Monday, June 7, 2010

Reactions to Things I Have Heard on the Street

Writers are always wanting to know what genres are hot and what genres are cold right now in the publishing world. I think for many, the hope is they will hear an editor or agent say something is hot right now and the writer is primed to fire off that project they have been holding on to for some time. Unfortunately, this is not how the business works. Sure things run in trends, but we are still looking for great pieces of writing that find a way to defy gravity and stand out amid the piles of other mediocre work.

With that said, during the last week, I have heard several people making many of the same comments I have said for a while now. I always like hearing this because it just confirms I haven't been too far off the track. The comments lately have all dealt with paranormal and YA. Now, I should note, that as I reviewed these comments, I have to say, many are dealing with both at the same time.

Both markets are simply flooded right now and, unfortunately, this flood is really coming from stories that are all doing the exact same thing over and over again. There is just nothing new out there! With the YA market, every writer out there seems to think the only story out there to write is a TWILIGHT knock-off. Somehow these writers seem to think their story is completely different. This is far from the truth!

This should give you a clue. During the last three days, almost every YA I had submitted to me was a paranormal YA. Nothing new! Oh sure, one was demons and angels, but in the end, it was still an angst ridden teen story with paranormal twists to somehow justify this weird behavior. Sorry, but this is just not going to work.

So what else do we have in the YA market? Oh yeah, GOSSIP GIRL knock-offs! Are you getting the idea now?

As far as the paranormal market goes, I have to say, I called this one a while ago. Sure we love those paranormal twists, but there is simply nothing new coming out or being submitted. You've heard me say this over and over again but demons and angels are nothing more than vamps an werewolves with different names. I think others are starting to see that as well.

The thing is, all of us are desperately looking for something new and refreshing, and, at the same time, well written. This is the most frustrating element. I hear great ideas and then the writer blows it with a story that just sits there flat.

I still say you can't predict what will be the next great thing, but I think my approach is a pretty good one. Find out what is not out there and aim for that niche. Don't create something bizarre, but find a way to bring in a bit of what is selling now and spin it into a new genre. What is it really about the TWILIGHT stories that is attractive? Figure that out, dump the paranormal, find a genre and run with it.

As for me, during the last round of submissions, these are things I asked to see more of:

  • Paranormals that had alternate world ideas. Really a blend of urban fantasy with that dark gritty side of the vamp and were stories.
  • YA's that read like big adult contemporaries.
  • Adult Contemporary with real people. Stories had premise of powerful women's fiction but without the stereotypical baggage.



  1. I love this:

    Sure things run in trends, but we are still looking for great pieces of writing that find a way to defy gravity and stand out amid the piles of other mediocre work.

    That's what it's all about. It can't be said too much or too often.

  2. The automatic assumption that paranormal = vamps and weres or angels and demons really frustrates me.
    The paranormal world--and stories about creatures/entities that inhabit it--is not so limited.

  3. I love my agent. But I also love your very common sense blog!

    Since I've returned to my roots of writing family-centric contemps without characters having to drag along a lot of WF type baggage, it's lovely to hear that someone besides my publisher, editor, and agent agree with me that there are readers out there for these type of stories. Which I personally love to read and write.

  4. I'm glad to see that someone finally realized that vamps and weres are just worn out. I have said it before, I'll say it again. Stephenie Meyer, in my opinion,cornered the market and I have never been so tired of seeing a million knock-offs of vamps and weres in my life. When I go to the bookstore I want to see different stories on the shelves, not Bloodsuckers from the Beyond or Weres from Wyoming. Thanks for the post!

  5. Oh boy. Even as I agree with you, I read that Justin Cronin was paid 5.5 million for "Passages", his novel featuring, sigh...a vampire, has already sold movie rights for yet more money, and has been signed to crank out a trilogy featuring, wait, let me guess...more vampires.
    Will this ever end?
    There is an excerpt of his book on his website, along with a description of the very expensive author tour put up for him.
    I don't know what to say, other than, I suppose this is an attempt to re-engage older readers, or readers of the Twilight series that inevitably grown up since the first Meyer book was published.
    As for women's fiction, I am still hoping you will give us a few names that are successful in this genre, besides Jody, something P, who regularly publishes new contemporary books that seem to be about women's lives. They always seem to include a romance, a fine line bewtween the two for most of us.
    Every web article about Cronin has a different cash count, but they are all variations on millions. Sweet.

  6. I'm surprised how long trends last; for instance historicals set in the Regency period or the always popular Highland settings.

    It's hard to say which road to take. I guess it boils down to write what you love instead of banging your head against the keyboard trying to produce something you're not into. Work on something that interests you. You'll have less of a headache writing something you love and it will show in your work and eventually catch an editor's eye.