In the publishing industry, popular genres change as readers’ interests wax and wane. During these times when so much is still uncertain, how do you know if your novel fits what’s currently trending with literary agents and readers? We don’t recommend following publishing trends and writing solely for the market—you should write in the genre that suits you and your style. But if you’re curious about what’s hot and what’s not (and where your writing stacks up), Writer’s Relief has been tracking the top 6 trends in popular fiction genres.
Current Trends In Popular Fiction Genres
Contemporary/realistic fiction: Though issue-driven books, as well as dramatic family sagas, will always be staples of this genre, this is a great time for more lighthearted and comedic books to break out. Now more than ever, readers and agents alike are craving escapism and happier times. If you’ve written a feel-good story, this may be its time to shine!
Science fiction/fantasy: In the past year many readers have wanted to escape current events—and what better way than to get swept up in a fantastic tale? If your world-building is rich and believable, your fantasy novel may be just what agents and readers are looking for. Keep in mind, though, that the fantasy market is increasingly tight, so you should take extra caution to ensure your science fiction or fantasy novel is different from others—for example, we’ve seen so many court fantasies recently (fantasy novels focusing on royalties and kingdoms) that something similar may be a tough sell.
Surprisingly, dystopian novels have been selling well, since readers may be looking for escapism in situations worse than their own. However, this market may become oversaturated with COVID-themed novels at some point.
Romance: Romance is consistently one of the best-selling genres. Contemporary and paranormal romances are especially hot right now. Plus, editors and readers are hungry for diverse characters in terms of both race and sexuality—in romance stories that aren’t necessarily about the trauma of their marginalized identity. For example, if you’ve written an authentic LGBTQ+ romance that isn’t about the trauma of coming out, chances are literary agents will be interested in reading more!
Historical: Though agents and editors are extremely selective when it comes to historical, there’s definitely room for these novels in the market—as long as you’re putting a fresh spin on history, or focusing on characters and settings that have been overlooked. We’re also seeing a trend toward more modernized dialogue (thanks in part to popular TV shows like Bridgerton), even in settings that are otherwise historically accurate.
Paranormal: Recent years may have seen an overload of stories about vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and fairies, but these supernatural elements are making a strong comeback! Boost your odds of grabbing a literary agent’s attention by weaving little-known fairy tales or mythology into your paranormal novel.
Suspense/thriller: Whether gritty and action-driven or mysterious and intellectually driven, suspense novels remain popular—readers love solving puzzles! Right now, we’re seeing the biggest jumps among true crime books and cozy mysteries. And just as in the fantasy genre, a suspense series tends to sell well, unlike attempting a series in other genres.
Some Words Of Caution About Chasing Trends
The publishing industry can be fickle, and writing for the market has its downfalls. It’s possible a trend will be played out by the time you finish writing your novel. So if you’re writing about a trendy topic just for the sake of being trendy, it’s likely a good idea to shelve that project and try something that excites you more (maybe with elements of a trend in the background, if that works better for you). Though it’s useful to keep the market in mind, make sure to strike a good balance by following your passion too!
Question: What’s your favorite trend in fiction right now?