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What makes a genre "played out"?


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#1 asmcdermott

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 09:21 AM

I'm currently getting ready to query my YA superhero novel and from the responses I've gotten to my draft query so far it seems people think the superhero genre is too cliched and a "hard sell" right now. My question is, should I even mention superheroes in my query or would it be better to market it as just fantasy/sci-fi about characters with special abilities?

I can understand why some genres are played out (i.e. dystopian fiction because of Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.) but what is it about superheroes that makes this a turn off for some people? I know we have like a bajillion Marvel and DC movies coming out right now, but amongst YA fiction there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of superhero stories, at least not on the bestsellers' list. The only major books in recent years I can think of is Brandon Sanderson's Reckoners series, where the supers aren't even the heroes. It seems like a more traditional superhero story (especially one with a female main character like mine) would be able to find an audience, but maybe I'm wrong.



#2 RSMellette

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 01:32 PM

Until your agent has submitted your MS to every editor in the business and been told by everyone one of them that the genre is played out - then it hasn't been.

 

And even if it has - wait. It'll be back.

 

Though, I wouldn't call your genre superhero. There isn't a shelf for that. Call it YA Sci-Fi Fantasy.


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#3 Niambi

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 05:06 PM

I honestly think that genre can't get played out.  

 

No matter what someone is going to want to read your book.  Not everyone loves comics, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Star Wars, etc. etc.

 

Not everyone thinks the Divergent, Hunger Games, Elysium, etc. vision for the dystopian future is the end all be all.

 

And as RSMellette said: it will be back.  And again that's IF you think it's "played out"

 

That's like saying that Science Fiction is played out because of The Martian.



#4 NicholasRichardWilde

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 05:35 AM

I agree with both previous responses. Here is what I've been told by multiple agents regarding this question during a conference: A genre is never played out. Submit what your story is because it might not even be published in two years and the market might have a need for that. Treat your genre like its the pinch hitter in a baseball game. You wait all game til the ninth inning and go in when needed.

If you have agents telling you the market is full of your story genre then it's just another way of generic passing. The only time you should change your genre from what it is to something else is when it isn't that genre.

Last note: Forget about the genre specifics. Classify it in a general category because what you classify as superhero might be sci fi to an agent and that same story might be a ya adventure to an editor. By the time it hits the market its still a book and it will be lumped into a general fiction category on the book shelf. Don't worry about the genre so much and stay general for more curb appeal.

#5 asmcdermott

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 12:16 PM

So after much querying I'm still not sure what genre my book would best fit into. After trying fantasy/light sci-fi (since the book does contain some scientific elements with the superhero gene having properties similar to a virus) I had a personalized response from one agent that suggested paranormal would be a better fit. I tried that on the next round of queries, but then noticed I started getting more rejections from agents who said they weren't interested in paranormal. Since a lot of agents don't list the subgenres of spec fiction they want on their website, I guess I'll go back to using a broader genre in the query, even if it doesn't quite fit the book.



#6 Springfield

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 01:29 PM

The superhero/super powers thing is seriously overrun at this point. Stuff does get saturated, it's just the way it is. It can happen before you see the books on the shelves, because publishing houses work a couple of years out. If editors are telling agents they're not interested in a superhero protagonist it's not necessarily because there are a ton out, it may be because there are a ton cluttering up their lists that are going to be coming out in the next year or so. They've bought a bunch and don't want anymore.

 

There's really nothing to do for that but wait it out. 

 

I've heard a lot of 'write a good book and it won't matter,' but it does, because people simply aren't even considering them anymore. Editors aren't looking at them, because they're not getting it past an acquisitions board with three of the same type on their calendar. It is what it is. There may be some smaller houses chasing the market, or agents willing to pitch stuff around and try, but in a general sense, you're probably better off just trunking it until the market comes back around, because you won't get the same opportunities with it at all. 

 

This is why, by the way, chasing trends doesn't work in publishing. People see The Hunger Games at the top of the bestseller lists, getting a movie, and think 'I'll write something like that!!' but by the time THG is riding high, there are a bunch of similar dystopian things already in the pipeline. If someone tries to figure out what to write by looking at bestseller lists, they're a couple years behind what's actually being SOLD. 






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