Nathan Bransford, Author

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What's the Next Big Thing?

I'm always the last to find out about things, such as the time when I turned to my girlfriend a year ago and said, "So the thing about the Pussycat Dolls is that they're transgender, right?" You see, I had confused them for a burlesque act, and let's just say I haven't quite lived that one down, especially now that they are looking for a new pussycat doll, and while yes, they might be confused for a burlesque act they're not that kind of burlesque act. Other amazing revelations-to-Nathan include learning what "Free Bird" means, uh, today, and that time I thought Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's adopted child was named Zathura.

Luckily for me and my clients I'm way more on top of book matters. I read THE DA VINCI CODE before it came out, I was totally on top of the whole vampire thing and I love making fun of people at parties for not knowing who Ian McEwan and Jonathan Lethem are. (This last part is false, which is why I still get invited to parties).

So right now my ear is to the ground of the publishing world, and I'm wondering what the next big thing is going to be. As you may have noticed, the publishing industry loves its hits, and when it comes to fiction we're actually sort of due for another big breakout novel from a relatively unknown author. A few years back it was THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold, and in the last couple of years we were in the throes of DA VINCI CODE mania. To be sure this year there have been breakouts like SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and THE THIRTEENTH TALE (among others), but for the last six months the bestseller lists have almost read like a who's who of veteran bestselling authors (King, Crichton, Patterson, Robb, Patterson, Steel, Albom, Connelly, Patterson, Evanovich, Patterson and Patterson).

So. Break out your crystal balls and tarot cards and make a prediction. What do you think is going to be the next big thing? Is it going to be a spy novel? A breakout graphic novel like PERSEPOLIS? A knockout vampire book? A space opera about a boy and his dog?

Also, you're not allowed to vote for yourself.



Vernieda said...

Well, the Pussycat Dolls DID start out as a burlesque dance troupe in the mid-90s...

ello said...

My book - but it's a Secret!

By the way, your posts always crack me up.

So is the pirate thing over? My vote for book trends would be World War II (which is always popular) but the Pacific Theater (which has gotten more popular interest since Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima did so well.

Nathan Bransford said...


You see!! I had no idea!

Anonymous said...

NEFERTITI: A NOVEL by Michelle Moran. It's a cross between Philippa Gregory's THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL and the movie GLADIATOR, if that's possible. Of course, I might be biased, given that Michelle is one of my closest friends (hey, you said no voting for yourself... no one mentioned friends)! But it's true. I read her book as an ARC and it's big.

Michelle also happens to have an amazing website at If you look hard, you might see me amongst her wedding guests. Which of course has nothing to do with why I mentioned her website ;]

Jenny Maxwell

Anonymous said...

Also, you're not allowed to vote for yourself.

Hmmm. Okay. Never mind. ;)

Anonymous said...

I am looking for a Great American Beach Novel.
Something that would totally consume me while I am tanning. But I am not afraid to throw it in my beach bag along my sun lotion and stain some characters reputation with it.
A great read, but with no strings attached!
I want depth, but with no suffering.
I want laughter, but not at me.
I want to be completely taken, but only until 4 pm.

Sounds like a good relationship.

Like butter!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jenny. Not about NEFERTITI, which I haven't read (althugh I'll admit I did preorder it in January) but about historical fiction being the next big thing. Actually, I think it's already a "big thing." And with Philippa Gregory's TOBG being turned into a movie with Natalie Portman, and the recent release of "300," if historical fiction isn't the NEXT big thing, it's "A" big thing and it's hot. And to Anonymous 11:54am, HUH???

ERozanski said...

Have to agree that the Historical Novel is the next, new but old, big thing. I also agree that ancient history fiction is hot. I devoured Margaret George's books on Mary Magdalene and Cleopatra. More of that please. The one on Nefertiti sounds great!

Gosh, what I wouldn't give for Sharon Kay Penman to publish another door stopper of a book. Or how about a novel in the vein of James Michener's mega books.

Books just aren't long enough these days.

Harry Connolly said...

YA Mystery.

Anonymous said...

YA mystery does seem to be selling, but NYT/movie deal/read-about-it-on-Publishers-Weekly hot? I'm with Jenny and Erozanski. Maybe historical fiction isn't the next "it" category, since it's already popular, but the next "it" book may well be his fic. And NEFERTITI looks like as good a contender as any. And if it's really "a cross between Philippa Gregory's THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL and the movie GLADIATOR" that really would be big.

Anonymous said...

I vote for historicals...(or anything to make the Buffy the vampire slayer spin-offs go away)

Anonymous said...

The next big thing...
rhetorical historical ^_^

Anonymous said...

