I try very hard to keep up on our changing industry…a challenge! I read PW weekly (!), Horn Book, Publishers Lunch, and the many blogs and sites that I find helpful when I remember to go there. (some I subscribe to…but how much time does an agent HAVE to read!) I love information from SCBWI (have fun at THE CONFERENCE this week all!). I talk to clients and other agents (yup!) and just keep my eyes and ears open. And my mind open as well.
I tend to be an optimistic person….think that a must with the agenting profession. It’s not been easy the past few years! I seem to see/feel that the over all view is ‘rosier’. As a Bologna review mentioned there is a “palpable sense that things are looking up.” We are in the midst of constant change and surprises from all industries, government and personal happenings. Life feels unsure and as if it’s shifting right under our feet. It can be exciting and so so frightening… and all that on one day! It’s far from over…. grab on for the ride…what choice do we have? Maybe fine a proactive way to USE this shifting….
So I wanted to share with you some of the most helpful ‘things I’ve noticed’ recently:
From David Caruba’s (firstname.lastname@example.org) interview/report on Kathy Temean’s blog “Writing and Illustrating” (see earlier Way Tugeau Blogs) : “Market isn’t a Book industry, it’s a MEDIA industry.” Generally publishers are acquiring at about 20 % YA (lots in pipeline) 40% middle grade, 7% picture book, and 33% are acquiring across the board. A TRUE middle grade ‘voice’ for fiction is very much wanted. Fantasy is still HOT, historical fiction NOT (though it continues to win awards!) Dystopian is going soft now. Vampires are not so HOT any longer either. (but I was told monsters and mermaids might be?) Picture Books are healthier as most publishers are publishing more than last year. Publishers are ‘passing’ on quiet books. (I’ve found this to be true for the past few years now!)
Now for hints I’ve heard from publishers when I visit or chat. >Middle Grade …very big! Science fiction (Sci Fi) next big thing. >YA is selling big into adult markets especially women up to mid 40’s! (I got my bookgroup to read The Last Shard recently and they loved it!)> HIGH interest in author/illustrator projects for PicBks. >Not big on ‘one-offs’…meaning a stand alone book….want series potential. Which leads right into the >“CHARACTER FIRST” I keep hearing. Concept books are not in great demand these days. >Also developing the careers of authors (and so artists) isn’t as big a concern for publishers as it used to be. They seem to demand success right away, which is most unfortunate for the long view! I know of some dear exceptions to this trend….THANK YOU!
You have to know that the downfall of BORDERS will have a big effect on sales…less shelf space = less sales. But how much is anyones guess. Lower sales = lower advances for writers and artists! There are already lower print book sales showing up as e-readers become more widespread. But a ‘new toy’ will cause an activity flourish, then things settle down to ‘normal’ use…lets wait and see on that.
Some other noticed points/hints: >COVERS: artists show 2 or 3 versions of ideas to show thinking and show off your style. >When writing stories, not too wordy. Don’t make art too ‘busy’. >Textured, painterly styles and too saturated colors seem to be not what they are looking for mostly…where just 5 years ago it was! It’s ALL about CHARACTER and their story...>always a strong STORY. Make it one the reader/viewer will want to come back many many times to. > Artists, send out printed samples to potential clients…NOT emailed, unless they ask for that. (ok to email samples to agents however…cheaper and faster feedback)
That is enough for today. I plan to chat about THE READER/VIEWER in my next stream-of-thought “I’ve noticed” article…hope you’ll drop in!