Friday, January 25, 2013

Aspiring Advice: Caught in the Over-Saturated Market

This post is full of sci fi awesomeness - proceed with excitement.

One of the reasons I started to write was because of my love for science fiction - particularly of the space opera variety. If anyone remember the mid to late 1990s, you'll remember that their wasn't much going on, with the exception of Contact, but even then, it kind of went over a lot of heads. I was in high school during those years. The only places where I could find my sci-fi fix were inside of books or computer games, and that's when I thought, "you know, I could do this!" If I couldn't find a story that spoke to me, I'd make one.

And now, about ten years later, something of an anomaly has occurred - theaters everywhere are about to erupt with a plethora of science fiction films - and they look mighty cool. See what I mean?


And this is all before the summer is over, mind you.

Thing is, in early Novemeber, the Ender's Game film is also releasing. When word first sprang that the one science fiction novel I've been waiting forever to see made into a movie, I didn't know about these other ones, and now a small part of me worries that, but the time Ender's Game is released, audiences will be all "oh, another science fiction movie?" and some have already started calling it a Hunger Games knock off (given that Ender's Game is almost 30 years old).

Well, they called LotRs a Harry Potter knock-off too, so ...

What this can do is lessen the success of the film - it's old now. I know I'll be there, first in line, come opening night, so I hope not.

As far as the book world goes, it's been said that the hot trend will be fairytale retellings and whole new original fantasies with fairytale elements in 2013. I believe it. My CP wrote an amazing dystopia/ fairytale novel and it will come out in the middle of that wave. If we publish Woven this year (self or otherwise), it too will be part of the rush. It's not something we planned on - it's something the market jumped on while we weren't looking. Is this good or bad for us?

Even my zombie WiP, when I met with J. Scott Savage last summer, I told him about my idea and he seemed excited, but he also warned that "the market for zombie stories is over-saturated" at the moment (and btw, his Zombie Kid novel just released - just so you know).

Markets fluctuate and what audiences find interesting changes, but the question is, what do you do when your market is overrun with something similar to your story? We know what happened when Twilight made the scene - agents started saying "no more vampires" in their bios, and I can't begin to tell you how many 50 Shades copycats have flooded the market since those books hit #1.

This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. The answer may rely on where your story is at now - is it before the wave or after? Or will the story serve you best after the waters have receded? Or does it not matter at all and you just want the story out there? If we find ourselves in the middle of such a wave, the one thing that can make a difference is finding a way to stand out - wear a body suit or use a surf board that no one else has. Bringing a unique element into an over-saturated market may very well be our story's saving grace.

Do you worry that your story might get caught in an over-saturated market? Or does this liven your hopes that people will find it? To those who are published, have you published your story in an over-saturated market? How did things turn out for you?

I'm David, but you already knew that. ;)


  1. I'm excited for the Host and WWZ :) I think you have to strike a good balance between writing what you love and what will sell. There is always a market for everything, but it might be small.

  2. This year is a science fiction geek's dream as far as movies go!
    Don't worry about what's popular. Everything said that science fiction was dead when I was writing my first book, and I wrote it anyway. Last year I read several articles about how space opera makes for good movies but books don't sell, and both of my books became Amazon Best Sellers.
    In other words, go write your story, David!

  3. Star Trek into Darkness and the Man of Steel see I must. Resist I cannot.

  4. It's always best to catch the wave before it crests, but good luck trying to do that, especially with books, where it can take years to put one together and by then the market has already moved on.

  5. I'm really looking forward to Into Darkness and happily writing scifi :)

  6. I'm writing sci-fi, but only because it feels right. If that changes, I'll go with it.

  7. I think we all need to write the stories that are in us and if the trend is there, great, if not, sometimes there can be a minor tweak to make it work. I know that is how Ally Condie got her start, taking a story to a small publisher who said if it was changed for their specific market, they would take it.

  8. I'm a little apprehensive regarding World War Z. The zombie swarms look terrible. And regarding Ender's Game, it's too bad that people are so ignorant that they are looking at this story as if it were a Hunger Games knockoff. That's just...insulting in a way.

    I'm kind of sympathetic to William Gibson in this aspect. In my opinion, Mr. Gibson is one of the science fiction greats. He CREATED the genre of cyberpunk. That is an incredible achievement. Yet I've heard people saying that the up and coming Neuromancer movie will just be a Matrix knock off. As much as I love the Matrix...the Matrix TOOK its source material FROM Neuromancer. It's like things are getting ass backwards.

