Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, June 25, 2009

PSA About Vampires

So there's this book called TWILIGHT and it's kind of popular.

Whenever there is a popular book, my inbox explodes with query imitations. There was the epic and ongoing TOTALLY NOT HARRY POTTER deluge, quickly followed by the TOTALLY NOT DA VINCI CODE phase. Often these queries boldly come right out and say they are the "next" [insert book they are imitating].

The current TOTALLY NOT TWILIGHT era we're in blows all of the other eras out of the water, particularly when you combine it with non-vampire paranormal and/or urban fantasy tropes. Well over half of the queries I am receiving these days involve some combination of vampires, zombies, faeries, pixies, ghosts, and/or Dick Cheney.

Now, don't get me wrong. This doesn't mean that you can't write or query me with urban fantasy/paranormal. The opposite in fact. Just look at the bestseller list.

And before I get angry comments, let me also say that I'm not accusing everyone who writes in these genres of imitating TWILIGHT. I'm not saying that.

But I think it's important to keep some things in mind if you are querying in these increasingly well-trodden genres:

1. I don't know if I speak for other agents, but I'm getting some serious vampire/faerie/zombie fatigue. Whether it's the misfit teenager who is secretly communicating with a ghost or the misfit teenager who is actually a vampire (or, conversely, has a crush on one), I've seen it all and I'm seeing it often. Now. That doesn't mean I don't want you to query me with urban fantasy or paranormal. But I'm not going to be favorably disposed to something that sounds like the same old paranormal story. It needs to be something different and it needs to feel fresh. I know it's really difficult to do something different and fresh when everyone and their mom and their grandma and her mom are writing paranormal. But thems are the breaks.

2. Do. Not. Mention. TWILIGHT. Don't mention TWILIGHT. It never existed. You didn't read it, it has no bearing on your book, you aren't comparing yourself to it, you're not living on the same planar field in which that book was written. Don't mention it in the query. Agents don't want the next TWILIGHT. Well. Caveat. We want something that is as popular as TWILIGHT. But we don't want a straight up imitation. And saying your book is going to be as popular as TWILIGHT just makes you look.... well, like you think faeries are real. (They're not, are they?)

3. Understand what you're up against. You might think that because you happen to have a novel in the hot genre du jour that it's going to grease the publication tracks and you'll soon be showing off to your friends with a new hardcover of the next TWI... that other vampire book that is kind of popular. Keep in mind that because there are so many people writing these novels now, the stakes are raised. Ground has been trodden. You have to either trod new ground or trod the existing ground with spectacular, mindboggling execution. It's not, in other words, easier.

Ultimately, the same old advice applies: write what you love, write a really amazing, incredible book, and let the gods of publishing take care of the rest. Or should I say the publishing zombies...






170 comments:

Alex White said...

Nice! I'm with you on that. Sick of Twilight, here. Mostly sick of urban fantasy in general.

Suzanne Young said...

I get what you're sayin', but does it count if it's a vampire-fairy-zombie hybrid? I mean, that's fresh, right? IT CAN FLY!

Great post, Nathan!

Joel Q said...

I'm actually working on a vampire story... and it is nothing at all even close to "that other book" or anything I have seen lately. But I think it could still get lost in the vampire flood.

Nathan Bransford said...

suzanne-

I'm getting a lot of hybrids too. I'm not saying it can't work (all about execution!), but just FYI.

HWPetty said...

I hate comparing one book to another. And I hate when agents ask me to compare my book to a popular book currently on the shelves.

I usually end up saying, "It has the X elements of THIS, and the Y elements of THAT," and feeling really dumb in the process.

But, for the record, Faeries are completely real.

... just sayin'.

Suzanne Young said...

Dang it! (adds a unicorn)

Joel Q said...

faeries... the ones I know look kind of like butterflies.

Jen B said...

Seriously. Twilight has been insanely popular and prosperous but, in my opinion, it's not the most well-written series in existence. Not even the most well-written in the genre.

I say to everyone writing in that area - don't aspire to be the next Twilight. Be BETTER than Twilight. Then Stephen King won't get his grouchy pants in a twist and badmouth you. That can't feel good.

Snarky Writer said...

I've had a vampire story nibbling at the back of my brain for a few months now. I've ignored it because I know the market is glutted. I think I have a slightly different take, but I really don't want to risk it right now. Maybe in a few years the insanity will have died down and vampire stories will get published on their individual merit again. I hope.

Jeffrey Russell said...

I don't think I've ever read a vampire or paranormal book, but have nothing against them. I have read many excellent historical novels, and like them very much. But that is not the type of book I'd want to write. So I'll stick with the themes I love to think about. And talk about. And write about.

lauren said...

I really enjoy YA urban fantasy, but I'm tiring of the voice and style used in said books nearly as much as I'm tiring of the various creatures used. I find that the language is either very plain or very flowery in a lot of the recent YA vampire, fairy, zombie, etc. novels. I'm always happy to find a YA UF novel that either hits the sweet spot of "literary commercial" or veers a little more to the literary side. I know there are a few like that coming out over the next few months, so I'm excited about that.

I would *love* to see some gently postmodern takes on the YA vampire genre. Like, a story told backwards, or told by eighteen different narrators, or something like that. Something where the format or the style is itself a big part of the story.

Ella said...

I know you secretly loved my angel idea. Tough, trash talkin', cigar smoking angels.
I just know it ;-)

Katie Koulos said...

My book is urban fantasy/paranormal...but it has none of those mythical creatures. Actually, it's got guardian angels. And my own version of guardian angels too! There IS a relation to Twilight in my book, but not in the vampire way or any other way. Actually, the relation is so small that most people probably won't think about it. (One of the girls is named Phoenix. Where bella moved from. See? tiny) I would never copy a book that's already out. It's not my style. I like being creative instead, it's more fun than stealing some other person's idea!

Anonymous said...

This is particularly interesting to me. I was recently asked, by a publisher, to write a vamp novel for a new project that's under wraps for the time being. Personally, I wasn't thrilled about doing it for all the reasons you listed in the post, but the offer was good and I don't say no when a publisher (and my agent) asks for something specific. Will this be the next TWILIGHT? Probably not. Mostly because I've never read TWILIGHT and don't have a clue about it.

The point is that I was actually asked to do this by a publisher and my agent. I didn't query for it. This isn't an angry comment, but I wanted to mention that there are, evidently, vast differences in opinion about what people want to read these days.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

I was at pains in the post to point out that there is a market for these genres, and people want to read them. I'm just saying it's tough to break new ground, even though it's important to do so.

nkrell said...

Could we compare our work to 'dusk'? No? How about 'nightfall'?

I don't know...you seem kind of on the fence on this one. Could you please clarify how you really feel?
(I joke, seriously.) I'm just happy to have three partials out, being read with absolutely zero mention of the aforementioned word.

A Paperback Writer said...

And woe to those of us who were writing humorous vampire fiction before Twilight, for we have since been totally screwed and no agent will look at us!
(Yes, I can write other stuff -- and have.)

Anonymous said...

