Five Trends I'm Watching

In no particular order, here's what I'm watching this year:

1. Blurring between reality and fiction.
2. Big surprise -- digital.
3. Filters: publishing houses or fans?
4. Bestseller: says who? Will it matter any more?
5. Published -- death by overuse.

1. Blurring between reality and fiction.

Creative nonfiction. Warcraft. Facebook and Twitter. Expect the traditional lines between fiction/nonfiction/reality to continue to blur. Writers who understand how to capitalize on this trend will score big.

2. Big surprise -- digital.

Most of the major studies predicted increased popularity of ebooks and other digital media. Even with the less-than-impressive Kindle formats and even-less-impressive price, the popularity of digital media is breaking all expectations.

3. Filters: publishing houses or fans?

I'm going out on a contrarian limb here and say that readers have never really cared who the publisher of a book is. The only major exception has been on the far ends of the spectrum -- Harlequin and Knopf, for instance. But Random House or Putnam? No, most readers don't know or care.

But with the masses of crap flooding the market these days, eventually a filter will emerge. Will readers start noticing who publishes what and automatically dismiss the iUniverse, PublishAmerican and ExLibris imprints? Or will third party citizen reviewers emerge as the gatekeepers? It's an excellent chance for a publisher to jump into the gap, but none have so far.

4. Bestseller: says who? Will it matter any more?

It used to matter. Still does in some circles. But not as much as when "traditional" publishing dominated the market. Every Tom, Bill and Penny is watching amazon.com rankings within a particular sub-sub category and immediately crowing over "bestseller" status when the rank breaks 1,000,000.

5. Published -- death by overuse.

Same thing with the term "published author". Tom, Bill and Penny can all be "published" simply by forking over the required fees and filling in the blanks on a template cover. I've got news for you: that doesn't count. Or at least it didn't. Nowadays, the wise consumer asks, "Published by WHOM?" before accepting the self-proclaim "published author" at face value.

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