According to the latest Knight Agency newsletter, the genres that I and Penny write, romantic comedy and erotic romance, are both Dumpster-diving these days. Out of a score of 5, both romcom and erom are currently rating a 1.75 on the Yes, It’s a Hot, Hot Trend! scale (my terminology there). Yerk. 1 = Long Shot, 2 = Deep Discounts according to TKA agents. Urp. So, yeah, while I am attending RWA National in Nashville this summer, odds look bad that I’ll make NYC in 2011. And I really want to go to NYC. So, tell all your friends and neighbors, forget trends, buy Cindy’s books! Penny’s, too!
However, TKA also sees a bright side:
Now, before you check out our awesome survey, we must issue a disclaimer. Just because our agents said romantic comedy wasn’t at the tip of anyone’s tongue these days — doesn’t mean you should send your beloved manuscript, which just so happens to be romantic comedy, to the scrapper. Mon Dieu! For all we know, you could be the next Jane Austen.
That’s what I like about the ladies over TKA. They always give me hope.
Okay, let’s see, I just submitted a requested contemporary romance manuscript to a publisher, which rates a 3 on the trend scale (“Respectable Mid-Lister”), and now I’m about to return to revising my romantic comedy/mystery. Urp. Make that a “romantic suspense.” Romantic suspense is currently rating 4 “VIP – High in Demand” on the trend scale. Except, um, I think it would be mighty apparent to any editor reading my “romantic suspense” that it’s actually a “romantic comedy/mystery” in sheep’s clothing. Yes, I’m sunk.
The problem with me is I have a light voice. I love writing with a light voice. Even when I write dramatic, there’s a humorous element. And that’s how I like it. So there.
Maybe someday I’ll actually catch a trend at its crest. But it never seems to work out that way. I’m either ahead of the trend or behind it. Penny’s foray into erotic romance is an example. Of course, Penny, darn her, also tends to write light. What’s wrong with the woman?
Time to dust off my paranormal YA idea? Because paranormal rates a 4.5 right now (5 being “Hot Trend-Front of Store Placement!”) and YA paranormal rates a 5. (I have a feeling dark paranormal is doing better than light paranormal, and of course light paranormal would more naturally lend to my voice). Now, remember my post about pacing and trends and books that sell when otherwise they might not (see Monday)? You got it, the book I speak of there is one of the top two selling genres according to the TKA breakdown. But the book still has a huge pacing issue, in my opinion. Which leads me to ask, if its genre weren’t in the top 2, would it have sold?
That’s trends for you, though. They exist to torture writers and satisfy readers. Really, when God created Trends, Trends said, “I need a purpose! A sense of drive! I don’t feel myself when I don’t have a goal.” And God said, “Not to worry, I shall now create writers and you can drive them crazy. Because I have a hankering to brainstorm how to create fig leaves, so I need you to go away.”
Back to trends. The problem comes when publishers buy, buy, buy to take advantage of a hot trend (and who can blame them? They’re businesses, they want to make money) and then the market becomes overly saturated. And then the publishers start dropping authors who are no longer earning them enough money (so they can stay in business), and then these same publishers start looking for the next hot trend and the previously hot authors suddenly find themselves orphaned. Without a publisher. Not because they aren’t talented. But because they haven’t written something that suits the current trend. I have had this happen to so many published writer friends over the last year, I can’t tell you. It’s enough to make me chew on my eyeballs.
Believe me when I say that publishers have no idea what the next hot trend will be. They’re gazing into cloudy crystal balls as much as the rest of us. And writers either follow the trends once they discover them, or kinda/sorta attempt to follow them but realize their heart isn’t in it. Or they eat a lot of packaged macaroni and continue to write what they love.
Because I’m dense. And that’s how I like it.