There has been an insatiable lure for vampire’s tales since as long as I can remember. And I'm old. I think it's safe to say there will always be a demand for those types of books as long as someone is willing to write them.

Deb of the desert

houndrat said...

You mean you already got a Dick Cheney UF pitch? Darn!

Matilda McCloud said...

My husband works for a publishing company and he mentioned recently that editors were sick to death of vampire/urban fantasy/paranormal novels, but that these books were paying the bills.

Vacuum Queen said...

Good post. You're always so good to be politically correct and not make people go crazy, too. I couldn't be that good. :)

Personally, I can't wait for this genre to pass. Vampires will always be "in," but I have never been interested. I just don't get it. It DOES make me wonder if my MG themes I'm working on are too "milktoast," compared to the YA that hits them a couple of years later. Oh well, I can only write what I like...

Kristi said...

You write this post as I'm writing my YA urban fantasy ms so this kills me - well, mine is urban sci-fi but close enough. I've been working on my query as I write the ms, because I'm obsessive like that, and I noticed that some agents want you to compare your work to existing ones.

So, here's my question. I'm safe with Twilight as there are no zombies/vampires/werewolves etc. in mine but should one mention more obscure books in the query or just say there are elements of "such as such book" if it is a bestseller? Thanks.

Lara said...

I'm so perplexed by the vampire craze. I've never been especially drawn to vampires. I keep thinking it will die down, but... stopping before I attempt a lame-ass joke.

Mira said...

I like this post. I especially like your last paragraph. That should be engraved somewhere so authors could read it on a daily basis before they start the day's writing.

Although zombie publishers? That does explain alot.

Anonymous said...

Why fairies? There aren't any fairies in Twilight.

Anonymous said...

It's not surprising there is a "glut" of vampire books out there, fed by the earlier successful ones. The muse thrives on blood, it seems.
I bought "Twilight" for my railroader sister, due to a newspaper review. Leaving the book on the van seat one day led to a crewmember saying "Hey! My daughter is reading that!"
The next thing, Christy was agreeing to take the 13-year-old girl to the movie.
I'm more careful about what books I send Chris these days. We'll see what a book by Alexander McCall Smith leads to.

Mary Jo

Marsha Sigman said...

This is killing me. I loved urban fantasy wayyyy before Stephenie Meyers. This is what I want to write so I suppose I have to keep at it. Werewolves though, no vampires. Although I do love vampires.....I am shallow, I admit it.

Ink said...

I don't mind vampires or zombies, but them Dick Cheneys are scary.

Anonymous said...

"I'm just saying it's tough to break new ground, even though it's important to do so."

I'm anon @ 11:04

I couldn't agree more.

Tracey S. Rosenberg said...

Nathan - out of curiosity (and I swear by Dick Cheney I am NOT writing one of these novels myself), are there any Nazi-themed paranormals coming into your inbox? Obviously it's been done before, because some Nazis were (among other things) freaky occultists, but I'm wondering if the paranormal trend has expanded to encompass that side of things.

(Nazi pixies. Now THERE'S therapy waiting to happen.)

Nothing But Bonfires said...

Ah, vampires. So many things I could say about them but can't.

Laurel said...

Allison Brennan still maintains that comparing your book to another work is not a bad idea, just not "this is the next..." Of course, she's an author, not an agent. Some agents mention they do like for you to compare your work to something they might be familiar with. I assume this can tell them two things: do you have a clue who your target market is and if you do does the agent agree with you.

If I had to read as many queries as you all I would appreciate something along the lines of, "My novel would appeal to readers of...."

Most agents make it clear somewhere in their guidelines or blogs if they do or don't want to see any mention of a work other than yours. From this post and others I would probably avoid comparison unless I knew for sure the agent likes that particular tidbit.

Nathan Bransford said...

nothing but bonfires-

I know just what you mean.

Nathan Bransford said...

laurel (and others)-

For the record I don't think it's bad to compare your book to another book for purposes of comparison, I would just strenuously avoid the most popular books out there as they're overused as comparison points and you don't want to seem as if you expect your book to become that popular.

Thermocline said...

I say, "Glut away." It's fantastic that YA books like Harry Potter and Twilight are so popular. They are drawing in bucket loads of readers. Sure, many of them are adults, but there is nothing wrong with that. It just inspires me to know that books for kids, no matter the age, are getting (bought) and read.

AnotherAnon said...

Gee, I'd be happy to pretend that Twilight never existed. If only.

I'm already sick of zombies, faeries, and ghosts.

Not my cuppa.

Carrie Ryan said...

What I find so funny about this is that when I queried my zombie book (in 2007) I was so sure I'd get laughed out of the room. I was terrified I'd become the "can you believe someone wanted to write a book about zombies?!" letter everyone passed around the office for laughs.

But I wrote a book I loved and go figure, turns out zombies started to sell. Still cracks me up that it's a trend now, though.

nerinedorman said...

I'm glad I've read TWI... whoops. Won't say it.

The thing is as a genre fiction editor I have to know it when I see it. Kinda like knowing your enemy.

It's good to be able to tell the author you're working with, "Hey, hold it right here, you Meyer clone you!"

As for vampires. I think there will always be a market for well-written, interesting vampire stories, short or novel-length. I certainly haven't stopped reading vampire stories since the early days of Annie Rice, although I hesitate when it comes to the likes of Laurel K Hamilton and Christine Feehan.

It's about finding the right publisher who can place the novel with the right market.

Emily J. Griffin said...

So what you're saying is the market's saturated with magic/fantasy/creatures/paranormal/super powers/etc, which is good for the consumer, but tough for the writer- UNLESS the writer's idea is original, executed brilliantly, or delivered in a groundbreaking format which is as much the point as the story itself?

You want layered, well-executed, freshly squeezed versions of this genre? Not copy cats (God knows there's enough of those out already).

[gulp] Time to do some research...

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to announce that my paranoraml novel contains neither vampires, zombies nor faeries!

Anna Letha said...

Maybe it's just me being self-depreciating, but I can't fathom someone honestly claiming they were the next superstar of the literary world. I'm sure there are some people out there that are that good, but do these queriers realize how egotistical that sounds?

I was writing a vampire novel when I was teenager. It quickly morphed into a story about angels and demons. Let's just say the angst factor was there, just like in Twilight, but there was definitely no quality writing to go along with it.

Ah well, I'll see if my Fantasy Noir isn't a better place to begin. Anyone looking for Sam Spade Meets Aragorn? Also dragons.

Anonymous said...

Note to Vampire Authors: i've loved reading vampire stories since i was a little girl but the thing that always made them fascinating for me was the mystery of old castles, foreign places, stories based on actual historical myths etc... i think its the 'urban' part of 'urban fantasy' and 'vampire comes to high school' aspect that i can't stomach. BUT if someone wants to try and give elizabeth kostova a run for her money, i might just buy that book...

Rick Daley said...

Dear all agents in the world,

I have a totally unique Vampire premise. Here goes: the vampires DON'T drink blood. They eat food, just like regular people. In fact, they pretty much are regular people, except they sparkle in the sun. That's what makes them vampires!

