Evaluate the Risks Before Following a Trend
Jun 16, 2014
It never fails that when a book is new and popular, an “instant best seller,” countless spin-offs will hit the publishing industry. This is not a new phenomenon; you can see this with many popular books like Harry Potter or (in my opinion, most unfortunately) Twilight. Like it or not, it seems that as soon as someone is successful, everyone wants to try the same thing to try to find that same success.
In the publishing industry in particular, you will see that trends come and go all the time. When a successful book comes out, readers (and authors) will rush to it, creating a temporary boom in sales. This will last for a time, and then another popular book will emerge; the process repeats itself over and over. When one type of book captures a reader’s imagination, heart, and/or interest, they will usually look in the same genre for something similar. And then many authors will try to provide that to them.
Before you decide to jump on the bandwagon, however, you need to stop and think. There’s potential risk involved in trying to cash in on a fad; it might be over by the time you’re done writing. But at the same time, it could also boost your sales. So how should you decide? Here’s a few of the most important things that you should consider before you try your hand at the latest publishing craze:
- You need to act fast. The longer it’s been since the genre/fad became popular, the more that reader interest is going to start to dwindle. You have to remember that eventually, people are going to start looking for something new or different from what they’ve been reading. Even if your book is outstanding, if readers are looking for something else, it might not sell as well as it should. A good way to measure this is simply to listen and pay attention. What sorts of books are showing up on the front pages of publishers or booksellers? Have there been any books recently featured in talk shows or other programming for their popularity? Are there popular shows on television about the same topic? If you’re starting to see less and less of something, chances are, it’s on its way out the door…for now.
- You’re going to have lots of competition. Although you’re never the only one writing in a genre, when something becomes popular, the market is absolutely flooded with other submissions that are going to be similar. You’re going to have to stand out in a crowd if you’re hoping to sell your book, and that can be difficult with the sheer volume of submissions. Which brings me to the next point…
- You need to be creative. If your book is entering in the market while its genre is popular, your story needs to stand out. Whether you have your own twist on the genre, have an original plot line, or introduce something that’s never been done, you’re going to need something special. But this doesn’t stop at writing your book; it goes all the way into marketing it. In order to help your sales grow, you will need to market your book in such a way that it grabs readers’ attention.
As a writer, you should be aware of the potential risks and benefits of following a trend. Fads in all businesses (including publishing) are a double-edged sword; they have great potential to help your novel succeed, but they can also “drown out” your novel if you don’t take special care in developing your book and marketing it.
Regardless of current trends, however, if you have a great novel, don’t hesitate to publish it! After all, whether it follows the current trend or lies in a completely different genre, a great book is a great book. And who knows? You just may be the one who starts the next big thing.