1. ruskaya

    ruskaya Active Member

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    not a pro, yet very curious

    trends: where to find them?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by ruskaya, Apr 30, 2020.

    as a premise, I am not the kind of person who scans the latest novels all the time and reads so much that I can pick up what's going on in the publishing industry at this moment, or at any moment for that matter. I don't even know the sub-genres that are hot right now.

    I hear about trends in publishing all the time, but where or how do I find out about them? Is there a guide or a blog where to find a sort of report about publishing trends? Or which one is the most reliable list for best-sellers? Is there a site where to read about reviews or summaries of latest/best-selling novels?

    I generally don't follow trends to pick up books to read, but I would like to learn more about the publishing process. The more I am learning about it the more I find it fascinating.
     
  2. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I really think you have to be a reader to fully recognize and understand trends. Why would you ever want to read blog posts or whatever about trends and genres you don't understand without actually reading the material they're talking about? You've got to be a reader to really get these things and digest whatever subliminal material you want to add to your understanding. Otherwise I don't really see the point.
     
  3. Historical Science

    Historical Science Contributor Contributor

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    Following trends is dangerous in my opinion. By the time you recognize one and try to write something to adhere to it, the market has probably moved on and a new trend has taken its place. Plus, if you're writing something just to be trendy and get published, you won't put your heart and soul in it (at least I wouldn't) so it probably won't be that good anyway. Write what you want to read is the advice I always fall back on if even it's not trendy or popular. And in today's world of self-publishing, you will always have the chance to get your work out there and start your own trend.
     
  4. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    To be honest, my local newspaper has a bit on all the scheduled to be published books being put on hold right now. Publishers don't think people will buy books right now so they are rescheduling a lot of releases for 2021 or even 2022 because they want to give the books the best chance of success.

    If you have been hearing about "trends in publishing" why not google that to start with? I doubt it will be "correct" because taste is subjective but it will be a starting point.

    However, if your goal is to be a writer.....I agree with deadrats, be a reader first.

    Scott
     
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  5. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    Trends happen for readers, not for writers. Because of the lag time in trade publishing, by the time a trend becomes identifiable to a writer, it's over. You missed it.
     
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  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    *Misread Trends as Friends* :whistle:
     
  7. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is what I came to say as well.

    My advice is to pay attention to what's going in life around you. I realize this particular moment in history is rather anomalous, but in general, yeah. People write about things that are concerning them. Even when it's Science Fiction, because Science Fiction is never actually about the future, no matter the props, aliens, planets, and spaceships. It's thematically rooted in the present timeline of the writer.

    The book 1984 is thematically about 1948, the year in which it was written.

    All the hyper-angsty YA post-apocalypse stuff of the last couple of decades is thematically about the angst particular to Gen-X, who are the majority of the writers of that genre. The same angst is present in Millenials, so they loved it too. But Gen-X is the first generation to have a parent generation of such longevity and of such size that we know the reigns will never pass to us, and that generational angst rides us like a rodeo show. Look at the baddies in all these types of PA-YA stories. Right or wrong, who are they?

    The film Her is a comment on the ever eroding state of human communication and relationships due to technology.

    The zombie film Warm Bodies is an early indictment concerning addiction to digital devices and platforms.

    The British zombie show In The Flesh is a comment on the post-death-sentence paradigm of people living (not dying) with HIV and how we do and don't assimilate them into society.

    So, instead of looking for trends on the bookshelves or magazines, look around you, at what's happening in life. You can wrap your real-life elements in any genre you like. You really can.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
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  8. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I think the majority of people research it themselves. At least, I've never heard or seen of a someone reporting on them. Assuming that, the only way is to look at the bestseller list in your genre/sub-genre over a long period of time. Chasing trends will require quite a bit of reading because every time you find a trend you want to write, you will need to read a collection of the books on trend to identify all the similarities. You also need to be a fast writer. I think trend chasing is mostly a self publishing thing, since the turn around in traditional is usually a year minimum.

    In my opinion the better thing is find a niche instead of a trend. For instance, I'm writing romantic comedies at the moment and my niche is "forbidden". I read a bunch of forbidden to identity everything that each story offers (young girl in a tough place in life, [older] man who can solve all her problems, defined real life consequences for them being together, etc etc). Then you can really brand yourself hard and still follow trends whenever you get a bug up your butt.
     
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  9. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    @marshipan This sounds like something right out of your niche. Well, if you do S&M.
     
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  10. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    :whistle:
     
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  11. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    There's subreddits dedicated to this, facebook groups, and some authors and agents include trend information in their newsletters. Some authors write to market, they pivot fast, they write fast, this is their bread and butter. It can be a living.



    Having said that, even for somebody like myself who wants to write something more perennial, I do have to pay attention to *some* types of trends. I was practicing creating books on KDP and part of the exercise was composing cover art. Cover art is actually trend sensitive.

