Books and Trends

The late author and renowned writing teacher Jack Bickham said: "Books don't follow trends; they establish them."

I shared this quote in one of my tweets this past week. I like to post something inspiring, humorous, or instructive each day.

That quote must have appealed to my friends in the Twitter world because I saw it retweeted a few times.

I thought I'd say a bit more about it because the wisdom behind it is of great importance to writers. 

Riding the Trends

Reality shows try to take advantage of pop culture trends. In the beginning when reality shows first hit TV, they were new and popular. One successful show beget another one until programming is glutted with them.

Each new season, networks try to guess what pop culture trend will be the next hot thing so they can exploit it with a reality show. That explains the new Candy Crush game show with host Mario Lopez.

What they don't realize is that by the time they get funding and jump through a gazillion hoops, their hot trend is old news. I mean, who hasn't heard of Candy Crush. Do you still play it? I don't. Not in years. There's also a Words With Friends coming to a TV near you. I no longer play that either.

By the time a trend is identifiable and acted upon, it's old news.

Book Trends

The same is true about book trends. Authors spend a lot of time trying to write to a trend. Hence all the vampire, shapeshifter, witch, urban reality, and you name it books that try to ride the wave of a popular trend.

Authors are constantly trying to guess what the next trend will be so they can jump on it first. In truth, authors are ahead of the game if they just write the book they want to write. Writing to a trend that isn't "you" will not serve you in the long run.

If you love vampire books, by all means write one. If you are writing one just because you heard, read, or think they sell well, stop.

The same goes for writing any genre or sub-genre. Writing what you love--and writing it well--is the key to selling well.

But What About...

You may counter with the argument that tons of authors who write for traditional publishers have said they don't like the genre in which they're published. So how does my advice apply to them?

Maybe the genre that earns them their bread and butter money isn't their first choice. Yet, they write compelling stories within that genre and the framework of the guidelines they may have to follow. They do this by creating a story that speaks to something in their own heart. That helps them write for that genre and fulfill their contract obligations.

Self-Published Indie Authors

By contrast, if you're aiming to publish your own work yourself, you have an easier time of it. You can write whatever you like as long as you do it skillfully and create a book readers like.

Choose wisely. Choose what you love, not what's trending unless that's exactly what you love. Write the book you'd like to read. Chances are very good there are many readers who'd like it too.

Takeaway Truth

Write the book, not the trend. Embrace this wisdom, and it will keep you sane and help you enjoy your writing life a lot more.

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