Monday, June 4, 2012

Trends and Should You?

By Calista Taylor

I think we've all been there—you hear a certain genre or type of story/character is selling, so you debate whether or not you jump on the trend. It's hard to resist when you hear agents are all looking for a certain thing, and you know writing it could increase your odds of getting published. But should you?

Many say that by the time you're done writing to a trend, it'll likely have passed, or you'll just be one of many who had the same idea. Or that if it's not really a genre you know and love, then you likely won't do a good job at writing it. Honestly, I think both these points have merit.

So when should you jump on a trend and try your luck? I do believe that there are times when you can ride the wave, but the one thing to always remember, is that there's usually more than one wave. If one genre doesn't suit you, then look around. There's almost always something else coming on the horizon that could be a better fit.

Catch the Trend Early!!—There will certainly be times when you can see the wave just starting as a tiny swell, and there's a good chance you can catch a trend before most people take notice. It can be hard to do, especially if you're looking at books that have already sold and are doing well, since it can easily take up to two years to go from querying to getting a book published. By the time a book is a success, most publishers have moved on to what they think will be the next "big thing". An alternative is to self publish, since you can have the book out and in the hands of readers, as soon as you can write and edit your manuscript. Some indies will also have shorter lead times to publishing.

Should you?—The most important question is should you write a genre just because it's gaining popularity? If it is not a genre you read or write (or even like in some cases), then chances are you likely won't be successful at it. But if you're still determined, make sure to do your research—and by this I mean read the genre extensively. Also, try and find an alternative genre or sub-genre that might suit you better. Can you make use of a trend but carry it over to a genre you DO write?

Keep it Fresh—If your story is fresh and different, then it will stand out whether you're writing to a trend or not.

Have you tried writing to a trend? Were you successful?

Calista Taylor is a romance writer and crafter when she's not making book covers or growing things in a bioreactor.

15 comments:

DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said...

It's good advice, but some trends last such a long time it might be worth considering jumping on the bandwagon. I'm sure most of our writing is influenced in some way by what we're currently reading, but I'd be careful writing just in hopes of riding the wave. Better to write YOUR story. Never know, it might start a trend!

Denise

Calista Taylor said...

It's true, Denise. Some trends do last a long time, though I think it tends to be more so on the readers' end, and a bit more short lived on the agent/publisher end. But like you said, writing a unique story, your way, is always your best bet!

JennaQuentin said...

Great points - thanks! Is there any way to predict what the next big thing will be? Do editors have a feel for a trend before it starts?

JeffO said...

I think another element to being able to write inside the trend cycle is to be fast. This is especially true if you're currently on the outside of the publishing circle (i.e., unagented, unpublished). If you sense a trend growing, you have to get written and polished enough for publication pretty fast. Some people are good at this. I am not.

Calista Taylor said...

Jenna, I think editors (and publisher's marketing departments) do have a sense of trends, since in a way, they're partially responsible for them based on what they purchase. But I also think that trends tend to span several mediums, so looking outside the book market, like to what movies are in the process of being filmed, can often give you clues to what might be big next.

Jeff, that's so true!! Especially with genres that tends to have longer manuscripts (sci fi, fantasy, historicals, vs. YA, category romance), most trends will be here and gone before most of us can get a manuscript together. That's why if you can catch a trend just as it's starting, you'll have more time to get that ms completed, when most other writers haven't caught on yet.

Lynn Proctor said...

nope i haven't tried a trend as of yet!--interesting topic!

Calista Taylor said...

Lynn, I don't think writing to a trend is for everyone, but if what you write and current trends happen to coincide, then I think it can only help you.

Jemi Fraser said...

I did try writing to a trend - still not sure what to do with that story! I like trying a variety of genres and age ranges - but for my serious writing I think I'll stick with my favourite genre :)

Calista Taylor said...

Jemi, writing your favorite genre is always a good bet, since I think we do our best work when we truly love something. That's why trends can be tricky. If the trend is something you could love doing, then it's usually a good bet, but if it's not really your thing, then I don't know if it's worth the attempt.

Rosalind Adam said...

The best thing to do when writing within a trend is to be that trend setter! Oh how I would love to write a book that started a trend. The ultimate in writing success in my opinion!

Calista Taylor said...

Rosalind, that would definitely be the best of all!! : )

Jolie du Pre said...

I don't believe in jumping on a band wagon. Zombies are hot now, and I'd love to write a zombie novel. However, I love zombies. If I didn't love zombies, I wouldn't write about them.

Precious Monsters

Jean Oram said...

Right now I am writing something that I believe will fill a hole in the market. Actually two different projects. One, the trend is building and I've had some editor interest--hoping that one will fly! The second I am hoping will become a trend but I don't sniff anything in the air on that one yet.

It's about predicting, right? Sometimes we are too late, sometimes too early, and others right on time.

E.B. Black said...

I write speculative fiction and lately, I've heard from agents what times of fiction in those genres they are selling to publishers, so those are the trends I am currently trying to ride. What may be popular in a year or two among speculative fiction according to agents. I think it will work better since none of the books have been officially published yet, but we'll see. I still feel like I am cutting it close.

Calista Taylor said...

Jolie, I really think what you write has to be a good fit for you or it just won't work. But if what you love is trending, then why not?

Jean, it's hard to get the timing right, but if you can get your projects to coincide, then that's great! I'll keep my fingers crossed for both projects!!

EB, that's great that what you already write seems to be gaining popularity. Best of luck!