At any given time, there are certain trends in publishing. In the ’80’s, there was the explosion of the female sleuth thanks to such trailblazers as Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, among others. In the late ’90’s, Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary spawned a whole new sub-genre in women’s fiction; namely chick-lit. By the looks of the shelves of the book stores here in Ireland, chick-lit is still popular. During the Noughties, a ferocious paranormal trend developed fueled by the success of the Harry Potter Series and Twilight. A book in any given genre can go viral and the resulting fallout is a huge boom for the entire genre from which it came from.
However, trends, like the boom years of Ireland, are not really meant to last. Trends are as uncertain as they are unpredictable. When I started submitting my chick-lit manuscript four years ago, I received a staggering 44 rejections. At that time, I read of a New York agent saying that merely labeling your work chick lit was for certain a death knell. How fast the bloom fades off the rose! Currently, I am submitting my young adult (YA) novel and the rejections are rolling in and the word on the other side of the Atlantic is that U.S. editors are no longer interested in paranormal. Apparently there is an epidemic of vampire fatigue as well as angel fatigue and werewolf fatigue.
Luckily the UK follows the trends of the US by a couple of years, so there is still some breathing room on this side of the pond.
Right now, I detect a slight whiff in the air as to the next trend. Erotica. All everyone seems to be talking about is the viral hit Fifty Shades of Grey and for about 30 seconds, I thought, “Oh, I can write that!” Then I remembered two very important things: my mother is still alive and I was schooled by nuns for twelve years. The idea of me being the next Anais Nin is as realistic as teaching an elephant to fly.
Looking back, I do not think I was consciously following trends at the time although it appears that way. (I would have also written a female sleuth manuscript in the mid ’90’s). I always tend to write what I am currently reading if that makes any sense.
Do not let the current trends dictate what you write (although like fashions every thing seems to come back into favor eventually). By the time you write it, sub it and get it published, they have moved onto the next trend and you are left with enough rejections to wallpaper a room. It is best to write what you know and more importantly what you love and write from the heart. Chances are if you love it, someone out there will be sure to love it as well, regardless of what the trend is.