Should you write according to trends?

What, in your opinion, will be the hot topics in the next few years in the different genres? I mean, which way will the wind blow in horror, scifi, fantasy, romance, children’s, etc. For example, Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings films saw a boom in fantasy and wizardry, right?

Recently we had Beowulf, which seems to be setting the tone at the moment and I am eager to learn more about James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’. Do you think that such things affect the market and should people try to conscious of potential fashions when they write?

My advice

Never follow fashions. Granted, if you have a fantasy book finished or nearly complete just sitting around the house and suddenly fantasy is the big craze, then by all means spend all your free time trying to promote it, because it just might make it easier to sell.

On the other hand, don’t decide to write something because of the market; with as long as it takes to write and edit a novel, pitch it, and get it accepted and published, there’s a big chance you’ll miss “the craze” period.

I myself don’t follow trends. Books aren’t movies, and while movies have big hit time periods, loyal genre readers will read regardless of what’s at the theater. So instead I focus my attention on whether the submitted manuscript is great or not, and whether I believe that the genre readers would love that particular book, regardless of what’s “popular.”

As far as what’s “hot” right now, I really can’t and won’t say for books. For movies, it’s obvious that fantasy has taken off in the past few years, with Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings triology, and new kids movies such as the Waterhorse, the Spiderwick and Narnia chronicles. But how long that will last it’s hard to say. And remember–these movies took a few years each to make. So the writing aspect of the production was done even before that–so if you’re hoping to land a fantasy script in Hollywood, technically it needs to be done before the market is really “hot” for that genre.

Again, I wouldn’t focus on trends or what’s happening around the world. Instead focus on the writing, because even if you do try to get picked up in a science-fiction frenzy, if your book sucks–wait, no, if it’s even mediocre, then it’s not going to be picked up no matter how popular the genre.

Leave the trend-acolytes to those sanctimonious non-fiction writers who try to cash in immediately after major tragedies by writing so-called novels and autobiographies…

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