Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How do you like your stake? Vamps, slightly crispy or overdone?

I read a post today regarding trends in books, specifically the current vampire popularity. The person, an unpublished author I believe, said that agents had told her that vamps were kaput. She then asked if readers were done with vampires.

Personally, my answer would be no. Sure, sure, there's a ton of it out there. Fact of the matter is, as long as it is well written and has an original plot (there are plenty out there), I'm good. I mean, no one to my knowledge has asked if readers are tired of serial killer novels. Right?

It's all about trends. Publishers are desperate to catch the next big thing. What is the next big thing? No one has a clue. By the time publishers figure out what new trend readers have adopted and adapted and latched onto, it's already on its way out.

When Da Vinci Code hit, so many wannabes came out of the woodwork it wasn't even cute anymore. I fell for most of them and I can tell you some only got published because the industry peeps were desperate to get on the bandwagon and release at least one book in that same vein. It's kind of sad when that happens, really. It means that 1. a lot of crap is going to hit the shelves, 2. there will be good and even great stuff out, too, but you'll have to wade through the crap first to find it, and 3. lots of good even great stuff will get passed over because those same industry peeps are now trying to hit the NEXT next big thing and because they thing readers are tired of the last next big thing.

So, as the folks at LCC stated, don't write something because you think it will fit into what is hot now, write something that you believe in. By the time you find an agent and your title is shopped around, and an editor takes a look at it and decides to buy it, and you go through rest of the whole mess, the trend will have passed and your book will still be 6 mos from hitting the shelves!

Vamps will be around for a long time to come. Their popularity has waxed and waned since before even Dracula came along. You may see less of them next year than you did this year, but they'll be back!


Cheryl said...

I agree with you Becky that as long as the book is well written that I enjoy a good vampire book.

Get tried of Thiller novels!! Never

Anonymous said...


Sorry for intruding in this post, but i read your comment on Jason Pinter's blog on his Point System entry, and since he doesn't allow anonymous comments--and since you're a former bookseller--thought i could ask here...

I've come across the issue of which factors affect book sales in a publishing blog before, and had this idea of applying econometrics to do, an albeit, very informal and not very scientific study on the subject.

Jason already listed some factors that might be important. Problem is that since those are qualitative factors, so we’d need a survey/poll thing of at least 25 people to assign points, say on a scale of 1 to 10 (I’m not sure about that…). I’d think something like that is doable.

Of course, I’d also need sales numbers for the books being tested. Can anyone point me in the right direction? (Free data would best…even if they’re unofficial).

I’d think the first Harry Potter book would be a good candidate. I guess we’d also need a poll about which books to include in the study.

So it seems collecting data is the big problem…Although, with so many agents blogging around, and all these writing communities in cyberspace I suppose it wouldn’t be that difficult…

Anyway, what do you think of the idea?

Becky LeJeune said...

Collecting data would be a problem because they tend to like to keep this sort of data under wraps. Not sure why. If you are doing the first HP book, you might have a little more luck, though. It's kind of tough to keep those numbers secret. Publishers Weekly does roundabout numbers each year. You may find something there - it wouldn't be a breakdown or anything so if you wanted to find out WHERE people were buying (online, chains, indies) you'd have to look somewhere else.

You should join shelfari. You could pose some of these questions (which books to include and readers' opinions as to the qualitative factors that nudge them in the direction of purchasing) to the readers there.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...