In Alex's last post she mentioned things that she wants to get out of reading blogs on writing. Hearing about conferences, and specifically hearing about trends was one of the things that she mentioned. I will mention a bit about what I learned about trends at the PNWA conference, but I'm also going to focus on how meeting authors can be cool.
So, first trends. What I heard about trends is simply not to focus on them because they come and go too quickly. Well, that's all good and cool, but what I have seen by going to the PNWA conference for three years in a row is that new writers from the Pacific Northwest who have been published in urban fantasy are doing well. Doing well can be defined as they are getting more book deals. I stopped by a bookstore in Bellingham before the conference and there was actually a sign with an arrow that said something to the effect of, "If you like Twilight and vampire romance check out Mead's stories." It was that direct. Yeah, that's a trend.
I can remember my first PNWA conference. Mead's books were first coming out. She was brand new and I attended an urban fantasy session with her and Caitlin Kittredge. They were really putting on a show in their goth outfits, and people were eating it up. It was fun to see Mead in the bookstore, where most authors look out from their tables nervously, hoping people will buy their books. By the end, Mead pumped her fist in victory, as she sold her whole stack of books. Now if you go to the bookstore you will see many, many of her books.
Do trends matter? Maybe they do? Maybe they don't? I don't really know that I would know how to ride the wave, but I've seen Mead ride the wave and it's been interesting.
Here's another observation on trends. During the agent forum, one agent said that dragons are hot in YA fantasy fiction. Cool, I thought, because that's what I've got, and I even had an appointment with her. (You could argue about whether my story is YA or not, but that's another topic) She requested some sample pages, which I had expected, but what I did not expect happened during a meeting with a different agent, which I scored by hanging out and waiting for agent cancellations. She had clearly stated in the program that she was not taking epic fantasy. Bummer, but I thought I would pitch my nonfiction running book idea. Well, she was interested in at least hearing about the fantasy book idea, and even though that was not my plan, we wound up talking about it for a few minutes. Turns out that the bottom line is that her boss has too many epic fantasy stories.
So, I'm not sure how you ride the wave. One agent says that fantasy stories with dragons are hot and another says that there are too many of them in the house. If anybody knows how to ride the wave of trends go ahead and let me know, because I just write what I write, which oddly enough is the advice that agents and editors most commonly give at conferences.
By the way, the agent who had too many fantasy stories in her agency was interested in my nonfiction project and asked me to send it when I was finished. That's very motivational!
I think that next week I will do a detailed post on the authors that I met and their books. Here's one thing though, that I want to say before signing off. Hearing authors talk about their books was really, really cool. If you go to a conference be sure to take the time to talk with authors one on one and go to sessions where they will talk about their books. I'm not talking about sales pitches or adds disguised as sessions. I'm talking about authors discussing what they did to create the fantasy world in their book, and I'm talking about seeing authors a few years in a row and seeing how they are getting more book deals. I went to a fun forum with urban fantasy authors that took a list of moderated questions on world building. That was cool.
Also, I talked with a thriller writer that I met three years ago before he had a book deal or an agent. His name is Boyd Morrison and he is going to have his first book released in about fourteen different countries. There's a good story there, but I'm going to wait until next week to tell it.
So, what are your thoughts and experiences on meeting authors and trends?