Author Etiquette - Trends: To Follow or Strike Out On Your Own

by Jennifer 1. October 2018 09:53

People might get tired of hearing this, but being an author is incredibly difficult. There are so many decisions to make. Not just with the story itself, but with basically everything. There are different genres and subgenres to choose from, what kind of cover you want to have, what marketing strategies you use, and whether to go traditional or self-publish. None of these decisions is easy, but many base part of their decisions on trends.


Trends are a variety of different paths or patterns that appear when you look at the overall picture of a market. Depending on what you are looking at, you might see that a particular subgenre has increased (or decreased) in popularity over the past few years, or you might see authors having success in using a particular type of marketing strategy. Book covers particularly tend to follow trends especially when you look at cover models, font choices, and overall appearance. Some trends can be drastic changes while others can take years to develop. Whatever it is that you are looking at, if you look closely enough or long enough, trends will appear.


Are trends important? It depends on where you are at in your career, what type of trends you are looking at, and if you are willing to step away from what’s popular. What is important to remember is trends are just another tool in the author toolbox, but shouldn’t be the main reason for any particular decision.


Marketing Trends

Although writing takes up the majority of an author’s time, marketing should be something every author is doing. Promoting one’s work is important so that new readers can see your work. But marketing can be very confusing to many. Like everything, there’s a lot of advice (some good, some bad) out there.


Marketing trends have changed a lot over the years. Many years ago, authors took out ads in newspapers, magazines, and radio, but now much of the marketing relies on social media and face to face interactions. And as the internet evolves, marketing will also.


Currently, many authors have Facebook Groups, newsletters, and Twitter followings, but the rules change all the time. Restrictions, political landscapes, and terms of use constantly redefines how people market books, stores, and other publications online. If you are unsure, watch how major names promote themselves, read articles on how to market yourself, or contact a publicist for advice.


Genres and Subgenres

One of the biggest questions authors face is what to write next. Should they write something in a popular subgenre or choose something that not quite as popular.


Genres and subgenres are an easy way to categorize books according to themes, subject, characters, and intended audience. They can be combined in many different ways so that the right audience can be found. Many authors find this very comforting as when they write, they at least have an idea who their audience will be, how to reach them, and where. Popular genres and subgenres rise and fall and rise again after a time. A great example is vampires, although they are still in circulation, in the past, they were very popular. That popularity has declined, however, vampires haven’t disappeared, and at some point they will become popular again.


Genre trends can be difficult to predict. Which is why trends in genres can be very fascinating. An exciting new series can turn the market around and have other authors scrambling to write something similar or get the jump on the next big thing.



One of the first thing a reader sees when they browse for books is your cover. A great cover should be professional looking, represent the genre, and be eye catching all in the same image. If it doesn’t, then readers will take an automatic pass and move on to the next book.


Covers also follow trends. If you’ve ever looked at older books in any genre, you can see that a lot has changed. Simple (sometimes painful to look at) layouts have evolved into breathtaking images. Illustrations and photo manipulation has become much more complex. There are thousands of font choices to choose from. All of this has become possible because of technology and what attracts readers. These trends will continue to change as genres shift and readers purchase what first attracts them.


Traditional Publishing vs Self Publishing

If you haven’t noticed, publishing itself has changed a great deal in the past decade or two. Big publishers are no longer the only way for authors to publish their works. Now, any author can write, produce, and publish any work, at any time (so long as they have rights to the work.) Or look to a smaller publisher to submit their work to.


Although there are still some naysayers, self publishing has become a lot more acceptable, especially since many established authors are now self publishing back titles which are out of print, short stories they have the rights to, and new works that were too experimental for publishing houses to try. Many authors start out in the self publishing ring and do very well financially. This upward trend in self publishing makes the decision to go traditional or indie very difficult for some authors.


Is self publishing right for you?  It depends on what you want. Traditional publishing offers quite a few perks that you will not get with self publishing. Editing, access to artists for covers, layout and page design, publicity pushes, an advance, and a larger established audience are all things an author shouldn’t have to worry about with a larger publisher. Even smaller publishers can offer many of these perks although a bit smaller. An author who self publishes must take care of all of the art, formatting, editing and financial decisions on their own.  


No decision is easy in publishing. It’s easy to glance at what is happening and jump in, but not all trends are not right for all authors. Do your homework, take a look at what is happening and make an informed decision. Trends can be fun, informative, and can help you make decisions, but always remember that they are tools to use, not hard rules of what is going on in the writing world.



Apocalypse Ink Productions

A small press publication house specializing in dark speculative fiction.

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