Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Publishing Predictions for 2015

Well, it is that time of year when everyone feels the need to make predictions for the coming year,
and publishing is no exception. I started looking at predictions on Saturday and what I found was interesting. No one was predicting the same thing. In many ways, it was like opening up a stack of 20 different newspapers and reading horoscopes only to find many contradicting each other. Why is this the case?

In simple terms, no one knows.

If you have ever sat in on an editor/agent panel at writing conferences, a common question that is asked almost all of the time are our thoughts on upcoming trends. Nearly every time, the answers are all the same. "If I had that crystal ball, I would be making a fortune in this business." Which is always followed up by, "We cannot predict what will happen." No one can! Sure, we can make educated guesses but that is about it.

As I scanned the "predictions" on Saturday, I only saw two commonalities from what people were predicting.   The first was that the predictions all showed that their genre, their approach, and their platform would be the one that would take over the world. Being a literacy major, I would love nothing more than to see all of these people correct because that would mean reading is finally getting back into the forefront of our populations. That would be perfect.

The second, however, was more promising. The majority of the articles were discussing change and mentioning the leveling off of the imbalance between indie publishing, e-book and print sales. As I look at it, this is probably the best prediction we can make for 2015. I am betting we can call 2015, THE YEAR OF CHANGE.

As I talked to editors and agents during the end of 2014, they were all discussing "new ideas" and "new approaches." What I found interesting about the comments was the tone. These were not "approaches to beat the competitor" but approaches "to get people reading." It seemed that, for once, the reader was being put to the forefront of the conversation - and this is good.

No, people were not talking simply about "making books more affordable" but more of accessibility. I heard authors who, up until now, viewed each other as the competitor, were now joining forces and creating alliances to "get the word out" about their books. I even saw during the holiday season a promotion that involved authors from multiple publishing houses. We were reminded that it was indeed the book that came first and not the publisher or a name-brand author.

Because Greyhaus Literary Agency focuses exclusively on romance and women's fiction, I did want to toss in my 2-cents worth to be a bit more specific (and maybe to be like everyone else only writing about their own area of expertise). When it comes to change, I also see some huge changes in genre writing. Up through 2014, I saw genre writing really trying to create all of these specialty niches. The problem, however, is that the niches became so specialized, that we lost a lot of readers. That I believe will change. I see us stabilizing the genres and widening the audiences a bit more. No, this is not "cross genre" writing, but simply making it more open to the general public.

I see women's fiction really moving into some difficult and challenging topics this year. I did see an attempt to resuscitate the chick-lit movement, but really,the submissions I saw were simply fluffy attempts at humor. I don't think we are ready for that. With the struggles the world has had over the last couple of years, I do believe people are going to "get serious" and women's fiction is going to reflect that.

Contemporary romances will also continue to be strong. I see a lot of the romances trying to tap into the topic selection approach that women's fiction uses. This year, I see the focus of contemporary romances addressing the concerns of the everyday couple in today's challenging world.

Historical romances are going to continue with their same strength, although I do believe they will also open up doors that, up until now, were closed. We will see authors leaving the salons of the Ton and moving to different locals and different times. Again, the approach is the same as what I talked about earlier, "we are expanding opportunities for readers."

I personally believe the paranormal and the romantic suspense authors will take 2015 to really try to figure out where they want to go. Stories in 2014 (new and published) really started to level out in terms of uniqueness and voice. The few that did make a big splash found ways to do so by daring "outside of the market." I saw this as really a testing of the water.

And of course, as I talk about all of these predictions, we know these are just the thoughts of one person. And of course, I can be wrong just like all of the other people out there. Personally though, I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. I see people working together to put literacy and reading back in front of everyone, whether it is in a paperback, hardback, e-book or audio file. And this is good!

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