Okay, I think it goes without saying that vampire stories are really overdone. But I have a novel idea I would really like to write that has a vampire theme. I think I can pull it off if I do it in a way it hasn't been done before, but my worry is that the clear vampire theme will ward people off. If you see a good-looking book, but it's about something you see too often, do you still pick it up and read the back? Or do you just gloss over it on the shelf?
Can an overdone theme still work?
You have the right idea. You generally want to stay away from overdone themes, because they are, well, overdone. But if you do write a novel with an overdone theme, you should approach it from an unexplored angle. Make sure your novel is a fresh look at a familiar topic, and you will be just fine.
World War Z: Zombies, apocalypse.
The Hunger Games: Teenagers, survival.
The Book Thief: Teenagers, Nazism.
You see, you shouldn't worry about overdone themes. You should worry about underdone themes no one cares about.
Plus, you can always turn an overdone theme into something original. For example, World War Z is an overdone theme: zombies, apocalypse. But it's still original (and a best-seller) because ...
1) It's written as a series of interviews.
2) It's a social commentary--featuring zombies!
Some authors have their vampires looking beautiful like in Twilight, or their true form is gruesome like Angel in Buffy. (Vampires are commonly said to be lustful creatures, so making them more monstrous looking discourages that and makes it more memorable) If you want to change it up, maybe you can give them a unique, possibly supernatural quality. The perceptions of vampires aren't set rules!