In case you've been on the moon, I've inserted the New York Magazine article about the literary author who just sold his apocalyptic vampire trilogy for $3.7 million (sold the film rights for another $1.5 million too) at the end of my post.
It's taken me a while to collect my thoughts on this deal because (to be really honest) my initial reaction is why this guy and not one of my clients? I've sold more than 200 vampire novels in my career, how could this non-genre lit professor get so much when you know apocalyptic vampire novels are as old the threat of the modern nuclear apocalypse? Let's face it, Matheson's I AM LEGEND and McCammon's THEY THIRST are both apocalyptic vampire novels, but we know neither one of them got anything like $3.7 million.
OK. Then I read about the author and I remind myself that when one of my clients calls or emails raging that some other author got $1 million for the same idea as s/he had, I remind her/him that you can't copyright an idea and it's all in the execution.
And I remind myself that this author probably was toiling in the low paying lit fic genre (it is a genre) where you can't sell more than 5000 hardcover copies to save your grandmother's life, so what's so bad about him getting lucky and hitting one out of the ballpark? It doesn't take away from any of my clients. It just adds more attention to the niche within the genre that I love.
But the timing was right for this too. I should have had all my brilliant horror authors working on a post-apocalyptic vampire novel.
But it's an archetype of fear. We, as Americans, are always transfixed by the fear of being wiped out (in this case by an anti-aging virus that turns the populace into vampires) and the undead.
So, my advice to all of you is re-work the genre. There's marrow in those old bones.
Try a post-apocalyptic YA novel.
Or an apocalyptic zombie novel.
Has anyone every written an apocalyptic vampire/zombie novel? (where only some of the undead become vampires ,and those that don't become zombies and they all feed on humans?)
What if the only survivors of an apocalypse were ghosts?
Look at the other archetypes of horror.
The Frankenstein mythos
Jekyll & Hyde
They can all be updated, combined and reinterpreted. It's time.
Anyway, the moral of this story is to use this as an inspiration/challenge and not to think of it as someone else getting a slice of the pie that should have been your's.
There's more than enough pie to go around, and they're always baking new pies!
Ballantine Pays $3.75 Million for a Literary Novelist's Vampire Trilogy?
Justin Cronin, a.k.a. Jordan Ainsley
Courtesy of Random House
Last week, we hear, agent Ellen Levine at Trident Media closed a deal for a postapocalyptic vampire trilogy with editor Mark Tavani at Ballantine. Now, if we reported on every postapocalyptic vampire trilogy out there, we'd never have time to write anything else. But this postapocalyptic vampire trilogy sold, we hear, for a whopping $3.75 million for North American rights. Impressively, the deal was made off a 400-page partial manuscript. And even more impressively — given how cynical most of the people we know in the book world are — everyone seems to really like the book.
"Usually I hate this stuff, and I love it!" we hear one scout told her colleagues. Another publishing insider gushed to us, "It is totally awesome," while a third suggested that comparisons to Michael Crichton and Stephen King were appropriate, given the likelihood of this book being "a big best-seller." Who's the writer? Jordan Ainsley is the name on the manuscript, but we've been told that's a pseudonym for Justin Cronin, a literary novelist whose book of stories Mary and O'Neil won the Pen/Hemingway Award.
The story, set in 2016, revolves around a U.S. government project gone awry that affects a group of experimental subjects — condemned inmates plucked from death row — turning them into highly infectious vampires. Meanwhile, an orphan named Amy discovers that she has unusual powers, seemingly related to the crisis that quickly overtakes civilized society. It's pretty dark, though not completely without humor — the governor of Texas in 2016, for example, is Jenna Bush.
Now eyes turn toward Hollywood, where CAA is representing the book for film. Will it sell? One source is worried about the glut of similar material out there: postapocalyptic projects like World War Z, vampire projects like The Historian, postapocalyptic vampire projects like I Am Legend. Another source in the film world agrees but thinks it may not matter. "Everyone is tentative, because everyone has a nominally competing project," he told us. "But it's good, it sold for big money, and it's about vampires. Vampires are perennials."