Trends


Angie Fox and Erin Kellison collaborated for a fantastic post on paranormal romance over at Romance University today.  Find out what they think trends will be and what pitfalls to avoid on the road to publication.

I’ll also be taking questions in the comment section throughout the day, so please do stop by.

The amazingly energetic and talented Chuck Sambuchino posted an interview with me over on his blog at Writers Digest today.  Chuck is a guy who obviously does his homework and goes way beyond ”What do you do?” and ”What is Dorchester looking for?”  Today is part one of two.

If you want to know the scoop about agents and what publishers are acquiring, The Guide to Literary Agents is a must-bookmark blog.

We’ve had some in-house chatting this week, wondering if the label “futuristic,” ironically enough, has become outdated.  There’s definitely been a drop in submissions and a resulting drop in published books.  Has it become passe, eclipsed by urban fantasy?  Or is it just time to refresh and revamp?

It seems as though some publishers are labeling the spines paranormal, hoping to capitalize on the bigger market, I’m sure.  But obviously future-set romances have a very loyal following, and we want to make sure we’re still reaching that core market. 

So what to do?  Call it sci-fi romance?  Stellar romance?  Just throw it under the paranormal umbrella and trust readers to find it?  Figure it’s a trend that’s on the downward dip right now but will come back up as soon as a buzz-worthy author captures the spotlight?

Tell us what you think.  One lucky commenter will receive Autumn Dawn’s brand new futuristic, WHEN SPARKS FLY, and some backlist goodies by Susan Grant and C.J. Barry.  The winner will be drawn on Friday, June 5 at 5 p.m. ET.

Romance takes center stage in the most recent issue of Publishers Weekly.  Coverage ranges from what’s hot in paranormal now, what will be hot next and their idea of what will never be hot in paranormal (but we hope to prove them wrong!).  There are also some great sidebar pieces on historicals and contempories and a nice article from Debbie Macomber.

Over at DearAuthor, Jane has highlighted some upcoming historicals that defy tradition, including:

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley   runaway       to-tempt-a-knight1

Meanwhile, I’m heading out to Orlando for the RT convention.  Up-to-minute happenings will be posted to Twitter/DorchesterPub with the label #RT09.   

Award announcements to come Friday evening.  And because I’m not technologically advanced enough to own a cell phone with a camera, pictures will follow as soon as I get back.

Ok, so they’re still firing people, and that’s definitely not good.  But Shelf Awareness reports that Borders also announced:

…the company is “moving to more frequent replenishment order cycles–about three times faster than in the past–and with a far greater level of automated ordering. This will mean fewer out-of-stocks, faster response to sales trends and more predictable order flow. Not only will this change help us drive sales, but it will also improve inventory productivity and reduce returns, driving efficiencies for both our company and yours.”

From what I’ve seen and heard from some authors, some stores weren’t carrying the stock they previously had and many new books were on backorder for two to three weeks, meaning customers would have to go to the store, request a title they couldn’t find on the shelves, then wait more than a week, then go back to the store to finally pick it up.  Assuming they didn’t just drive home and order from Amazon. 

In other Borders news, paranormal sales in 2008 were up more than 30% from the previous year, and Regency/Victorian-set titles still account for the strongest sales among historicals.

And just to get you out and shopping, Borders is offering 40% off any book–no minimum purchase–for Reward members this weekend.

With the big Harlequin giveaway, Tor’s numerous free books last summer, and the $1.00 monthly Orbit titles, there certainly seems to be a big push toward giving something for nothing (or, at least, very little).  But is it working? 

Over the weekend, I finished THE WAY OF SHADOWS by Brent Weeks, the title Orbit offered last month for $1.00 (or 85 cents if you buy from Books on Board).  I enjoyed it so much, I’m ordering a copy of the physical book for my brother and I’ll likely be purchasing the other two books in the trilogy.  I’d call that pretty successful.  The super markdown got me to purchase a book I had my eye on for a while but couldn’t quit bring myself to commit to.

On the other hand,  I’m looking at Harlequin’s offerings and see maybe two or three of the 16 I’m interested in trying.  I’ve read two of the Tor books I downloaded over the summer.  Have they gotten me to buy copies?  No.  But then again, I wouldn’t have bought those books for full price to begin with.  So the company and the author haven’t really lost anything either.

THE USE OF WEAPONS by Iain M. Banks is the current offering from Orbit.  It looks like a little more sci-fi than fantasy, but again, for 85 cents, it’s not a huge loss if it turns out not to be that great. 

So what are your thoughts?  Do you like trying stuff if it’s free?  Authors, does the idea of giving something away terrify you with the thought of piracy, or excite you with the thought of new readers?

Given some of the previous musings on romance covers, I thought it interesting to note Bantam’s new treatment for Sherry Thomas

The cover for her June release, NOT QUITE A HUSBAND:

sherry-thomas-june-release

And the original vs. the rerelease of her previous titles:

sherry-thomas-delicious     sherry-thomas-pa-new

sherry-thomas-del-old     sherry-thomas-del-new

I think the old covers were quite beautiful, as are the new ones.  But it does seem as though they’re really trying to make sure they reach the romance audience with the new versions.

Wolf ManIf 2008 was the year of the vampire, it looks as though 2009 is going to be the year of the werewolf in Hollywood, according to Gawker offshoot Defamer. Coming up this year: the Benicio del Toro remake of The Wolfman, Stephanie Meyers’ New Moon, and a new Fox TV series about four women friends who happen to be, you guessed it, werewolves.

Now if only Patricia Briggs could get a movie deal…

 I was talking with a colleague a few days ago about the economy, the new administration and how it will affect books, and we got into quite a conversation. We both agreed that fiction is ripe for something new and some kind of big breakout.  All the authors who revolutionized various genres are getting old and stale, or just aren’t writing anymore.  Even Stephen King doesn’t get nearly as much buzz for a new release as 10 years ago.  We need a Scott Turow, a Diana Gabaldon, a Dan Brown, a Christine Feehan–in essence, a glom phenomenon.  The most recent advances have been in YA with Harry Potter and then the Twilight series, but what comes next for adult fiction?

It seems as though the most emulated trends either twist something already familiar–like Turow taking a thriller but concentrating on the legal aspect–or blend two things to come up with something completely new–like Diana Gabaldon’s historical fiction/romance with time-travel.

So we started looking at the cultural landscape.  My buddy talked about how current times seemed very similar to the late ’50s and the transition between Eisenhower and JFK.  Once again everyone is optimistic for a new, young administration.  Obviously, the early 60s saw a huge boom in creative freedoms and changing the status quo. 

In romance, it seems the urban fantasy push has made everything so dark, dark, dark.  I’m thinking we might be ready for more optimism, not that things can’t be dark, but I do feel like that envelope has been pushed.  I’d love to see fresh, interesting, mythical takes on old fairy tales and legends.  

And I’d love to see something completely different knock my socks off.  I think the publishing world is more than ready for it.

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