This has NEVER been done before. And before you add "and for good reason" to my prior statement please stop to consider that the whole sparkly thing is totally a tie-in to TWILIGHT! OMG, I can count the cash right now!

I know your interested, so the soonest you can contact me the sooner I will start writing this fictional novel. I will really be a great client. We'll be BFF's. Pinky swear.

P.S. I've been trying to think of a way to upstage Mira, did this do it?

Leona said...

My novella (14+k) had the son of satan, gargoyles, gaurdian angels, and acid demons... not a vampire in sight! LOL

brian_ohio said...

Um... Nathan... how'd you know my grandma writes paranormal?

She just finished her latest manuscript called 'The Prosthodontists.' It's the story of a man who specializes in making dentures for Vampires who have neglected their dental hygiene. These Vampires have tired of trying to 'hiccy' the blood from their victims.

Keep checking your in-box for it.

Courtney said...

So you're saying that I'd do much better to stick with pirates, monks, magical coffee beans, and steak in my fantasy novel, aren't you?

I thought so too.

Aimee K. Maher said...

I hate to admit, I read all four T-word doorstops and wanted the hours of my life back. It subtly crept up on me, the wonder at how they rocketed to Bookdom. I would never say my opinion in it matters, just one girl's take.

So many pages, so many words, so many descriptions of counter tops or whatever.......

*faint*

Sarita said...

What about magical realism? There is some dispute that this genre doesn't exist that it is just another way of describing fantasy. Have you been getting a lot of queries for novels that could be considered magical realism?

Thomas said...

Numerous people are saying that vampire stories have always been popular. I'm 30 years old and I was once famous for reading anything under the sun when a child in the 1980s and 1990s, and I cannot remember reading a single vampire story other than Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum.

So I want to know: have vampire stories always been insanely popular or is it more a recent trend? Perhaps a long trend?

Can someone also explain to this complete ignorant what makes vampire stories so popular? The premise (as I understand it) is hardly appealing: a bloodsucking guy chasing after a woman. One would think most women would be turned off by it as I've always seen the stereotypical vampire attack on a woman as a form of rape. So is it the power/relationship? Are there symbolism I'm not aware of?

Diane T said...

"Keep in mind that because there are so many people writing these novels now, the stakes are raised...."

... but, it seems, not hitting their targets, or they're made of the wrong magical material, or the vampire doesn't really sleep in the casket, or ...

Oh, you mean that you won't succeed in the genre unless you can bring it some new blood...

Emily J. Griffin said...

@sarita:

Magical Realism does exist! As a Lit major it was always my favorite genre. Just ask Salman Rushdie. Sarah Addison Allen does a great, best-seller version. Less literary than Rushdie, but well executed.

@Thomas

When I was an early teen, I read the Christopher Pike vampire tales. When I was 11, they were great fun.

Rick Daley said...

Thomas,

Anne Rice's INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE was published in 1976, but in the 80's and 90's that series (The Vampire Chronicles) was quite popular and included:

* The Vampire Lestat (1985)
* The Queen of the Damned (1988)
* The Tale of the Body Thief (1992)
* Memnoch the Devil (1995)
* The Vampire Armand (1998)
* Vittorio the Vampire (1999)

There is typically more to the mystery than a vampire going after one woman. The Vampire Chronicles deal with history of the vampires, their struggles with immortality and with immorality, and their relationships with others of their kind.

extes said...

Anon @ 11:29: The way faeries are being treated right now (humanoid, immortal-ish, powerful) is very similar to the way vampires are being treated right now. Replace "drink your blood" with "suck your life force" or "drag you off to Fae" and they can play each other's roles.

Ink said...

Nathan,

Have you got any wild Californian voodoo going for good luck tonight? It looks like it's going to be a hairy D Day. And Shaq to my Cavs... without giving up any regulars or financial flexibility? Interesting...

Nathan Bransford said...

bryan-

The Shaq trade was interesting, but 8 months too late.

Can't wait for the draft tonight, it should be a wild one.

Anonymous said...

So much doom and gloom!

For all those Vampire/urban fantasy writers out there, know this: there is still hope.

I wrote a novel (query rejected by Nathan most likely because I compared it to Twilight) and I found an agent, within a week he sent out queries, and just days later my manuscript started making the rounds of six major publishing houses and interest is still pouring in. It seems like my pub house list grows by one house every week.

Don't despair. Get creative.

Seriously, though. I love you Nathan. You can reject me all day long and I'll still hang on your blog.

Kristi said...

Wow - Carrie Ryan just posted on here...pretty cool!

Brian_Ohio - that was hilarious.

I forgot who wrote about giving Elizabeth Kostova a run for her money, but that was probably my favorite vampire book of all time and I wouldn't dare try (well, that and I don't like writing about vampires).

Thomas - I'm a little over 30 but vampire books have been around since I was itty bitty. My first vampire book was the original Dracula by Bram Stoker. I was in 1st grade and snuck it in w/ the other library books my mom was getting me. I've loved vampires ever since and think those type books will always be popular in some shape/form. :)

Holly Bodger said...

It may be because I am Canadian (and we apologize to people who hit us with the blunt end of a shovel) but I can't imagine ever claiming to have the next "book-that-shall-not-be-named", even if my name was Stephenie Meyer.

Piglet de' Erin said...

ha ha ha SNORT! Any agent who writes "Thems are the breaks" is freakin' funny. I love it. I think I'll have to be sending you a query about my "not so Twi.. " novel pretty soon here.

luv, erin

your blog stalker . . . because you're hysterical.

Liana Brooks said...

How would you feel about some fresh military sci-fi instead?

No vampires. No teenagers. Minimal angst. Lots of explosions.

B. Nagel said...

Dear Mr. Agent Bransford,

I am in the middle of writing the perfect book and wanted you to get a leg up on it. It's set on the planet of Mercury where it is very hot. Everyone who lives there used to live on Earth, but aliens destroyed it. But here's the story: this girl named Beauty hates Mercury. Then this alien named Ted stops the other aliens from destroying Mercury and saves her life. Then he hides in her attic to protect her. Also, he is glittery.

This is the first in a series of twelve (possibly 13). So, what's the haps? How quickly is my advance coming?

autumn's darkroom said...

I would hate to be an editor/publisher for this reason alone.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Anyone else sick of FIRST PERSON urban fantasy?

TS Tate said...

That's the thing isn't it? Because of Twilight and books similar the market is flooded and when the market floods, new writers who happen to write in the same genre get kind of lost in the slush, as it were.

Is this correct? I have a novel completed. Vampires yes. Broody, emo teenagers? No. But I'm not going to bother querying if agents/publishers/editors are no longer interested in something slightly Vampy.

abc said...

I am amused by all the newer YA covers that are ever so *subtly* like the twilight cover. I feel sorry for the writers of those books.

Ink said...

Nathan,

I would have liked having the big guy in that Orlando series... But I'm still intrigued by the fact that they didn't give up anything for him. And they could still sing, say, Shawn Marion or someone. Marion wouldn't have trouble guarding Lewis or Turkoglu...

