5 Book Trends for 2014

Bookshop Shelves

Out with the old, in with the new…

In this post (and, following some suspicious yoghurt, this one) I pretended to have a look at what was going to happen in 2014, but now I’d like to do it for real. What fads and fashions will we see in genre fiction in 2014? Will fantasy lose its dystopian and grimy-fingered grip on the bestseller market? And that age-old question – what about love?

Going Down

Readers, movie-goers and TV box-set-bingers must be getting sick of fantasy and misery. Superheroes, vampires, witches, werewolves and reworkings of fairytales;  trolls, zombies and children battling to the death – they’re all, like, so over.  Similarly, hellish childhoods, misery memoirs, poverty porn and true stories in general have been spewed out for so long now, people seem to forget how atrociously written they are. Please stop. Write better fiction instead.

Going Up

Some genres never go out of fashion, like crime and romance. But we’re years into our recessional dystopia; tired of alternative and impossible universes. It’s time to start making fiction about real life again, and make it contemporary. It’s time to tackle our economic woes with the money-driven tales of human frailty which did for Dickens right through to Dostoyevsky.

This has nothing to do with economic change. It has to do with the enduring need for escapism, but more to the point, where we want to escape to. So with that in mind, I hereby predict a return to the top of the bestseller lists for the following:

Family Sagas1. The Family/Romantic Saga

Huge in the 1970s and 1980s: led by Judith Krantz, Danielle Steele and Rosamunde Pilcher.
So what’s it all about? Well, lifelong narratives; generations of one family;  making money and losing it;  falling in love, dabbling in hate; having ill-advised sexual relations in inappropriate places… this is realistic fantasy. Stories of big houses and poor relatives; bad choices and lingering sins. What’s not to like? It’s time to dump the goblins, and deal with personal demons again. And there’s nothing like a saga to take you away from your bank statement. It’s high time these came back to entertain us.

2. The Sensational Blockbuster

Anyone remember Sidney Sheldon? Harold Robbins? Lace? No? Shame on you! These paperbacks were gold back in the ’80s. Most people’s parents had at least a few, and most of them found their way into our schoolbags. Full of sex and backstabbing, business deals and empire building, grudges and revenge, they managed to throw a very decent story in amongst the kinky bits which enthralled teenagers. Imagine the potential for covert e-books!

I Spy With My Little Eye3. The Political Thriller

Where has the decent political thriller or espionage novel been since the 1980s? Poor Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth and John le Carré have been holding the fort here for decades. Hollywood still reverts to this era’s writers to make their spy movies, despite the fact that we’re now seeing the greatest spy scandals since the 1960s in our daily news.

It’s not that these books aren’t being written, and indeed published, because of course they are. They’re just not hitting the bestest bestseller lists these days, because their time has not yet come around again. Soon, my cunning friends. Sooooon.

4. Horror

Stephen King is obviously the true monarch here, but aside from him, who else is making the bestseller lists with good old scary stuff? The strange thing is that in the movies, even a mediocre low-budget horror film will generally turn some sort of profit, thus proving that there is a constant and unrelenting appetite for horror. It’s not reflected at the top of the tree in book sales, but it will again. Oh yes. It will. Mwah ha ha ha. Etc.

New planets, new ways for humans to mess things up

Out There! That’s where your story lies…

5. The Space Opera

With the prospect of life on Mars now becoming more reality than fantasy, and because we’ve been softened now by fantasy crossing over into the mainstream, I reckon there’s room for a proper space opera. A softer science fiction than the ubiquitous Star Trek of the ’90s. A sort of modern-day Jetsons without the slapstick, a Firefly without the bloodshed. There is ample room for both literary and commercial fiction within the scope of extra-terrestrial frontier exploration. Where better to explore humanity than in the microcosm of a settlement on a barren planet, for instance? Or on the more popular side of the coin, how does a woman on the wrong side of 30 find love in Mars’ newest colony, with no dating agency for light years, and only scientists, miners and one dashing Sheriff to choose from?

Be Prepared

5 Old Bookselling Rules Which No Longer Apply explored the notion that readers, rather than publishers, are calling the shots nowadays, deciding what is popular and when. But readers can also change their minds with frightening speed, moving on to the Next Big Thing without warning: reading and the writing worlds alike have to be ready for them.

Over to you! Predictions please, ladies and gentle sirs of the reading community… What do you think is going to be hot next year? Or more to the point, what would you like to see?

  28 comments for “5 Book Trends for 2014

  1. January 10, 2014 at 11:33 am

    I am quite haphazard about stepping in to the Social Media generally,…even more haphazard than about stepping out into the Social world,….but I am glad that I stepped in to your blog this morning. Enjoyable AND well written! I intend to make this a staple!


  2. January 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    You missed one!
    Sceptic Peg told me the collections of short stories are eventually going to take over the world. And people like them will lead major governments and international conglomerates…. ;D


    • January 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      ‘people who write them’
      (Not ‘people like them’)


    • January 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      You’re right, should have been my 1st point… But When the authors of such short story collections take over the world, can I please be your Chief of Secret Police??


    • carolannwrites
      January 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Can’t wait till you’re leading the world, Amo!


  3. January 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    There’s hope for my ‘fusion’ literary fiction yet then! I threw a bit of everything into the mix for my first novel which is Africa-themed – sex, romance, true love, death, war crimes, child abuse and poverty, green issues, genocide, poaching,adventure, natural disasters, international relief agencies, psycho horror and PTSD… I even poke a little myth and folklore in there as well so perhaps it’s kitchen sink fiction? Tons of dirty articles in there anyway lol

    My heads spinning and so are the people I’ve asked to review it. Thanks for giving me a laugh and some hope too Tara 😀


    • carolannwrites
      January 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Fusion Fiction! Love it!


