Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Who Creates the Market?

There's an interesting article in this month's issue of Romantic Times Bookclub (RTB) by agent Denise Marcil entitled Secrets of Long-Term Success. She had some great advice, but one section in particular jumped at me.

Keep Up with the Marketplace: This doesn't mean you should write whatever is popular just because it's in vogue. However, readers' tastes change and publishing houses follow trends. They don't set them. Authors set the trends.

Authors set the trends. That's an important statement.

We have to think about the recent trends we've seen in the romance genre. Paranormal is spicy hot right now - so is erotica (and I won't get into RWA's "graphic guidelines" here) and Regency historicals. Chick-lit keeps getting bigger and better.

But ten years ago, what was the trend? To be honest, I didn't read a lot of romance back then - I was still in undergrad school and I didn't have much time for reading, other than textbooks. But when I was in high school, the bestsellers were the big, juicy historicals. Johanna Lindsey. Rebecca Brandewyne. Ellen Tanner Marsh. Penelope Neri. Locales encompassed a variety of locations - Colonial America, the American Civil War, Medieval England and Scotland - the list was endless.

So what happened? Why did the market shift? I'm pretty sure a lot of the readers out there didn't stop reading - or did they?

In my opinion, and I could be wrong, someone wrote something new, exciting, and fresh. And people gobbled it up. The first person to write a vampire paranormal romance started something.

But here is my point. Do you think the authors who sat at home and wrote these break-out books knew they would be break-out books? Of course not. They wrote what they wanted to write.

In so doing, they created a market.

Denise Marcil's observation couldn't be more correct. Authors set the trend.

So go ahead. Write the book you want to write - and maybe, just maybe, the market might come to you.


Blogger Rene said...

Hey, Denise Marcil rejected me once with a form rejection.

I think you bring up a great point. Why have authors funneled into such a narrow channel particularly when it comes to historicals?

I'm going to make a brash statement here. I think the general public is less interested in history than it was, say, 20 years ago. They like the familiarity of certain eras because they don't have to think about it. They like the clothes, the dancing, the knight in armor, etc., etc. without worrying about the extras. They want costume dramas. Is it any wonder why you don't see Roberta Gellis in the romance section anymore?

9:10 PM  
Blogger ~~Olivia said...

Great observation Mel. Look at the plethora of magic/wizard/fantasy books for kids because of the Harry Potter craze. Who knows what will be "hot" next?

So write that "book of your heart". And if it gets turned down, write another one.

Rene, I have to admit that I am guilty of liking familiarity. I feel comfortable to stay within certain time periods in history and certain venues. I should be daring and try something different.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Tess said...

Hmmm - that's interesting. The AUTHORS set the trends? I don't know about that. If it's true, then all of us writing Georgian rather than strictly Regency romances should get together and find a way to set that trend!

And Isolde Martyn and I should find a way to get French Revolution books into the marketplace! Isolde's latest Fleur-de-Lis isn't available in North America because no US publisher would touch it as it's set in Revolutionary France. I bought it from Australia.

7:08 AM  
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