I mean, a front line of LeBron, Marion and Shaq... with Varejao and Ilgauskas off the bench? I could live with that. Or they could go after the big shooting guard they need. Hmmmm. Thank you Wally Szczerbiak's expiring contract.

And then you have the Kings, playing eenie meenie minie pointguard...

lotusgirl said...

I'm glad vampires aren't really my thing. Mine is paranormal but without all the fantasy creatures. Whew!

Kimber An said...

This is always such a hugely confusing issue for me.

I read agents and editors telling writers to write what they love and avoid trends and all that.

All. The. Time.

Then, I go to the New and Upcoming Release aisle

and the new publishing deals

and see all the Twilight knock-offs. (or whatever bestseller)

And I think, "Um, huh?"

I'm sure you're sincere, but the evidence doesn't support anything but 'more of the same.'

What gives?

Anonymous said...

Great, this post just sent an asteroid through my manuscript. I'll keep writing, though, but maybe on something else now.

ClothDragon said...

I love urban fantasy. I'm just having trouble finding more good ones. (I've read LKH and loved the early ones -- not so much the later ones, Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs, Carrie Vaughn, and Keri Arthur. Would love suggestions of others of that caliber.)

Nathan Bransford said...

kimber an-

Well, I think the thing to remember is that new releases table is filled with authors who wrote what they love -- they just happened to love what is currently popular.

There is some trend chasing going on, and it seems like there's more these days than there has been since the chick lit boom, but a lot of times it's just that writers happen to be writing what the market happens to want at that moment.

Anonymous said...

I'm probably in the minority, but why oh why is this Twilight series so popular? It is badly written, I'm sorry but it is. Adverbs, cardboard characters and underlying LDS philosphy, a bad bad message to teens - hell with consequences, you get everything you want and more, even when you die!

I read the series (borrowed not bought) because I was curious as to what this author did to garner such rave reviews and a following.

Oh well, power to her, writing a bad book and snaring some great agent with a great deal.

v--v Tabitha Maine v--v said...

I'm so broken hearted over the success of Twi...(that book that must not be named).

Justus M. Bowman said...

Darn. Now that you've warned them, they might compete with me.

Go, Twilight! Ha, a ha, ha.

Author Guy said...

See? The market's perfect for my Werewolf on the Moon story!

Bill Mabe said...

My query letter is written by a vampire, but my novel is firmly grounded in the real world: Arkansas family strikes oil and moves to Beverly Hills and hilarity ensues. Is that okay, or are you also overdosing vampire-written queries?

Anonymous said...

Well I LOVED Twilght! Not the writing but the story.

I also love fantasy -all kinds but the overly scientific or the too much world building type.

Give me more fantasy!!!! Especially in this gloom and doom economic depression.

Yes.

Onward Steven Spielberg...

The look-a-likes???? Don't measure up.

But fantasy and heroes and magic and places where AMAZING things happen?

Oh, please writers, continue!

Marilyn Peake said...

Ella,

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA had great success with those types of angels. Don't want to say too much, so as not to give away spoilers, but I loved the way in which Gaius Baltar described angels toward the end of the series.

Mira said...

Nathan, you're smart. It just needed to be said, and there, I've said it. I really admire your intelligence.

Rick, that was funny. And may I just say that it's good to reach for the impossible dream. Man must always have some vision that is just beyond his grasp. Keep on!

marilyn peake said...

Nathan,

Thanks so much for that information. I strive to write stories that are different and original, and my novel isn’t like anything on the market right now. I’m itching to get back to it. Just returned from a week of vacation in sunny Southern California and will be traveling to Alaska soon, working hard to get as refreshed as possible before editing in the fall. :)

thoughtful1 said...

Love your blog yet again! Although now did I use the word blog correctly? mmmm. Anyway I just assume every genre will require trodding in a new way somehow some way. Love your way of saying it. Thanks for the info-entertainment!

Mira said...

Oh, that wasn't kissing up. I guess agents always have to wonder about that.

No, genuinely impressed.

Jil said...

The stakes are raised" Nathan says,I should think we need them to fend off all these Vampires hovering about! Now I'll throw in some garlic.

Scott said...

Hear hear!

Anonymous said...

Somehow, I don't think we're done talking about this.

Nathan, I'd like to ask you something. When you get one of these queries, do you attribute the author's motives to:

a). wanting instant fame and success.

b). writing a story that they want to read. They just happen to want to read the most popular thing in the universe over and over. Somehow, the original just opened this insatiable black hole in their lives.

c). some strange need to fix something they saw as immensely successful, but essentially broken. The Twilight and Harry Potter series as well as The Da Vinci Code had huge followings, but many people saw them as seriously flawed.

Thanks Nathan.

Oh! I'm not the only one who believes in the Gollum-Dick Cheney connection! Good to know.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

I don't try and divine motives, I just read the queries and see if the stories resonate with me.

Beth said...

Twilight Twilight Twilight. Sorry, my inner 8 year old just came out. This is hilarious. Love your blog, Nathan. Thanks for the laugh, and for the info!

Anonymous said...

But my book is different! It's about a human boy falling in love with a vampire girl! And she doesn't sparkle, she just changes color when she goes into the sun.

See? So, so different.

Karen Schwabach said...

Lol! I think the present tense of "trod" is "tread", though.

Christa said...

Well, I'm writing something so totally new and fresh it beats Harry Potter, Da Vinci Code AND Twilight!

See, it's about this boy, Harvey, who goes to vampire school. He's a bit of a braniac and stumbles onto some secret codes concerning a league of vampire slayers rumored to be myth. But when a body turns up with the murderer leaving behind some of these secret codes, the vampire headmaster enlists the help of Harvey and his two best friends, Harriette and Robert, to find the murderer before he strikes again.

Things get complicated when Harvey becomes infatuated with a human girl suspected of being with the vampire slayers. Harriette and Robert try and convince him to leave her alone for the good of all vampires, as no human is supposed to be aware that they exist.

So, what do you think of my plot? Totally original, huh?!

T. Anne said...

LOL, sort of a funny post (since I don't write in those genre's I suppose it wouldn't be if otherwise).

I must add I did roll my eyes at the new 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombie's' but then it seems to be selling pretty well...

Laura D said...

Since it takes me so long to complete a draft good enough to query, three trends would come and go before I could follow any. I'll just stick to what I like to write with passion.

Anonymous said...

Oms to the gods of publishing...

Watery Tart said...

I think you give EXCELLENT advice, with the caveat... I don't think TWILIGHT is a Vampire book at all. I can dig a vampire book. TWILIGHT is a starcrossed teen romance that happens to have a vampire instead of a kid from the wrong side of the tracks.

But I get that everyone and her mother is picking up the humanoid monster theme, so critical to be totally fresh and make that clear. Good advice.

Tricia said...

How 'bout a troll? Is the world ready for a troll yet? No, silly, not Dick Cheney. A certain South Carolina governor comes to mind though.

Patrick Rodgers said...

