To learn about trends, I listened to respected editor Nancy Hancock's (who works for a major publisher) presentation at the Maui Writers Conference. No, I wasn't able to attend. I just went to their site and signed up for a month of free audios. Now I get to hear top authors and industry professionals via my mp3 player!
Here are some of my takeaways:
You need power to get published.
- Get a good agent. That empowers you.
- Work on your platform to gain more power. Build your website. Get your e-mail list together. The bigger your platform, the greater your power.
- Work with meaningful people. Hancock believes in the 6th degree of separation. She pays attention to a manuscript if a best-selling author recommends it. Very few books get published without someone helping you. Meaningful people give you power.
- Study collaboration. Learn from successful collaborators.
- Trends also give you power. Here's how:
To get a busy editor's attention, tie your book to a trend.
You're either following a trend or creating a trend. Trend cycles tend to be 7 years. There are trends for topics and trends for formats -- Big books, tips books, etc. Dummies books were hot, but not as much now. There are language trends. Think of the trends: "Diaries" books, "Confessions" books, "Insiders Guides."
To discover trends, try clipping. Hancock and a famous publicist read magazines and newspapers and clip out phrases and topics that might indicate trends. Then, they paste them on a board to track and observe them. If you read a variety of publications, you'll begin to see trends as the same phrases keep popping up.
Trends impact the degree of expertise needed. On morning shows (at the moment Hancock speaks), everyone has to be an M.D. or Ph.D.
Read news magazines and several different papers -- a regional paper, then the NY Times and Wall Street Journal. The WSJ is often the best indicator of trends because of what they feature. She discovered a potty training trend from a Wall Street Journal article.
There are financial trends: from day trading to flipping houses to what's next.
Historical trends. We recently experienced DaVinci fever. But after it peaked, it went away.
We've gone from simplicity to gratitude to happiness to volunteerism.
Find something that's all your own, but show how it fits into existing trends.