18 November 2007

Over-saturated But Still Thirsty

I’ve been reading lately about how the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres are over-saturated when it comes to vampires and werewolves. I understand how this could be assumed with the sheer number of titles out there with vampires and wolves running about at their carnal or otherworldly best. However why does it seem I’m still forever looking?

Perhaps I, like many vampire fans, suffer from selective perception. As we peruse the shelves, picking up this one and that one, and looking for that spark of connection, we filter out those that don’t resonate. Through that filter we cease to see those which don’t connect and only focus on looking for more of what does. Depending on what you’re looking for, it can make the shelves seem like a virtual wasteland; each favorite, a tiny oasis in a desert of the not-quite-right.

During that torturous time inbetween releases of solid favorites comes The Search. It’s tentative at first. A shy glimpse at a title here, a curious peek between the covers there; all done with a soaring hope that another will now fill the void left behind. We talk to our friends, look for recommendations on line, and search out excerpts and blurbs like the cure for some deadly disease of mundane-ness we seek to avoid.

The first time a friend enthusiastically pushes us toward a title we take a deep breath, hesitate and then dive in. Like any blind date, we don’t expect too much but secretly we hope for everything. We imagine a happily ever after where we’re reading the series or author five books from now, ten, more. We foresee celebrating triumphs, weeping over losses and blushing over carnal victories for characters that become like friends or even family over time. And at our luckiest, we get it.

We get everything we hope for and there’s yet another staple on our PR/UF shelf waiting for the next release. But then, well then, we have to start all over again with the search and we’re rarely so lucky twice in a row. We try another, a third, a fifth, all hoping for that spark, that happily ever after again. And then we drink it in until we’re full and the search begins anew.

I’m new to werewolf UF/PR and find myself even pickier than with my vampire fiction. That connection is harder to find and even more fleeting at times as so much can go wrong with shifter mythos. Of course at the same time, so much can go right and that’s why I still search. It’s why we all still search. But the fact that we much search by definition means over-saturation doesn’t hit the reader the same as the industry.

If we connected with everything out there and were left swimming in titles every week, as readers we might see what the publishers are looking upon. But because we must sift and sort and search, it seems like there’s never enough of what we want as individuals to even get sufficiently wet, let alone drown in choices.

In the end, as with all things, it’s a matter of perception and reception. One side perceives endless choices while the other is only receptive to a limited few. And just like in dating, it’s not about the numbers but about the quality within the quantity that appeals to our particular palates.

Everyone is looking for the next big thing, but there are still of those at the core of it all that are looking for the next good thing, even if looks like the same old thing to the untrained eye.

Perception Ramble Done

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