Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trends = :/

Today I was reading my new Writers Market and came across this question in the "Advice from Agents" section. The question was: Is it wise to follow trends?

Here is the answer from Felicia Eth, founder, Felicia Eth. Literary Representation:

It's always temping to write something that seems trendy. Much of this business is about the selling aspect, so writers often think that if they write what publishers seem to be publishing, or what seems to be appearing on bestseller lists, then they have a greater chance of getting a contract--but I honestly don't think it's the wisest way to go. Sure, a writer needs to be aware of what's out there, both so you're not reinventing the wheel (i.e., writing a book that's essentially already been published), as well as so you know how to position your book--but you really need to write what you write best. This means if you've never written for the YA market and have little sense of that audience, then starting now probably doesn't make sense, nor for that matter does reinventing yourself as a political writer if you don't already have a column or blog that's well known in that arena. You're not likely to "fool" publishers simply by trying to do what's hot.

Beyond this though, there's the issue of timing. This is a business where things move slowly, so whatever it is you'd be selling today most likely won't come out for a year to two-and-a-half years. Who know where the market will be at that point? Being conscious of the market is key--but above all, your book needs to be the best it can be. Who knows--maybe it it's terrific, you'll start the next trend

This gives me hope, and I've always watched trends and cycles in the literary world. I think everyone has their 'time', obviously Agents can tell this better than writers ourselves. Just because we receive numerous rejections doesn't mean we're bad writers, our books may simply not be ready for the market at the moment. Patience is a virtue, but also torture. So I'll wait.


  1. That's a problem, I think, being aware of trends, trying to follow the market, and trying to gauge when is the PERFECT time to send out queries. The concept you're pitching right now may be the next big hit in five years or so, but it really depends on how much that agent falls in love with it and whether it can sell. It's hard when you're pitching something that may seem "new" to know when the market will be ready for it.

    Like you said, it's torture. Why do we have to depend on the gatekeepers to decide when the world is ready for our work?

  2. I agree! I just wonder how, if agents only accept work they think they can sell, are they going to find that 'next great thing'? I mean, they do obviously at some point. I just feel like a lot of times we're just working with chance, you know? It's all like...a wheel of fortune. :/

  3. This is something I think about a lot. I'm writing a YA book, and lets face it, even writing YA is a trend. Especially paranormal YA, which is what I'm writing. So I already face an uphill battle as the market gets more and more saturated with mediocre copies of the first few great books (remember chick lit?). By the time this book come out (thinking very optimistically) readers as a whole might be completely over the genre.

    Unfortunately I'm not writing it because it's a trend. I'm writing it because I'm fascinated with the subject, have a degree in religion, and think I might be able to add something new and fresh. Whether or not anyone else agrees is the risk we take as writers, I guess. Writing what's inside of us, in spite of trends - whether we're bucking them or following them - is what matters.

    Also, you were born a day after me (oh, and over a decade later, but lets not quibble). Go Taurus! And isn't that Shakespeare's birthday as well? A most auspicious day to be born!

  4. Why yes it is!! I've always felt that was a sign I was meant to be a writer. =P Taurus is pretty epic, also, people with April birthdays, in my opinion, are as well.

    Thank you for what you've said! I definitely agree! And I'm fascinated by your degree in religion! I've always been interested in religion, that's one reason I'm studying history. That being said, I'm very excited to see what you've brought to your YA novel!!

    Anyways, I do agree. I've had such a passion for these books, I just want people to read them, you know? This idea of trends has always scared me though, cause most of my rejections say "I don't feel this is right for the market at this moment" or something to that affect. I haven't quit trying though! I feel like everyone breaks through at some point, and that starts a new trend.