What are the Upcoming Trends in Fiction?

The “Your Questions Answered” Series

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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.”

21 Responses to What are the Upcoming Trends in Fiction?

  1. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. September 3, 2020 at 5:24 am #

    Tamela, I write what I love. Trends have a tendency to come up and hit me in the head to get my attention……could be those 9 classes I’m teaching right now that keep me from following the crowd, which sounds like a good thing! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of the industry!

  2. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser September 3, 2020 at 5:46 am #

    To far Pluto did they travel,
    fifteen Buddhists, heads all shaved,
    but meditative plans unraveled
    when they met fifteen Amish babes
    who were there, Rumspringa trip
    to that planet (well, it isn’t)
    in a barn-raised rocket ship
    never dreaming that their visit
    would become a kind of mission
    (good thing that they never tarried)
    and the Buddhists became Christians
    and of course, they all got married
    and journeyed then right back to earth
    to give new writing genre birth.

    Pluto actually isn’t considered a planet any more; the IAU demoted it some years back.

    • Avatar
      Linda Riggs Mayfield September 3, 2020 at 5:59 am #

      Oh. Andrew, you’ve written another winner! No introspection this time: I’m just grinning.

    • Avatar
      Susan Sage September 3, 2020 at 7:13 am #

      I always look forward to your offerings, Andrew. Thank you for making me smile again this morning! God bless you. I’m praying for your thriving spirit this morning.

      • Avatar
        Andrew Budek-Schmeisser September 3, 2020 at 7:24 am #

        Susan, thank you so much, and I’m so glad you enjoyed this.

        That my spirit still thrives in the face of what’s happening now has everything to do with this community; I’m raised up by kind, caring giants.

    • Avatar
      Tawn O’Connor September 4, 2020 at 7:08 am #

      This Poem is a winner!

  3. Avatar
    Loretta Eidson September 3, 2020 at 6:06 am #

    Great insight, Tamela!

  4. Avatar
    Kristen Joy Wilks September 3, 2020 at 6:08 am #

    Oh, I do love trend-defying books! The Princess Bride, Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (my youngest son is zooming through this currently and telling me all about it), The Dead Sea Squirrels, and of course The League of Beastly Dreadfuls where the heroine has tragic flatulence and one of the heroes has an authentic antique Victorian birdcage stuck on his head!!! These really are fabulous books, and if I had to categorize them … I’d say quirky middle grade (or chapter books) or just weird and sarcastic fiction. How’s that? I long to add myself to the short list of “quirky middle grade” authors … we shall see!

  5. Avatar
    Teresa September 3, 2020 at 6:10 am #

    Stay the course, write what you are called to write. Excellent advice

  6. Avatar
    jeannie Delahunt September 3, 2020 at 6:33 am #

    I find this sentence inspiring:

    “A great book written by a dedicated author is likely to find a good home.”

    I’m posting that on my wall in my study.

    • Avatar
      Cheryl Coffman September 4, 2020 at 11:27 am #

      A great idea Jeannie. I keep a collection of inspiration on my office wall.

      “Never Give Up” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

  7. Avatar
    OLUSOLA SOPHIA ANYANWU September 3, 2020 at 6:41 am #

    Hi Tamela,thanks for this post. When it comes to reading, like fashion, I don’t follow the trend. Like Teresa, I agree with your bottom line advice. ‘Don’t chase the trend. Write a great book and it will find a home.’
    I go by my favourite authors who have developed a distinctive style of writing that I enjoy. I have never read any of the Harry Porter series for example. But Christian novels by my favourite writers and books by Anna Jacobs or Susan Howatch will grab my attention any day.
    May God who gave us all the ideas, creativity and words also help us to craft them to the very best so they find a home, I pray in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.
    God bless you Tamela.

  8. Avatar
    Susan Sage September 3, 2020 at 7:14 am #

    I’m glad you wrote this article, Tamela. I think I just figured out what I write…I need to have another conversation with Bob! ; )

  9. Avatar
    Sandy Vosburgh September 3, 2020 at 9:23 am #

    Love the Amish babes. Only you could create that picture in two words. Blessings …

  10. Avatar
    Lee Carver September 3, 2020 at 9:30 am #

    Excellent trend-defying books: the trilogy by Elizabeth Ann Boyles set in 19th Century Japan is so colorfully detailed you’d think she had been there by time machine. (She has lived in Japan and currently teaches Asian and Middle Eastern students at Dallas Baptist University.) The characters are exquisitely drawn, the drama intense, and the social customs and politics of the era are spell-binding. The romance between the first US ambassador to Japan and his lovely young language teacher is told with restraint but tense emotion. Mrs. Boyles didn’t find a traditional publisher and has self-published.

  11. Avatar
    Darlene Bocek September 3, 2020 at 10:36 am #

    I like to see the K-lytics trend reports. They show long term popular trends as well as current trends. And they show changes in the market. As you say, it takes years to get s book ready for publication. Ultimately, an excellent book/concept in a steady genre can start a trend. And as Steve has said, even an excellent book when a similar book by a popular author has come out can spoil your book’s prospects. Imho, aim for concept and you will find your readers.

  12. Avatar
    Rebecca Waters September 3, 2020 at 1:00 pm #

    Great advice to always…ALWAYS write the story in you to write. I am not a trend follower nor a trend-defying seeker of books. I read to suit my mood, the weather, and to fill holes in my heart. And yes, I suppose I write for the same reasons.

  13. Avatar
    frenchydennis@yahoo.com September 3, 2020 at 1:38 pm #

    “The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Swedish author Jonas Jonasson is perhaps the funniest book we’ve ever read. It breaks every rule for American fiction, but he carries it off with grace. We live in an RV Resort and dozens of people read it and loved it. His second book, however, didn’t hit the mark.

  14. Avatar
    Tawn O’Connor September 4, 2020 at 7:04 am #

    I have just discovered Daniel Taylor’s Jon Mote mystery series: Death Comes to the Deconstructionist, Do We Not Bleed, and Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees. He writes with compassion toward strugglers. The setup for that third book is a murderer stalks a group of Bible translators. Never have theological arguments been so compelling.

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