Here’s another question agents hear a lot at conferences:
What’s the next hot trend?
I don’t know what the next hot trend is, but here’s my anecdata from the past 10 years or so:
In the YA world, Harry Potter was the opposite of Gossip Girl in terms of theme, language, plot, and heart. The only thing the two books really had in common was their audience (though yes, one could argue that setting was equally important in both.)
Twilight was the opposite of Harry Potter.
Hunger Games was the opposite of Twilight.
And in the adult world:
The adult world is a little different because it’s bigger and within its genres there are tentpole writers. In mystery and thriller, for example, we can rest assured that Harlan Coben, Lee Child, and James Patterson will always have big bestsellers. But if we hold up some of the hugely influential books of the past 10 years that have reached readers outside their genres: The Davinci Code, The Devil Wears Prada, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, 50 Shades of Gray, and Gone Girl (still a little early to make predictions for that, but I’m hoping it will lead to a trend just because I want more books like it), that same pattern holds. They’re all the opposite of each other the way the YA books are. Like all the YA books, they vary greatly in terms of theme, characters, plot, etc.
I know that the plural of “anecdote” is not “evidence,” but I’m happy to use these anecdotes to give my answer to this question.
I don’t know what the next big thing will be, but I can nearly guarantee that whatever it is will be the opposite of what’s popular now.
All of this is yet another reason why I’m looking for a wide variety of genres and voices. One popular book can spark a trend, but all trends come and go. I wouldn’t mind finding one of these books that spark a trend, of course, but I can’t predict when, where, or if I’ll ever find one. Don’t tell Sheldon Cooper, but there’s just no science to it. That I know of.