By Lindsey Brackett, @lindsbrac
“Listen,” I told a group of writers recently. “You’ve got to be on top of what’s happening in the market because if you aren’t, you’ll pitch a dystopian vampire novel, and let’s face it—vampires are kinda dead.”
Apparently I’m hilarious and should add stand up comedy to my repertoire. But seriously, the vampires that are too good to be true? That’s so 2006. (As an aside, I started working on Still Waters in 2006 because I figured if Stephanie Meyer could make it big with vampires I could at least write about the beach.)
Point is, if you’re going to be in this industry—traditional, hybrid, indie, or hopeful—you have to know what’s happening. I currently have “learn about Facebook ads” on my to-do list. Then I started researching this post and promptly crossed that off. More bang for my single title buck over on Amazon, y’all. Mostly because (tell me you heard this) Facebook changed their algorithms. Again.
Buckle up. They’re called trends for a reason.
Publisher’s Weekly is reporting that “Christian Fiction Keeps Its Allure”. This is great news for everyone reading this blog. But the CBA isn’t still alive and kicking among readers because we’re all writing Amish romance and Hallmark screenplays. (Ahem, diversity is trending.)
Instead, PW contends the following topics are making our market more and more varied:
- Time-slip novels that historical and contemporary in epic new ways. Think Kristy Cambron’s, The Lost Castle, which just debuted this week and is the first in a trilogy set in three different eras. Or Rachel Hauck’s latest, The Writing Desk.
- Traditional historical remain strong, but publishers are looking for lesser known eras and different settings. So if you’ve got a story set during the time of apartheid in South Africa juxtaposed against America’s current political climate, you might want to think about polishing that proposal…
- Because literary fiction is trending in CBA as well. Readers are reporting they want “deeper stories” that deal with “real life situations”. Join a reader-centric Facebook group and just watch the chatter. You’ll learn a lot—and you’ll make some new friends and potential fans. In this genre, I’m excited to see Julie Cantrell and Charles Martin dominating the general market through Thomas Nelson. The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton was 2017’s word-of-mouth surprise for Harper Collins as well. If you read the reviews on this book, you’ll get a sense for why it has transcended the current market.
While genre romance will remain popular, Written Word Media suggests that fantasy and sci-fi are coming back bigger and better than ever. While this has always been a more challenging arena for CBA, many authors are seeing contracts and strong sales. Knowing this trend, if I ever wanted to write a fantasy rom-com, now would be the time. (I don’t. Maybe. WWSLS—What would Steve Laube say?)
Social media changes daily. Hourly. So it’s best to hang on tight and remember one thing: you’re on social media to build connections, not to sell books. Guess what the biggest marketing trend for 2018 is? The one thing readers want?
This is why we’re seeing Live videos from Instagram and Facebook all over our feeds. This is why those algorithms are showing you what you want to see from the people you actually engage with. This is why Facebook groups are getting stronger but Twitter isn’t growing.
Everyone craves connection. Use social media for that and you might not want to drown your computer in the bathtub.
Focus marketing efforts on Amazon and deal-based or subscription sites. Readers are loving getting a bargain—but they’re more willing than ever to pay for books. They’re just doing it through subscription services. Group giveaways or bundled book sales are predicted to do well also. This isn’t great for those of us with single titles, but it means my focus should be on my next book, not necessarily my next ad.
Indie publishing is not dying down—it’s actually getting stronger. This is great news because it means we’re seeing successful indie authors approach writing as a business—and they are making it work like one. If you’re traditionally published but are thinking of going hybrid, 2018 could be your year. If you write really niched and can’t find a big publisher, indie may be your best route—and you may love the control.
Bottom line, while there are infinitely more books than readers, there are still readers. They’re buying books. Real ones they hold in their hands. They’re reading on Kindles but also flipping back to cookbooks or coffee table books because screen fatigue is a real thing.
No matter the trends, one thing remains. We are hardwired by our Creator to love story. Some of us are blessed to be able to tell stories. And that’s not a trend—it’s a gift we should use to the best of our ability.
Resources I Recommend for Following Trends:
Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. Her debut novel, Still Waters, influenced by her family ties to the South Carolina Lowcountry, is a story about the power of family and forgiveness. Called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing,” Still Waters also received 4-stars from Romantic Times.
A blogger since 2010, Lindsey has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications including Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction (2015 and 2017). Her popular column appears in local North Georgia newspapers weekly. Currently, Lindsey is a general editor with Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of LPC Books, and she freelances as a writing coach. Previously, Lindsey served as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group where she wrote and edited flash fiction.
A Georgia native, Lindsey makes her home—full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee—at the foothills of Appalachia with her patient husband and their four rowdy children. Connect with her at www.lindseypbrackett.com or on Facebook: Lindsey P. Brackett, Instagram: @lindseypbrackett, or Twitter: @lindsbrac.