Don’t Ask Me About Trends

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TCoVBJ3biGI/AAAAAAAAD8s/Ng_EhgXFAOM/s320/magazines.jpg We’ve talked a lot on this blog about trends in publishing, what’s hot and what’s not, and the fact that agents and publishers are always basing acquisitions for the future on what has sold in the past. Because of this, people are always asking me: So what’s hot? What are the trends? But I’m admitting right now, I don’t love talking about trends. I stay on top of what’s happening. I hang out in bookstores and watch bestseller lists and cruise around the web, and I talk with other agents. More importantly, I watch Publishers Marketplace so that I know what’s selling to publishers right now (to be released in a year or so) and I talk with editors often, finding out what they’re looking for, what they’re tired of, and what their thoughts are on the future. BUT…...
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What’s In, What’s Out

Many of my blog readers have expressed frustration about current trends in publishing. Memoir is out unless you’re famous.Chick lit is dead.Literary fiction doesn’t sell.Nobody wants books over 100k words. Yep, these are all trends. And if you send me a query for a book in any of these categories, I’ll probably send a pass letter saying, “Sorry, I can’t sell this right now.” Those are the breaks. You might need to wait until the trends cycle around again, or… write something else. BUT: There are always books that buck the trends. Memoir might be “OUT” unless you’re famous… or unless you write a book that knocks my socks off, and I decide to represent it against my better judgment because I love it so much. Same with...
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Should You Try to Write What’s HOT?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the difference between good projects and hot projects; and I followed it up with a post about why your project can sell even if it’s not “hot.” So that begs the question (which many of you asked): Should you try to write what’s hot? Should you be following the trends and trying to write to them? In general, I don’t think so. Write what you’re good at. You could be the one to start a new trend, or help a genre to start trending “up” when perhaps it had been flat for awhile. If you try to chase the trends, by the time you write a good book in that genre, it might already be so glutted that it’s not hot anymore. If you happen to be writing in a genre that everyone is saying “isn’t selling...
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Are Newcomers Welcome?

by Greg JohnsonPresident, WordServe Literary People ask me all the time if today’s tough publishing climate is a good time for newcomers to get noticed and get published. Let’s start with some obvious negatives: → Publishers are cutting their lists and delaying books until the economy turns (and they may stay lean thereafter… this may be the “new normal”). → Publishers have to concentrate on their core authors who have established platforms and broad readerships. → Publishers are dealing with an ever-changing retail climate where whole chains are going—or can go—out of business at any moment. Consequently, they’re hedging their manuscript buys until they see the economy stabilize. Is there any good news for new authors? → Great writing will always get...
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Is It the Economy?

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SZSN0Ub7m9I/AAAAAAAACs8/mSLTb1s0pb4/s200/sticky+note+Q4U.bmp Yesterday I was chatting with my friend, literary agent Sandra Bishop, and we found ourselves pondering whether it was our imaginations, or have the number of incoming queries really skyrocketed over the last couple of months? We’re both receiving incredible numbers, and as my post yesterday illustrated, most of them are simply not ready for prime time. But I found myself wondering… why the sudden increase? And it occurred to me that maybe… just maybe it has something to do with the economy. Maybe people are looking for ways to make extra money right now, so they’re pulling their old manuscripts out from under the bed, dusting them off, and sending them out. Could this be true? I’ve received more than one plea from frustrated writers, saying things like,...
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Chicken Little, Go Home!

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SYkhuMZ8EOI/AAAAAAAACrA/LLX1Cp5rlvU/s200/Disney-Chicken-Little-Sky-Falling.jpg The publishing sky isn’t falling! At least not as far as I can tell. Last week there was some good news from the publishing world: Amazon’s revenue beat forecasts and jumped 18% in the third quarter of 2008 compared to the year before. (Read the article.) Fiction reading apparently had a significant increase from 2002 to 2008. (Read the article.) It’s true that the publishing world is changing. The way people read is changing… we have many options besides ink-on-paper books. The way people buy is changing… whether it’s online versus brick-and-mortar stores, or new versus used. The one thing that isn’t changing is the fact that people are still reading (even if we’re reading Facebook and Twitter and blogs). So the question we need to be...
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Responding to the Difficult Economy

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.Charles Swindoll The biggest news in our world today is the economy, and many are suffering the effects. Last week we were bombarded with news of difficult realities in the publishing industry. What should our response be? I asked a handful of literary agents the question: What’s the one thing you’d like to tell writers in these difficult economic times? Here are some of their responses; I’ll post more on Thursday. Wendy Lawton, Books and Such: We all flinched at the painful reports of layoffs in our industry and at the grim prognostications that followed. No one is buying. The industry is grinding to a halt. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, “Reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated.” Good...
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ICRS Part Two: Publisher News

ICRS Part Two: Publisher News I thought you might be interested in a few specifics from my publisher meetings:Abdingdon Press (a Methodist house) is starting a new fiction line, headed by Barbara Scott (formerly of Zondervan). Their line will NOT be denominationally focused and they’ll be open to Catholic and Jewish themes/authors. They’ll be publishing mostly new authors to begin with and are looking for romance, historical, suspense and contemporary women’s with word counts in the 75-85k range. They’ll mostly take agented submissions but Barbara will also be at some writers’ conferences. (Brandilyn Collins did an in-depth post about Abingdon here.)Monarch Books, a division of Lion Hudson in the U.K., is aggressively pursuing American authors. They have terrific worldwide distribution, nice sales...
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