Thursday, December 27, 2012
What's In the Wind for 2013? Some Thoughts
Via Morning Media news feed (the daily industry news feed provided by MediaBistro; the complete story appeared in TechCrunch by East Coast Editor, John Biggs) - Excerpts of Mr. Biggs' thoughts on what may the publishing biz may see in 2013:
"Add in the merger of Penguin and Random House – a Napster-esque move designed to stave off the vagaries of a non-collusive market – and you’ve got an even bleaker picture.
In short, after centuries of progress, the old method of transmitting information via the printed page – not to mention the publisher’s tendency to control content with an iron fist – is crumbling. In its place we have an entirely new system and regime, one ruled less by a central authority – the editors, publishers, and printers of yore – and now ruled by the mob.
That’s not a bad thing. It lets people publish books that would have never seen a printing press and it gives an organization with seemingly bottomless resources – Amazon – the ability to define the rules to which all others must cleave. This new media has laid a book store chain low, bleeding publishers nearly dry in the process, and it has changed the way we consume media from a slow meal savored over time to an experience more akin to grazing or, more precisely, a bit of sushi on the go."
and more thoughts from Mr. Biggs:
"Goodbye, Barnes & Noble stores. Barnes & Noble stores will see a massive contraction while smaller booksellers will thrive. B&N knows what’s up. They recently split their company into two and now one company sells paper books and the other one sells digital. In fact, Microsoft invested in the digital side, leaving the print side to fend for itself. And fend it must. Although this year saw brisk sales at small mom & pops, B&N saw a minor dip in retail sales due to store closings and slow sales in stores and on BN.com. Even the college business is slowing.
A major writer will go digital. I doubt Stephen King will make the jump, but one of the lesser mystery folks will probably go all digital. Why not? It gets them more cash for their efforts and places them at the helm of their business – and blockbuster writing is a business. Going indie no longer has a stigma attached."
Not sure if the last is much of a prediction since it seems that the J. A. Konrath motivated self-pub/digital move is one being taken by any numer of authors, from unpubbed to multi-pubbed authors reissuing their back list either via a self-publishing forum or making deals for those back list books to be reissued in digital via digital house other than their current pub houses.
But will there be a new E L James in town? A new J. A. Konrath? Waiting with bated breath!!!
What are you predicting for the 2013 year in publishing - What trends, writers, digital changes, books-to-film do you foresee?
Arriving on 12/26, my February 2013 issue of RT Magazine arrived yesterday and had some interesting bits and tids in it, that may offer some insight into what's up and coming in the romance pub game - reports & predictions from an industry leader that's been watching the romance game for decades.
There's an article on the new genre of "New Adult", geared to college and early 20's readers that will be a new trend to watch. For those 20-somethings who aren't interested in YA, who are looking for more mature subject matter and possibly more in the way of the physical relationship between the couples.
Additionally, there's a brief discussion on the issue of Harlequin's category line changes.
Harlequin Blaze line has dropped from 6 titles per mont to 4 (which begs the question regarding erotic/steamy romance - does HQ know something about a waning appetite for hot love stories that no other publisher seems to have noticed????).
Harlequin Presents Extra imprint has been closed. From the Harlequin website listing for guidelines for each line, this is what it says about the HP Extra:
"They offer all the international glamour, passion and alpha male heroes you expect from Harlequin Presents, with a flirty young voice and a whole load of sass!
Written by talented, original authors such as Heidi Rice, Natalie Anderson, Kelly Hunter, Kimberly Lang, Anne Oliver, Anna Cleary and Lucy King, these entertaining romances reflect the life experiences of today's young women, within a chic, upmarket, and usually urban setting. The heroines are often your twenty-something girls-about-town but there's no compromising on the Presents Extra/Riva hero: he must be very alpha and absolutely to die for. There'll be sparks flying when these two meet—and nothing short of fireworks once they get to the bedroom!"
But HQ has also launched a new imprint, KISS, which, if you've heard anything about it, sounds like a blend of higher-aged NA, rom-com and chick lit. According to the RT report, author Kimberly Lang (one of whose books is in the inaugural quartet) says, "KISS is very contemporary and smart with a young and vibrant urban feel. "We're taking some of our favorite romance books and giving them a little twist to deliver fun, flirty and sizzling stories for our readers. We're also updating the alpha hero - he's a little younger, a bit flirty, a little less damaged and broody..."
To me that sounds like the "rom com is dead", and "chick lit" is dead adages may be waning as well, and some "fun and flirty" romance is on the way!
Further, the popularity of the tortured hero may have left readers in the cold who are looking for a kinder, gentler, less angst-ridden hero type and HQ is seeking to fill that gap.
(But it also sounds awfully similar to HP Extra, doesn't it? I'd love to discover if the changes are merely cosmetic, perhaps length and a kickier imprint name than the rather stodgy Extra one?)
But ultimately it sounds like a perfect example of genre blending - taking all the best aspects of 3 genres (or more?) and turning them into a new, hybrid romance that looks to satisfy as many tastes as possible!
HQ is often on the forefront of romance changes, so maybe we'll see more coming our way.
Definitely appears that a KISS title or two should be in your TBR pile so you can check out this latest trend, no?
Taking the opportunity here now to proslytize a teeny weeny bit, too. Trend watching in romance publishing, keeping abreast of industry changes in the romance genre are something we all pretty much do as a matter of course, right? But how much time do you spend casting your eye across the entertainment landscape as a whole? Trends are not isolated in books - TV and film are usually in sync to a certain degree as well (can you count the vampire and paranormal TV shows? I can't!). Sex plot lines in films and in theatre continue apace with the hunger for erotic romance between the covers. Cowboys - historical and contemporary are hot on screens large and small - as they are in romance.
As someone once said in connection with the railroad magnates who found their empires crumbling in the face of transportation advances (i.e., THE AUTOMOBILE), "They thought they were in the railroad business. They didn't realize they were in the transportation business."
We in publishing (be we authors, agents, publishers or any other sort) are not simply in the publishing business - we are in the entertainment business. Competing for time and dollars and being as aware of the entire industry cannot help but give you an interesting perspective.
So go forth in 2013 - armed with your crystal ball and a wealth of industry knowlege that makes you a force to be reckoned with!
"If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work, as Curtis flung himself into the yawning gulf, as the soldier flings himself into the enemy's trenches, and if, once in this crater, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in; if he contemplates difficulties instead of overcoming them one by one...he is simply looking on at the suicide of his own talent." Honore de Balzac