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Spotting Trends In Children’s Publishing 2016: Ali Cross

Spotting Trends in Children’s Publishing 2016: Ali Cross

ALi Cross Indie ReCon Founder

Ali Cross

Ali Cross, an experienced author in writing for the Young Adult audience, discusses the current state and future of the YA market.

Spotting trends in your genre’s market is an important skill every writer needs to hone. Consumers, particularly readers under the age of eighteen are highly susceptible to the media they’re immersed in every day—everything from social media (memes) to web shows, television and movies. Such research can be exhausting, but might be a worthwhile exercise to engage in once a year or so. You can also take a lightweight approach like I have here.

Knowing the trends in your market can be helpful if you’re seeking representation in the traditional market, and if you’re considering releasing a self-published title. Timing, they say, is everything.

Trends in the Traditional Market:

What the traditional market is doing often drives readers’ interests. Legacy publishers release umpteen XYZ novels with pomp and circumstance, readers devour them, go searching for more and come to our (the indie author’s) doorstep. If we’re paying attention, our work is primed and ready for discovery and consumption.

With the Balogna Book Fair behind us and BookExpo America just around the corner, the 2016 spring/summer book frenzy has begun. Agents and publishers everywhere are hot on the trails of the Best New Books and they’re fairly consistent in what they’re looking for:

  • Historical Fiction
  • Alternative History Fiction
  • Fantasy, including epic, magical realism and in particular “royal” fantasies (think: Game of Thrones)
  • Science Fiction, including time travel
  • Fairy Tales ReimaginedClassics Reimagined
  • Geek/Fan Contemporary Fiction
  • And, the buzzwords on everyone’s lips: Give Us Diversity—LGBQT, and Asian heroes and heroines particularly.

Trends in Self-Publishing:

Nowhere will you find an agent actively seeking vampire stories, yet Bella Forrest (A Shade of Vampire, self-published) is killing it on Amazon. Mark Coker of Smashwords predicts readers will continue to look for YA dystopian novels because as the state of the world seems more and more uncertain, teens are more fascinated with scenarios where they get a chance to fix the things we adults have broken. Also, publishing houses have been eschewing dystopian titles for the past couple years so if readers go looking for those doomsday scenarios it’s possible indie titles could fill that need.

In the past, indies have struggled to find success with historical fiction, but have generally done well with alternate histories. Fairy Tales, Classics, Fantasies and Science Fiction have long been within our wheelhouse. The competition may be heating up for us sci fi writers, though. Orbit (Hachette) is doubling their sci fi output to 90 titles in 2016, and Simon & Schuster and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have both created sci fi imprints.

I polled some indie friends and they’re currently enjoying success in fantasy, fairy tale retellings and science fiction. On April 6th I checked the top YA Kindle sellers and indies accounted for at least eleven of the top eighteen books with vampire stories and epic fantasies.

Don't wait for trends

Indies don’t have to wait for trends, we have the opportunity to create them. To identify them and meet them head-on in a way traditional publishers simply can’t do. Since our publishing timetable is drastically shorter than the large houses, consider tracking television and movies for the real trends. Could it be that science fiction is hot because Star Wars: The Force Awakens recently enjoyed the biggest opening weekend in movie history? Certainly the accessibility of the television adaptation of Game of Thrones is a factor in teens’ interest in epic fantasies/royal fantasies.

Spotting trends

What other trends can you spot? Movie-makers and TV producers continue to produce fairy-tale retellings (The Huntsman, Into the Looking Glass.) Superhero movies and shows continue to be big (Captain America: Civil War, X Men: Apocalypse.)

Stay abreast of what traditional publishers are looking for, know what they see as the trends, but don’t let their point of view limit you. Watch the world around you for the trends—they’re everywhere.

#IAF16 @ali_cross outlines the 2016 trends in children's publishing bit.ly/IAF173008 #selfpub #YA Click To Tweet

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The Indie Fringe Author Conference takes place three times a year, in line with London Book Fair in April; Book Expo America in May and Frankfurt Book Fair in October


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