Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Keeping up with the Rowlings

How much attention should we pay to the current market of the genre we write in?
I was reading about current trends in fantasy at the moment from an American publisher and had no idea – he mentioned the “hot” ideas at the moment being zombie fiction and superheroes in novels, but I haven’t seen anything like this at all. When Harry Potter first became famous (I think it was the second or third novel it really started getting publicity), fantasy books about the typical coming-of-age/orphan hero stories set in a wizard school started appearing everywhere.

Then again, some people say not to care about the current market at all because by the time you start writing and finish your book, many months, if not the usual years, would have passed and it would have all changed again.

As an agent, would you reject something because it isn’t a ‘current fad’?

My general rule is that once a trend has been identified, it's over. This is particularly true of publishing, because the 'trend' books of today were actually being picked up by publishers at least a year ago, and they're probably onto something else now. It's also the case that true global trends should just be left to wear themselves out - none of the HP imitator books did as well as JK Rowling's tomes (how could they, after all?) and those authors who did imitate her might have done themselves out of the career they may have had if they'd written stories they really wanted to write rather than trying to follow a trend.

I never pick novels, in particular, because of a trend - I choose them based on the quality of the writing and the story being told. None of the first novels I've placed have been part of a trend - they stood alone very nicely, and that's what's needed if you want them to be read for several years hence. So not only would I not reject something if it's not part of a current fad, I'm probably more likely to pay attention!

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