It was murder!
I recently had the opportunity to hear a bright, young(er than me) editor speak about publishing today.
She said some interesting and candid things and I appreciate that. Plus she was funny and I always like that.
But I take issue with a couple of things she mentioned. One is the old adage, “don’t write to trends.” And of course she cited the death of chick-lit as an example.
But the death of chick-lit isn’t an example, it’s an isolated case which everyone points to as evidence that trends come and go because it’s pretty much the only recent case. If I think back, family sagas were big in the 80s, as were “glitter” novels. I miss them.
But lately, which of the predicted trend deaths have come true? That vampire novels are dead? That historicals are history? That steampunk will sputter out shortly? Uh, no. I don’t think so.
So I had an epiphany—that those dead “trends” didn’t fade away of natural causes. They were murdered!
Back in the day when the publishing gate-keepers held all the power to decide what people wanted to read, they would open and close the doors at will. “Nobody wants to read chick lit anymore,” they declared. Which isn’t true at all. People who loved chick lit are still looking for it, and finding it. It’s just now known as humorous women’s fiction, buried in romance, or, add a werewolf and call it urban fantasy.
But not long after the murder of chick lit, e-publishing came along. Tell any successful epublisher that vampires / zombies / shifters are dead genres and they’ll just laugh. Dystopian YA isn’t going anywhere and steampunk has only just begun to explore its boundaries.
Self-publishing only opens the floodgates further. You can write and publish any damn thing you want. And readers, you can find any damn thing you want. I especially enjoy cross genres. Don’t know where to shelf it in a store? Who cares? The internet is one giant database and you can search for something a myriad of different ways. My short story FEW ARE CHOSEN is a humorous, young adult, multi-cultural, GBLT, paranormal, character study with a strong romantic subplot. The fact that it just won a prestigious Bookie award indicates that other people like cross-genre stuff, too.
So the gate-keepers are losing control. Perhaps they’ll soon be as dead as chick lit.
And readers will get to pick from everything, not just what they’re told they want to read. Long live the reader!