Trendspotting: How Can You Tell When to STOP Buying Something?
Let's take the example of paranormal romance. We see articles all the time about the incredible popularity (especially in this economic climate) of romance novels, especially in e-book format. As far as I know, paranormal romance is still going strong, but for how long? For the past few years, if I had purchased everything that claimed it was "the first installment of an exciting new paranormal series," or "a groundbreaking paranormal romance series from a talented new voice" (both quotes from Ingram's Advance), I wouldn't have had budget or shelf space for much else. Presumably, the trend will progress to the point where paranormal romances occupy a reasonable subset of romances as a whole, but don't occupy all of the top spots in terms of circulation.
Which brings us to my issue. Is it my imagination, or has the trend been slowing down recently? Vampires were in, then werewolves, then all sorts of strange were-combinations . . . The eHow article on "How to Decide What Paranormal Romance to Write" asserts that "right now Demons are big," but this is the same article that says you shouldn't "skimp on the research"? How am I going to know when I can slow down on buying paranormal romances and start buying more Amish steampunk? Yes, there are circulation statistics to look at, and the rate at which certain books are stolen from the shelves, and so forth, but somehow the knowledge of when to stop buying seems more intangible than the concept of when to start. If I have a ton of review sources and patron requests and librarians on Twitter telling me that Amish steampunk is in, then I'm going to start buying it. Right after I write the first novel in that genre . . .
What do YOU think, dear readers?