Three years ago, I never would’ve thought I’d be writing this post. This is a long story. Click here for the tl;dr.
First book, first agent
In 2010, I finished my first “real” book, a zombie thriller. It was a blend of literary and genre fiction featuring both teen-something and 30-something characters, which put it firmly into Demographic Neverland, AKA We Don’t Know How the Fuck To Market It. But Zombie Thriller landed me an agent, and in my absurd optimism, I thought, Thank god, the hard part is over.
As anyone who’s been lucky enough to land an agent knows, I was laughably wrong.
Over the next year, against all good advice, I bit my fingernails and spam-refreshed my inbox while my agent sent Zombie Thriller out on submission. The replies trickled in after long, grueling months: “Love the writing, but zombies are over.” One editor wanted to acquire it, but her house had recently acquired another zombie novel, and apparently the limit was one zombie novel per annum.
Meanwhile, I watched The Walking Dead (zombies!) and Game of Thrones (ICE ZOMBIES!) and played Dead Island (zombies in the tropics!) and read about the upcoming Warm Bodies and World War Z movies and Courtney Summers’s zombie novel This Is Not a Test and the highly anticipated games Resident Evil 6 and The Last of Us and thought, Yeah, you guys are right. Zombies are totally over. What was I thinking?
It was the first serious inkling I had that the publishing industry was out of touch with reality.