Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Next Hot Thing

Twilight has once again brought vampires back into the "hot" zone. Vampires have always been around, but werewolves have come back too, partly because of our fascination with books and movies like Twilight which seem to pair vamps and weres consistently. Then there's the ghost stories, the zombie stories (those movie franchises never seem to die) and so on into the paranormal and horror worlds. And once one of these hits the "hot" zone, editors seem to get literally thousands and thousands of submissions on it - until their slush pile is filled to overflowing.

So how do you stand out from the crowd? You have to hit that trend BEFORE it becomes a trend. How, you ask, do I do that? Well, I'm not sure I can tell you, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

If you look back over history, you'll see that when economic times are hard, comedy and paranormal/otherworldly stories come forward a little more prominently - think Wizard of Oz for paranormal and Charlie Chaplin for comedy. Again, in this most recent economic time (and even before most people knew we were going downhill), here came Rowling, Meyers, Hamilton, Harris and Banks, among many others. Some were already selling - and let's face it, vampires and such have maintained a fairly steady fan base. But the way these movies and books blossomed in the past 24 months or so should be a revelation.

What does that have to do with the next hot thing? Well, history tends to repeat itself. I was recently shopping for an area rug for my new living room and was amazed/shocked/nonplussed at the '60s motif to be found everywhere! Like fashion and decor, entertainment tends to recycle to a certain extent (remakes of Bewitched, movies about our favorite comic characters like Iron Man, etc.). So you can take a lesson from history and see what you can predict for the future. Then see if something you're writing might fit that niche. Many best-selling authors will tell you they hit the right editor at the right moment, and sometimes it is all about luck to put you on the right path.

But you can build your own luck by predicting the future - without a crystal ball. How many of you have projected a trend that came to pass (I forecasted the PT about a year before it hit the market). Let me know!


  1. I've heard zombie and / or mermaids. Not at the same time, necessarily :)

  2. Hmmm, zombie mermaids ... interesting! :) I think the zombie thing has already kind of exploded, so we may be ready to move on - which is where you need to put on your thinking cap and get your crystal ball!

  3. Zombies are big right now There's an awesome YA book out now called The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I figure when it's moved into movies and kids' books, we're moving away from it.

    But I might see your mermaids (both good and sirenish), and raise you mythology (a la Clash of the Titans) and historical crossovers.

  4. I have a zombie book. I'm hoping zombies are the next hot thing, but I don't really have any guesses about future trends. I just write what's fun for me.