Trends. Budding writers, published authors, booksellers, editors, agents, and pretty much anyone else in the publishing industry wants to know about the industry trends. For writers the question usually surfaces at conferences during Q&As with editors when the writer will ask a tired, overworked editor what kind of book or what genre will be the next big seller. Sometimes the question comes out as a negative: "Will you still take secret-baby plots?" the budding romance writer asks. "How about serial killers, are they still selling?" queries a mystery writer. If we can somehow decipher the next trend, we think we’ll stumble upon the writer’s Holy Grail. But we all know that those singular events in publishing such as the first Harry Potter book or the amazing ride of the Da Vince Code can seldom be divined.
Trends remain a constant curiosity. BSIG (Book Standard Industry Group) has published a new report, Book Industry Trends 2005, that writers may find interesting. Despite our dire predictions and constant moaning about the state of the industry, overall sales are expected to increase by 18.3 percent. While most know the religious book sector’s sales have had strong, continued growth for the past five years, BSIG expects the religious books to increase by another 50 percent. Sales have reached 1.9 billion dollars. The increased growth of religious book sales in mass retailing is a major factor in the religious book sector’s rise in sales. Other areas such as mass market paperbacks, trade books, and professional books are also considered to be trending upward.
Even more important than knowing the actual trends in publishing, the writer needs to learn how to respond to this type of information. Does it mean that they drop the big crime novel they’ve been writing for the last five years and begin a historical novel set in Old Jerusalem? No. Trend information is helpful after you’ve finished a book or before you begin a new project. If you’re a Christian writer who has finished a historical novel set during the early Christian era then knowing the religious market is making huge advances in sales in both the Christian book market and the secular retail book market may influence your submission plan. The list of potential publishers for your novel may have widened. The marketing opportunities for your book, when it comes out, has certainly grown. Media coverage may be more than you first expected.
If you are a writer with a natural proclivity to incorporate spiritual themes in your work, then perhaps a deepening of those themes might be something to look at when you begin a project because it’s clear the reading public is interested in issues of faith. However, if you don’t have a feel for that type of writing, don’t do it. Your lack of passion and interest will show. There are many ways to use the information found in the new report and one is to simply to become informed about your chosen industry.