Reader Question: What’s Hot!
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Apr 17 2007
Is there a particular genre that is hot in the marketplace right now? Something editors are requesting or looking for more than other genres?
I guess that depends on what genre you write in. All genres have a sub-genre hot list of the moment, but I don’t necessarily think that one genre is hotter than another. Romance is always an area that sells well, as does SF/Fantasy and Mystery. What sells within those genres, though, can differ. Horror and thrillers, for example, are not easy sells these days, and while it seems I hear a lot of editors asking for suspense or romantic suspense, you really need to have an amazingly written and flawless book and a good hook to get it sold. Obviously erotica and erotic romance is still selling well, but I’ve already noticed a slowdown in buying. Editors have filled their lists and are now sitting back a little to see how it’s going to play out. And paranormal is everywhere—in romance, in mystery, and even in nonfiction. It seems editors and readers can’t get enough.
At least they can’t get enough at certain houses. What a lot of authors don’t realize is that what is hot can also differ from house to house. Some houses are voracious for erotica, while others want sensuous romances but are not interested in books that would be classified as erotica or even erotic romance. Some houses will buy almost any cozy mystery we send their way, while others “can’t sell cozies.” Some want business and parenting while other houses are telling me that parenting isn’t really selling well for them these days and therefore they aren’t actively looking for new books.
During a recent conversation with an editor, what we concluded is that the hot thing now is really a hybrid of genres. Editors are looking for erotic romantic suspense, paranormal anything, and fantasy romances. They want mysteries with a heavy romantic element and romances with a lot of mystery. I think it’s a really fun and exciting time in publishing. The ideas can be huge and different and push so many boundaries. It’s really giving authors time to challenge their creativity and think outside of the box. For those of you who always thought you’d write in two different genres, you can now make those genres one (unless you want to write children’s books and erotica). How cool is that?
No matter what, though, try not to write to what is selling. If you aren’t a paranormal writer don’t write paranormal. If you can’t do romance, or don’t like romance, don’t write romance. Markets ebb and flow and trends change very, very quickly. Last year I could sell almost any erotic romance I sent out. Now editors have the time and full lists that allow them to be choosy again. If you jumped on the bandwagon last year, and it took you a year to write the book, you could be too late. Always keep an eye to the trends so you know if what you’re writing is suddenly hot, but try not to let the trends guide what you’re writing.
Oh, interesting that what’s hot with one house is colder than ice cubes at another – and reassuring, too.
Now to turn the question around: is there anything that’s definitely dead right now, other than chick lit?
You’re right, chick lit in its traditional form is no longer hot. However, some publishers are still looking for things like chick lit mysteries. Horror is a very, very tough sell right now as are Western romances. A lot of editors are looking for historical romances but they seem to have a more contemporary voice. They aren’t the historicals of old. Interestingly enough cozy mysteries are really hot with some houses and completely dead with others.
That’s all I can think of off the top of my head, but maybe Jacky or Kim will chime in with anything I missed.
Thank you, Ms. Faust. It’s interesting that the historicals that are selling have a contemporary voice because those really make me gag. ‘Course, I majored in history too, so I’m just a tough-sell anyway. Now, if these are paranormal somehow, like time-travel, then a contemporary voice can make sense.
Thanks for the tips! There should be a partial for a Fantasy/Paranormal Romance on your desk from me. *battling her upbringing to be a Shameless Self-Promoter* 😉
Kimber: I think there are times when “contemporary” voice has its place in historicals. For example, if what’s happening wouldn’t have been in English and the character would be speaking what was “hip” for the day, then translating it into something slightly less formal could definitely give the character more dimension. Now I don’t mean I want them talking about “taking people out” or “googling” something just a little bit less formal is nice. IMHO
You’ve made my day with this post. I have a fantasy romance I’ve started querying. Until now, I’ve wondered if I might ever have a chance of selling it. Nice to know the hybrid genre is gaining in popularity.
Personally, I’d love to see historicals make a comeback, both as a writer and a reader.
Great post. Good info.
I don’t read chick lit, or at least anything that’s been identified to me as chick lit. It leaves me unfamiliar with the genre and what qualifies for it.
I have a novel I’ve begun querying as Urban Fantasy, but one of my beta readers just gave it the label of Paranormal Chick Lit. I’m left with two questions.
1) Is Paranormal Chick Lit selling?
2)And what exactly would qualify a novel as Paranormal Chick Lit, or just Chick Lit for that matter?
My beta reader is going off the first person aspect, the kick ass heroine, and that over all a great deal of the story deals with the protags emotional adjustment to the men in her life and her place in the world. (It’s paranormal in that there are vampires, werewolves and faeries, oh my!)
I would avoid using chick lit if I were you. Chick lit is really about a voice not necessarily a character or plot. I think paranormal will work just fine for you.