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Tolstoyce
11-15-2012, 12:19 PM
Couldn't find this anywhere when I searched it (and I'm hoping I put this in the right place). I'm just wondering, what is the best way to keep up with literary trends/the current market? It seems like the obvious answer would be to read everything in your market, which...is unrealistic for most people, I think. For instance, I'm a college student, and as anyone who's been through any form of higher education knows, finding time for pleasure reading (on top of performing well academically and finding time to write) is nearly impossible. Even if I did have time, I have no idea how I'd even go about it--do I go choosing books from my genre at random? Or...what?

ETA: (I realize this problem may not apply to everyone because people generally tend to do their pleasure reading within the genre they write. I don't do that. Because my pleasure reading consists of classics, many of which are a hundred years old or more. So, it may just be that I'm market-ly challenged, and will have to do more work).

So, does anyone know is there's a way to keep up with the market without reading a million and a half books? Or am I searching for a shortcut that doesn't exist?

blacbird
11-15-2012, 12:36 PM
Talisker. Lots of it. Intermixed with some Laphroaig.

caw

Stacia Kane
11-15-2012, 02:03 PM
Subscribe to Deal Lunch at Publishers Marketplace. It's probably the best way to see what's selling at any given time.

shaldna
11-15-2012, 02:17 PM
I'm just wondering, what is the best way to keep up with literary trends/the current market?

Having a crystal ball helps.

In all seriousness, unless you can write a novel a week, and get it published the following week, chances are you aren't going to 'keep up' with trends as a writer.

Trends change monthly, yearly. What's really hot this month could be untouchable in a years time. This is why you shouldn't write for the market as it is now.



So, does anyone know is there's a way to keep up with the market without reading a million and a half books? Or am I searching for a shortcut that doesn't exist?

If you are asking purely as a reader, then I would suggest starting by taking a look at the current bestseller lists - chewck out the Amazon lists for your genre to see what's selling really well right now.

Bufty
11-15-2012, 03:01 PM
Keeping up with trends isn't going to put you in the front.

amrose
11-15-2012, 05:36 PM
Industry blogs, agent blogs, etc.

Don't stress too much about trends though. Focus on what you like to write. Following the market too closely can make you crazy. It does me.

Jamesaritchie
11-15-2012, 10:59 PM
Keeping up with the market is good if you mean which publisher needs submissions, where the money is, etc., but not good if you mean trying to figure out what to write next.

Still, if you don't read current novels in your favorite genre, I think you make the road to selling one much tougher.

I don't know what to tell you about reading. I've never had a time in my life when I didn't read a bunch of novels every year, and purely for pleasure. Whether holding down a day job, or getting through college, or you name it, reading has always been a must do. I, too, love reading the classics, and I've read hundreds. I think reading the classics is mandatory for anyone who wants to write fiction. But I also read modern novels and short stories, usually two novels per week now. I read more when I was young.

If you want to write, I think you have to make time to read. You don't have to read a million and a half novels, but you should read fifty current novels in your favorite genre, and probably another couple of dozen novels that are considered classics in your genre.

I know you can't do this overnight, but there's no real rush. Just read them as fast as you can, and let it take as long as it takes. If you make, not find, time to read, it'll happen faster than you think.

WeaselFire
11-15-2012, 11:06 PM
Keeping up with the market is useless. Being ahead of the market is key. And the key to that is luck, pure and simple.

That said, Publisher's Weekly, Publisher's Lunch and all the various publisher blogs will keep you up to date with what just happened.

Jeff

Lexxie
11-15-2012, 11:36 PM
When I buy books, I prefer books that are not like a lot of other books on the market right now. I like to be surprised, even when I read a genre I really like reading.
If you want to write a book, how about trying to write a book that you'd really like to read yourself? Something that hasn't been published yet, or a different twist on something you like to read about?

TheKoB
11-15-2012, 11:42 PM
Why are you worrying about keeping up with trends in so much detail?
If you just check out the most popular works and trends these days then you will just be fine.

Cyia
11-15-2012, 11:49 PM
Why are you worrying about keeping up with trends in so much detail?
If you just check out the most popular works and trends these days then you will just be fine.

Not really. What's on shelves isn't what's being bought. If you're basing trends on shelf-space, then you're 2 years behind the curve. Keeping up with recent deals on PM will keep you up to date on what's selling to publishers.

Jamesaritchie
11-16-2012, 12:14 AM
Keeping up with the market is useless. Being ahead of the market is key. And the key to that is luck, pure and simple.



Jeff

It's not luck. If you write well enough, tell a story well enough, create characters well enough, you create the market.

Too many get the market in reverse. The market only tells followers what to write. Really good writers make the market follow them. Two years from now, the hottest thing on the market will not be determined by the market, but by some book a writer is just now finishing.

That writer is not ahead of the market, and he is not lucky. He, or she, is simply writing a book so good that he or she will create the market two years from now.

Siri Kirpal
11-16-2012, 06:56 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

About finding time to read: After years of reading gobs of books, I slacked off. Then wondered how I was going to find the time to read them. Now I read while I walk for 30 minutes inside the house. Exercise and reading together, works wonders.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Tolstoyce
11-16-2012, 08:43 AM
Thanks for all the responses, guys! They really help.