    I am a huge reader, and I gotta tell ya, I've never paid attention to the cover art. So since I was practicing publishing a SF novel, I went through my bookshelves and got a feeling for the cover art of the novels that were similar to what I write. Bzzt. They're vintage 1960s, 1970s, 1980s cover art and would be a drag on sales here in 2020. Just an example right in front of me: Ursula K LeGuin's original cover art for The Dispossessed is a guy in a floppy hat. The current cover art is an alien planetscape with a giant moon or something. Cover art can tell the potential reader about a book's genre at a glance, and I have to respect this does have trends.

    A peer of mine who writes urban fantasy just relaunched with new cover art to conform to the genre expectations, right down to handfarts, and sales improved immediately.



    Thirdly - the advice to 'read' has a catch... how do you read new authors and subgenres if you've never heard of them? I come at this from a music background. You have to hear about the new music from somebody before you know to pick it up at the record store (*). My discovery of new music was very dependent on some local DJs and music critics. I think today the job title is 'curators' ? People we trust who tell you about the new act or subgenre because they're more plugged into the scene than we are.



    (*) You read that right. Record store. I am a fossil.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
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  12. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    This would be my problem. There were times when I was too late for trends and friends we're like um ... we're not doing the bandana headbands anymore. I was always more fashionable when I took risks and actually started trends. It took a long time to learn that though.
    I agree with Wreybies about looking to what's going on around you and what maybe you're concerned about or interested in. I'm tackling Hollywood and its perception of reality - something I'm interested in but concerned about.
     
  13. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I do follow trends with what I write to some extent. I mainly write short stories and essays for literary journals and magazines, and I can spot a difference in things published five years ago vs. five months ago, even vs. a month ago given the state of the world. Sure, some things are timeless, but I'm not sure I can do that. I've found it much easier to have my work be timely, current, and, yes, maybe inline with a few trends. Literature evolves and it's a wonderful thing to witness, but to do that you have to be a reader. I think it's important to be a reader before trying to be a writer. I can also see the difference in writing by a heavy reader vs. someone who doesn't read very much. There is a big difference, in my opinion, and with so much competition your chances of publishing suffer greatly if you choose not to be a reader but for some reason still want to be a writer.

    I agree with @Wreybies that having a pulse on the world, society and people at large tends. These things can dictate literary trends. Even now, I'm sort of rushing to write as much stuff about this pandemic as I possibly can. I'm not writing news. I'm writing about how things like this change us, maybe change everything. I'm also dabbling in magical realism because I think it allows us writers to explore current conditions in different ways.

    I've twice now written novels that I fear just aren't on trend and will never be published. When I wrote my first novel many, many years ago everyone smoked. Bars, restaurants, etc. And cigarettes didn't cost an arm and a leg. My characters were smokers. Sure, I could go back and change things, but it's not just that they're smokers. The novel is a bit timestamped from a different era where different things were important.

    My recently-finished novel is a murder mystery. It's nowhere in the shape it needs to be yet, but there are many behaviors and actions by my characters that wouldn't work in today's world and I'm not so sure how much we are going to go back to that normal.

    Like I said, I'm better with timely than timeless. I guess I wasn't quite quick enough or expecting such society changes that it rendered my novels yesterdays news. But this is why it matters to keep up with the trends of our society, people, places. I think that's something to combined with literary trends.

    I started another novel. This is magical realism. It has nothing to do with a pandemic or the end of the world. I don't know if this makes sense, but there is a calmness in my writing of this. Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking boring or lack of plot and things that happen. But my writing is a bit different with this one. I believe I've got the right tone for this story. Maybe my writing is evolving or I just realize that we need calmness and to embrace stillness because of what's going on in the world. I'm not trying to write any sort of classic, but it would be nice to actually have a novel I can try and sell. Here's hoping third time is a charm.
     
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  14. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin We may just go where no-one's been.... Contributor

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    Sometimes if you look at literacy agency pages you will see things like "actively looking for lesbian vampire fiction" and the like. I didn't make that one up. That was my welcome-to-the-most-highly-evolved-buyers-market-in-history moment.

    Trends aside, the core emotions that make people tick will always be the driving engine of every story.
     
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  15. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I suppose there are two ways to look at trends. What I've been talking about are the two pump chumps, where there is a sudden moment where the market floods with a specific topic--paranormal academy for instance or bully romance. Then there are long term trends, such as what's the current standard found in the sub genre over the last few years. I've been calling the latter writing to market, and the former trend chasing.
     
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  16. ruskaya

    ruskaya Active Member

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    Once a trend has become one, it would probably be too late in between the time one begins writing a book to trend and gets it on a bookstore shelf or published online. I understand that, and that is not what I aim to do. I just want to know how it works for publishers, how their business works and how they think. Although trends are not the only variable that counts, I get the feeling it matters to them.

    I write and read books following my heart, because that is what makes me happy (now, how corny is that?!) and because there is no way I would ever be able to figure out what is hot right now and write fast enough to publish a novel based on that understanding. I don't even care to do that, although I do admire people who are so focused who can do that.

