Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dystopia Is So 2013

It's over for dystopia
HarperCollins is delighted that the film version of Divergent raked in over fifty million U.S. dollars in its first weekend at the cinema.

The publisher also took note of the smaller haul as compared to a previous young adult dystopian fantasy film. The Hunger Games far outshone Divergent. Reading those cinematic tea leaves, publishers have determined that YA dystopian is yesterday's hit and today's rejection.

The book fair underway in Bologna, Italy, is the place where children's and YA upcoming titles are bandied about. Literary agents attend to gain insight into what the publishers want going forward, so they know what manuscripts will sell in the near future. What it means for you, the writer, is that your perfect manuscript has become worthless if the theme is a future dystopia.

Hence the advice to write what you love, because you don't really know what the publishers will be looking for when your manuscript is ready for public viewing. If you thought to jump on the dystopia bandwagon when The Hunger Games was all the rage, you were already too late.

If you were persistent and stuck with realistic settings for your novel, you're in the right place at the right time. Agents representing YA or children's lit will return from their meetings in Bologna and hunt through the slush for something that suits the anticipated demand. That means authors who wrote what was not popular when they were doing the writing stand to benefit from either foresight or good luck.

Look back to the Harry Potter era and you'll see the same. Wizards were all the rage for a time, but like any other fad, it came and went. The same thing is happening to the fantasy genre, in which the reading public has seen all they care to see about societal collapse and would like something fresh and new. Publishers believe that fresh and new upcoming fad will center on realism.

Chasing trends never works because you can't hope to catch up. Books appearing now were manuscripts two years ago, not following a trend but starting a new one.

So write your passions and fears. Write what resonates with you, and hope that it will resonate with others at some future time, when publishers at the Bologna book fair issue a call for Middle Grade or Young Adult in your literary niche. If you land in the right place at the right time, you're in. If not, you're out. Which means you have to write something else, and try again.

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