Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Timing The Market


Way back when I first started saving for retirement, one of the first and most important financial lessons I learned was “never try to time the market”. The reasoning was simplicity itself. The heads of the biggest investment firms in the country and their hundreds of very smart staff people can’t figure out when a stock or a fund has reached its high point and is about to decline. What makes you think YOU can?
I believe the same can be said of publishing, and here’s my personal experience.

I attended my very first romance writers’ conference in October, 2004. During that wonderful three day event, the phrase on everyone’s lips, be they writer, reader, editor or agent, was CHICK LIT! Nearly every writer I talked to was writing and/or pitching a chick lit novel. Well, every one except me. Every editor and agent in attendance were requesting and buying chick lit. I was feeling a bit left out, but rather than try and “time the market”, I kept working on my romantic suspense WIP.

Fast-forward to July, 2005 and my first RWA National conference. I was working on my second romantic suspense WIP and suddenly everyone was talking about PARANORMAL romance. Everybody was reading, writing and/or buying anything with a vampire or a shape-shifter in it. Chick Lit, it seems, was dead, or at least terminally ill. HUH? I was out of the loop again. And I felt bad for the writers trying to pitch a chick lit manuscript.

Last year, when the RWA National conference rolled around again, vampires were still undead but also rather passe. Unless they were in an erotica, because the word circulating now was hot, Hotter, HOTTEST! Whatever you were writing needed to have plenty of steamy sex scenes. By now, I’m sure you can guess what I was writing… if you said anything except romantic suspense, you just aren’t paying attention.

So here it is May and National will be rolling around again in less than two months. What will be the next big thing this year? Judging by the rumblings I’ve heard and the sales I’ve seen lately, my guess is that historical are indeed making a comeback. Or not…

If I’ve learned anything in the past three years it’s that “the powers that be” in romance publishing, editors and agents don’t have any more idea about the next big thing than I do. And if they can’t predict the next hot trend, I’m certainly not going to try.

What about you? What do you think will be the next big thing? Do you run out to read and/or write what you see crowding the bookstore shelves? Or do you stick with your old favorites?