Why I’m Giving Up On Writing Horror

I’ve been “seriously” writing horror fiction for the last six years. During that time, I’ve had a bunch of short stories and one novella published, edited and/or published three anthologies, and just finished a brand-new novel. I also co-founded Denver Horror Collective, a horde of over fifty horror authors helping one other spread the horror.

As a weirdo, my fiction tends to be a bit “unconventional.” Therefore, it’s not been easy to get the products of my mind through the mainstream literary gatekeepers, which is why I’ve so often built my own gates.

For instance, my latest book is a Jewish ecological folk horror novel, and I truly feel it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. Although publishers wouldn’t touch my previous two novels, I believe this one is far more marketable and way less controversial. Yet two rejections I’ve gotten thus far—one from an agent, the other from a publisher—are total head-scratchers.

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Writing Horror is Hard

Josh perplexed black and white daguerrotypeI’m not gonna lie: it ain’t isn’t easy being a horror writer.

First of all, it takes years—if not decades—to develop your writing to the point where anyone wants to read it at all (if you’re lucky). And then, if you want to get published anywhere, you’ve got to make it past the gatekeepers—the editors, whose tastes are highly subjective.

Next, you’ve got to produce an original—but still comfortably familiar—novel that’s smoothly written, excitingly plotted, and populated by unique but realistic characters.

If you’re going the traditional publishing route, you’ve got to query dozens of agents (the majority of whom are focused on finding the next bestseller) or an independent publisher whose specific niche you can fill.

Even if you land an agent, that’s no guarantee of a sale to a publishing house. And if you are published and the sales aren’t very good, your agent or publisher will likely drop you. Then, you’re back at square one—with the added albatross of a poorly selling book hanging over your head.

I’ve written two complete novels thus far and while I’ve had some offers from independent publishers, none of them were the right fit for me, so I declined. While self-publishing was—and still is—a viable option, just for the hell of it I’m going to give the traditional route a third try.

Right now, I’m working on the second draft of my new horror novel, Malinae, about a disabled elderly man living with a wife who suffers from dementia. As her behavior gets increasingly strange—and eventually dangerous—he starts suspecting something far worse than her disease is at blame.

Whether it’s through traditional, independent, or self-publishing, Malinae I intend to leash it upon the world within the next year or so. I greatly appreciate all of you who might be reading this or any of my fiction. I won’t forget it.

Darkest Regards,
Josh Schlossberg