First there was Harry Potter, which convinced the publishing world that YA literature may have more to offer than previously thought. Then came Twilight, and now we have The Hunger Games and other dystopian fiction. The big question on everyone’s mind is: what will be the next big thing in YA literature?
I want to be clear that I’ve been writing YA short stories and manuscripts since before it became popular, long before Harry Potter and Bella had even been conceived in their creator’s eye. But now that they’ve arrived and I’ve been able to enjoy the pleasure you can get from reading a well crafted, high concept novel, I have to admit I’m after more. And I would love to write something that gives readers the same excitement I’ve gotten while reading one of these bestsellers.
Before I began writing my YA novel, Scott Free, I spent a good month contemplating what will be the next thing to hit YA newsstands. I was tired of dystopia, tired of fairies, tired of vampires, and I guessed literary agents and publishers were likely feeling the same. The big question is what will be the next trend in demand, because I know if you want to break into the publishing world it takes a combination of luck and skill – you need to have the right idea at the right time – which means your novel must already be written before that trend takes off.
The topics I’ve considered as being possible hits in the future for teens are science fiction, dark novels (think Gillian Flynn) and mysteries or spy novels. I think teens are ready for a transition away from the mystical and imaginary to something based in the reality they see around them every day, something they can identify with. Crafting a novel that combines a high concept that will relate well to teens with a trend that isn’t already a big hit means taking a risk. You could spend a year of your life creating something that will never sell.
On the other hand, you could spend a year of your life working on something that has meaning for you and then, if it doesn’t sell, shelve it. In five years, when trends turn again, you could find yourself sitting on a literary gold mine, and you will be a full year ahead of the game for other writers.
Maybe you should think of writing as an investment, and the publishing world like the stock market?