I vote NEFERTITI. And not just because Jenny posted about it (although that was nice of you... why don't I have more friends like that?) but because it's the next big Crown historical and if you look at Moran's site the novel has already sold in 13 languages. She has 2 publicists (I can't even get a hold of my one) and I'll bet you'll see this reviewed in PW and maybe even NYT if it really goes big.

Back in January I preordered this too (I found it on the historial novel society's page). Maybe it just seems like it's going to be big because I'm already a historical fiction fan, but a novel that's sold in 13 countries plus already has an internet presence??? I can't wait!

Anonymous said...

I think it's a little further out, but I expect YA science fiction to start blossoming soon. YA fantasy readers are thick on the ground and growing, and much of the world tells them that if they like fantasy, they should like SF. Reprints of the classics and the few new books out are doing well. Adult SF seems to be growing more adult, which should be pushing kids to look for books marketed to them. I've heard at least one editor say she's looking desperately for new YA SF.

Now we just have to get people to write it.

Annalee said...

Well, I saw a display for a book called 'Vampirates' in the front of a bookstore in Dublin today. There was a fanged-skull and crossbones on the front. I kept looking at it to try to find the part where they admitted it was a paradoy, but alas, I could find no evidence to support that claim.

...So my vote is: padordy. Because really, that's just ASKING for it.

Anonymous said...

Pirate ninjas are the next big wave, with robot pirate ninjas a close second. The robots have a bit more of a sci-fi feel, though, so they won't be quite as popular.

Anonymous said...

With the instant popularity of the movie 300, I predict the next big thing will be books with less talk and more action.

Anonymous said...

Books like HEYDAY and FINN. Historical fiction is on the up and up.

Graham said...

I think for a trend across genres: dubious heroes. You know, kind of like Mal in Firefly or Cap'n Jack in Pirates of the Caribbean. We see it a lot in movies, but a lot less in books: the hero that is just naughty bad, but funny on the way, and usually (but not always) sure to do the right thing in the end.

Jack Roberts, Annabelle's scribe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vernieda said...

Re: Pussycat Dolls
And Carmen Electra used to be a member too! But when they were remade into a music group, she didn't join up.


sex scenes at starbucks said...

I don't know about "next big thing" but I bet we see more epic fantasy when Martin's Game of Thrones series hits HBO.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Well, since you said I can't vote for myself, I have no idea. ;o)

I hope the next trend is for my style of books. We'll have to wait and see.

Thanks for the daily chortle, Nathan.

Jack Roberts, Annabelle's scribe said...

I truly believe in my work. After the positive reactions I received from the children who read it, I believe it will be come a “big thing”.
Hey, you did mention vampires. I HAD to chime in, since that’s what I’m trying to get out there.
But I’m still trying to find representation and we can’t vote for ourselves so I have no clue what the next big thing is.

I know ‘Heroes’ is very popular. Maybe that will create something?

Demon Hunter said...

The next best thing may be urban fantasy. You think? :*)

Dave said...

I think that Pirates are finished.
Harry Potter (Young Adult Fantasies) Are finished.
I thought that "300" might end the historical, comic book treatment of history but action flicks always do well. Aeon Flux bombed but Frank Miller's stuff didn't.
What if there is a sudden burst of heaving, muscular, sweating man-flesh over the next few years. Maybe this is the way POP CULTURE turns gayness mainstream.

"Heroes" might be successful, but it is still that comic book genre.

As long as there are literary awards, "literary" books will survive with an audience. There is nothing like a Masters or PhD to create snobbery and love of great literature. (Don't write, It's just an idle specualtion!)

What stands as a maybe is the latest incarnation of HAIRSPRAY (the musical movie) that might actually catch fire.

I'll keep thinking about this.

I think that there might be a period of Iraq War Veteran stories both as heroes and villians. That happened after WW2 and Vietnam. It's going to happen again.

Dave said...

Hmmm, I suspect that within the next five years, a large number of books will be written trying to prove or disprove that George W Bush is either the best or worst president ever elected. Both sides are primed for the battle of words.

This will be "pre" historical political ramblings with one or two proper historians dipping into the fray. I say "pre" because reasonable people can see from the treatments of Nixon and Ford just how long it takes for history to begin to judge fairly and honestly.

I can see a spate of nonfiction books "the great neoconservative disaster and its implications for the Republican party" genre.

political biographies for the 2008 election are near to print right now. Or they are published.

Any scholar or writer that can break into George H.W. Bush's (the father) papers that are still secret is going to be rich. That biography will be successful because it has new material to draw upon.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Biographies or war stories are going to be the "it" book. We're talking next LOVELY BONES or WATER FOR ELEPHANTS here. The next book that will be displayed all over the endcaps and at the front of bookstores. One book. One that will probably be featured in short blurbs in all the hot magazines and one you'll see advertising for everywhere (and not just because they're already a big name). One book by a debut author...Probably in the summer since summer is vacation time and as Nathan says, there hasn't been an "it" book in a while (and spring/summer is the next season in pub).

