, and I agree 100%.  Fear, terror, and horror, are the elements being used.  When done well, it succeeds.   

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #41 on: April 21, 2017, 01:58:08 AM »
That's what I said earlier, but I've yet to find anything that scared me. I have no nerves.
This breaks my heart! I love being scared.

It's very hard to find books that frighten me (only two managed it, very briefly), and old movies can be hard to feel immersed in, but what about some more modern films? A Tale of Two Sisters scared me so badly I had to keep pausing it and stepping away. It's a Korean film, though, so you need to be okay with subtitles to watch it. Another great foreign film is The Orphanage. It Follows didn't frighten me at the time, but I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks afterwards. And The Conjuring had some terrific atmosphere.

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #42 on: April 21, 2017, 02:10:33 AM »
This breaks my heart! I love being scared.

It's very hard to find books that frighten me (only two managed it, very briefly), and old movies can be hard to feel immersed in, but what about some more modern films? A Tale of Two Sisters scared me so badly I had to keep pausing it and stepping away. It's a Korean film, though, so you need to be okay with subtitles to watch it. Another great foreign film is The Orphanage. It Follows didn't frighten me at the time, but I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks afterwards. And The Conjuring had some terrific atmosphere.
I couldn't possibly get involved in anything with subtitles; I hate them. I can't read them and watch what's going on. The last so-called horror film I saw was The Ring. I didn't find that in the least scary. If anyone can recommend a good horror film that doesn't involve blood, guts and chainsaws, I should like to give it a go. The original of the Haunting, back in the sixties, was supposed to be one of the scariest films ever made. I don't mean the remake; that was a comedy and quite pathetic. My elder brother and his mates reckoned the original was terrifying, but it didn't scare me.

I do enjoy a good horror film, but scary? No.


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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #43 on: April 21, 2017, 09:48:31 AM »
Do you really want to write a horror book?  Is it something you're passionate about?

Then you have to ask yourself, do I think I can create enough demand for my book?  Can you use the fact that UF and other areas/overlaps are taking over the genre and push back?  Can you advertise that your book IS horror and find that demand for it?  And I'm not saying with money (that's up to you) but on your blurb, cover, etc.

If you are passionate about something and it's what you want to do...is it worth the risk?  Are you up for that challenge?  Sorry, it's Fairytale Friday and I seem to be going into quest mode.  Good luck! 

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #44 on: April 21, 2017, 03:41:20 PM »
I couldn't possibly get involved in anything with subtitles; I hate them. I can't read them and watch what's going on. The last so-called horror film I saw was The Ring. I didn't find that in the least scary. If anyone can recommend a good horror film that doesn't involve blood, guts and chainsaws, I should like to give it a go. The original of the Haunting, back in the sixties, was supposed to be one of the scariest films ever made. I don't mean the remake; that was a comedy and quite pathetic. My elder brother and his mates reckoned the original was terrifying, but it didn't scare me.

I do enjoy a good horror film, but scary? No.

Want to make a good horror movie scary? I'll give you the secret and you can thank me after--it's not difficult either, but can't be done in a movie theater. Shared experience in a room full of people is not ever scary except for possibly jump-scares. But you want good old-fashion blood curdling scares, right? You will also need headphones.



Ideally do this when you are alone in your home. If you have a family, it should still work ok. Either way, it's best wait until midnight or later then ready your chosen movie on your dvd player or netflix or whatever--The Conjuring or Lake Mungo are pretty good for this. If you live in a relatively safe neighborhood, go for bonus adrenaline and unlock your front door.
Adjust your volume in the headphones so that you can hear stuff, but you don't want it blasting. If there is any way to do it with your TV set-up, sit with your back to the door--not facing it--if you're in a room away from the front door, close the door most of the way, but leave it cracked. Now put the headphones on and start the movie.

You will be scared. It's pretty much guaranteed. You'll find yourself lifting up one ear of your headphones because you think you heard something. You'll be looking over your shoulder to see if the door has moved...or worse, checking the front door.

Enjoy getting back that feeling of being scared, just like when you were a kid. If you don't get an adrenaline charge out the experience, well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you're a robot. :)

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #45 on: April 21, 2017, 04:39:24 PM »
If you live in a relatively safe neighborhood, go for bonus adrenaline and unlock your front door.

That's good advice to boost immersion and also hilarious.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 04:43:21 PM by KennySkylin »

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #46 on: April 21, 2017, 05:39:46 PM »
If the primary purpose of a book is to scare the reader (whether it succeeds or not) then it's horror. If there's strong elements of science fiction, or romance, or fantasy, etc. that's when things get complicated.

The first books in the Vampire Chronicles were definitely horror. I don't think anyone had ever thought of urban fantasy back then, it didn't exist as a category.