I am so sick and tired of Twilight that when I see someone sitting in a waiting room reading any of the books I literally have to force myself from beating them with a crowbar.

I have to restrain myself from spitting vile and venom that would make Stephen King proud.

Try having a wife who is obsessed with the books, try having a best friend who is obsessed with the books (she is freaking throwing her ten year old a Twilight based birthday party next week) and then having to deal with all the media on them that is a constant barrage on the senses. The top it off by hating the books and thinking they are some of the most poorly written books ever published. I can't go a day without hearing about these vile and horrendous pieces of literature and it makes me want to scream.

If I end up in prison for beating some random stranger to death with a Twilight book will someone here write my story.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I promise that the one vampire-ish book I'll probably end up writing (since the idea won't leave my head, no matter how much I try to beat it back) is nothing like TWILIGHT. They're hardly even vampires, and it would seem incidental if some of the traditional vampire weaknesses weren't necessary for the plot. Hopefully I can confine the story to the recesses of my mind long enough for the Twilight craze to slow down a little...maybe...that'll happen someday, right?

Anonymous said...

Okay, I love Patrick Rogers' post, and the funny thing is, I love Twilight too!

I just feel bad for Stephanie. I guess it's like anything else: Success is like suicide.

Whirlochre said...

Seems like the solution is to lock yourself away on an island and avoid all stimuli.

Curses.

The lock trope.

Janet said...

LOL! Nice to see you back to your old self, even if you're trodding instead of treading.

Leona said...

I'm not quite as horrified by Twolight as the last post I read, but I'm with him otherwise. My daughter and MIL are obsessed.

I was kind of bored by the writing, although the premise wasn't bad. But, because I'm not jumping up and down screaming in delight over the book, I'm kind of looked upon like a moron.

It's okay. It's the only book I can truthfully say I liked the movie better about. LOL

Mostly, I think it filled a gap for teenagers in the vampire hype. But the POV doesn't interest me and the writing style is boring, so I highly doubt I will use it as an example.

Good luck at the party, Patrick Rodgers....

Anonymous said...

There is a marvelous writer in my writing group writing a vampire story.

It is nothing like Twilight.

It is just wonderful. I am totally hooked on it. The new chapter just are not coming fast enough for me.

The thing about vampires, is that, there are so many ways to imagine them. That's the FUN!!!!

Creager Studios said...

Although I do not 'totally hate' vampire lore...of late it feels to be shoved just a tad more than usual down our oh so willing throats. I like the dark and creatures that dwell so comfortably there... but I must say that it would be nice to have a series of books for youth to follow featuring a hero that did not involve ,draining, sucking, tearing ,ripping or other painful and non productive acts. I would rather see a Bad Assed Fairy with attitude who bumps off trolls and takes out bad witches with one fell swoop....

Jodi

Anonymous said...

All of my common sense tells me you are so right ... but then I see these same exact books getting the crazy high money deals. Kind of stinks, you know?

Livia said...

There's a twilight board game on sale now at Amazon. Maybe I should send one in along with my vampire book query...

Stephen J. said...

Re. Anon 12:31. Nathan, question. Say you rejected a query, then another agent wanted to sign the writer. Prior to signing could the writer return and ask you for re-consider?

Lucinda said...

Good food for thought. Good thing thinking doesn't add weight, right?

Just this week, I was thinking about why us humans are fascinated by magic. We never seem to tire of it from one generation to the next.

From television shows to movies, books and magazines, even in folk lore, magic draws us in like a magnet. It will continue to do so, I think.

So. Why magic? Magic is a form of a miracle, something that happens to solve a problem. It is an escape from reality that we exist in today, yesterday, and will tomorrow because reality is either too harsh, too shallow, or too boring, or life is too short (vampires have eternal life, sorta).

Magic and the paranormal are fascinating.

Fairies? I know where they live.;) Dragons are real, too. Vampires? Never met one, but I think my x was a warewolf. He was a real monster during a full moon (during any phase of the moon for that matter).

I like your blogs, Nathan, because you speak your mind, give us the latest, the news, and how it feels to be on the other side of this creative muse we all suffer from.

We can all agree to disagree here and no one gets their undergarments in a twist.

After about the sixth rewrite (no longer a book...it is a quest), my son now likes my novel.

Now, "if I had more time, I would have written less..." Pascal.

Lucy and the Magpie

Tricia said...

Twilight I just liked. Patrick Rogers post I LOVED.

Anonymous said...

I recently got a deal for an urban fantasy series involving vampires and other paranormal elements. There's no sparkling in the sunlight, no "marble" features, no angsty teenagers, etc, etc. It bears no resemblance to TWILI-- err... THAT WHICH SHAN'T BE NAMED other than the inclusion of vampires and werewolves. And, no, I didn't mention YOU KNOW THE ONE in my query. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that, despite the glut, it can be done.

Particularly by application your points here:

It needs to be something different and it needs to feel fresh. I know it's really difficult to do something different and fresh when everyone and their mom and their grandma and her mom are writing paranormal. But thems are the breaks.

...You have to either trod new ground or trod the existing ground with spectacular, mindboggling execution.


It is possible to do these things.

There are quite a few good books with vampires out there -- for starters, see Jim Butcher's series (the Dresden Files), Kim Harrison's series (the Hollows), Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, and Mr. King's SALEM'S LOT. I'd hate to see people give up on all books with vampires (or werewolves, for that matter) just because they didn't like one or two authors. Is there a glut of these books? Sure. Are they all bad? No. Emphatically, no.

wendy said...

I just want to say I've written a vampire story *g* I started it ten years ago, and finished it - for the most part - around 2004. Then I started fine-tuning until a few years ago when I put it away as too hard to get it perfect enough for publication. At least, I'd had knock-backs enough to become discouraged. Publishers over here in Australia just weren't interested in paranormal, especially when it was combined with elements of Christianity and inspirational. And, also, to be honest, the story needed a lot of work. I have lots of problems with sytax and some other elements of style.

Up until this year I'd never heard of Twilight. Say what you will to this, but I live in Australia where the novel is not well-known, especially about in the country where I live. Even now the movie has come out, most of my neighbours haven't heard of Twilight. Well, they're elderly and not interested in teenage angst or entertainment. My novel is for adults, but I like anything to do with vampires,as long as it's not too gross.

I was gob-smacked when the movie came out this year because there are so many similiarities in the plot. It was uncanny. Funnily, enough, the success of the movie inspired me to dust off my ms and have another go at getting it into to shape.

I'm hoping that Twilight coming out right now will work for me rather than against me. If not, there's always posthumous publication. *g*

wendy said...

I now realise I'll prob. never heard back from Nathan on my vampire novel query. Combined with querying something that is pretty much passe, I broke just about every rule in his query ettiquette book. After discovering this blog, I became a little too over-excited and dashed off a query before I'd read most of the posts.

Aah, well...you can use my query as an example of what not to do, Nathan.

Patrick Rodgers said...

I am so moving to Australia Wendy the place sounds like a dream, a place where Twilight isn't big and I don't have to daily resist the urge to kill someone with a Twilight book. Heaven on Earth.

