What to do When You’re a Genre Writer

Highlight: Horror

Miller_bred2by Crystal Miller

 

Being a genre writer can produce hurdles in your publishing prowess. I could produce an endless list of agents, sites and magazines that state, “no genre pieces, please.” Insert deep sigh. At least they said “please,” right? It’s enough to drive any sane writer right over a cliff. However, despite the troubles that seem to be ever mounting for writers, there is some relief if we roll up our sleeves and do a little digging – okay, a lot of digging.

 

Accepting Your Genre-Specific Persecutions

Horror writers often get a bad rep just for carrying the title associated with their genre. We may write other things, but horror just happens to be our sweet spot – the dark spot where we shine. Another pesky little thing: we are also not science fiction or fantasy writers – not that there is anything wrong with that. However, that is apparently the group to which we have been assigned. It is hard to find a press, electronic or otherwise, that does not lump these three genres together. Perhaps during the early genre-assigning-days all three topics were much less common and the speculative nature was enough of a commonality. So what to do when you are lumped into a category that is limited and you’re only a fraction of that? Like those who struggled before us, (picture a budding Stephen King here) you make the best of it and if you really, really, really want it, you will go out there and make it happen.

In an effort to stand out amongst your peers (sci-fi and fantasy writers included) you need to pay particular attention to how your writing fits into any possible environment. What does this mean? Like any other writer, not every venue fits or even wants to read your work. Therefore, in an effort not to waste anyone’s time, an editor’s or your own, do your homework. Read, read, read! If you have not read the magazine, do not submit to it. If you have not read anything produced by them, you cannot possibly know what they like.

 

Where to Turn

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Literary magazines often shun us, agents deny us, and the stigma of being a “genre writer” in and of itself haunts us. There is a light at the end of the treacherously winding tunnel though if you are determined enough to trudge there and there are resources that do include us if we peer into the crevices. Yay! One of the first things to do is find a database that suits you. I am particularly fond of The Review Review (http://thereviewreview.net/). It is an invaluable resource – despite the fact that you have to manually comb through their many, many listings alphabetically – they are a supplier of presses of every kind. There will be fruits of your labors though and you will find a few fitting outlets for your work.

From The Review Review, I have found websites like these:

These particular outlets may not work for every horror writer, but they do show that there is hope out there. You may also found that reading the bios of like-minded writers in aforementioned journals will lead you to other resources that you may not have otherwise discovered.

 

Play to Their Preferences

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Don’t forget that editors are people – and people have preferences. Some preferences are easy to spot during your homework/research phase but others can be more elusive. Some sites will even tell you upfront what they do not like: i.e. political references, sexual situations, strong religious undertones, etc. When in doubt, ask around. Your peers may have gleaned some insight from something that you glossed over. During a recent inquiry, Laura Roberts (the Editor and founder of the aforementioned Black Heart Magazine) revealed that she is turned off by “buckets of blood” horror. Her “personal taste runs more towards the thriller or suspense end of things, which…have elements of horror stories to them, but are more psychological than physical in their violence.” This is an imperative piece of information when submitting to this magazine or any journal looking for horror. Not a big deal, just submit something where you have turned down the gore and voila! Your chances of being picked up have dramatically increased. Bottom line: Be cognizant of what you are submitting and to whom it is going.

 

Onward!

In any effect – this path to horror publication is riddled with hills and potholes that are not likely to let up any time soon; that is okay though. Do not be daunted. This is the path of your passion and once your current resources are spent or you simply crave more variety, you can dive back into the dark depths to discover more. Luckily, the Internet proves a source of ever-evolving resources at your fingertips. Again, remember and admire the determination of those who prospered before the advantage of the web but with a little effort and a ton of determination, we genre writers will not be excluded, will not be forgotten. Keeping that in mind, keep digging and above all, write on!

 

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Crystal Miller currently lives in Tampa, FL with her family. She is a voracious reader and before entering Sierra Nevada’s MFA program, she earned her Bachelor of Arts at SUNY Empire State College with a dual major in Literature and Creative Writing. Crystal is currently working on her first novel, which will be the first in a series regarding female serial killers.