Is the Fantasy Genre Oversaturated?
This is a common question among new writers trying to etch their names into fantasy literature. Knowing your market is key to eventual success.
I took the liberty of personally investigating this frequently asked question and doing some research of my own. You might be surprised by some of my findings. In the following article, we will analyze in-depth whether or not the fantasy genre is oversaturated.
The market for the fantasy genre is indeed oversaturated. This is due to the sheer volume of fantasy novels that have been published and the increasing number of aspiring fantasy authors every year. Although the fantasy market is oversaturated in quantity, it is not oversaturated in terms of quality.
The caveat mentioned above that the fantasy market is oversaturated in terms of quantity and not quality is essential for hopeful fantasy writers to hear. Below, we will discuss the significance of this caveat and the reasons why the fantasy genre is oversaturated.
What It Means to Be an Oversaturated Market
To delve into why the fantasy genre is oversaturated, we must first understand what an oversaturated market is.
By definition, an oversaturated market is a circumstance where the volume of a particular product or service exceeds the demand of the market customer base.
Oversaturated markets are typically crowded with competitors that offer relatively the same product or service.
Consumers typically have difficulty differentiating between these products or services because they all seem identical. It is difficult for new businesses and companies to separate themselves from their competitors in an oversaturated market.
Now that we know the general gist of what oversaturated markets are, let’s apply this knowledge to the market of fantasy novels.
Why the Fantasy Genre is Oversaturated
Several reasons support the claim that the fantasy reading market is oversaturated. Some of the most prominent of these reasons are listed below.
Exorbitant Amount of Fantasy Novels Published
There has been an excessive number of fantasy novels published within the past century.
No living person could read all of the fantasy novels that currently exist, no matter how much they love fantasy. There is just too much fantasy content to read in the span of one lifetime.
Not to mention the number of fantasy novels released increases with each passing day. According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), approximately 2.2 million novels are published throughout the world every year (source).
With the release of more and more fantasy novels daily in a market that is already filled to the brim with stories, oversaturation is inevitable.
Going back to the definition of an oversaturated market, this situation primarily has to do with the available volume of the product. The volume of fantasy novels qualifies as excessive and almost certainly exceeds the market demand.
Think about times where you have gone to the bookstore in search of a fantasy novel. The selection is overwhelming!
There are so many fantasy novels to choose from that it is difficult to differentiate one fantasy work from another. Often, the flood of choices is so immense that readers do not even know where to start looking.
The amount of fantasy novels available on bookshelves today is staggering. This is the primary reason why the fantasy genre is oversaturated.
Go to Genre for Aspiring Writers
Furthermore, it seems that all writers seem to share a passion for fantasy.
The prospect of not adhering to any strict laws or rules in their work attracts many new writers. As a result, fantasy grants the most creative freedom out of any literary genre.
As opposed to mystery, thriller, or romance novels, fantasy writing incorporates otherworldly elements that are the stuff of imagination. Other literary genres cannot match this. Fantasy essentially owns proprietary rights in the realm of imaginative world-building and the use of magic.
Thus, when aspiring authors finally decide to take the leap into writing, they gravitate toward writing fantasy.
This trend has fed the growing amount of fantasy books published year after year. As a result, the rate at which fantasy books are being released does not look like it will be slowing down any time soon.
For this reason, market oversaturation in the fantasy genre worsens with each subsequent year instead of improving. Decades ago, one could argue that oversaturation had not yet happened with the fantasy genre. Nowadays, however, the oversaturation is undeniable.
Growing Popularity of Movies Inspired by Fantasy Books
Another trend that has contributed to the oversaturated nature of the fantasy market is the increasing popularity of movies inspired by fantasy books.
Fantasy books translate to the big screen on a far more frequent basis than any other literary genre. This has brought further awareness and attention to the fantasy writing community. The advertising for these movies reaches a relatively broader audience.
Fantasy readers may not even make up the majority of this broader audience. These high production movies expose ordinary people to fantasy books who may have never even given the fantasy genre a second thought before.
Movies releases like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Alice in Wonderland topped the charts, opening people everywhere to the world of fantasy.
Fantasy movies that are well received by the general public have compelled more individuals to take a step outside their comfort zone and pick up fantasy reading and writing.
Although this has propelled the fantasy genre to new heights, it has also furthered the clutter of the fantasy writing market.
Additional writers inspired by the allure of fantasy movies take to writing their own fantasy novels. This only adds to the endless selection of fantasy books that readers are already overwhelmed with.
Belief That It Has All Been Done Before
It is a common perception that almost every facet of fantasy has been done before. It is a convincing argument, especially given the vast amount of fantasy novels that exist today.
This notion is furthered because most novice fantasy writers rewrite old fantasy stories in a different context. Novice fantasy writers employ the same fantasy cliches and tropes that have been cemented into the genre for decades.
The repetitive use of cliches and tropes makes it appear as if there is no more original content to be made within the realm of fantasy. Both fantasy readers and writers are led to believe that contemporary fantasy books are merely just recycled content.
The lack of differentiation between fantasy novels makes it seem like thousands of identical fantasy stories are out there but repackaged with different names for the characters and settings.
A typical characteristic of oversaturated markets is that many competitors offer seemingly identical products or services. It is evident that this feature applies to the market of the fantasy genre.
Are There Still Opportunities in the Fantasy Genre In Spite of the Oversaturation?
Yes! There are still opportunities in the fantasy genre!
Now you are probably asking yourself, “How can this be if you just said fantasy is oversaturated?”
There are a multitude of reasons for these opportunities if you look deep enough. If you want to know these opportunities for yourself, keep on reading below!
Still Room for High Quality Original Content
Well, for one, the volume of fantasy novels is what is oversaturated, not the quality. What I mean is that although there is an extensive collection of fantasy novels out there, most of those fantasy novels are mediocre at best.