I DEFINITELY don't want to "write for the market." The day I start writing to try to match what's hot right now is the day I do myself and my writing an incredible disservice. I'm also aware that following whatever the market does, if you can even do it fast enough, makes you blend in with the rest of the people writing for the market. I agree that there are those who set trends, and those who follow the trend, and the latter are...well, followers. Everyone thinks, "They're just copying so-and-so," and it's usually true.



If you want to write a book, how about trying to write a book that you'd really like to read yourself? Something that hasn't been published yet, or a different twist on something you like to read about?

I totally agree with this, and that's what I'm trying to do. I have read some fantasy novels (the genre I'm currently writing in), and I try to examine their ideas to see what's been done and keep the genre fresh. In addition, I like to do things I've never seen happen in fantasy before. I tend to write literary fantasy, and I'm not sure if that even exists as a genre...I'd like to make it exist, though, if possible.

For those of you who suggested looking at bestseller lists, Publishers Marketplace, etc., thanks! That's exactly what I was looking for.

Also, I think I should clarify why I posted this thread in the first place. I have seen agent after agent insist that they want clients who "know their place in the market." That's what my concern is. They encourage you to compare your book to others within the market so they know how to promote the book. So, to me, it seemed like a frustrating part of the deal (but of course, if it means becoming a published author someday, I'm willing to bite the bullet and do it, anyway).

Mr Flibble
11-16-2012, 12:47 PM
I totally agree with this, and that's what I'm trying to do. I have read some fantasy novels (the genre I'm currently writing in), and I try to examine their ideas to see what's been done and keep the genre fresh. In addition, I like to do things I've never seen happen in fantasy before. I tend to write literary fantasy, and I'm not sure if that even exists as a genre...I'd like to make it exist, though, if possible.

Oh, it exists.

I think the best thing to do is say look at a few recent books you really, really like (and that sell)

If you were to write something like that, and make it your own, what would be different about it? What would make it yours?

For the book in my sig, I'd been reading a lot of Dresden,and I wondered...what would it be like if he was a more British version? If I'm writing him, there'll be more swearwords probably. Oh, and the atmosphere is like Bladerunner (Bladerunner never goes out of fashion;))? Maybe with a hint of Sin City? That's where I started anyway - it sort of grew on its own (ETA it;s not really like any of those now), but that was underlying it, that was the initial what if. I took things that I'd watched/read and liked and made them mine, put my own twist on it (for instance GrimDark is very popular at the moment, but I'm not a huge fan of all the grit. I like the darkness inside characters though, and I tried to have the dark without so much of the relentless grit).

It wasn't writing to the market - for a long time it just sat on my hard drive as 'The thing I play around with for fun when I'm not working on anything else'. I wasn't ever going to sub it even, but I had a what the hey moment.

Anyway, from that initial 'what if' I could identify 'a place in the market', because of the influences that were there.



TL;DR Find books you like. Work out how you would write a story like that - use them as inspiration, not copying material.

/endramble. I need tea.

Siri Kirpal
11-16-2012, 11:50 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Literary fantasy certainly exists. Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn is my favorite example, but it's not recent. Look at the works of Patricia McKillip; her work is definitely literary and definitely fantasy.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

blacbird
11-17-2012, 12:17 AM
Not really. What's on shelves isn't what's being bought. If you're basing trends on shelf-space, then you're 2 years behind the curve. [b]Keeping up with recent deals on PM will keep you up to date on what's selling to publishers./b]

But not even that will tell you what "the market" will be a year or two down the road when those accepted manuscripts hit the shelves as actual published books.

caw

Erin Kelly
11-17-2012, 01:11 AM
I realize this problem may not apply to everyone because people generally tend to do their pleasure reading within the genre they write. I don't do that. Because my pleasure reading consists of classics, many of which are a hundred years old or more.

Think about the classics you loved, and what you loved about them. You can bring that into whatever genre you write. For example: Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite literary characters. I asked myself: What is it about Heathcliff that makes him so interesting to me? Why do I like him so much? And I incorporated those elements into one of the characters in my YA thriller, which is nothing like Wuthering Heights.

Another good trick -- if you can find even just *one* book that is comparable to yours, you can find others. Go to Amazon or LibraryThing, enter your search terms (title of a book, or even genre and keywords) and it will populate a list of recommended reads.

Publishers Marketplace is indeed a great resource.

Also: Agents don't just want you to know your market so they can promote you -- they also want you to know so you can promote yourself. Authors have to be marketers nowadays.

Best of luck!

Tolstoyce
11-17-2012, 01:43 AM
Thanks guys! Glad to know that literary fantasy is a genre. I'm not actually looking for story ideas (I've already written/am writing the literary fantasy story I'm planning to tell!), but hopefully your suggestions will help anyone else browsing this thread. And I love seeing all your thoughts!


Think about the classics you loved, and what you loved about them. You can bring that into whatever genre you write. For example: Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite literary characters. I asked myself: What is it about Heathcliff that makes him so interesting to me? Why do I like him so much? And I incorporated those elements into one of the characters in my YA thriller, which is nothing like Wuthering Heights.

This is exactly the type of thing I do. :) Happy to see someone else is doing it, too!