I also think there is a Utah counter-culture thing to it as well as Meyer is a Mormon housewife. I don't know this for a fact but evidenced by the knowledge that I can't go to any waiting room or any place where someone might have a book and that book is likely to be a twilight book.

If the books were any good I could get behind the insanity. I didn't think such murderous thoughts about the people dressed in Wizard robes awaiting the latest Harry Potter tome at midnight. I actually encouraged the mania getting my youngest sister to read the books.

But my blood boils, my anger rises and I see red every time I see one of those hated books. I can't even come to Nathan's blod my place of sanctuary without seeing mention of them. I need therapy and a good book deal thats what I need.

LynML said...

Yes, but I've learned that it's not good to be too original either. Nobody knows how to classify your work and you end up with a small press.

Anonymous said...

First, I don’t really think it was just the vampires that sold Twilight, and maybe those who are trying to imitate it should look a little deeper. I agree the writing is substandard, but the conflict, WOW!!!! How many stories can keep up the conflict after an affirmation of love?

Second, I’m a middle grade teacher, and this year I witnessed kids reading those books all the time, way more than I’ve seen reading between classes, when work was done, during lessons (put the book away) in ten years! Seeing them read for pleasure was a real pleasure. So kudos to SM for writing something they can’t put down!

annerallen said...

"The stakes are raised," you say, Mr. B? Those are WOODEN stakes, I hope?

What about books about REAL vampires, like, say Bernie Madoff or those Enron guys?

Christina G. said...

lol. Funny post. I love vamp stories, but it's too bad your inbox has to suffer.

Jen C said...

I don't mind if they keep publishing vampire books forever, as long as some of those books turn into awesome True Blood-like shows.

True Blood. OMG. Latest TV obsession!

Nathan Bransford said...

stephen-

There's no rule against it but I would most likely defer to the interested agent.

Dara said...

I'm not a huge fan of vampires or urban fantasy stories in general and I told myself I'd never write a paranormal novel.

Of course, my writer's mind rebelled and came up with one :P

No vampires or werewolves or zombies; something based more off a myth. Still, it's a long way off from even being considered publishable material (still in the research/first draft phase!) and by the time it's ready (if ever) the tidal wave of vamp fiction will be passed.

Maybe.

Or else someone will have come up with a similar idea. :P I still have my other historical fiction novel to work on too.

Anyway, I'll just write what I love and what story is speaking to me at the time despite the trends. If it doesn't get published, it'll be sad but I'll deal--at least I'll have the story for my own sake (and for a few family members and friends). :)

Stephen J. said...

Yet you would consider it? Good to know.

Carmen said...

I think this rule still sticks:
Write what you know, and if you want to write about something you don't know, do research first.

dirtywhitecandy said...

'Tread new ground'... I have a vampire romance novella that I wrote years before Twilight ever twinkled in Steph Meyer's dreams. It's not much like it, either, except for a frisson of deathliness and longing. An agent took it around Bologna book fair in 2008 and got ten publishers interested in seeing it. They loved the writing and the story but rejected it because the outcome was more psychological than literal - and they actually said they wanted it more like Twilight.

Publishers in the UK don't want originality. They want what everyone else has already done. I also seem to be going through this same experience with an adult literary novel I've got. I get praise for the concept, the writing, the humour, the characters, the story - but they pass because it's 'too different'. Why does that matter, since they clearly enjoyed it? They also say they'll watch me with keen interest to see what I do next. So they'd like to read something else I did too!

That's what UK publishers think of originality. The feedback they are giving to agents and authors is that they want copycats, not trail-blazers. Makes my blood boil.

Wendy said...

I think what you've said, Nathan, goes perfectly with what you've always said.

Good writing trumps all.

moonduster said...

Okay, I was not a fan of the Twilight series, (Although I do enjoy the genre. Even my 16 year old daughter thought Edward was a creepy stalker.)

But a friend showed me this video http://www.rebelliouspixels.com/2009/buffy-vs-edward-twilight-remixed and it made me laugh, so I thought I'd share. (Yes, I was a Buffy fan.)

brian_ohio said...

Hi Nathan,

This is my second comment to your post, sorry about that.

But, after reading these comments, I thought it might be fun/interesting if you did a post allowing your Blog readers to discuss their FAVORITE vampire,zombies,faeries,pixies,ghosts and/or Dick Cheney novels.

With so many out there, I'd love to find a few I may have missed on the shelf.

Just a thought.

Thanks for your great posts.

Mira said...

Well, that's too interesting to let pass.

So, Nathan, you're saying that if you refused a query, and someone got a offer from another agent, they could let you know that and ask you to consider it a second time?

Good.

First, it's nice for writers to have more in their arsenal than the query letter. And second, authors should be able choose the agent they prefer. Consumer rights.

Janny said...

Rick Daley-

Your first "agent" letter made my day. If I wuz a big tyme litterary agent, I'd fer sure want to see 1,000 or so pages of that there fictional novel book. (!)

Sparkle plenty...
Janny

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan -

I'm new to your blog this week, but so far I've found it very enlightening; both from your perspective, and from the fellow authors.

This particular post couldn't have come at a better time, as I'm just finishing up a novel in this genre.

My question to you is:
How would you feel about a book based on a modern-day Wiccan family (ages 18-60) -- with cool powers -- along with some new twists?

I didn't see anyone mention anything about witches, so I'm curious to hear your perspective on it.

And thanks for having this blog...I've learned a LOT so far.

Brandi

Jess said...

The fact that I'm writing a YA urban fantasy NOW actually concerns me. I'm writing it because I've always read urban fantasy - even before I knew to call it that - and it's what I love.

But the sudden "hotness" of the genre? Eep! Hopefully it hasn't waned by the time I get my manuscript finished.

(Note: Luckily, I am at least not writing about vampires, fairies, or zombies.)

Ink said...

Tyreke Evans... interesting.

Nathan Bransford said...

bryan-

I'll take it. I wasn't really on the Rubio bandwagon.

simon said...

we'll stop writing them, when you stop publishing them.


(and by 'we' I don't mean me, and by 'you' I don't mean you, but you get what I mean. Or possibly not)

Anonymous said...

I've never understood the vampire romance genre, they're dead people. I've never understood the werewolf allure either, they're dogs; as for other romance alpha male shape-shifters, I've seen dolphins, hamsters, and bunnies. It's sad.

Ink said...

That's a big athletic backcourt you have there...

As opposed to Minnesota's new mini-me backcourt. They don't actually think Rubio and Flynn can play together, do they?

Nathan Bransford said...

bryan-

My guess is that Rubio will be traded. Or one is the starter and one is the backup. That was a strange back-to-back pick though. I think the T-Wolves were backed into a corner because they wanted a SG but both Harden and Evans were off the board.

One of my favorite parts of the night was when your Cavs made their pick, followed by about 30 seconds of silence as everyone tried to figure out who in the heck he was.

Ink said...

That was my rationalization of the choice, too. I think Minnesota thought Harden would fall to them, and then they'd pick the best of the remaining point guards.

