Is horror a 'dying genre?'

Given the popularity of the recent Conjuring movies, and the subsequent explosion of interest in people like Ed and Lorraine Warren, I figured it was now or never in terms of getting one of my horror manuscripts published. However, I kept getting agent responses along the lines of “We don’t take horror from unknown authors, sorry.” One agent did include an explanation about why they’d adopted this policy, though. Apparently, while horror movies sell, horror novels really don’t. He even went as far as to say that horror was a ‘dying genre’ and had become too hard to market. I’d love to hear some more perspectives on this.


Some of these recent horror movies in the past decade are based off of horror novels so, it’s not like it’s dying. Thing is, horror novels have always been unpopular in comparison to other genres.


I don’t think horror is dying. It could be possible the market is stagnant at the moment. Everything goes in cycles. And there may be a lot of people writing horror, but agents haven’t found anything that jumps out?

There’s loads of variables to consider.


Hell no. Horror will live on forever. I love horror so much.

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As a horror fanatic I will say no. You might not see us since we are overshadowed by Romance/Action/Comedy, but I wouldn’t say it is dying out. If you love it you will search for it. I would love to take that publisher through a wild ride. XD I feel like having an audiobook version of a scary story is better because you can get lost in it, though a book called Suffer the Children and House of Leaves are probably by far my favorite horror books.

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It’s complicated to say. As a horror lover, I would say no. Just look at Stephen King! Sure, maybe he doesn’t sell as many copies as he used to… but I don’t know that. I do know, however, that his work does sell one way or another, and his stories continue to live on, whether within the readers or within viewers who watch the movie and show adaptations.

However, my view is quite biased because, like I said, I am a horror lover. So of course, to someone like me, horror isn’t dead and isn’t dying.

But looking at it from a third person point of view, it depends on how it is perceived. Many publishers and agents don’t accept certain genres only because the cycles (that JMills mentioned) aren’t exactly “aligned.” See, publishers look for specific stories that will earn money quick and everyone is hyped up over genres that aren’t horror, whether that is fantasy, romance, erotica, and dystopian science fiction. They look for stories that are trending, because whatever is trending is what sells.

I had listened to an audiobook recently called Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis; it’s more of a self-help guide for women, but through it all, Rachel talks about her personal life. In parts of the story, she talked about her writing. She got an agent for her book that featured a young girl who moved to LA to be a party planner, and every single publisher she met with—through her agent—had complimented on the story, but said that they can’t sell it unless she added in steamy scenes… meaning, sex scenes. Rachel didn’t want this because her character was innocent and a virgin, so… it made no sense to her. She said just that, and so they turned her away. This was during the time 50 Shades came out, so everyone wanted steamy scenes. I’ve actually heard of romance authors on here who got traditionally published having to add more steamy scenes than they originally had… all because of the publishers.

So much like this, horror deals with it as well. Publishers don’t sell it because it’s not currently trendy.

The other issue for this is that while horror still has a large audience, many people don’t like to read horror because they don’t like to be scared or creeped out. Which is understandable, to be honest. I know of many that don’t like that feeling, and would much rather read something light and fluffy like a romance story. This is why Wattpad doesn’t have as big of an audience with the horror genre than other genres such as romance and teen fiction: many readers here don’t like to be scared.

I recently read Stephen King’s newest book this summer called the Outsider. Honestly, it was the first book I ever read from him. I loved it and wanted to share it with my family (or my sister, at least) but everyone turned it down. My father isn’t interested in scary or creepy stories; he turned down one of my other books called Asylum by Madeleine Roux, though, to be fair, he had worked in a mental institution when he was a cop and saw many… “crazy” people. So… reading something that has a dark history that brings back those memories is off-putting. But honestly, he was willing to give it a try, and so was my sister (my horror buddy), up until I told them what the book was about.

Thing is, when I told them that the story was about a detective who spends his time trying to find the killer of a young boy who not only killed him but raped him… with a tree branch… that made their stomachs turn. Call me abnormal, crazy, or just downright insane, but although I didn’t like reading the part of the crime scene, it didn’t bother me so much. But my sister and father didn’t want to read it at all.

Going along with the whole “not everyone likes horror,” another large majority of readers may be skeptical of finding good horror novels. Although I love horror, I am honestly very skeptical because it is hard to find a good horror story to sink my teeth into. Horror movies are terrible these days, so much like those, it’s hard to find a book that gives you the satisfaction that a movie does not. This might be why it’s hard to sell.

Overall, it’s hard to sell anything that isn’t trending or was trending. Because if that wasn’t the case, then other genres are dying as well such as paranormal and historical fiction.

In all honesty, if you’re trying to publish your story—not through Wattpad, of course—you might have better luck with getting an agent who has taken horror or might take horror from unknown authors. Heck, if you don’t want to go through the whole rejection issue, you could always call or email them, asking if they do that. But in the end, if you’re still not getting anywhere, don’t give up. Continue going, and if, maybe a couple years down the road, you are still not getting anywhere, consider self-publishing?


I like digging horror out of the grave from its roots, and grooming it to be a lovely corpse bride. I watched to much Tim Burton.

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That there could possibly be one of the many factors publishers consider. And also because, you know, all the silly hype with “The Walking Dead” (I love how Romero shared his view on that show. It’s exactly the same as mine :slight_smile: ).

