“Have you heard? DaVinci Code sold millions of books!”
“Have you heard? Vampire romance is totally in, baby!”
And so you set about writing these sub-genres, hoping to cash in on the feeding frenzy because publishers can’t get enough of it. Write, write, write, sell, sell, sell. It’s an exciting time until the bottom falls out and those hot topics grow as cold as the beagle’s margaritas. You jumped on the bandwagon and either rode it to great success, or you jumped on too late and are stuck with a series you can’t sell to the mailman.
Or you sold your book, and it went OP in a year or two. Ouch.
Welcome to the disease called Trend Bandwagon-itis. You loved the genre and hoped to make your mark – only no one is buying what you’re writing, so you’re left wondering what’s the next Big Thing. What’s going to be hot next year? Two years from now?
And he’s right. Not even Karnak the Great can divine what the next hot thing will be. Did anyone see DaVince Code coming? No? How ’bout Twilight? Harry Potter? Yet here they are, and many writers have jumped on the bandwagon with the hope they can make their own mark on the literary world.
The problem is timing. DaVinci Code came and went, making way for the next hot genre. To whit, I’ve been hearing agents and editors lament that they’ll stick their eyes with hot pokers if they see another vampire romance. They mirror my feelings when I see certain topics cross my desk.
My world of nonfiction is somewhat more stable, but we suffer from Trend Bandwagon-itis as well. A book hits the bookstores and authors jump on the bandwagon with their books about the economy, immigration, or the war(s). I’m not saying these aren’t valid topics, but those books won’t be as relevant in a few years because they’re dated with current information.
Our world of nonfiction plays host to a whole stable of topics – cancer, addiction, heart disease, midlife crisis, divorce, mental disease, sports, medicine, politics, celebrity exposés…I could go on forever. And I can tell time around what’s happening in the media how and how quickly I’ll see a bevy of manuscripts dealing with those very issues.
Many are cashing in on those Trend Bandwagon-itis books, which is perfectly fine, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how I question the quality of the writing more than once.
More importantly, will those books withstand the test of a few years? How quickly will those books (and the authors) fade into the backlist? That’s not a game I want to play, and I’m very happy to let others do it.
I’m in it for the long haul, meaning I want books that are valid now and twenty years from now. This not only keeps us viable, but it keeps our authors viable as well. I want a book that screams passion – that the author not only lived this experience, but the story is bursting from the depths of their soul. That’s what makes words leap off the page and worm their way into a reader’s heart and mind.
Building a literary career isn’t an unimportant consideration, and writers are smart to appreciate that what they write today will influence how successful they’ll be tomorrow. Will you be deemed passé if you write about young wizards going to magic school or a cancer story? If you love an impacted genre, then write it because your heart is burning to do so. Who am I to tell you otherwise? That said, you can be count me out as one who will entertain a Trend Bandwagon-itis story.
I believe in my authors’ books and advocate their place among the bookshelves because they focus on issues in a way that few others have considered and will always be a current issue.
When thinking about your writing career, consider whether you want to be part of a McDonald’s Happy Meal, or a meal that makes the headlines in newspapers and magazines because of its unique and distinct flavor.