Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Next vampires wanted

Traders dream of picking the winning stock. Book authors, on the other hand, dream of finding the new mega niche and becoming the next JK Rowlings.

But not all of the authors. Many of them have a less risky approach and go for the 'me too' strategy. Take the Dan Brown example: once he hit the vein of historical conspiracy plots, the next few years saw hundreds of authors piggybacking on the success of the new genre: secret brotherhoods, religious plots, lost apostles and forbidden gospels.

The most recent trend is obviously vampires. I was aware that it was a big thing, but I was blown away when I started doing some research on the subject. You can certainly look it up at Amazon, but it's much more fun to actually browse the shelves in a real world library. There are literally dozens of new vampire franchises out there. Each one with anything between 3 and 10 books. All with similar concepts - basically, good vampires fighting bad vampires, all seasoned with a good dose of sexual metaphors and less metaphorical sex. All written by women.

It's a legitimate approach - if something works, copy it. People have been doing for a long time. However, the real question is how to identify the next big hit. If a few years ago I had came up with a book concept about young celibate vampires from Seattle, no serious publishers would have listened to me. In fact, apparently fifteen publishing houses turned down Stephanie Meyer's Twilight.

Which brings us to the one million dollar question: is there a way to predict trends in the entertainment industry? Could someone have foreseen the vampire wave because, say, sales of Gothic music were up or because black was back into fashion? Or is it truly impossible, and the only way to predict a hit is by creating it with some luck and a massive marketing budget?

I don't know. Do you? I'm looking forward to your comment.

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