    There are plenty of best-sellers that I don't like, and yet they make trends. I think there is a value in knowing what matters to people and the books they choose to read.
     
  17. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    *looks at the consignment of fingerspinners in his warehouse*

    Hmm, trends...
     
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  18. ruskaya

    ruskaya Active Member

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    I think there are plenty of people out there who want to read or relate to that different way of thinking. You just need to make sure readers know and recognize what that time period is.
     
  19. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, you're not far off base.

    To the OP @ruskaya, I would advise to get hold of a list of agents currently looking for submissions. Find out what they are looking for ...they will list their interests in their adverts. Do keep in mind that these interests will change, but for now that's about as good a place as any to start. Get a copy of the latest Writer's Yearbook. Read Writers' Digest, etc. Anyplace where agents are hanging out their shingles.

    And then be prepared to write FAST, before the trend changes. :)

    Either that—or write what you want to write. Tell yourself you'll be starting a trend, instead of following one.
     
  20. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    Makes sense.
     
  21. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    Mckee talks about stories that are universal because they run deep in human experience, they're timeless and archetypal, they appeal to people from many countries and tend to get translated into many languages, versus shallow stories that appeal to changing trends, which are stereotypical, formulaic, soon forgotten, and become dated quickly.

    This equates with Jung's division between what he called the spirit of the times and the spirit of the depths.

    It isn't that one is good and the other bad, but they are totally different things and serve different purposes.
     
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  22. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin We may just go where no-one's been.... Contributor

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    You might be better served by looking at which trends are out rather than in. This happened with dystopian YA (probably killed by the Hunger Games) and vampire fiction for a bit, I remember hearing. Markets get saturated and create their own self-fulfilling cliches. Readers suck it up for a moment and then toss their hands in the air.

    This happens in Hollywood constantly. Gangster movies, gladiator movies, sports movies, superhero movies (which can go away any time now). They move in cycles. The public sucks them up, grows tired of them, looks for something else, and the market eventually corrects.
     
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  23. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Ouch! Didn't I say I was a trend chaser? LOL. But, seriously, you can still be a great writer and produce great stories that are on trend and timely and still great stories. I'm not trying to say I'm great here, but mostly I read the works being put out now. I don't think their stories are shallow or formulaic. And why can't there be depth to a story on trend? I aspire to be like many of these authors I read. Who cares if something is dated quickly if right now it's a great story?
     
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  24. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    Oh, I agree with you, as I said, neither is inherently good or bad, and really we all use both to some extent. Since writing that more thoughts occurred to me:

    The glittering surface is what we all see first. It's entrancing and beautiful. people can make a career out of skimming the surface, only hinting at the depths (which can be quite profound itself, sometimes a hint is better than a deep dive).

    Some people are more drawn to the depths. Which means becoming a scuba diver, passing through the glittering surface and exploring the hidden depths. I think this is another of what I refer to as a scylla and charybdis situations, where there are 2 extremes, and at their most extreme they can be horrible and lack something because each requires at least a little of the other in it (like a Yin/Yang symbol, each half has a little eye of the opposite color inside it). The scylla and charybdis concept is that you shouldn't be too extreme in either direction (too much or too little of something), but find the balanced path between. You coudl also think of it as a Goldilocks thing I guess, this one is Just right.

    So some of us are primarily surface dwellers and some primarily divers. But to be good, I think we need to acknowledge the other side to some extent. That's the spice that leavens the broth (weird mixed metaphor sorry).

    A story strictly about the inner world, with no mention of surface realities like physical appearance or whatever, would be too much. Same applies to surface stories that fail to acknowledge the depths to some extent.

    Jung felt that both approaches are absolutely necessary, and said even though some will need to plumb the depths (the unconscious, the archetypes) they should still develop a social life and make it as successful as possible or they'll feel empty and unfulfilled.

    There's a human tendency to see 2 things that seem to be opposites and totally polarize them, like people do with pantsing and plotting. They see it as a dichotomy when in reality it's a spectrum, with 2 extremes but a whole range of possibilities in between. I think this is one of those deals. It's easier to talk about it by using the theoretical extremes and calling them opposites, but I think it's more useful and realistic to see them as ends of the spectrum.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
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  25. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin We may just go where no-one's been.... Contributor

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    Totally agree. Nobody is going to be around long enough to create any kind of meaningful "legacy" until they figure out how to get paid today.

    I think it's fair to say too that we live in a time of such exponential evolution of media, technology, and marketing that nobody has a clue of what a trend even is anymore. Or what print media will look like in 5 years, never mind who will be buying it or what their expectations will be. Remember when Facebook and Kindle were considered trends or fads? What happened to the companies that banked their future on traditionalism and the surety of brick and mortar products?

    Bet on the past and you'll be fucked tomorrow. Luckily the basics for a good story haven't changed much in a few thousand years, though I see little indication that the collective intelligence of society is likely to rise any time soon.
     
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