I was on another writer's board today (I've really got to stop reading so many) when someone brought up the age-old "Vampires are cliche!" argument.
And I jumped in to offer another perspective (because I can't resist). Editors LIKE the familiar. If it sells very well, why would you buy something that doesn't? I think that's the reason why Sherrilyn Kenyon continues to write a million Dark Hunter books and Christine Feehan continues to write her Carpathian novels.
(Mind you, probably not the greatest examples. But if SK came to her publisher and said "I don't want to write any more Dark Hunter books - I want to write cozy mysteries!", I dare say that someone in marketing would have a seizure on the spot.)
Which then brings the inevitable response of "Well, I'm just going to take a cliche and give it a new twist and make a fortune too!"
Good luck. People are constantly trying to do that and break into a tight market. But it worked for the guy with the $3.7 million dollar vampire apocalypse book deal, right?
So cliches work. But let's look at the other end of the spectrum.
I think every struggling author has the 'big' concept waiting on deck, hoping for the miracle book deal. And look at the books rolling out. Someone's got angel hunters, someone's got an exorcist main character. Someone's got demon assassins. There's different concepts out there. New and fresh. I certainly wouldn't have thought about making an exorcist a main character.
But can you be TOO new and too fresh in a market that wants more of the same?
I came up with an idea not too long ago that was BRILLIANT (or so I thought). Fresh, edgy, and different from anything else out there. I pitched it to my agent... "Too weird. Too different. Try again."
So here's my question, since I know we are hitting the 'Fangs / Fur / Fey' triad of 'cliche' on this group. I know there's a lot of people that just got book deals on 'cliche' items (myself included) and people out there struggling to catch an agent/editor's eye...
Cliches - friend or your enemy? Thoughts? I'm curious to see people's responses.
- Jill Myles