The first one, "Interview," could arguably be classified as horror but the sequels weren't even remotely horror. Anne Rice strongly inspired most of the earliest Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels that came later. Just because the genre didn't exist at the time doesn't mean anything, we're judging it based on today's standards. I remember reading Anne Rice at the time and thinking wow, this was something way different than most of the other vampire fiction I had been reading.

Anne Rices books are told from the perspective of the monsters. Her stories have vampires, witches, angels, the devil was a character in one book(and played as a "good guy"), there was a guy who steals peoples bodies, she wrote a book about a vampire visiting Atlantis...all of these stories were told from the perspective of different monsters and none of it even remotely intended to be scary. They always read more like fantasy to me. Obviously not medieval fantasy. I would classify Anne Rice's work as Dark Fantasy, or Gothic Fantasy if you prefer. Urban Fantasy is closely related but a bit different. The Urban Fantasy genre has matured, some of it still retains horror elements while others even if they have vampires or werewolves aren't even remotely horror or "dark". That's why Urban Fantasy needs its own genre entirely.

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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #47 on: April 21, 2017, 11:25:25 PM »
Want to make a good horror movie scary? I'll give you the secret and you can thank me after--it's not difficult either, but can't be done in a movie theater. Shared experience in a room full of people is not ever scary except for possibly jump-scares. But you want good old-fashion blood curdling scares, right? You will also need headphones.



Ideally do this when you are alone in your home. If you have a family, it should still work ok. Either way, it's best wait until midnight or later then ready your chosen movie on your dvd player or netflix or whatever--The Conjuring or Lake Mungo are pretty good for this. If you live in a relatively safe neighborhood, go for bonus adrenaline and unlock your front door.
Adjust your volume in the headphones so that you can hear stuff, but you don't want it blasting. If there is any way to do it with your TV set-up, sit with your back to the door--not facing it--if you're in a room away from the front door, close the door most of the way, but leave it cracked. Now put the headphones on and start the movie.

You will be scared. It's pretty much guaranteed. You'll find yourself lifting up one ear of your headphones because you think you heard something. You'll be looking over your shoulder to see if the door has moved...or worse, checking the front door.

Enjoy getting back that feeling of being scared, just like when you were a kid. If you don't get an adrenaline charge out the experience, well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you're a robot. :)
I think you are right then; I am a robot. It is not a case of getting back the feeling like when I was a kid - I never had it then either. We didn't have videos or DVDs then, but occasionally there was a Hammer horror film on the tv. I seem to remember seeing the Pit and the Pendulum when I was quite young and in black and white, so it must have been on the telly. They wouldn't let anyone in the cinema for that sort of thing if they were under 18. It didn't scare me. There was a Vincent Price film called The Tingler that stuck in my mind and made my spine tingle a bit, but that was all.

The only film that gave me nightmares was the Elephant Man and that was because it was so sad, not because it was scary. It was never meant to be scary.


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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #48 on: April 21, 2017, 11:29:40 PM »
If the primary purpose of a book is to scare the reader (whether it succeeds or not) then it's horror. If there's strong elements of science fiction, or romance, or fantasy, etc. that's when things get complicated.

The first one, "Interview," could arguably be classified as horror but the sequels weren't even remotely horror. Anne Rice strongly inspired most of the earliest Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels that came later. Just because the genre didn't exist at the time doesn't mean anything, we're judging it based on today's standards. I remember reading Anne Rice at the time and thinking wow, this was something way different than most of the other vampire fiction I had been reading.

Anne Rices books are told from the perspective of the monsters. Her stories have vampires, witches, angels, the devil was a character in one book(and played as a "good guy"), there was a guy who steals peoples bodies, she wrote a book about a vampire visiting Atlantis...all of these stories were told from the perspective of different monsters and none of it even remotely intended to be scary. They always read more like fantasy to me. Obviously not medieval fantasy. I would classify Anne Rice's work as Dark Fantasy, or Gothic Fantasy if you prefer. Urban Fantasy is closely related but a bit different. The Urban Fantasy genre has matured, some of it still retains horror elements while others even if they have vampires or werewolves aren't even remotely horror or "dark". That's why Urban Fantasy needs its own genre entirely.

The Tale of the Body Thief was one of my favourites. Definitely the best of the Vampire Chronicles, but I did think it was funny most of the time, rather than scary. I also enjoyed the Interview (the book not the film) and read it several times, same with the Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned. The film of Queen of the Damned would have been total gibberish if I hadn't already read the book. I gave up after Memnoch, the Devil. I didn't like that one at all.

One of Anne Rice's best was the Mummy, although you don't hear so much about that one.


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Re: Market for horror?
« Reply #49 on: April 22, 2017, 03:14:46 AM »
How to Get More Downloads and Sell More Copies?
I am a huge fan of using social media to promote my books. I have had luck with Facebook, Fb pages/FB groups/FB profile etc.
Also you can promote in your blog/website, twitter, SEO, post in webboard.

Success story?   ;)


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