Books Read in 2011

Tessa's books-read-2011 book montage

Clockwork Angel
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer

Books Read in 2011 »

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dystopia: The New Utopia

There has been a lot of discussion about trends in the writing market recently. It seems that one can't really jump right into the current trend, because when one finally finishes the manuscript, agents/publishers are no longer accepting trend novels because the market is "filling up".

The YA trend has been vampires since Hurricane Twilight sent teenage girls racing to the bookstores. Everybody wanted to catch the gust and wrote vampire YA (books that I still greedily seek out). There is now an overflow of unpublished manuscripts and agents are rejecting all queries that have the word "vampire" in them.

The current and near-future trend seems to be YA Dystopia. I actually had to look up that word (anti-utopia), and I get it; I like watching movies where the world is inside-out after some catastrophe, and I should be able to enjoy such books as well. Of course, a dash of paranormal wouldn't ruin it for me.

When I read about the dystopia trend, I immediately thought that maybe I should try to write one, but by the time I'd get it done, everyone and their cousin will have sent out query letters and agents will be rejecting all queries containing the word "dystopia".

One might say that unpublished writers live in a dystopian world and are desperately trying to reach utopia. I think that the only chance writers have to ride the wave of trends is by either having manuscripts ready before the tide hits to be able to ship them out immediately when their genre is prophesied to be the next big thing, or to be abnormally fast at creating manuscripts, and risking the manuscript being rushed.

If you want to break into the market, you'll have to write what sells; and what sells is the current and next trend. Kristin Nelson recently talked about how most queries she's receiving today are about ghosts telling their stories, psychics solving a mystery, vampires (still, as she puts it), and people seeing things in dreams that lead them on an adventure. Apparently writers are expected to think outside the box and try to invent the next hype, but at the same time it is difficult to sell the manuscript because it involves a great risk to publishers.

I have tried to be innovative in my manuscript and created paranormal beings that I haven't seen before. Now the big, hairy and nasty question is: are they too innovative for the publishers to take the risk?

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