I emerged from my winter hibernation to attend ConDFW in a snowy Dallas the weekend of February 12 through 14. I didn’t come across any late-breaking or astonishing publishing news or book industry gossip, but it’s always fun to get together with other authors and talk about our work.
I ended up as an emergency fill-in on the Fantastic Realms: Trends in Fantasy panel. The thing about trends is that they can change in a heartbeat, so it’s not something aspiring writers can really look at and plan their careers around. By the time you get that book written and submitted, the trend will have changed. It does seem like the dark, edgy urban fantasy that has a lot in common with paranormal romance is currently dominating the market — you know, those books with tough-looking women in black leather holding big weapons on the covers (though now the women are more likely to be looking at you instead of keeping their backs turned). But who knows what will start striking editors’ fancies next.
One difficulty in spotting trends is that the books may be shelved all over the store. With blended genres, books can fall into science fiction/fantasy, mystery, romance or general fiction, which makes it harder for readers to find what they like. For instance, if you like urban fantasy, you’ll need to check the shelves in not only the fantasy section, but also the romance section, the mystery section and the young adult section. Steampunk is getting a lot of buzz. It’s all over the place at conventions, and I keep hearing industry people talk about it as the possible next big trend, but it’s hard to find the books. Some have been classified as literature, others as science fiction or fantasy, others as romance and then there are young adult and children’s titles that adults would likely enjoy. This seems like a trend that may be on the upswing, as it’s still possible to have read everything that might fall into this subgenre and still want more. Or it could be too narrowly defined and may not go anywhere.
The panelists agreed that the mash-ups that throw monsters, zombies or other odd elements into classic works of literature may be a one-trick pony. The first few books like that will sell well based purely on the novelty aspect, but the trend will likely drop off quickly after that. Which is a pity because I’d love to see Jane Eyre take on ninjas. We did discuss how that concept could be applied in other areas, like taking a new look at classic myths rather than just sticking zombies into 19th century classics. Say, maybe ninjas coming out of the Trojan horse. (I guess we got off on a ninja tangent.)
I’ll be making a few library appearances this month, so next month maybe I’ll have some insight into what librarians are seeing in the book world.