Footnotes in Fiction 1
1 and Nine Other Trends in Publishing
by Sara Rosett
Marketing folks would classify me as the classic “late adopter.” No first generation iPod or iPhone for me. No color blocking or printed pants going on in my closet—been there, done that with Guess jeans in the late eighties.
Yes, by the time I pick up a trend it is usually well into the mainstream, sometimes it’s even on the way out. In contrast to this “lagger” tendency (awful name, but it is a real name applied to late adopters) in most of my life, there is one area where I’m often aware of and possibly even ahead of the curve: books and publishing. I thought I’d take a look at a few of the popular trends of the last few years in books and publishing as well as some of the possible trends on the horizon.
1. Footnotes in Fiction – What is up with footnotes in fiction? I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella, If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster, and the Spellmen books by Lisa Lutz. Personally, I find footnotes a bit distracting. I feel obligated to drop to the bottom of the page, read the note, then find my place again in the narrative. Slightly jarring. Have I missed any other Footnote Lit? What side are you on: Team Footnote or Team Parentheses?
2. Supernatural – I’m lumping all witch, vampire, zombie, troll, and mythical figures together (Harry Potter, Twilight, Percy Jackson, et all). This phenomenon is the zombie of trends. It defines the accepted rule: publishers overdo successful trend, flooding the market, thus digging their own graves. However with supernatural lit it’s been years and it’s still going. The upcoming release of Johnny Depp’s new movie Dark Shadows indicates the stake hasn’t been driven home yet.
3. Nordic Noir – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo started it and now there is a plethora of gritty books set in cold climes by authors whose names have dots above or dashes through consonants.
4. Chick Lit – Bridget Jones, Sex in the City. DOA or still kicking? The debate rages, but there sure are a lot of articles about Chick Lit out there for a dead trend. Chick lit authors also report brisk sells of their ebooks.
5. Buggy Lit – Girlfriend Karin contemplated this trend (Amish Lit) in another post and I have to agree with her puzzlement. Is this evidence of a collective nostalgia for simpler times? A reaction to the Supernatral Lit trend?
6. Non-fictionalization of Mystery (i.e. Hobby/Craft Mysteries) – Every mystery must have a theme nowdays: knitting, couponing, scrapbooking, cooking, decorating, vintage clothing, and even beekeeping. It’s the “added-value” concept of non-fiction brought to fiction. Go ahead and by the book, you’ll use it. It has recipes/patterns/tips. My first book came out six years ago when this trend was taking off. I wrote about a professional organizer and I suggested I could include some tips, if that would help the book sell. Eight books later, I’m still including tips. Apparently no end in sight for this trend at least from publisher perspective. I’d love to hear what readers think. Do you like the tips and the hobbiest focus of mysteries or would you rather read a magazine than read about a sleuth whose hobby is, say, ice fishing?
7. Futuristic Dystopian – With the success of the Hunger Games there are sure to be more of these themes. Uglies and Cinder are two recent examples of the trend as well.
8. Historical People as Main Characters in Fiction – Another blend of non-fiction and fiction, this trend involves using a historical figure as a main character in a fictional story. The unsinkable Molly Brown has a mystery series as does the ever witty Jane Austen. The Paris Wife (Hemingway and his wife Hadley) and Clara and Mr. Tiffany are two examples of the trend in general fiction books.
9. Fan Fiction Goes Mainstream? – 50 Shades of Gray is the latest sensation. It grew out of fan fiction based on Twilight. Following the success of the fan fiction, the author rewrote, revised, and “repurposed” her story. Trend of the future?
10.Bookstore Morphs into Gift Shop—a funny thing happened to my local B&N. It’s become a gift shop/electronics/café, at least on the first floor. Refitting is going on at most major bookstores. Paper books are out, ereaders, cards, puzzles, and games are in. People are actually reading more according to some research, but many of those books are ebooks, so bookstores are shifting the physical stock they carry in their stores to reflect the changes.
What’s your favorite publishing trend? Which trend do you wish would go gently into that good night? What trends did I miss?
Sara Rosett is the author of the Ellie Avery mystery series, an adult “whodunit” mystery series in the tradition of Agatha Christie. Publishers Weekly has called Sara’s books, “satisfying,” “well-executed,” and “sparkling.” Library Journal says, “...Rosett’s Ellie Avery titles are among the best, using timely topics to move her plots and good old-fashioned motives to make everything believable.”