Yesterday, Scholastic released their list of the “Ten Trends in Children’s Books from 2010.” Aside from the fourth on the list, which felt more like them pushing the multimedia series that they’re very invested in, I thought the list was pretty accurate. There’s happy stuff there: expanding YA marketplace! Return to humor! Books that aren’t about vampires! I can definitely cheer on all of those things, though I should say that I still love vampire books, despite the market saturation. There was sad stuff, too: The steady decline of the picture book, which shows no stopping. The power of big brands to dominate all forms of media. I love picture books, but I represent very few because it feels like the get harder to sell every day, and that’s disappointing, since I think they have the power to make children into life-long readers. And though there are many popular, brand-name characters that I, too, love, it’s hard knowing that books thought of solely as “product” are taking up precious shelf space that could have been devoted to new voices.
While I always keep an eye to trends, I also try not to get too caught up in them. And, as writers, I encourage you to do the same. It’s important to read about what’s happening in the market, so that you can have an understanding of where your work fits in. But chasing trends, or writing to them, can be as bad–or even worse–than not knowing anything about the business. I’ve seen so many manuscripts over the years that are clearly following a recent trend, and as every agent will tell you, if you’re modeling your book after what’s on the bestseller list now, you’re way behind. With how long it takes to for a book to get published (2 – 3 years from completion of a submission-ready manuscript), those trends will be long gone. My two cents: write what you feel drawn to write, while keeping an eye on the market to help understand the context of your work and to help tailor your pitch.
What do you think of trends and the list from Scholastic? Did they miss anything?