Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Urban Fantasy Is Not Doomed
For the last month or so, there's been a lot of negative predictions for the urban fantasy genre. The word is out that some agents and editors are so inundated with UF queries that they're turning them down left and right. The mood has pretty much gone down hill from there. I've heard everything from "don't bother writing urban fantasy anymore" to "we won't have any new UF series to read, so stock up on what's available now".
But I'm not worried. Let's face it, similar things have been said about various forms of genre fiction over the years, and things have turned out just fine. As long as there's still an audience (which there is), and as long as writers are still passionate about it (which they obviously are), urban fantasy is sticking around for a good long while.
However, that doesn't mean we should ignore some of the underlying problems I believe have led to this disparaging attitude toward my favorite genre. While an agent or editor can find over a hundred reasons to reject a book, they certainly won't take one look at the genre and throw it in the slush pile (unless they've never considered that genre, in which case you've contacted the wrong person, heh). What they are looking for, beyond just grammar and style, is something unique, something fresh, something that will get loyal UF readers to take notice. With publishers becoming pickier about what they choose, I think it will encourage writers to be more creative and produce more quality stories and world building.
Urban fantasy is a very broad genre, with most people grouping it with PNR and YA titles (which drives me kinda crazy, but that's for another post). Just because someone says they aren't buying UF, doesn't mean that goes for every branch of it. Maybe they're sick of vampire/werewolf YA love triangles (and who isn't?), but they still might jump at a new spin on angels, faeries, dark fantasy, etc. And don't forget the booming indie world happening right now. There are some truly fantastic self-pubbed UF authors out there, we've covered several here in the Salon, and they aren't letting up any time soon.
So, should we panic over the future of urban fantasy? Not at all. I predict what we'll see very soon is a market full of new voices, original characters, a variety of mythologies and fantastic creatures, and lots of awesome stories to enjoy.
What's your take on the state of urban fantasy? If you're a writer or a fan, let me know your predictions, or what you'd like to see coming up for the genre.