Book a chat

Publishing Fantasy Fiction

fantasy starting to write Jun 07, 2021
publishing fantasy fiction

This is truly a great era for publishing fantasy fiction. Originality abounds, and boundaries are being pushed in all kinds of new directions. Bestselling author and writing coach Katie Khan explains how modern fantasy fiction is heading into exciting places – both metaphorically and geographically – and the trends that seem to be capturing the attention of fantasy publishers.

 

Recently published speculative fiction has brand new settings

Fantasy novels based on non-European cultures are breaking out in a big way: take a look at Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, Jade City by Fonda Lee, and The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty, which are brilliant examples of the genre.

Think carefully before you reach for a medieval English or European setting for your novel, as these have been done to death by everyone from J.R.R. Tolkien to George R.R. Martin, and it’s hard to bring something fresh to a well-established time and place that fantasy publishers and readers have seen many times before… And I’m afraid the same is also true of Celtic mythology.

What can you twist, to make your novel setting feel different and new? Or is there somewhere you have personal experience of, and a deep understanding of the culture, which could inspire a new fantasy analogue, particularly a place that’s not often seen in fiction?

As Tricia Levenseller so brilliantly wrote in her blog post for The Novelry – in which she shared fantasy writing tips – there is definitely a current trend for pirate stories, particularly featuring female leads taking to the high seas. I ripped through Fable by Adrienne Young, which was a Reese Witherspoon YA book club pick, and am greatly looking forward to the sequel. 

What can you twist, to make your novel setting feel different and new? Or is there somewhere you have personal experience of, and a deep understanding of the culture, which could inspire a new fantasy analogue, particularly a place that’s not often seen in fiction?

This speaks to a larger trend amongst the stories that fantasy publishers are choosing. Many feature female adventurers dominating parts of society that have previously belonged to men: pirates, assassins, thieves.

The main characters don’t always have to be criminals, but it sure is fun to read!

 

Publishing fantasy retellings of fairy tales

Fairy tale retellings are also having a moment, but as they’ve been popular for a while the new wave tends to have a radical take that makes fantasy publishers sit up and listen.

They often centre on characters who have previously been pushed to the margins – for example, Malice by Heather Walter is a sapphic retelling of Sleeping Beauty, in which the female villain is in love with the princess. 

It’s wonderful to see LGBTQIA representation coming through in this genre louder than ever before, and fantasy publishers accepting submissions are likely on the lookout for these kinds of stories. An independent publisher might be especially receptive to trying out radical or dark fantasy.

Fairy tale retellings are also having a moment, but as they’ve been popular for a while the new wave tends to have a radical take that makes fantasy publishers sit up and listen.

 

Are tropes a barrier to having fantasy fiction published?

Many writers worry that a fantasy publisher would be put off if their stories have the slightest hint of a trope in there.

Tropes in speculative fiction aren’t always a bad thing

But in fact, tropes in speculative fiction aren’t always a bad thing: regular genre readers will have certain expectations. It’s up to you as the author to decide how you fulfil them. 

Any twist or subversion on iconic tropes such as the Chosen One or the Prophesy will be appreciated by a well-read reader and any seasoned fantasy publisher – Denis Villeneuve’s recent film Blade Runner 2049 had an eye-opening twist on the well-trodden ‘Chosen One’ path. You can find a handy list of popular tropes here to get your imagination firing!

What could you do with yours?

 

Now is the time to publish fantasy fiction

The Novelry as a company specializes in science fiction and fantasy submissions to literary agents

There’s never been a better time to write fantasy fiction, or a more exciting period of fantasy publishing.

It’s a huge world to explore, from epic fantasy to urban fantasy, and often drawing on other genres like historical fiction and science fiction too. You can even write romance novels in the fantasy genre – as some of our own writing coaches can attest!

The genre offers the opportunity to say something about the world we live in, but to tell it through the thin veil of allegory. It’s one step removed from our society, and often escapist and joyous in its imagery, but almost always revealing and startlingly relevant about people and history and where we’re going next.

There’s never been a better time to write fantasy fiction, or a more exciting period of fantasy publishing.

Towards science fiction and fantasy literary agents

our science fiction fantasy course begins with the classic course

If you’re writing fantasy, you’ll find our famous Classic Course will inspire you to put that story on steroids. You’ll mine your own fiction passions and pair your interests with the archetypes, tropes and techniques of the all-time bestsellers. That way, we can support you through your world-building and story-planning as you prepare to write a fierce fantasy!

Join us on The Book in a Year Plan which begins with the Classic Course and will see you all the way through completing your first novel as you scope out your series with our expert author and editor speculative fiction coaching team. You’ll have the manuscript for your fantasy novel ready to send to fantasy book publishing companies by the end of the year! We can even help you find the literary agent that knows how to get your fantasy books on the shelves and in the hands of eagerly-awaiting readers.

A good literary agent who specialises in science fiction and fantasy will know the publishing world, from the small independent publisher through to the major players in the publishing industry, and will work with young adult books and manuscripts for an adult audience too. Our team of publishing professionals at The Novelry have been editors in the publishing industry at publishing houses like Titan Books, Orion and Gollancz, so our literary agency partners look forward to the genre fiction submissions they recommend. 

 


 
 
 
katie khan asks the question can creative writing be taught

Katie Khan

Author Tutor at The Novelry

Katie Khan is the author of two speculative fiction novels. Her debut novel Hold Back the Stars was translated into 22 languages and is being adapted for film by the producers of Stranger Things. Katie tutors writers tackling speculative, science fiction and fantasy as well as YA fiction at The Novelry.

 

 


Share this article

Find your course

We take beginners and experienced authors all the way from an inkling of an idea to a book in a year and on towards literary agency representation with our online creative writing courses.

Start today!

Subscribe to the blog

Sign up to get the Sunday paper for writers to your inbox.



Subscribe

Recent blogs

Narrative Perspective

Jan 08, 2023

Writing Tips From Authors

Jan 01, 2023

How to Write A Book

Dec 25, 2022