by Janet Kobobel Grant
NOTE: The other day I happened across this blog post that I wrote in 2010. It struck me how little has changed since I posted these thoughts on publishing trends and counter-trends. Read on to see what I mean…
Years ago I recall reading a publishing doyenne’s comments about publishing trends. At the time, readers were buying inexpensive mass market books by the wheel barrel. Well, it seemed as if they were selling that fast.
Up steps the doyenne, who pointed out that, for every trend, there’s a counter-trend. Her point?
If the trend is toward mass market, that means there’s a counter-trend toward beautiful, expensive books.
I’ve kept that lesson in mind over the years, and it’s served me well as I’ve looked at manuscripts and authors. It’s kept me from saying, “Nah, no one is reading that stuff.”
If you’ve read the studies, you know that most books are bought by women, and most of those books are fiction.
What would the counter-trend be?
Books that appeal to men, nonfiction books.
What does this mean for the writer?
I’ve always advocated that writers should pay attention to the marketplace, but not to be driven by it. Listen to what the market likes with one ear, but incline the other ear to what your heart is saying. Never abandon your passion to follow the fickle market, but do find a way to express your passion in a way that the market is likely to respond to.
One writer who showed an awareness of what readers wanted is Dan Brown with The DaVinci Code. For those of you who have not read this book, let me say, it has some serious flaws. Really serious flaws. Yet what did the author tap into that made it work so astoundingly well? And, by going against the common wisdom of what makes a novel work, create a trend that started out as a counter-trend.
An author’s counter-trend
Dan Brown’s novel:
- Consisted of short paragraphs. It literally was a page turner.
- Contained short chapters. You could read for half an hour and finish off 10 chapters.
- Set a breathtaking pace. The characters seldom slept or ate. It was all nonstop action–until Brown would stop to pontificate, which was a total snoozer. But, ultimately, the book delivered instant gratification for the reader who covered so much territory in so little time.
Now, the question for you is, what are the trends in the arena you’re writing in? What would the counter trend be? How could you adapt what you’re creating to give a nod to the market but be true to your passion?
How much attention should a writer pay to publishing trends? Click to tweet.
If a writer has a book idea, does it matter if the concept doesn’t reflect publishing trends? Click to tweet.