Monday, July 11, 2011

My completely unscientific, biased forecast of YA trends

So I am something of a psychic when it comes to the next big thing (or probably it's all in my head).  For instance when I was planning my outdoor wedding (yep, its a wedding anecdote), I thought personalized water bottles for the guests would be so cute and thoughtful and I was laughed at.  Laughed at, I tell you!  But look what we have here.  This, of course, totally proves I am a marketing genius (disclaimer: this proves nothing).  So why not look into my crystal ball and tell you what the next big trends in YA will be? (Because I am totally unqualified to do so, maybe?)

Ok, I am basing this post off the deals I've seen coming through Publisher's Marketplace as well as the queries I've been reading in various writerly forums.  It seems to me that certain trends are emerging, but I could also be completely wrong and full of myself.  However, if you are interested in what's trending, getting ready to query your own book or tossing around ideas, you might find this interesting.  (Note: probably never a good idea to write to a trend since the market will be on to a new things by the time you are ready to jump in).

1.  TIME, TIME, TIME - Time travel, alternate timelines, controlling time, lost time.  It is literally everywhere in books coming out next year.  If the last few years have been dystopian love triangle books, next year is all about teens and time from a boy who can travel through time at the speed of thought (TIME BETWEEN US) to nineteen year-olds jumping through time working for secret government agencies (TEMPEST) or a tale of two teens who discover a window into their future Facebook account (THE FUTURE OF US).  2012 may herald the end of the world, but I guess time is on our side.

2.  PARALLEL WORLDS, EVIL TWINS, AND DOPPLEGANGERS - Would JJ Abrams be proud or what? From a boy mourning the loss of his girlfriend finding out she's still alive in an alternate dimension (THROUGH TO YOU) to space operas featuring long lost twins and government conspiracies (LINKED) to a girl living out her life in two possible realities who must choose one (PIVOT POINT).

3.  SUPERHEROS - Teens will be getting a dose of super-powers in the coming year as new books about characters with extraordinary powers hit the shelves from an invisible girl dealing with her mob boss father (TRANSPARENT) to reality shows for superheros (FAILSTATE).

4.  LIFE AFTER DEATH - We're not talking vampires, but a slew of books dealing with the afterlife in many different forms.  From the oldschool aka Underworld (EVERNEATH) to books exploring the implications of reincarnation (INCARNATE) to characters picking up the pieces after death by broken heart (THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME) and a futuristic purgatory via pod (LEVEL TWO).

Also making waves?  Murderous mermaids seem to be all the rage.  Ghosts are popping up left and right, but isn't that what they're best at?  And everyone thinks contemps will be making a comeback (did they ever really leave?).  And there's still quite a few angels and demons books selling these days (you know what they say one person's hell is another's heaven).

Dropping off the radar?  Dystopians are a harder sell these days according to those in the know.  Paranormal romance is struggling a bit with finding fresh ideas.

And the word of the day: genre-bending. Agents like it.  Editors love it.  If you can pull it off, it may be your golden ticket.


  1. Too bad my WIP is none of the above! Here's hoping I can still slip through the cracks!

  2. Thanks for this list. Based on my informal research of PM deals over the past few months, and agent wish-lists, I agree with you completely. This stuff is hot! Looking forward to reading your *hot* YA book soon, too. Do you plan to eventually post ch.1 on the blog?

    One question: Do you think these trends apply to the Middle Grade market as well? It seems like they might. Either way, the MG market is in sore need of new authors and series, IMHO. YA, on the other hand, is flourishing. I'm thinking this may be due to the variety of topics authors can cover in YA fiction AND the fact that YA, perhaps, pays better. I don't know of many MG authors landing 6-figure advances, unless they're already known quantities with connections in Hollywood.

  3. I was thinking "Sci-Fi" was the next direction, which sort of encompasses all the time travel, parallel worlds, and super hero stuff. (Assuming they get their powers through some radioactive medium or alien experimentation project.)

    I try to avoid trends since by the time I finish writing the novel it's a year later and something else is trending.

  4. @Amber - I think that's a good thing!

    @E.W - MG alludes me. Agents ask for it, but it seems like no one is picking it up. Does that mean no one is writing or are writers not hitting the right themes? I'm not sure. One of my CPs just started a MG book, so maybe I will have answers soon.

    I probably won't have the chapter up, but as soon as we have a final version, I know FSG will have it up on certain sites w/ a preview!

    @K. Turley - yep, write a good book! And I think we can call this sci-fi trending, but maybe light sci-fi?

  5. I'm voting for time-travel, since my book is totally one, though I haven't heard of any of these when getting the idea for mine.

  6. Great post! Always good to know what to AVOID writing about for my next project .;)
    I love your blog! Very classy-looking. Unlike mine. ;)

  7. "@E.W - MG alludes me. Agents ask for it, but it seems like no one is picking it up. Does that mean no one is writing or are writers not hitting the right themes?"

    YES, this is what I've heard as well. That agents and editors say they want it but no one is actually contracting debut MG authors. It's very strange. Either no one is writing it (or writing it well) or agents/editors are full of crap! I'm curious because my WIP touches on all of the trendy themes mentioned above, by accident, but is designed for the upper MG market. Perhaps I'll just tweak it a bit for YAs if MG isn't really selling.

    Looking forward to reading your book preview once it is available down the line!

  8. I'm glad to see superheroes are on your list. How can you go wrong with hot guys in capes?