Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Being Internly: Suggested Readings

So I'm back again with another suggested readings post, this time with a focus on the new adult genre. New adult has been increasing in popularity over the last couple of years (St. Martin's apparently coined the term in 2009) and it would not surprise me if we start to see a wave of these books being released by mainstream publishing in a year or two. Several self-pubs have been snatched up already, notably Easy by Tammara Webber, Slammed by Colleen Hooper, and Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire.  So if you have a polished, completed, manuscript that fits this genre, now is the time to start shopping it.

If you don't know what New Adult is, check out this introductory blog post from NA Alley. I have NA Alley in my Reader and they post on everything from cover reveals to publishing news. Editors Angela James (Carina Press) and Margo Lipschultz (Harlequin HQN) delve into what constitutes a new adult in a Harlequin blog post. It's a bit of a publicity puff piece, but I found James's answer as to what was not a new adult very interesting.  For a more intensive look, a School Library Journal blog (A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy) has a compilation post with links to different blogs, all aimed at answering the question of 'What is New Adult?'

The New York Times published an article back in December 2012 that covers the rise of new adult from more of a publishing perspective. Also in December, Gawker compared 'coming of age' and new adult titles.  In the Gawker article, they reference this Publisher's Weekly article, which looks at the trend from a book-selling point view. I tried to find something about writing new adult books, but instead I came across this August 2012 blog post that looks at new adult from an editorial point of view.

Since I started reading new adult by way of the romance genre, I tend to think of it as being an off-shoot, but it's definitely growing into its own genre.  Another SLJ poster, who is not that fond of the label, recommends 'fiction-y' books that would fit the bill. Back in July 2012, Jane at Dear Author did a new adult recommendation post, suggesting traditionally published young adult books that would fit the new adult category. NA Alley (mentioned above) has a catalog of new adult reads that cover traditional and epubs. Of course, browsing through GoodReads can always lead to awesome discoveries. This list is fairly comprehensive and here's a selection of new adult recent releases.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Being Internly: Predicting the Future

Yes, it's a little known fact that when you are looking for a job in publishing, clairvoyance is a necessary job skill. I admit to being a little taken aback when my boss told me that it's not so much what's selling now, but what will sell two years from now that's important. Why two years? Because that's when the open slots are in the publishing world. The catalogs for this year are already printed, books have already been scheduled. Pubs are businesses. They try to space out what they are banking on as their 'big titles' so that the releases correspond with their financial quarters. Also, certain books do better at certain times of the years. A glossy coffee table book is going to do better being released in October so it gains a little momentum before the holiday season when shoppers are looking for these types of books. A light, frothy, fiction title gets released in May/June for Mother's Day and primarily so it'll be in position for the 'beach read' displays. Somebody somewhere has the title list for the next five sales Barnes and Noble will be holding.

So what does this mean for the aspiring author? If you're going to write to the trend, do so at the beginning of it. Look at the 50 shades phenomenon. D/S bondage erotica wasn't exactly mainstream. Publishers didn't have anything comparable to market so they could ride the wave. So they snapped up self-pubs and reissued anything similar, like Sylvia Day's older titles. Day's Bared to You, by the way, was originally a self-pub. You can get the story of its journey to traditional publishing straight from the source via a Dear Author podcast

If the wave has hit, however, you're going to have a much harder time selling. For example, when The Hunger Games came out in 2008, it launched the YA dystopian trend. Readers were looking for something to tide them over in between books and publishers wanted to meet that need. Two years later, books in this subgenre began to roll-out: Matched by Allie Condie in 2010, Divergent by Veronica Roth in 2011, Delirium by Lauren Oliver in 2011, Enclave by Ann Aguirre in 2011, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken in 2012, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi in 2012. Yes, dystopians existed before the odds were in our favor (The Giver by Lois Lowry in 1993, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld in 2005), but Katniss was the match that lit the flame. It's now 2013. Editors and agents have been flooded with dystopian YAs for FIVE YEARS. Your manuscript has to be pretty damn spectacular to stand out in the slush pile, let alone to get an editor to gamble the readers won't be burnt out on dystopians in 2015. 

How do you predict the future? Personally speaking, I look for the match. If I can pinpoint what might spark a new trend, I can get ahead of it. I check out the TV pilots for the next year's season, glance at upcoming movies, and I read the trades for what's being published next year, Publisher's Weekly in particular. I'm active on social media, I talk to young adult librarians, and I look for things that I, as a consumer, might enjoy. 

I've long been an advocate for more fairy-tale based books due to Once Upon a Time and Grimm. My boss has been actively searching for high fantasy and the fact that we have three Hobbit movies rolling out make this a safe choice. I think outer space/science-fiction might make a bit of a bounce-back and personally speaking, I'd love to see a YA where the future doesn't suck, like a futuristic contemporary. 

But if you have a fantastic manuscript, one that makes your critique partners cry or sigh or gives them nightmares, it doesn't matter what genre your book is in. A wonderful book will always sell eventually.  Who knows?  Your book could be the next match.