    Another example: The Vampire Diaries is called a Twilight knockoff. Yet, the Vampire Diaries came out a decade before Twilight ever did.

    It's almost like there is some kind of invisible Hollywood touchstone. The first person to grab the touchstone out of the gate is the first to be able to stand on the soapbox labeled "Original idea."

    And that's just a load of b.s. because there are many different paths to success, and it's incredibly difficult for some authors while it seems incredibly easy for others.

    Take OSC for example. He has so many laurels to his writing pedigree, but no one can dispute that Stephanie Meyer eclipsed his career by winning no awards...nothing at all. She's sold 10 times the books that George R.R. Martin has sold for Pete's sakes. It's just weird who gets the attention in our society.

    I too am looking forward to The Host. I enjoyed that book whereas I could not even finish Twilight. It's strange that the one appealed to me whereas the other was unreadable.

    1. I agree that Gibson is awesome sauce on toast, but if you want to talk about creating cyberpunk, I think the honors go to asimov, Phillip K. Dick for Do androids Dream of Electronic Sheep (which came out as one of the best gritty sci fi movies of all time: Blade Runner), and Kapek for the play RUR where the actual term robot is used for the first time (it's derived from the russian verb robotayute which means to work).

      Although, if you want to get technical, I think Cyberpunk was really an offshoot of the original steampunk from Verne, but I'm a fool for the classics...

      And I'm really looking forward to this summer.

  9. The market is over-saturated period. So I think getting noticed in the sea of books is hard for anyone...any genre. Marketing is the key- standing out is even more important- but how to do so is clearly the question.

    Those movies look great- looking forward to them.

  10. I do worry about it but there's not much we can do to control the market. The only thing we can control is writing a book so well that they can't turn it down.

  11. I don't think I have anything to add. You just write the best story you can and ignore the market.

  12. I don't read much in the way of sci-fi, but I do like a good sci-fi movie.

  13. My only fear with the amount of sci-fi films, is that they'll focus too much on special FX and not enough on character, which is what any good story is all about.

    But you can count on me still going and seeing for myself, though I may have to skip the Superman movie. He and I have a history with one another and we're not speaking at the moment.

  14. I worry about this all the time. But there's really nothing you can do about it. People always say "write what you love, and it'll find a home." Which can sometimes be true-- but can also work against you. Basically, all you can do is write what you love and cross your fingers!

  15. One thing that's said with publishing is that they flood the market with, say dystopian, and then say no more. What about the kids and adults who really like the genre and would like to read more books in the genre.

    I don't think you can write to the market though it's great if you have a fantastic book they are looking for.

  16. I worry about this with every book I write, but someday, something will click and I'll find a way into the published world. That trailer for After Earth looks epic! I'll be seeing that one, Star Wars, the Host, Enders game, and Superman for sure. Wow, lots of awesome movies coming out!

  17. I agree that things come and go~ thanks so much for all of the sci-fi trailers! I was especially curious to see what they'd done with The Host. My stepdaughter is looking forward to World War Z :)

  18. If the trend is waning, write it anyway and then hang on to it if no one is interested. Trends come around full circle.

    Some promising movies this year. I was interested in the Host, but they are marketing it like another YA Twilight. Killed my interest right there and then.

  19. I think movies, and books, tend to produce in trends. Sometimes I feel the production world has been in the YA dystopia and Zombie phase too long, and then I'll notice a rash of extremely good thrillers, or sci-fi's. Fantasy doesn't seem as popular unless in cartoon form.

    But as viewers, I think we just need to keep our eyes open for the genre that pique our interest. Movie producers seem to have more variety than Book publishers; but not by much of a stretch.

    I want to see Prototype, but not til it comes out on video. It seems another Millennium Man/I Robot combo. And Pacific Rim is like Godzilla/Transformers vs Matrix/War of the Worlds. Cool; but when so many influences are evident in the trailer, I have to wonder if I'm seeing the ONLY exciting parts.

    All your trailers are different enough from the originals to still be intriguing. Yeah, I'll watch eventually.

    Your novel idea will have its time David. Keep working on it until its perfect, and submit it every couple of years. You never know when the trends will turn. I think if you pay too much attention to whats "selling" now, you'll never write something you're passionate about. Having a shelf novel or two isn't a curse, its good planing for the future :)


  20. I think if the story is good, it'll make it even in an over-saturated market. I'm so looking forward to Ender's Game!

    Allison (Geek Banter)