And my Cavs obviously didn't want to eat up any of their cap space with a 30th pick... so take an athlete and stash him overseas. Which makes me think they still have a few plans for the team...

And that Orlando trade, too... a healthy Jameer Nelson surrounded by Howard, Lewis, Turkoglu and Vince Carter? The Cavs better do something more.

Nathan Bransford said...

Yeah, I agree, the Orlando trade could be great or blow up in their faces, but I don't think Shaq is enough help for LeBron. They need someone who can carry the load more consistently than Mo Williams.

A new coach wouldn't hurt either...

Ink said...

I don't mind Mike Brown, though I don't think he responded well to the problems Orlando caused. He looked a little panicky whenever Orlando started taking advantage of their matchup problems. But, you know, if they get the perimeter four man and the big guard they need, I can live with him. :)

Nathan Bransford said...

Well, I'm not such a fan of Cleveland's offensive structure. Or should I say the lack thereof.

Ink said...

You mean the Give the ball to LeBron and move out of the way philosophy?

The scary thing, of course, is that it almost worked.

CKHB said...

Stephen J. said... "Say you rejected a query, then another agent wanted to sign the writer. Prior to signing could the writer return and ask you for re-consider?"

But, why would you want to do that? Wouldn't you rather have an agent who loved your book from the start, rather than someone who has to be convinced based on other people's interest?

Anonymous said...

I'm baffled by the discussion about authors resubmitting to an agent who initially passed on their novel because they now have ANOTHER agent who is interested in their work.

Why would anyone consider passing over an agent who is genuinely hyped about representing (e.g. selling) your novel to revisit an agent who lacked the same interest?

People, you want an agent who is both capable and passionate about representing your work.

The initial agent passed because they either don’t actively (e.g. successfully) represent the genre or the story didn’t “resonate” with them.

You can’t transfer the second agent’s zeal and publishing connections to the first agent simply because you “like” the first agent.

Personally, I don’t want an agent I had to bait with another agent’s interest, and why would an agent want an author who would dump agents this way?

Word of the day: Unprofessional

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

I am soooooo glad that someone finally figured out where Cheney really belongs. :-)

Reesha said...

CKHB: I love your picture! Yes, indeed. Let's celebrate.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

Yeah, I agree. All I said was that there's no rule against it, not that I would be favorably disposed to it. If you have an interested agent, congratulations. And the best agent is the one who is both reputable and the most excited about your work.

Mira said...

Nathan, I hear what you're saying. But I'd like to continue this because I think CKHB and Anon,
are missing some important points.

When you send a query, it's one of hundreds and hundreds. It could be very easy for an agent to dislike your query, and after a second look, like your book.

I want the best agent, not the one who happened to like my book first.

You get a very short time with an agent reviewing your query; this could give you a second shot at it.

Also, it's not dropping an agent to shop around.

Many writers are very used to thinking of themselves as powerless in this process. Own your power, people. Make your own choice, you don't have to let the choice be made for you.

Anonymous said...

Mira,

I almost did not respond, but I like you.

Do you really want potential agents seeing your name on this discussion?

This is a sure fire way to lose their interest quickly... and when you’ve lost their interest, you've lost your bait!

Then, what will you fish with... the same manuscript that the first agent rejected and a tarnished reputation among agents.

Many, many blog lurkers work in the publishing industry.

Reread Nathan's last comment.

How could he trust that such an author is not using him (his name) while re-querying other agents that the author may like even more than him?

You made your choices when you selected the agents you wanted to query. If you are not certain that you want to work with a specific agent, don't waste his/her time by querying.

Please do not confuse unprofessionalism with power.

Anonymous said...

You accept email queries, so what should go in the subject line of the e-mail? You've given great examples of query letters, but I didn't see advice about the subject line. Thank you.

Mira said...

Anon,

Thank you for liking me. I like you, too, for your concern, and that you took the time to address me on this. That means alot. :-)

I had to make a choice. I re-make it every day I post on agent blogs. I am aware that I am very outspoken, and that could rebound on me.

But using my name, rather than posting anonymously, gives more power to my words. And that's why I write. To have an impact and a voice. If I let myself be silenced out of fear now, why write at all?

Maybe it's the wrong choice, I don't know.

I do want to say, however, that I am not talking about playing games. The heart of what I am saying is not hostile to the industry. It's about the empowerment of the writer. Writers are downtrodden in this industry, from my perspective. They need to feel their power more.

How is shopping for an agent different than an agent shopping a book? An agent will get several offers and choose the best one. No one would accuse the agent of being disloyal.

When I look for a doctor, a lawyer, a therapist (I could use one) or other professionals, there's an understanding that the consumer has the right of choice.

The writer should have that same consideraton.

That does not mean I'll play games. I won't query agents that don't interest me, just so I could get an agent I like to sign me. But I would think about my different options, and explore all of my avenues.

I never mean to be hurtful, greedy and small-minded in my comments. Alittle outrageous, I don't mind. :-)

Mira said...

Btw, if you think I don't know what's potentially at stake here, that's only because you can't hear how fast my heart is beating.

I also want to say it's amazing that Nathan allows discussions like these. He's a prince.

pjd said...

But what about zombie cows?

Wait... I think the zombie hybrid was already done. Frankenstein's monster was a bio-electric hybrid, if I recall.

Anonymous said...

I've written 7 comments to place here and erased every one of them. Each one sounded like the big boo hoo and I don't want to be a big baby. So I'll just say this: It sucks that due to one person's extreme popularity, another person can't catch a break.

I know my vampire ms is great. I know it's completely different. I can't prove it because I can't get anyone to read it.

Sure, we all think our work is extraoridinary, but sometimes (just sometimes) we are actually right.

gapyeargirl123 said...

I've read some of the comments, but not all, and that last Anon one got me thinking.

Say you have an urban fantasy/paranormal romance novel. But there is a lot of competition in that market at the moment. Would you consider waiting a while (and work on other projects in the mean time) then trying to sell the UF/PR later, when the trend has died down a little and there isn't so much competition? Or would you just go for it now, when there is clearly the market for it, despite the hoards of competition?

Anonymous said...

Gapyeargirl,

IMHO - Both.

Submit now, learn what works and doesn't work with your query, synopsis and ms.

Learn the process, and if you don't get published now (and agents tell you that your ms is good but the market is saturated), then resubmit later, too.

Good luck.

Mira said...

Oh! Anon, in terms of your looking being so nice to me, I should say something important. I realized that you thought I might be querying people now.

No. I may have the political instincts of a lemming, but I'm not a total moron (at least most days.)

I start grad school tomorrow, plus f/t work; I won't be looking toward my own work and agents for a couple of years.

I was talking in the hypothetical. That was scary enough.

Anonymous said...

Mira,

I don't think you're a moron - nor do I think you are an underhanded author.

You are a witty and bright. I realize you probably didn't see the other side of the situation.

When the time comes… think of the agent who DIDN'T miss the opportunity to represent you... and not the one that did. Let ‘em go.

You'll publish one day...I have no doubt.

sylvia said...

Faeries categorically ARE real!

