Trends

What are the Upcoming Trends in Fiction?

The “Your Questions Answered” Series

__________

What do you see as the upcoming trends in fiction? Do you think chicklit will ever make a comeback?

I don’t make a point of trying to predict trends. To borrow a line from Steve Laube, “By the time you spot a trend, it’s too late.” Recall that if I were to sell a novel on Buddhists traveling to Pluto and, as a result, converting to Christianity while finding romance with Plutonians, I might start a trend of “Buddist Plutonian Conversion Romances.” (Please, no. Just. No.)

To create this book, I would have likely taken:

  1. six months to two years to write and edit the book
  2. a week to write the proposal
  3. two weeks to a year to find a publisher to buy the book
  4. an additional year to bring the book to publication

So the overnight success you see on the bookshelf today could have been five or more years in the making. And of course, some authors write at a rate of once a decade, or even less.

Can an author whip out an unusual book in a couple of months, publish on the Internet, and start a new trend? Perhaps. But most books take more time than that.

An author should ask: “Do I want to latch on to a trend and then jump on a hamster wheel, churning out book after book after book until the trend dies?” Even authors who answer yes to this question should have a backup plan for when the trend expires.

As for chicklit, I believe it is here to stay. You may not hear as much about it as a key trend, but these books have an audience. A Google search of the topic took me to Goodreads, where I found many books in the genre published this year. So happy reading!

Bottom line? Don’t chase a trend. You can write what you love, then see where it fits; or you can write a book aimed at a particular market. Make it your very best. A great book written by a dedicated author is likely to find a good home.

Your turn:

What book have you recently read that seems to defy all trends and categories?

For the entire series, click here: “Your Questions Answered.”

Leave a Comment

The Industry Changes but Seems Unchanged

I recently came across an article I had saved from 2004 predicting “Book Trends 2005” by Sally E. Stuart in an issue of Advanced Christian Writer newsletter. Reading through the article makes one realize how different things are but also how much they are still the same! Isn’t that a …

Read More

Saving the World, One Romance at a Time

Often I will receive submissions of novels tying in an element of mystery and suspense with romance. Writers targeting the romantic suspense market will find difficulty in placing this type of story. Why? Because romantic suspense readers have certain expectations that won’t be met with a mere element of mystery and intrigue.

In my experience trying to sell and market romantic suspense, I have found that the readers of this genre want all-out adventure and crime solving along with compelling romance. The suspense is foremost, with the romance being tied in so deeply that the story won’t survive without it.

Read More

A Year in Review: A Look at 2019

It’s that time of year to reflect on the past year, to learn from our experiences, and to count our blessings. Here are some thoughts on the last tumultuous twelve months. The Industry The publishing industry seems to survive the bad press that loves to find the negative in everything. …

Read More

How Do You Measure Success?

by Steve Laube

A few years ago while talking to some editors they described an author who was never satisfied (not revealing the name of course). It this author’s latest book had sold 50,000 copies the author wondered why the publisher didn’t sell 60,000. And if it sold 60,000 why didn’t it sell 75,000? The author was constantly pushing for “more” and was incapable of celebrating any measure of success.

Recently there has been much ink spilled on whether Indie authors are better of than authors published by traditional publishers. Pundits have laid claim to their own definition of a successful book using number, charts, and revealed earnings. Following this dialogue can be rather exhausting.

I understand the desire to measure whether or not my efforts are successful. It is a natural instinct. If it is any indication, one of our most popular blog posts has been “What are Average Book Sales?” with thousands of readers.

In one way this is a wise question so that expectations can be realistic.

In another way it is unwise in that the cliff called “Comparison” is a precipitous one. I’ve talked to depressed authors who are wounded by numbers. I’ve talked to angry authors who are incensed by a perceived lack of effort by their publisher. I’ve talked to highly frustrated authors who wonder if it is all worth it.

Ultimately I can’t help but think this is all an exercise in determining a definition of success for the individual author. If you can measure it you can define it. That is as long as we know what “it” is.

Read More

What Were They Reading?

In attempting to declutter, I am culling my book collection. Parting with beloved tomes is one of the hardest parts of decluttering for me since I enjoy books so much! I’m keeping copies of all the books I’ve written and the many I have had the honor of representing. Because …

Read More

To Romance or Not to Romance

According to St. Teresa of Avila’s biography, the battle over romance novels has been going on at least since the 1500s:

Teresa’s father was rigidly honest and pious, but he may have carried his strictness to extremes. Teresa’s mother loved romance novels but because her husband objected to these fanciful books, she hid the books from him. This put Teresa in the middle — especially since she liked the romances too. Her father told her never to lie but her mother told her not to tell her father. Later she said she was always afraid that no matter what she did she was going to do everything wrong.

Those of us who write, represent, and publish Christian romance novels can be made to feel the same way when our brothers and sisters in Christ object to our efforts to provide readers with God-honoring entertainment.  I have spoken with authors whose pastors have derided their writing, read negative blogs, and heard conference speakers criticize Christian romance novels.

Read More

Popular Story Tropes in Current Fiction

When we think of fiction, we put books in genres based on the story line. Then within each genre, they are separated by subgenres. The Book Industry Study Group has defined over 100 different classifications of fiction. These BISAC codes are what you find on the back of the book. …

Read More

We Live in Amazing Times

I shared a table recently with six or seven others at a writers conference. The writer to my right (right?) leaned in my direction and directed a comment to me. “Please tell me something encouraging about publishing now.” Wow. Put me on the spot, why don’t you? But I thought …

Read More