The reason the question keeps getting asked as to whether the zombie story is over is because there are so many bad examples out there. One reason is because the basic structure of the zombie story is easy. Another is because self-publishing without professional art or editing is easy too. In the end, many of us did this to ourselves and it is for that reason that we seem to have something to prove, if we intend to keep operating within storytelling with the zombie trope.
Writing a great zombie story is as difficult as creating any great piece of literature. Making any old zombie story may be easier though. Taking a video camera and making your own steampunk movie would be daunting. The costuming and grand scale of sets and vehicles would be cost prohibitive. Figuring out what the story is about would be tough too. There are not a ton of examples of independent steampunk films and there are few big budget films that have tackled it either even through the height of its rise in popularity and the film industry’s desperation for any story to tell. There is not an automatic steampunk story. It is an aesthetic and the story has to be created from whole cloth.
Zombie stories are different. They can be done quickly with bad make-up, torn clothes, and any setting. The story presents itself too. Any run and hide scenario works. The emotion and losses are easy too. Any character can die at any time by an obvious means within the structure. Death makes the other characters sad and scared. Point the camera and shoot. This is not to say that any and every zombie film is cheap or poorly done. There are a lot of examples of ones that are because this is the reality of the low entry point into the storytelling.
The same is true for the written zombie story. Self-publishing opened up a world of possibility for anyone aspiring to be a writer. Amazon and Createspace and other platforms that all eventually channel through Amazon in some form have allowed authors to put work out in global availability and some of us to quit our day jobs to pursue the written word full-time. No complaints here about that aspect of the modern era.
As such, many writers have tried to catch their own editing mistakes and threw the work up online with whatever cover they could produce and photoshop themselves. I know a few authors with great graphic design skills that produce their own covers. Jack Wallen is one great example. Most of us are not.
No one can effectively edit themselves. We can and should find and correct all the errors in our draft writing as we can, but putting out a good work for publication, even self-publication, requires other readers and other editors to look it over. People outside our lives and outside our heads have to find what we missed and what won’t make sense for a reader that is not us.
The difference between professional work and work that adds to the question of whether a genre is over comes down to what the author is willing to put into the work. That might mean money. If you don’t believe in yourself enough to invest in a professional cover and professional editing, you probably don’t believe in your work enough to make it worthy of publishing. As an independent author or a blended author that is putting out some self-published work, it is on you to make it professional. That means a professional looking cover and professional editing. Covers can be simple and good. There are professional cover artists out there working for small presses and indie authors. You can usually tell a difference between their work and a twenty-five dollar or a ten dollar cover. There is also a difference between cover art that is exclusive and one from clipart that appears on dozens of books. Your mom might do a great job editing, but someone that is good at grammar might not be a great editor for genre and story in the way a professional editor is. That costs money. Not all professional editors are the best either. Even after a professional edit, it is still on the author again to go through the work with a fine-toothed virtual, metaphorical comb and find any glitches that slipped through in the editing process. If you are not skilled at formatting a book, it is on you to connect with someone who is.
I am nearly useless when it comes to even identifying good art. I have no skills for formatting a book. I benefit greatly from editors. As I do this full-time, I have found people far more skilled than me to make that happen for my work. They make me look far better than I actually am.
This is not the usual level of effort you see in zombie books or all self-published work. You can tell the difference in the authors that do though. The zombie sub genre in particular has suffered the most from the quick to publish lack of professional effort. As such, those of us trying to create a better story and a better product have the most to prove. There are prime fans of horror and dystopia and monster stories that have backed off zombies. The zombie story has to be that much better to win the chance to have them back as readers. If you want to win back the trope, you have to do your best work presented in the best way.
Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novelsLoose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com
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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!
Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!