Book Marketing, Dystopian, Fantasy, Paranormal, Science-Fiction, Self Published Book, Steampunk, Writing Tips
For those of you subscribed to the Amid the Imaginary newsletter, you’ll remember that I mentioned a research project I’ve been conducting. The question of my thesis: What trends or themes are in overabundance in the Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Paranormal, Steampunk genres.
To find the answer, I went to the book reading source: Book review blogs
Why them and not casual readers? Three reasons:
- They read a ton of books and are more likely to notice specific trends.
- They have a demonstrated passion for books.
- Since they write reviews for these books, their opinions reflect a greater consideration for the story than a casual reader.
The book blog community came back with awesome responses which I’ve compiled into really interesting results.
Some bits on Methodology (otherwise known as dry facts):
I surveyed 200 book blogs that review self-published books in these genres. My hope was a response rate of at least 30%. It took some time, but I received 86 replies, a response rate of a whopping 43% (Book blog peeps are the best!)
Note: I did not take the survey myself to avoid contaminating the results with bias.
As I started to compile the data, I went through and marked any answers I saw more than once, finding nineteen common answers. But some of those nineteen had only two or three blogs that identified them as trends which isn’t a strong indicator. Using a range of 20-25%, I classified a trend to be one identified by at least 17-21 blogs.
The results were fascinating. Far from the genre specific trends I expected, the main call outs crossed genres entirely, providing more evidence that it’s always about the story and the characters.
The top three categories were mentioned by 64% of surveyed blogs.
- Romance Aspect
Each category contained three main points that book bloggers are fed up with. I will go over each one individually in upcoming posts to really flesh out the issues noticed. Keep an eye out for those coming soon.
Meanwhile, some points with strong indicators (20-25%) that were genre specific:
- Too many elves!
- Too much of “The Chosen One”
- Rushed world building/world building not well integrated with the story
- Captains are always human
- Too much of the Han Solo trope (smirking rascal who pretends to only care about money but really has a heart of gold)
- Too much emphasis on the Science and not enough on the Fiction (the dreaded research info dump vs. storytelling)
- Always takes place in the U.S. What happened to the rest of the world?
- Lacking in diversity (or diversity found only in the bad guy/side kick)
- Too many angels!
- Too many vampires, werewolves, zombies or fae. Try other mythology!
- Always Eurocentric. Needs to expand to other parts of the world.
If you’re an author, I am by no means saying that these results mean you should despair and dump your WIP if it includes any of the above mentioned items. I still hanker for a vampire story now and then, or a U.S. based post-apocalyptic situation. Story ideas come to writers from that mysterious ether of the imagination and strike us like lightning from the sky. That a writer should tell the story in their heart is not in question. But we should consider the practical applications of our art as well and reach for something new to weave into a plot line.
Resilience and adaptability: The seasoning of a successful author.
What do you all think about the results so far? Any thoughts on the accuracy? Have you noticed any of these trends in your own reading?
Thanks for sharing this, it’s very interesting data. As you say, it is all about the characters and the story, though. I also enjoy vampire stories, and I love reading about elves in fantasy – so I don’t think authors should throw the baby out with the bath water. Rather, they should try to bring their own unique ideas to old tropes and trends. Though, I wouldn’t recommend making things sparkle 😉
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Haha, yes, no more sparkling. Although ironically, that twist on the vampire tale is what made those stories really take off. You’re right, we shouldn’t throw out all the good ole themes in our favorite genres, though we should depict them in different ways to keep them feeling new.
John Orsbun said:
Your review of trends was worthwhile.
I think it might be helpful to would-be writers to read some of the older Sci-Fi and Fantasy pulp magazines. They might gain some different insights into possible characterization and storylines.
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That is a great suggestion. Those writers really knew how to churn out quality stuff quickly. I wonder if it’s because they weren’t always inundated with so many over the top special effects in movies and TV. Maybe their imaginations stayed pure that way.
I appreciate the data sharing. I’m writing a romance novel right now, but it’s only to show my versatility as a writer–not for a trendy purpose. Ladies Prism is coming soon to romance the world. Scotian Breeze is the movement. Treasure Words, Collect Figures is the company. History in the making; stay tuned.
I’m so glad you did this! I love research, it can be very enlightening.
Also, I have to agree with your findings. Since I only review scifi/paranormal/dystopian, and only young adult, I see a lot of the same stuff. Especially info dumping in scifi – I want a novel not a science lesson!
Another thing that I see constantly is a book’s description is often misleading. From the back cover you think you’re going to read about a war between gods, but end up with 300 pages of romance while the war happens in the background.
However, I do love it when I find that diamond in the rough, and get a great book in my beloved genres with a new twist that I lose sleep over until I finish. Nothing like a book hangover. 🙂
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Oh yeah, the book hangover is the best! And I agree on the book description issue. Those should have beta readers too or the author risks losing a fan because they feel it misled them. It’s great to hear that you enjoyed the findings. I enjoyed researching the question. It’s amazing how the results are never what you’d expect.
J.L. Pattison said:
Thanks for the info. I’m glad to see my spec-fic/sci-fi isn’t listed in the above categories. Whew!
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