Let me give you an example. Lots of people are talking about the pending demise of UF. But when you ask agents, authors, or editors about sales in this genre, they say they haven't seen sales diminish yet. Maybe they're not growing any larger, and maybe a spattering of slots that would have gone to UF are now going to other types of stories. But does this mean that UF is in freefall? No.
I think -- and this is 100% my opinion, so take it for what it's worth -- all the talk about UF says more about a realignment of hope with reality than with anything to do with actual sales. It's a genre with a readership, and it will continue to exist in some familiar measure for at least some time to come. But it's not the next big market-sweeping thing, not the next paranormal or chick lit
Is steampunk the next UF or the next vampire craze? Will it be steady or explosive? Lots of interest in steampunk at this conference. The word was on everyone's lips. The panels were well-attended. (In fact, at the steampunk panel I attended, there were a surprising number of editors in the audience. We're paying attention to this niche.) Are people flocking to read the books? Will it explode? It feels like it might go that way, but only time will tell. My worry about steampunk romance is that we haven't yet had that one big breakout book to solidify the market. Several books have done well, but as of yet, no Bridget Jones or Edward Cullen. Nevertheless, it's an interesting subgenre that has the potential to appeal to a lot of readers in a lot of ways. It feels vibrant.
So, against this backdrop, almost every author I spoke to confessed to working on something in a genre other than their current genres. The surprising exception to this are the hearth-and-home contemporary writers, who seem perfectly happy right where they are. Romance plus domestic arts apparently equals happy authors.
My take-away? This market feels ready to jump in a new direction. But where? Authors are trying new things, genre-switching, bringing beloved old projects out from under the bed to see if they can breathe new life into the text. Editors eye sales reports and hold a damp finger to the air to test the wind. Historicals continue to surge, contemporaries continue to wobble, paranormals continue to look like a permanent presence.
So you tell me. What's the book type you want to read but can't find on the shelves? What's the book type that has captured your imagination lately? What books are your non-writer friends all reading now?