For every outstanding fantasy work out there, there are tens to hundreds of mediocre fantasy works to match. So readers have to sift through the rubbish to unearth the obscure fantasy masterpieces.
Thus, there is still hope for aspiring fantasy authors out there.
This is not to say writing a best-selling fantasy novel is easy. On the contrary, writing fantasy is a challenging task. Moreover, writing fantasy that is considered high quality is even more difficult.
Contrary to popular opinion, there are still unexplored avenues in fantasy that can revolutionize the fantasy genre.
To breakthrough in the oversaturated market of fantasy, you cannot recycle old fantasy works. Instead, you must take an alternative approach to fantasy writing and think up a radical idea that readers have not seen before. Needless to say, this will take some creative brainstorming on your part.
If you are an aspiring fantasy author yourself and need help with this creative brainstorming process, check out my article 11 Tips on How to Brainstorm for a Fantasy Novel. This article is designed to be a helpful guide to get the ball rolling on your fantasy projects.
You should also use a professional editing service to separate your fantasy work from the competition. Scribendi has experienced editors on their team that specialize in dealing with book manuscripts. If you genuinely want to improve your story’s appeal, click over to Scribendi for additional details on their services.
Reworking old magic systems and describing the standard medieval fantasy world is not enough anymore. Exploiting opportunities in the fantasy genre is an unlikely venture but not an impossible one.
Many Different Reader Tastes
Fantasy readers are persistently searching for that diamond in the rough that caters to their specific reading needs. Readers are a picky audience.
Novice fantasy writers can use this to their advantage. They can carve out a specific niche within the fantasy genre and cater to a precise audience. This will generate traction for a fantasy work and help an aspiring fantasy author breakthrough into the spotlight.
This trend allows fantasy writers to be bold and experiment with fresh, original fantasy concepts that redefine the boundaries of the genre. Fantasy readers are continually looking to find the next big thing.
This is something you may want to explore if you are an aspiring fantasy author. It would help if you did a bit of market research firsthand. Investigate fantasy forums and read through book review blogs to determine the direction that the fantasy market is trending.
Once you feel like you have a pretty good handle of what fantasy readers would like to see, incorporate your findings into your fantasy writing projects. You will be shocked at how much of a difference a small effort like this can make.
If the fantasy reading community had a limited taste, it would be extremely challenging for new fantasy writers to gather a following. Luckily, this is not the case.
New and Upcoming Fantasy Sub-Genres
This idea builds off the previous one. In response to the variety of reading tastes that fantasy readers have, many new fantasy sub-genres have sprung up recently to accommodate these peculiar reading penchants.
Not all fantasy follows the typical epic fantasy recipe. There is far more to fantasy than just this one fantasy sub-genre. A few examples of some relatively new fantasy sub-genres include dark fantasy, comic fantasy, grimdark fantasy, and historical fantasy.
These up-and-coming fantasy sub-genres are lacking in high-quality fantasy works because they are so new.
Novice fantasy writers that focus their efforts towards these newer fantasy sub-genres stand a much better chance of getting their name out there because the competition is so scarce in these areas.
George R.R. Martin and J.K. Rowling are celebrities in their own right. Their far-reaching fame and writing success have propelled them into becoming the faces of the epic fantasy sub-genre.
These relatively newer fantasy sub-genres need writers to step in and become the faces of these sub-genres, just like George R.R. Martin and J.K. Rowling fulfilled that role for epic fantasy.
This provides a massive opportunity for aspiring fantasy authors. It is the most effective means to overcome the oversaturated fantasy market. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and write freely.
Should You Still Write Fantasy in an Oversaturated Market?
Of course, you should still write fantasy.
You should not let oversaturation deter you from attacking your writing aspirations. If anything, it should motivate you to push harder and strive to outwork the competition to make your fantasy book stand above the rest.
Fantasy Novels are Similar, Not Identical
Remember that fantasy novels are similar to one another, not identical.
This is an important fact to remember. Novice fantasy writers tend to get discouraged if they do not develop a story where every little detail is new and original.
First off, this task is virtually impossible to accomplish. Since there are so many fantasy novels that exist, at least some portions of a fantasy novel will resemble previous works.
Not every little detail has to be something radical. Drawing a few similarities with other fantasy works will not ruin your fantasy work.
Second, readers like to have a bit of familiarity within their reading. Being thrust into entirely unfamiliar territory may intimidate readers because of how strange the reading experience may feel.
Providing a bit of a familiar backdrop by drawing inspiration from other fantasy novels may not be the worst thing in the world. It can help ease the reader into the fantasy work. Bombarding them with radical ideas right off the bat may backfire and have the opposite effect than you intended.
The bottom line is, yes, novice fantasy writers must incorporate a tremendous amount of originality in their works to get them off the ground. But, by that same token, novice fantasy writers should not be afraid to write elements into their stories that are similar to other successful fantasy novels.
There’s something to be said of establishing an appropriate blend of the familiar and unfamiliar in writing, even in an oversaturated fantasy market.
Write Because You Like It
You chose to write fantasy because you enjoyed doing so. You did not choose to write fantasy to beat the market or add another novel to the bookstore shelves. You chose this for you and no one else.
Writers always get caught up in how successful their newest novel will be or how people will receive their latest fantasy work. As a result, it is easy to overlook why you were drawn to fantasy in the first place.
So do not overlook your passion for fantasy. It should be the source of your motivation and the driving factor of why you write.
If you genuinely have a passion for fantasy writing, your overwhelming desire to write should overcome any intimidating factors, including market oversaturation.
Fantasy writing should be something you enjoy if you genuinely want to pursue it. Otherwise, you are simply wasting your time.