Although I've never heard of any of them emigrating to California, so you might be safe.

I'm rewriting my query now to clarify that there are no misfit teenagers in my novel, that should do it.

Mira said...

Anon, thank you. Your post really touched me. Brought tears to my eyes, actually.

What you said meant alot.
Thank you.

Mechelle Fogelsong said...

Recently, I was shopping for some new YA fiction to read, and I passed over every single vampire-related book available. Didn't even read the back covers. I mean, enough is enough, right?

It reminds me of the way we were inundated with reality shows after Survivor hit the big time. I watched every episode of Survivor when it first came out, but I haven't been tempted to watch a reality show since then. Not the least bit tempted. I eat my grandmother's apricot pie once in a while, but do I want Grandma's apricot pie every single day for the rest of my life? Uh... definitely not. Variety is the spice of life.

So what did I buy at B&N, when I passed over all those YA vampire novels? Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt (Simon Pulse). It was a fun, light-hearted, silly summer read with absolutely no vampires whatsoever. And, while reading it, I didn't feel like I was missing anything. I love Grandma's apricot pie, but I kind of hope she brings blackberry cobbler to the 4th of July get-together, if you know what I mean.

Mariana said...

Nathan,

perhaps my comment is somehow overdue, since so many good opinions were posted here (and responded, which is rare; thank you for that!).

Nevertheless, I feel compelled to add one more: I agree entirely with you. It is so tiresome to see so many YA novels with teenage vampires and similarities. And zombies? Please!

I also understand that since so many books on these themes have been published, there is an obvious market for fantasy novels to be explored (cannot agree more that it's all about execution). But one could ask the writers to, please, innovate! Change just one bit of the formula is not innovation, not creativity. It is much harder to create something new, but should also be more fun, and rewarding.

On the matter of querying, I’ve also heard from many sources that it is interesting to indicate a book or author the writer identifies most with, to assist the agent/editor on accessing whether the book is right or not for him/her. As you said, it’s not just about Twilight. Saying that one’s book is the next [insert title] is pretentious and, in my opinion, unprofessional. The author is simply admitting not having creativity at all!

Ok, that might have been too harsh, but the point is that (in a perfect world) every author should have their own voice, instead of trying to copy the voice of others that succeeded before them.

All the best and thanks for the great post!

rebecca said...

Now, you see, to me I fail to understand why any writer would want to do this. As a writer, the last thing I would want to do is follow in the footsteps of another. I liken it to a form of idea plagiarism.

I am writing a book right now in the sci-fi/supernatural vein (on the recommendation of a college professor). I am totally out of my element and level of comfort but have taken on the challenge. I am doing my homework, I am researching, I am reading, but what I am NOT doing is trying to write something that has been written before. Granted, you can only make up so much because so much has already been done and in those cases I put my own original spin on it. But I've also come up with some new, original ideas I have not seen before. And I am loving it. Hopefully, when the last word has been typed and if it has legs (something that I can be proud of) I will peddle it. Time will tell.

Wendy said...

I've thought about this quite a bit, I would since I write YA paranormal/romance. When I started writing my latest novel I thought a lot about Twilight (I have no problem saying the name) but not because I wanted in any way to copy it. I also thought a lot about Harry Potter and any number of other successful books.

I didn't look at the themes of those books, I looked at the things they have in common. And that's what I think writers ought to be looking at, I wouldn't mind betting it's what publishers and agents have already figured out.

They have MC's we can relate to and present fantasies we'd all secretly like to be part of based in a reality we can see as possible if we really squint our eyes. The DaVinci code does the same.

As a kid, I'd have loved someone to swoop in and tell me I'm special and get me the heck out of there, like Harry. As a teen, I'd have loved to fall in love with the handsomest, most intriguing guy in the school and have him love me back. I'd have especially loved someone to tell me that I didn't have to die, I could live forever. Heck, I'd still love to hear that.

It's not about vampires, boy wizards or any other particular creature and smart authors know that. It's about giving the reader what they dream of and probably don't even realize it until they read your book.

It's just the same for every other genre. You can write what you love, and you should write what you love, but it doesn't hurt to think a little about what your audience is going to love to read too.

That's way more important than putting a vampire or a boy wizard in there. To do that is the same as dressing like Elvis because you think it'll get you a recording contract. There's plenty of good reasons for putting a vampire in your book, that just isn't one of them, as far as I can see.

I think it's when a book captures just that right bit of fantasy or escapism that it really works.

It's all very well to criticize Stephenie Meyer and her books, but I think our time would be better spent trying to figure out what it was she did RIGHT, what she gave her readers that they were obviously craving, and admire the heck out of her for doing it. I'm neither a fan, nor a detractor, but I AM a studier. It's pretty silly if you want to be successful not to be.

That's my opinion anyways. Time will tell if I have any sense or not I guess!

Christopher Goodwine said...

The Gods of Publishing... Like Nathan?

;)

Actually, that probably isn't as inaccurate as it might sound. I wonder: Is there a direct relationship between the length of a fiction fad and how long it takes for the agents to get physically ill from them?

S.D. said...

I've heard enough about Twilight to not have read it.

And I'm not writing paranormal. However, I do still wonder whether faeries just might be real.

RMD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scary Mary said...

Argh... I was one of those rare "original fans" of Twilight, back before it became popular, and now I'm sick of it from all of the over-exposure... Anyway is a reference to Twilight within the story bad?

“Oh, please,” I told him. “Vampires can’t read minds. Who do you think she is- Edward Cullen? Get a grip, Kennan."

Teehee- my main character is as sick of Twilight as you are.

Sarah Erber said...

Nathan ~

I don't know if your still answering questions to this posting, but my YA urban fantasy has vampire angels, and a crossbreed of a goblin and vampire. (I know that sounds weird, I've got the basic plot on my blog.)

So my question is, are you receiving a lot of these kinds of hybrid creatures in your queries?

(I hope not...) *grins

Brigitte Dionne said...

Not to mention the twilight set totally soiled Canadian grounds. And the red carpet. Now the red carpet is just shit-brown!

I tried to read it, because it was "cool".
but I wanted to rip my eyes out
so I stopped before hurting myself over a vampire story.


Did everyone forgot about the Buffy era?! When vampires didn't sparkle or go to highschool?!

http://lookatmybackpages.blogspot.com/

8cubed said...

You know I have nothing to say...but yes you are right and you just made me even more depressed that I will never get published other than POD. How about a vampire re-boot (great buzzword these days) that other book is nothing more than oh let me think 'Lost Boys - Part Deux'. Anne Rice-LITE, I could go on but I wont. Therefore I digress...if ya ever have the chance being busy and all..check out my site
http://rafeal.8-cubed.com
yes its about a vampire - I know I know...but what the hell

Jessica Agnew said...

Hello, I am first time writer and I just finished my book. It's a vampire romance and it's seems I always get one person who says I hope this isn't another twilight. My story has nothing to do with twilight. makes me wonder have theses people ever read a book or saw a movies that came before twilight. Dang, dracula, lost boys hello I could go on, but I want. Thanks for the advice.

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