I’ve just spent a coupla hours trawling through Amazon.com, looking for non-fiction vampire books published in 2012—a follow-up to the lists I created for non-fiction vampire books published in 2013.
And lemme tell you dear reader, it’s exhausting. Firstly, Amazon needs better filters—I’ve had to do keyword searches for “vampire”, because Amazon doesn’t categorise stuff properly. Or, more specifically, the publishers don’t. One or both, I don’t know. I can’t do a simple search for “non-fiction vampire books”, because the books—if they’re categorised at all—are simply all over the place.
Second, there’s so much damn stuff out there. I don’t think Amazon shows results beyond 75 pages, but there are literally thousands of entries under “vampire.”
Third, I had to bypass so, so, so many novels. It certainly made my searching easier, as vampire novels outstrip vampire non-fiction by something like 1,000 to 1.
Ok, so that figure might be a slightly exaggerated, but vampire fiction writers: I don’t envy you in the slightest. It’s truly an overcrowded market. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is churning out vampire sagas, paranormal romances, piss-takes and erotica. Many covers look like they were done by primary schoolers discovering the joys of Microsoft Paint, too.
Think your novel’s unique? Guess again. It’s probably been done a gazillion times over. Even novelty works like Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abrham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2010) are countered by other ludicrous titles like James Fortescue’s Theodore Roosevelt: Vampire Slayer – Part One (2012) and Rob Marsh’s Bob Ross, Vampire Hunter (2013). Yes, the painter guy.
Now that anyone can publish anything if they have a Lulu, CreateSpace, Smashwords account, whatever, even mainstream publishers are being drowned out by the sheer volume of material out there. It wouldn’t be so bad if Amazon stuck to printed books, but since Kindle’s on the scene, hoo boy. The floodgates are wide open and my head is well and truly done in. My ennui’s only slightly abated by stumbling upon items like Cassandra Gannon’s Not Another Vampire Book (2012). She gets it! I tell ya, it’s almost enough to put you off the genre for good.
That said, the thing that keeps me coming back for more are the gems amidst the dreck. I can’t personally vouch for the quality of many of these items, but the stand-outs to me include items with specific niches. Very specific niches. For instance, Ian Hall’s How to Write Your Own Vampire Novel, Joey Haywood’s Dark Shadows: America’s Love Affair with a Vampire, A. G. Sire’s Practical Vampires, Kevin Sullivan’s Vampire: The Richard Chase Murders, Matt Shermer’s How to Act Like a Vampire and Mark Stephen Penke’s The Vampire Survival Bible: Identifying, Avoiding, Repelling and Destroying the Undead, vols. one and two—all published in 2012, and all featured on the new list I’ve compiled.
My advice to vampire authors—fiction and non-fiction alike—for goodness’ sake, please write something new. Do what I did: torture yourself by wading through what’s out there. If it’s already been done, ask yourself, “does the world really need another steampunk/cowboy/bondage saga?” And titles, far out! Play around with my Vampire Novel Title Generator. If the title you’re thinking of using appears on it, don’t use it.
Ever notice that the most popular vampire stories generally avoid using “vampire” or clichéd words in the title? Think “Carmilla” (1871–2), I Am Legend (1954), ‘Salem’s Lot (1975), The Moth Diaries (2002), Kiss of the Butterfly (2011) shit, even Twilight (2005). How about the greatest example of all? Dracula (1897)!
Don’t get me wrong, I get the convenient “signpost” angle—and, uh, little exceptions like Interview with the Vampire (1975) (ahem)—but it just seems like the same words are churned out over and over again. Try something fresh.
Another tip for self-publishers: consider ponying up for professional cover designer. Trust me, it’d be worth it. Most of what I’ve seen out there is fuckin’ ugly; a blight to my eyes—and that’s without even mentioning the glaring spelling and grammar errors that a lot of these works suffer from. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying I’m an Oxford Master of English, myself, but…just consider an editor. At the very least, use your spell-check.
Anyway, here’s the lists I compiled. Enjoy!