So what book will it be? I'm not claiming to know, btw. Industry insiders would probably know better who is positioned for success and what book has received early buzz.

But a few big books, although they may not THE ONE, seem like they might be LUNCHEON OF THE BOATING PARTY by Susan Vreeland (although she's not a new find), TOMMY'S HONOR: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf’s Founding Father and Son will probably also go big, maybe THE WITCH OF PORTOBELLO, maybe NEFERTITI, maybe a new find in the fantasy YA/adult crossover category or ECLIPSE by Stephanie Meyer.


Anonymous said...

Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf’s Founding Father and Son.

I'm waiting for that one.

Anonymous said...

Who wrote THE WITCH OF PORTOBELLO?? What is it?

Anonymous said...

Paulo Coelho wrote it. He's already a name. Not what Anonymous 10:23AM was talking about when he/she said next "it" debut author. But who knows? Maybe it won't be a debut author. Rowling always goes big and it's her seventh!

Jack Roberts, Annabelle's scribe said...

Dave said...
"Harry Potter (Young Adult Fantasies) Are finished."

WHAAAT? Tell me there is still room for more YA fantasy!

Dave said...

YA is filled by Harry Potter, Terry Pratchet, Limony Snickert, Tolkein, Eragon, Teribithia, CS Lewis, Mimsey (new this month), and shelves of others who I can't think of right now. Next time you are at the bookstore, go look in the YA fantasy. It's bulging with books.

I can almost guarantee that every publisher is preparing for book seven of Harry Potter. There will be boy (or girl) wizards galore.

The trick here is to think two years down the road. It takes that long to publish a book. If you wanted to capitalize on "The Secret" which has success, then you need to be out in weeks, not months or years.

By the way, there is an outburst on TV of supernatural drama - MEdium, Ghosts, Raines, Dresden Files...
Is that going to translate into Print? Novels with supernatural themes?

Anonymous said...

MJ Rose's THE REINCARNATIONIST. It already has buzz in the industry, and she's been at novels for a while. Another sure-fire seller, although perhaps not the book: Body Surfing by Anita Shreve.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Um, Dresdon Files were books before they were TV.

I think urban fantasy will be hot, too, because of Heroes, Lost, all the hot selling vampire stuff (I think folks will be looking for something besides vampires in an urban setting soon) and yes, Harry Potter. It feels archaic, but the books take place in modern England.

Dave said...

LOST is over and done. Stick a fork in it.
There was a tie-in book and it was a nice mystery, nothing spectacular.
"Bad Twin, by Gary Troup"

So are undertaker stories and nip/tuck stories.

The last really cute and new idea on TV was Ugly Betty. It's a soap with sex, sex, sex and goofy characters, but it was different, went against the grain. It coincided with "The Devil Wears Prada" and it's living on ruthless women, gay clowns and sex changes.

Peter R said...

YA Sci-fi. In fact I’ve just finished one and I’m about to start querying. Tell me who these agents are who are desperate for YA Sci-fi?

Jeteraus said...

Wow, anonymous stole my thunder. The world is waiting for a book to explode kids scifi the way Harry Potter did fantasy. The world needs someone to inspire its future scientists.

Peter R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter R said...

Jeteraus, I have that book! (Sample Chapters on my blog). I just need to work out how to write a stunning query letter that will compel an agent to pick up the partial and read it – the rest will be history!

Vernieda said...

...urban fantasy *will* be hot? It's already hot! To the point that the market is getting a little glutted already, so it's starting to get marketed as romance instead of fantasy. (With varying levels of success.)

Anonymous said...

I'm so sick of urban fantasy. Please, no more!

Gabriele C. said...

I hope historical fiction is going to be a big thing. Especially historical fiction with Romans. *grin*

Books just aren't long enough these days.
erozanski, I'm so with you. I suppose it's because publishers are loth to invest in 150+K doorstoppers by unknown writers, so most of us tend to keep the things in a more publishable 90-120K range.

Maybe Nathan has some remarks about the chances of getting a 150+K monster published.

grahamEID said...

After a decade or so of politicians and the media in the Western World telling the population to be selfish aspirationals, the population is starting to see the results of their apathy. People are starting to become concerned about the future (geez, even Rupert Murdoch now thinks global warming is an issue). So I expect the next new big trend to be realistic fiction and non-fiction about the future.

As for people planning to publish books arguing the merits of George Bush. Forget it, everyone knows he is a total incompetent and the American people were totally incompetent in letting him be elected president (unless you were hoping that he would bring on armageddon). Hopefully he hasn't totally sold out humanity's future.

I also expect the next dominant bad guys in books and movies to be American right wing Christians.


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