Monday, August 21, 2023

New Trend? Maybe?

I know authors always want to know from editors and agents what the current trend is. Their goal is to immediately start writing in that genre and "hit it big." As always, editors and agents answer the same way. 

If we could answer that, we would all be stinking rich. 

And yet, we turn right around and tell authors to pay attention to what is out there. We tell you to watch what is selling, who is buying, what they are buying and who they are buying.

Yes, we are telling you to pay attention to trends.

As I look out there, I am going to throw this out there for a trend. No, it is not a specific genre, but it is an approach to the stories, plots and characters that I believe will be around for the next couple of years.

Stories will have less complexity. Plots will be basic. Novels will be easy and fast reads. Stories will also be sold on gimmicks and current social media hotspots. Before I go any further, let me also say that these stories will not be those that will last the test of time. I heard a radio personality last week describe it best when he said, "When I finish a book, and don't plan on rereading it, I toss it." That will be this batch of books.

So, where does this come from? Let's look at some signs.

The rise of streaming services...

According to the New York Times, in a July 19, 2023 article, they noted:

Netflix added 5.9 million subscribers to bring its global total to 238 million. Its revenue rose 3 percent, to $8.2 billion, from the same period last year, and the company also said it had $1.5 billion in profit in the quarter, a similar number to last year at this time.

If you think about it, how do phone companies, internet providers and even creators of tablets advertise their products? "Think of all the things you can stream!" And when you think of these programs, none are overly long, the plots don't required a lot of critical thinking skills, and the stories are full of the latest gimmicks and social media trends. People want to sit down and binge watch an entire season in pretty much one shot. 

Even period dramas have turned into "costume dramas" and covers of current pop hits...

Our family saw this big time when the season of Reign came out. My wife and daughters all made comments that they could clearly see all of the dresses these girls were wearing as "supposed period dresses" being worn at prom.

And remember the music? You watch these shows and realize you're humming to a song and you are sure you know it from somewhere. You have! Groups such as Vitamin String Quartet, Two Cellos, Piano Guys, Eklipse, Escala... They are killing it out there! Why do these work? It is connecting the "readers" and the "streamers" to something they know.

TikTok and the rise of influencers...

It doesn't take rocket but listen to the books they all love. More importantly, listen to what they say about them. "Totally loved the characters", "These two are really hot together", "Could not put this down, very fast read." 

The Covers...

Personally, I am not a big fan of the new cartoon covers, but these sell. Why? Because they come across as "fun reads." You simply cannot pick up one of these books and think there is going to be a lot of plot going on. 

Final Thoughts...

For me, I am someone who still loves a book with a little more to it. But, I am finding that I am shifting my thoughts about some of the books I am looking at. I still want a well written book, but those complicated plots and not always going to be a big draw. 

Now, let me say, having an overly simple plot is not easy. These plots lead an author directly into a brick wall of repetition. 

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