Writing For Trends




Hello readers. Have you seen my hair today? Because let’s be honest here, it’s looking stunning.

I guess since I’m the first post I should explain a little bit about how the blog works. We have writing/book posts every Monday and Wednesday (two  members post per week) and then always something fun on Fridays. I am posting every other Monday (so obviously it’s the best day of your week now. You’re welcome), Captain America every other Wednesday, and Thor and Loki will go next week (unfortunately, yes, Loki posts too) with the same pattern. Each of our posts will have different arcs and focuses, although we may do the occasional theme week. Every other Friday starting on the 29th will be a “Truth or Dare Friday,” in which we play Truth or Dare with authors, literary agents, and book editors, or, more simply put, in which we embarrass them. On the Fridays in between we plan to make group posts that further Loki’s writing journey, as a sort of continuation of our intro post. We also hope to throw in Shawarma Book Joint Book Clubs when possible.

An interesting aspect of this blog is going to be the fact that we don’t all share the same opinions (for example, the others don’t seem to notice how good-looking I am. They’re very ignorant in that way), so you’ll get a number of different publishing and book-related perspectives from a number of different people/creatures/whatever Loki is.

Today I want to talk about something I’ve heard a lot of discussion about recently: writing for and out of trends.

Right off the bat, I love trends. I really do. It’s so interesting to me to see all of these different spins on a genre or basic plot and see the vast number of unique characters and voices that come from it. It’s true that trends matter in this industry, and it is important for writers to pay attention to them (unless you're like me and you have a fancy suit and great hair and can force editors to publish your book whenever you feel like it. *ahem*) After all, readers are what makes publishing run, and they therefore dictate what sells and what doesn’t. So if readers want a genre, that genre sells. When they don’t want it, it doesn’t. Book editors also contribute, too, and they tend to get tired of seeing genres much faster than readers do, which makes sense because they’re the ones who read so many agent submissions.

Trends matter to writers in this industry, and if you’re genre is trending, it helps you.

However, I don’t think writing specifically for trends is a great idea. First of all, if you write a book just because you want to make money from that trend as opposed to writing it because you genuinely want to write it, the quality of your book might suffer. It is also not hard for agents to tell when this is the case, and agents want passionate writers to work with, not just ones who want a quick buck. That said, though, if you’ve written a book in a genre that happens to be trending, GOOD FOR YOU! My only point is that I don’t recommend writing a book specifically because a genre is trending; write it because you want to write it, because you can’t not write it. When a book comes from the heart, agents, editors, and readers can tell. 

Another reason I don’t believe in writing for trends? We all know this industry moves slowly, but books themselves, when published, are read extremely fast. To give perspective, there are already a number of books slated for release in 2015 and we’re only in the very beginning of 2013. Meanwhile, it will take only a day or so for the readers to actually read those books. So, given all the time it should take to write, revise, revise more, query, revise more, get an agent, revise even more, (etc.) there’s a good chance that by the time you go to query your “trending book,” it might not be a trend anymore.  Worse, it might be a dead genre. *gasps from the crowd* *horror movie music plays* Yes, I said it. Dead genre. It’s a thing, and it’s real even beyond your nightmares. For those who don’t know, dead genres are genres where the trend has completely fallen off and now the majority of editors and readers are sick of it. Suzie Townsend makes a great post here giving writers the hard truth of dead genres. But if your book is in a dead genre, there’s no question it will hurt you. Does that mean the book will never, ever sell? No, but it’ll be much more difficult. If both readers and editors are sick of something, it’s going to take an incredibly awesome, incredibly unique book to turn them, and that isn’t easy to do. (Which is another problem with writing for trends: if you miss a trend, you miss it big time. So basically, if you plan to write for trends, you have to anticipate the next trend far in advance. Again, I don’t recommend it. Unless you’re me. I’m always the exception.) I wish I had good advice for writers querying books in dead genres, but I don’t. I’m too busy looking up Loki GIFs and also, I have no experience there. I would probably recommend querying the book a bit just to see if you get any interest, though, and if nothing happens, set it aside for a while. Work on something else and come back to the book when, in a few years, the genre has gained some steam. But I’m sure there are also better ways. Do your research.

In short, trends matter, but they aren’t everything in this industry. Writing for them, unless you're supremely lucky (and have good hair), will often hurt you more than it helps you.


Your favorite Avenger,

Iron Man (a.k.a. John Hansen)

P.S. Did I mention how good my hair has been looking today?

9 comments:

  1. Great first post! I agree on all counts.

    Now, when exactly are we going to get the real scoop . . . from a certain Miss Pepper Potts? Because, obviously, the ladies know best. And she's got your number. :)

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    1. She agrees my hair looks fabulous. That's all that's important, obvs. MY HAIR IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. -Iron Man

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  2. In my opinions, you can do two things. You can either write the story you know people want to read, or you can write the story people didn't know that they wanted to read.

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  3. I'm pretty sure you forgot to mention your hair in this post.

    It's pretty exciting that you all share different views on aspects of publishing! We'll get a good view of different sides of the story! I think anticipating genre trends are just as hard as getting your book ready in time for them. Dystopian is going into hibernation isn't it? But what's next? I'm hearing a lot about New Adult, but not much in the what's-next-YA realm.

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    1. Spoiler: my hair is still looking fabulous. Possibly even better than before.

      As for YA trends, yes, dystopian is pretty much a dead genre at this point. And I don't know what's going to trend next. That's the fun of it! I feel like it will be sci-fi, or maybe straight-up thrillers, but I have no idea. It's going to be interesting to see. -Iron Man

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  4. Oh, what a fantastic post! This has made my day. Mondays will no longer be so horrible. (I mean, it's Tuesday today…but from now on I'll be sure to be here on Mondays!)

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    1. Wednesdays are the new Mondays. (Loki posts every other Wednesday, so I apologize in advance for that.) -Iron Man

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  5. Question about the Truth or Dare...you said it started on the 29th, but there are only 28 days this month. Does it start in March then?

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