So, this post comes with the caveat to NEVER bank on a trend when you’re writing. There are people in my submissions pile still writing vampire paranormal romance, fallen angels, and dystopian. The vampires, I’d say, are very much over and there’s no way for me to convey that nicely. The angels and dystopian will stick around for a while but, by now, with editors’ inboxes so saturated, your premise and writing quality better be unbelievably good in order to stand out. Steampunk and mermaids seem like false trends, unless that rumor about Stephenie Meyer’s next series being mermaid-related is true. But a lot of mermaid books are coming out now and not really hitting as well as I think a lot of publishers have hoped.
Publishers create books two years in advance, usually. With picture books it can take longer. With really hot ticket books that are sold in great shape, it can take a year or so. Still, the average is about two years. This means that if you’re just hearing about a trend or some books coming to market that seem to have a common theme, you’re about a year to two too late (Holy Homophone, Batman!). Don’t start writing to trend when you hear about it. Just don’t do it.
With that caveat, I do have an advance eye on these things, as I see manuscripts before most editors see them. I’ve been catching up on submissions lately and can spot something shimmering in the distance. Dreams. Not only have I seen some dream manuscripts for critique (for example, a manuscript that came in for my Do the Write Thing for Nashville auction) this fall, but now I’m seeing dream-related queries by the truckload.
What do I mean by “dreams”? I’m mostly seeing messed up dreams where people are screwing around with other people’s psyches. Is this a direct result of Inception? Probably. But that’s problematic because Inception is a movie and lives by cinematic rules, and books are fiction, with their own related-yet-different workings. Anyway, I feel like your dream manuscript, if you’re cooking one up, has to be really intelligently done. Inception was mind-boggling and very sophisticated. Dream manuscripts, since you’re dealing in a very freewheeling fantasy, are going to be difficult to believe and even more difficult in terms of world-building, right off the bat. Plus there’s the challenge of something happening entirely in the psychic sphere: it’s all mental. What is your real world, external conflict going to be? You still need one. Anyway. I don’t really envy those with this challenge. It seems tough, and I’m already skeptical. All ye dreamers, beware!
What other trends are you all seeing in your literary travels?