    • January 10, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      Sounds to me like your hope is well-founded – you have so much meat in that, it has all the makings of a top blockbuster with a strong moral heart. I wish you the very best of luck because even the best novels need some of that in this difficult, but not unbreakable market!


    • May 15, 2014 at 5:50 am

      Kitchen sink fiction…I’d no idea that was what I was writing. Sounds as if your Muses and mine were smoking from the same baggie of wacky tobaccy.


      • May 15, 2014 at 9:35 am

        Hold on to that baggie. There’s an awful lot of writing to do yet and you don’t want to run out of inspiration now do you!


  4. carolannwrites
    January 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Just what the head needs on a Friday afternoon! Ta.


  5. January 10, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Obviously the trend I would like to see is “the world realises an overwhelming urge to binge on books written by Scarlett Parrish who’d spend the money wisely on a new armchair and a cauldron of biscuits” but considering the rare chance that this be not the case…

    Bonkbusters! Re: Sidney Sheldon. Did you know Tilly Bagshawe has been drafted in to write books under the Sheldon name?

    Someone needs to combine all the above genres – incorporating my own favourite guilt/comfort read, the rags-to-riches saga, a la Barbara Taylor Bradford.

    We need rags to riches, political thrillers and horror all in the one book. “A Woman of Smiley Substance”. No, no…”Voice of the Shining Poor Girl’s Cowboy’s Sheikh’s Secret Virgin Lover’s Baby of Wall Street”.

    You can thank me later.


    • January 10, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      I’m roaring laughing here – you’ll have to wait for me to get a hold of myself before I thank you!!

      Very interesting on the Tilly Bagshawe story. Has some publisher already decided that the bonkbuster is overdue a comeback I wonder? And I forgot about Barbara – she was the doggies’, wasn’t she?!


      • January 10, 2014 at 6:31 pm

        See if you can get the DVD of “A Woman of Substance”. Liam Neeson played Blackie O’Neill with the worst ‘old man’ makeup since that Indiana Jones film where the guy’s face crumbled into a skeleton.

        There’s been an upsurge in bonkbusters recently – Tasmina Perry and her ilk seem to be bringing it into the 21st century. There’s a lot of smutty smut out there. Allegedly. Not that I would know.


        • January 10, 2014 at 9:30 pm

          Great to know that some authors are getting their work known. In any if these genres, it’s not that they’re not available, merely that they’re not hitting the top spots right now.

          Readers have to want more meat in story terms for these bonkbusters to come back properly. I think they will. 1-dimensional smut is wearing thin.


  6. January 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the political novel. Lots of great material there for exploration.


    • January 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Absolutely. And there are plenty of them out there because they never stopped being written – they just fell out of fashion for a little while, for some unknown reason. I reckon it’s high time these came back to feed us full of beautiful conspiracy theories and age-old skulduggery. Shove the dross from the top of the tree and let these take their rightful place at the helm of adventure!


  7. January 12, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Tara: What do you think of heroic sagas–multi-volume stories set in alternative worlds where the protagonist(s) have to overcome considerable odds to set things right?


    • January 13, 2014 at 12:36 am

      Hi Peter. I think there’s always a place for these- the success of Song of Ice & Fire/ Game of Thrones attests to this. There is massive scope for richness and invention in the epic.

      But making the bestseller lists? That’s the question. Seems to me everything bar Crime and Romance goes through cycles of popularity. The rest of the genres can still sell steadily, but to bring mass success, you need a fad.


  8. January 13, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Oh, I remember the Sidney Sheldon tomes – they were always right proper doorsteps of books and usually well-thumbed – probably for all the naughty bits (maybe I should rephrase that last bit – sounds a bit 50 Shades??). I’m all for crime and epic historical family sagas myself – but was always more of a Jean Plaidy girl than Barbara Taylor Bradford.Personally, Apart from hoping all 2014 bestsellers will be incredibly well-written, I’d like to see a few ‘fusion fiction’ works make it to the top of the list. Mix it up for a change.


    • January 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      It would be nice to see change, that’s for sure. If nothing else, it creates good opportunities for blog discussions!!


  9. January 21, 2014 at 11:39 am

    And here was I thinking that, in view of the state of the world, people might like something that gave them a couple of laughs! Thanks for the heads up.


  10. May 15, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Well, that’s certainly good news for No. 1., The Family/Romantic Saga. But does it also mean that my first book will remain dead in the water until I get all the other ones written? It took me three years to write the first one. Nine to go, and I’m already 58 years old. They’ll be prying the keyboard from my cold, dead hands.


    • May 15, 2014 at 9:59 am

      Some people go straight to publication with their first book. Some people do it with number 4. Anything is possible – but for the unpublished lot who have a few books under their belts, they at least have a back catalogue, already written.
      Although I know of an author who just got a top-of-the-pile book deal with her 3rd book. She got commissioned for 2 books, and will, I have no doubt, be very very famous and successful within the next 2 years. Trouble is… the publisher doesn’t want either of her first 2 novels, and she has to crank out no. 4 to a very tight deadline. You just never know what’s going to happen, do you…


  11. Mike
    December 30, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Thanks for being an inspiration. Your words about Space Opera triggered an old idea for a space adventure novel that was hiding in the back of my mind. I got the idea to use a random sentence generator to see if I could trigger something else, and ended up opening a flood of creative ideas for my old ideas – typing them all into my iPad as fast as I can lol. This is great. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 30, 2015 at 11:51 pm

      Oh excellent! I love it when I set triggers off. Except for that one time, in the place where they’re still fighting. That turned out to not be a good thing at all. For your sake, Mike, may all your triggers be creative and all your weapons be blockbusters…


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