Monday, November 30, 2015

Keep an Eye Out For Trends

"What are the current trends?" This is a question that we are often asked when we go to conferences. The answer we always provide is the same. Quit chasing trends and focus on writing the best dang story ever. And yet, there are ways that authors can use trends to their advantage. The key is being aware of the trends and taking advantage of the situation.

First of all, let me say that if you do see a trend you should not go out to write that story to match the trend. Remember, by the time you see that trend, those projects were in the works a good 6-12 months before. By the time you get your book written and through the critique process and then get the book out the door to the editors and agents, the odds are that trend might be gone.

The key to working with trends is to use the books you currently have. You may have this fantastic book but the market is just not right for it at the moment. That's OK. Just wait! The odds are the market will shift in a couple of months and you can be ready for it.

Depending on the trend, you might also be able to "tweak" your story a bit. We're not talking about serious over-hauls, but minor adjustments. Change a location. Change a job of a character. Steam it up or cool it down. The idea is to make small adjustments.

One of the biggest issues with this whole trend thing is to know whether the things you are seeing is a trend, or just a quick blip on the radar. What you want to do is spend the time watching the other elements of the media. Are you seeing things going on with TV or movies. What seems to be some of the big social trends.

A good example of this is the push for the LGBT movement. As soon as this became a huge national political agenda, it was amazing how fast the publishers wanted to jump on the bandwagon.

How long will the trends last? That is always a tough one. In reality, the publishers shift away from the trends when their bigger name authors find sales declining, or if one of those authors stumble across a new idea.

You can use trends, but be cautious. If all you do is try to follow those trends, you may find your career never really taking off. I would also remind you that some of the best selling authors out there have stuck with one idea and run with it through their whole career.

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