Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to Follow Trends

by Deren Hansen

Nearly a year ago, agent Mary Kole shared a note about trends on her KidLit blog.

She pointed out that you'll always be late to the table if you write to trends because it takes about two years to go from manuscript to publication and what's hot now is practically guaranteed to be dull by then.

The best, and most consistent advice is to write a story you love instead of chasing the market because there will always be a market for a good story.

So as we write, driven only by the pure flame of inspiration, can we safely ignore trends?

For the most part.

I've talked before about meeting the market half-way. In order to meet the market, you must have some sense as to where the market is and where it seems to be going. For example, if you were an auto maker, would now, with the price of gas rising, growing concerns about our dependence on foreign oil, and a strong green movement, be a good time to introduce a monster truck whose fuel economy is measured in gallons per mile? By the same token, in a market glutted with vampire stories, should you really try to do one more? Or is there, perhaps some other under-appreciated paranormal type that sucks away your life (like lawyers) with which you could do something fresh?

In terms of market awareness, there's some value in being aware of trends. But there's a big difference between being aware and following.

So is there any time you should actually follow a trend?

Only when you're currently shopping a manuscript and can use the trend to help position your piece. If, say, you've written about sparkly, salmon merfolk and their eternal battle with the were-bears, and if you learn that an editor wants a paranormal fish story, you should waste no time crafting a query that says, "I've got just what you 're looking for!"

Deren blogs at The Laws of Making.

1 comment:

Julie Daines said...

I agree. It's best to stay away from trends unless you've got a trendy manuscript that's ready to go before the trend peaks.

Personally, my favorite novels are those that don't--or didn't--fall into a trend.