Trends: they’re fluid and you’ll never catch them

The feedback and trends from my recent BEA meetings and meetings with editors in New York City were varied, but there were some genre take aways that I can share that reflect where the industry is right now–especially in commercial trade publishing.

I’m not saying anything new, you’ve probably all heard this on Twitter, on blogs, or in bookstores. But, here are trends that have arguably hit saturation:

  • Paranormal
  • Dystopian
  • Time Travel
  • Witches

That doesn’t mean that editors aren’t looking at it. Some will consider it, but ONLY if it is very, very special and unique. It does mean that the number of editors that would take a chance on it right now are super slim.

Many argue that there is so much paranormal etc. on the shelves right now, so why can’t we query with it? The truth is that those book were acquired 12-24 months ago and are just coming out now. The trends have crested in terms of acquisitions at this point and you will still see books coming out–and voracious readers consume these great books–for some time, but editors are not actively looking in this space unless you’re doing something never been done. Science fiction imprints and other publishers that focus on these markets will certainly be after this, but the trends are not as big as they were when multiple editors at every major house were keen on it.

As THE HUNGER GAMES movies continue to roll out you’ll see a spike in dystopia sales.

And the thing about trends is that they’re always moving and developing and by the time I post this I’m sure there is something ‘new’ or something ‘old’. I never suggest following or chasing trends. Always write what you’re passionate about, but never write in a vacuum. Terrific writing will rise above. Editors are always looking for great books, no matter the genre or trend.

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

20 thoughts on “Trends: they’re fluid and you’ll never catch them

      1. Contemporary YA romance is something editors are always looking for. Horror is a trend YA editors are after. Non linear storytelling and unreliable narrators are also something editors are interested in.


  1. This kind of insight from agents always confuses me. Please don’t think this comment is meant to be snarky in any way – I just want to voice my thoughts.

    I’ve been reading paranormal since I was a kid, and I will never grow sick of it. Its pretty much ALL I read. I occasionally stray and try to read a contemporary romance or something, but I *always* come back to paranormal/supernatural/etc. I can’t be the only one. (Can I?)

    But then you see posts like this, or get the rejection letter or contest reaction about agents/publishers turning their backs on paranormal, which is the part that confuses me and makes me think that maybe I *am* the only one.

    So I wonder this: If this is the case, will I one day be forced to read something I don’t enjoy?


    1. Hi Jessa. It wasn’t meant to be confusing at all. Trends are very cyclical (as you know since you’ve been reading paranormal since you were young). You will always be able to find paranormal to read, but from an agent’s perspective (ie. trying to sell authors’ work to editors) there isn’t a big market for us to sell paranormal right now compared to 2-5 years ago. Does that make sense?
      Many editors are not completely closed to paranormal (though some are) BUT there are looking for something super fresh, and you as a reader want fresh new fiction to read too, right?


      1. Absolutely. And I totally see what you’re saying. The post itself wasn’t confusing, just the industry I guess. (Now I’m being confusing.)

        To be clear, my thoughts come as a mixture of writer and reader, since I’ve been querying my own paranormal for a while now. The line has been somewhat blurred in that sense. Its just so frustrating – as I’m sure you can imagine – to “write what you love” and then find out agents aren’t looking for it anymore. Its difficult for our hard-headed author side to understand this news, when our hopelessly romantic reader side is begging for more paranormal romances, etc. Does that make sense?

        I think I just have a hard time understanding how paranormal romance is something I (personally) will always love, but its not easy for you to sell right now. I may be dense, but that makes me feel like in a few years there won’t be very many paranormal romance options for my *reader* side to devour.

        Oh I don’t know. I’m having trouble getting my thoughts across.


      2. There are ebook imprints with major publishers looking for paranormal romance (Grand Central’s FOREVER YOURS is one) and sci fi publishers and imprints that look for paranormal. So you can query some of them directly and/or when you find an agent. Good luck, Jessa! :)


  2. Thanks so much for this! I’ve just finished my first novel (women’s fiction, with a time travel component…uh oh…but I believe it’s different enough to rise above the dying trend…) and am about to start a second. Have a few ideas, and this post has given me some direction – much appreciated.


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