In my quest to delve a little deeper into writing what sells, I asked literary strategist and consultant, Bri Clark, to answer a few questions for me. She’s graciously consented to an interview.
Bri, we spoke before about what’s hot and what’s not in the book market. You’d mentioned Regency Romance and Highland Romance with slight paranormal elements as trending well. Why do you suppose?
Both are historical. Both have the classic formula of a rake who did not want to fall in love being brought to his knees by an equally strong woman. Historical romance will and always has been a market to sell to. As for Regency era I think that is has a lot to do with the fairy tale element of balls, with royalty and aristocracy. All little girls, who grow to be women, dream of being a princess swept away by a knight. Then you throw in the added bonus of the fact this was an era in history that was true…making it all the more believable. As for Highland romance with paranormal elements. Hannah Howell is a great example of this. She has over 20 books out in this genre with slight paranormal elements. But here’s the catch – they are a series. The clans and characters all connect in some way through the generations. Highland lords are written as handsome, slightly dangerous but chivalrous with their own code of primitive loyalty and possessiveness toward their people but most especially their women. What woman wouldn’t love that? As for the paranormal it’s the play on magic or talents beyond the norm. For example in Howell’s books they can have a “healers touch” or have “seeings.” All very paranormal for the time but not so much for today’s standard.
So, if an author can manage to tap into a reader’s inner fantasy, they might be on their way to commercial success? Ok, but many new authors scoff at the idea of writing to the market and instead insist on writing only what they want to write. Are there any pitfalls to this approach?
This comes down to that age old question of are you a hobbyist or a professional? You come to a point where you have to say “OK, I need to make money…where is it at?” I myself have faced this! Luckily I also have another job in the industry that supplements and affects that question. I find that sometimes what is popular now won’t be in a few months. The key that an author and as well as agents have to figure out is what will be the “next” popular genre and having that novel found, prepped and ready for release when it happens.
That doesn’t sound particularly easy! How do you, as a literary strategist, determine what’s strong at the moment? Are there any discernible trends in the market right now that predict the future?
Bear in mind I’m not a publisher or an agent. I don’t necessarily have to know what’s strong but I do know how to sell to my clients’ genre. Right now Regency is strong, historical itself is always solid. YA romance has slowed a tad, it’s actually breaking out into its own sub-genres being based on age I’ve heard. Like 18 and under, 21 and up. I expect YA will take a spike in the spring/summer toward vacation time. I also predict that contemporary will take a spike. Most people went to historical when the economy crashed for a thorough escape. Now that things are getting a little better they will want a break from that and come back to modern times. Especially for beach reading.
That’s good to know! I’ve noticed many publishers and agents don’t want to see ‘sparkly vampire’ manuscripts or themes they feel have been ‘done to death,’ but these books still seem popular. Is there a disconnect between readers and tastemakers?
Like I said before, publishers and agents have to be looking out for what’s next…not what’s now.
Thank you Bri for your words of wisdom!
~ S.G. Rogers
Bri Clark works as an editor, agent, and promoter for multiple publishers in addition to her career as an author and speaker. She can be found on her personal blog BriClarktheBelleofBoise. Bri is also a featured speaker for the upcoming Idaho Book Extravaganza in additional to her most recent engagements at Ignite Boise and Story Story Night at the Rose Room. After moving to Boise from Tennessee she was quickly dubbed The Belle of Boise for her hospitable nature, forward attitude, and sassy nature. Find Belle Consulting HERE.
Thoughtful Girl: © Dmitry Yashkin | Dreamstime.com
Swans: © Pakhnyushchyy | Dreamstime.com
Handful Money: © Anatoly Tiplyashin | Dreamstime.com
Reading: © Ctacik | Dreamstime.com