In your years as QOTKU, have you see the tenor of publishing change as presidential administrations change? My agent told me last month that the fiction market has been tough — and she expects it to be tougher — because a lot of the folks in New York have taken a bit of a (possibly justified) apocalyptic view of things the last two months. I’ve seen the same in a lot of the twitter feeds and blogs I follow, and I wondered whether you’ve seen current events affect what editors buy. It sounds obvious, but given the lag time between idea conception and a book appearing on the shelves (and the much shorter attention span of the buying public), have you seen a consistent correlation between topics that are talked about and what gets bought?
But it's not presidential administrations, it's broader than that. Or at least it was until this current administration became the only thing on anyone's hot topic list.
After 9/11 there was a real lag before we could pitch anything about 9/11. It was too raw for anything but serious non-fiction, and even that was a pretty tough sell. I still remember weeping openly as I read the 9/11 Commission Report on the subway. Since this is NYC no one noticed, but I never took the book outside my apartment again.
I didn't consider anything that involved the assassination of president during the eight years of Barack Obama's presidency. Threats to his life increased three-fold compared to Bush 43, Clinton and Bush 41. I didn't want to be mentioned in the People article about where some nutcase got his ideas.
And we're certainly seeing a sea-change since November. There's no market for satire. Editors aren't looking for much of anything that's grim. There's enough grim (at least to their way of thinking) on the front page of the Times.
I think we're going to see an uptick in escapist fiction.
And I think we're going to see a lot of Resistance Fiction, as writers begin to talk about what this new zeitgeist feels like to them.
But the bottom line is you can NOT write for trends. Write the book you want to write. If it doesn't sell now, one thing I know for sure: markets turn.