But trends are always important and make it easier to see things to consumers. That’s why Romance and Fantasy do so well. At the moment, look at movies. Sequels for days… :confused:

Hell, the superhero movies are all over-saturated now. At least Weird Science/Scifi has been having some things picking up for itself in the last 4 years or so :slight_smile:

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My problem with horror is, I really like psychological horror. Even slasher can be improved. At least from my understanding, that’s what Giallo is: Slashers with more character development. But I need to watch one to see.

There has been so many Cannibal holocaust, the genre has cannibalized itself.

And, I kind of like a little bit of romance with my horror. I don’t mean teens having one night stands, I mean like … romance.

I was once told I wasn’t writing horror, my work is to soup opera like.

At this point, so be it.

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I agree with slasher. I watch them every once and a while (not often) just to laugh at.

And having a bit of romance is always a good thing in Horror (not the silly teenagers in the woods type, or at a camp). If it’s done well, it helps make the story richer and makes the viewer/reader become more attached to the characters, especially if their goals and ambitions are clearly shown :wink:


I mean in my experience, the best horror has been … like humor in way … largely unintentional, or it happens in such a way, that while it was intended to reduce pain, the instrument itself just looks scary.

Or its done in such a way, that regardless of the amount of pain, you feel sorry for them anyway. Cause, I don’t know, maybe readers are human beings. Shocker!

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Oh shit! lol

The humor can be good when done well. The cheesy black humor of the 80’s is always a good example. And it depends on what type of horror it is too, whenever it’s psychological, slasher, splatter gore, etc, etc.

I hate the type of horrors that do gore for the sake of gore. Unfortunately the slasher side of things are filled with them :confused:

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Problem is even Gothic has become … well first I’ll be fair. There are some good paranormal romance. Not all, but there are some.

But it seems like even a genre I admired for its purity of form, is changing.

Gothic has morphed much in the same way classical liberal has. And I’m left in a Hugoist state of Anarcho-Gothic antiquation.

Not sure how to elaborate without seeming … well hey it is the horror genre.

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I get what you mean. Everything is changing to what typical troupes and fads people enjoy because that’s easier to sell. It’s all about the business aspect in that regard. Yes, it does suck, but sometimes you find really awesome hidden gems in places.

Hell, I had nearly given up on horror movies for the English market until I saw the new IT. The way how that did everything psychologically gave me a little of renewed faith in the Horror market in that area (I seriously don’t have that much faith to begin with, especially since I’m an atheist).

Anyways… what I’m getting at here (and so are a few others), is that things go in cycles and trends. Creative industries and businesses always thrive of fads and movements because it’s easy money, and it’s a safe move. Businesses/corporations would rather make safe moves than risky ones, but it depends on big said company is, and if they can take a small loss. There’s just so many variables with the marketplace

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I’ve never been sure if even what I like is horror even. I like a horror like tone, but there isn’t anything particularly supernatural, paranormal, or even creeptastic.

Even Stepford house wives doesn’t quite … match what I mean.

It’s not paranormal, not abnormal, it’s “Our Normal.” That feeling of uncertainty that exists, even when everyone around you is a decent person.

How we perceive things to be, and how thing actually are.

Or even when, say you are a good person, but nobody seems to believe it. Because it seems like everyone hates you, even though they don’t.

I’m not even sure what you’d call that feelings.

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There is a sense of horror there, but what this reminds me of is the idea of the unknown. That through life everything is unknown and humanity fears of what is to come, and what could possibly exist as a variable.

Parts of that can come down to the subjection of paranoia, psychosis and other such things, but that’s digressing to the point.

With ‘normal,’ it depends on what one classifies things as normal. As a species, we have made a construct where whatever is mainstream is considered the ‘norm’ for our race. Kind of think about it as laws. They don’t fully exist, and yet we abide them.

I get what you mean, and that goes to a deeper critical thinking of perception of what everything in the universe means in totality. There’s lots of things we don’t know, and that’s what scares us the most considering we like to have full control of our lives and decision making processes.

I am thinking way too deep into this. Sometimes I get like this and rant, but the ideologies I convey do make sense if you’re very open minded about everything around us.

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Eh sometimes one can be so deep, they’re all the way into orbit. And then swallowed by Resident Evil zombie.

When I wrote my first time travel, I was kind of going for horror, but then I started humanizing the Viking girl, making her kind of have feeling for the protagonist, albeit subtle at first, and her conflicting with her feeling about how the hero murdered her father, who was kind of an asshole looking back on it anyway.

So it ended up crossing over between Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Romance. And it jut became … very weird and hard to classify.

I totally understand that. When i started redoing my Trilogy, I had first wrote it as a Horror. By the time I stopped with it, it literally was horror/paranormal/scifi/romance/dark fantasy… The scifi wasn’t quite time traveling, but did involve a few meta things in regards to merging atomic structures together to create an alternative universe within many.


Not as deep as trying to find your way out of the depths of the Bermuda Triangle and realizing the edges of the world really do exist and the space-time parallax crumbles, which distorts the time continuum within our reality to subject ourselves into many variables within alternate universes with the use of dark matter thus imploding on itself to replicate the ‘big bang,’ which simultaneously creates billions of variables within a paradox of existence itself :wink:

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i think horror is a versatile genre, the more you add sub genre with it, the more it stands and makes you think that horror can really happen in many situations in life.

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Good news in all this, I found a lot of interesting looking Gothic fiction book in the gothic category.

Curiously one can be #2 in necrophilia but only #22 in gothic.

Apparently Necrophilia != Gothic.