“Literary trends” is one of those horribly broad terms that can refer to a number of things. Simply searching “literary trends 2010” has given me quite the education. I’ve learned the following:
More people are reading. Fewer people are actually buying books. (Why? The recession is driving people to (gasp!) the library. That and the internet…)
- Thrillers aren’t as popular as they used to be.
- However, Victorian and Edwardian historical fiction is in.
- So is Christian fiction. Especially Amish Christian fiction. “Bonnet” fiction. I just learned that term. Hmmm.
- Chick-lit, considered by readers to be a “guilty pleasure,” has struggled since the recession. I’m no economist, but I’m guessing it’s probably because it’s a guilty pleasure that people can’t afford anymore.
- Men are published more often than women. And they win more awards. What’s up with that?
- Dystopian YA Lit, anyone?
- A trend that should die ASAP: the total desecration of classic literature. Like Android Karenina. Sigh.
Benjamin LeRoy, publisher of Tyrus books, states the following: “I don’t pay much attention to the trends, and conventional wisdom is that you shouldn’t chase them even if you know what they are because by the time you finish your book, the train will probably have left the station.”
When it comes to fiction, following trends doesn’t necessarily get you ahead. Time and time again, agents are drawn to the following: Originality, good writing, compelling characters, a strong voice, and observable talent.
(Of course, agents won’t even note any of these things if you’ve failed to follow protocol- if your proposal is sloppy, full of typos, or just plain dull, you won’t even garner a reading.)
Agent Chip MacGregor says, “The fact is, I have to pay attention to trends as an agent. And if I’m representing you, it’s nice to know that you, as a writer, are basically aware of what’s happening in the market. Still, what I care about MOST is that you write a great book – trends or not. I do think some authors worry more about the latest trend than they do about the craft – that’s something I see evidenced at writer conferences.”
So, will paying attention to “literary trends” help you writing career at all? Probably not. (Whew. More time to focus on your craft.) However, it’s a good idea to check in once and a while and see what’s going on in the publishing world. Why?
- If you know a particular fiction trend is dying, you can avoid it like the plague.
- Publishing is constantly changing. Being cognizant of publishing trends will help your relationship with a potential agent. For instance, authors are expected to really get out there and promote their own books. This trend is one that will probably stick and become the norm. Becoming knowledgable about book marketing can only behoove your chances of getting published and making your book successful.
- One market trend to pay attention to: will digital books eventually outsell printed books? And how will this affect the publishing industry?
A little food for thought.