Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What would Abe Lincoln do... with an iPad?

A literary agent recently told me that the medical thriller is dead. At the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, she said that even established writers in the genre, like Robin Cook and Michael Palmer, are having a hard time selling their books to publishers. Obviously, this doesn't bode well for an unknown author trying to publish in that genre.

Like anything, getting a book published is about having just the right thing at just the right time. And just like with buying stocks, if something's super hot, you've already missed it. Not long ago, for example, you could have written a vampire romance that generally sucked Dracula balls, but if it had all the right elements, it had a good chance of being picked up. But that ship has sailed.

So, what's super hot right now? The Young Adult market is still on fire, but it's moving away from vampires. Paranormal romance is huge. And -- you're gonna love this --Amish romance. I'm serious. In this WSJ article, Barnes and Noble book buyer Jane Love says, "It's almost like you put a person with a bonnet or an Amish field in the background and it automatically starts to sell well."

But, do you know what's even hotter than Amish love? Do you know what all the agents are talking about, what publishers are snapping up like the next Apple product? It's called "steampunk." According to Wikipedia, Steampunk is a sub-genre of science/speculative fiction set in a world where steam power is still widely used — usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era Britain — but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.

We live in a weird, weird world.


  1. maybe publishing is like fashion and medical thrillers will come back in style after a bit. perhaps you should write a piece for each genre so you're ready when that particular style is back in! also, you should write a romance novel in the meantime--there will always be an eager audiance for those (me)!

  2. Author William Rosen appeared this week on The Daily Show to promote his recent book, "The Most Powerful Idea in the World". Know what that is?...the steam engine! Perhaps readers have a nostalgic desire for the simpler times prior to global terrorism and economic woes.

  3. I had no idea what Steampunk was until this past fall, when we had an intern working in our office who was super into it. This guy (John) created what is considered by people 'in the know' the best Steampunk light-saber ever. It even got some airtime in a steampunk movie of some kind.

  4. I agree, it's a weird world:) I recall them talking about steampunk at the SF Writer's Conference and how crazy they were about it. Glad to hear you're still going forward with your own work though:) Have you been to any other writer's conferences? I'm trying to pool people's collective efforts and see what other writer's conferences might be worth while: http://nocestories.blogspot.com/. I'd love to know your thoughts on the subject:)

  5. Wow....
    I am going to Burning Man this year ( first time in my life) and steampunk is a popular style of costumes there, apparently. Now I know what it means exactly....