Let’s face it—trends exist.
As much as we may try to ignore them, there are genres and book covers and types of protagonists that sweep through the publishing world like wildfire. On Swoon Reads, we definitely see trends reflected in the types of manuscripts writers submit to our site. No matter what’s trendy, we’re always looking for manuscripts that reflect the passion and drive of the writer behind them—not the manuscript that feels the most “of the moment.” So how do you take trends into account while you write without letting them dictate your work in progress?
These dos and don’ts should help you navigate the
ever-changing world of trends.
DO Know What’s Hot:
Instead of denying trends completely, arm yourself with the knowledge of what's working in the marketplace. More information is always good; we love to work with authors who know the YA world like the back of their hands. Take a trip to your local bookstore and see what’s dominating the shelves. It’s important to know what’s popular in the YA universe, whether you’re writing in these genres or not, so that you can know how to talk about your manuscript and make it stand out in the current environment.
DON’T Be a Copycat:
Even if every big book seems to be following a certain trend, resist the urge to write something just because it feels trendy. Why? By the time that book hits the shelves, the trend may be over! In addition, writing something just because it feels trendy often results in a not-great book. You're better off writing something you're passionate about—it'll show in your work!
DO Analyze Why a Trend is Popular:
Many trendy books have a few elements in common. Dystopian novels, for example, often feature strong female characters, rebellion against an oppressive government, and strict social classes. As a writer, it’s always useful to think about what themes readers are drawn to at a specific time and why (do they reflect the world around them? Do they push back against a previous YA trend?) so you can decide whether to incorporate (or disregard!) these elements in your own work.
DON’T Be Afraid to be a Trendsetter:
It can feel like the only way to get published is to follow the trends that are already popular with readers. But don’t be a trend-follower—be a trendsetter! So what if no one else has written a book about were-penguins or psychic ghost girls or Indiana Jones-wannabes. Every trend has to start somewhere, and as long as you’re writing a book that you love, you have just as good of a chance of starting a trend as anyone else out there. Bring on the were-penguins; we’re excited about whatever trend you’re about to set.
Want to read more about trends and the importance of paving your own path? We’ve covered this topic on our blog at https://www.swoonreads.com/blog/pave-your-own-path-why-you-shouldnt-write-trends/.
Kat Brzozowski is an editor at Swoon Reads and Feiwel & Friends. She has edited a wide range of young adult fiction, including Anna-Marie McLemore's When the Moon was Ours, which received a Stonewall Honor and was longlisted for a National Book Award, and new Fear Street books in R.L. Stine’s bestselling series, which has sold over eighty million copies worldwide. Kat is drawn to young adult fiction across a wide range of genres, especially contemporary, realistic YA with a strong hook; dark, contemporary fiction, mysteries, suspense and thrillers; and sci-fi and fantasy that’s mostly rooted in this world. She is especially interested in YA novels with crossover appeal and diverse characters.
Readers, how do you feel about trends? Is your writing dictated by them?
Image credits: Pixabay.com