Your Annual Review Of Things That Haven’t Happened Yet

Welcome, dear friends, to the customary annual review of events in the bonkers book industry, which I do every year in January, before the future, because I’m far too busy in December, when everyone else is talking about the past.

As you’ll remember from last year, I got a depressing amount of second-sighted stuff almost correct. I say depressing, because things which start out as a joke in January, often end up being anything but in December. They say that comedy equals tragedy plus time, but in this case, I found out that unfunny often equals the ridiculous plus truth.

With that in mind, this year, I’m going to focus less on the probable, and more on the plausible. I’m also going to try and keep away from that sort of Holier Than Thou School Of Finger Pointing, and concentrate on other less divisive things in society, such as wordplay, surrealism, and, er, aardvarks.

And now, herewith, to the Review of Bookish Happenings In 2016.

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The Fourth Estate broke with tradition in January when, upon finding that their previews of the big books in 2016 all looked identical down to the last semi-colon (almost as if they were slavishly following big budget press packs), they decided to abandon the big blockbusters altogether and focus upon the most obscure titles they could find.

This had the unintended effect of knocking high literary small press titles out of the running for all the major literary prizes because they were now deemed too popular to be good, but strangely, nobody seemed to mind.


Readers shunned fiction in February, turning their attentions instead to ‘shelf-help’ books, also known as ‘holistic space therapy’. This Second Coming for people who had already read all the self-actualization books a body could handle was based on the success of 2015’s smash hit The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.

Clean Your Goddamn House, You Slattern!  by Jocasta Herringbone was a surprise smash hit, followed shortly by It’s Not You, It’s The Farrow & Ball Elephant’s Breath In Your Living Room; along with the award-winning tear-jerker subsequently made into a major film, The Girl With The Wrong Duvet Cover.

The Annual Review Of Things That Haven't Happened Yet

This is not an aardvark


After a lacklustre first quarter, publishers breathed a sigh of relief when the next big literary craze – called Science Fiction 2.0 – became apparent, following the stampede for the tills with the smash hit Neil deGrasse Tyson Licked My Aardvark. A swathe of comic, literary, crime and romantic fiction was hastily rewritten with scientists in the lead roles, instantly elevating previously lacklustre titles and their authors to bestseller status.


The search for the next Gone Girl/Girl On A Train was deemed to be over with the release of This Book Has A Girl In It, a thriller about an author being stalked by six unreliable narrators. She’s then forced at gunpoint to identify which one of them is telling the truth before she can bank £950,000.


Earning The End was the major talking point of May 2016. John E. Smith’s book, available in digital format only, caused a scandal when it became apparent that its final chapters could only be downloaded once the reader had left 5-star reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. The initial furore died down once the Financial Times called it “a masterful example of meta-manipulation which perfectly illustrates the forward-driven reader experience”, after which everyone agreed that John E. Smith was a bloody genius.

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In another example of uncannily choreographed coincidence, it emerged that self-publishing service providers owned by the major publishing houses all suffered technical difficulties in the second quarter, meaning that some of the year’s most high-profile indie books had to delay publication and thereby completely missed the all-important summer holiday market.

July and August

Tables were turned on the press when the silly season produced the biggest book story of the year: the revelation that Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin had in fact finished the entire Song Of Ice And Fire series back in 2011, and was not therefore late in producing the last two titles as claimed. The news emerged when Martin admitted he’d lied in order to buy himself time as he transitioned to writing YA Romance, which he described as “literally an aching, painful process of getting to know the real me”.


Following the hugely successful re-release of Hitler’s Mein Kampf in early 2016, marking its first publication in Germany since World War II, a slate of new re-releases were announced in September for, amongst others, Zabiba And The King by Saddam Hussein; The Green Book by Colonel Gaddafi, and and See Spot, Run, the much-loved children’s book long unmasked as an explosive manifesto for Kim Jong-il, the dictator most famous for his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A revival of the sensational 1989 Taxi Driver’s Union mime performance of Chairman Mao’s The Little Red Book was rumoured, but never materialised.

The Annual Review Of Things That Haven't Happened Yet


The popularity of so-called ‘real’ women – irreverent comediennes and actresses who purportedly don’t care what you think of them – reached its peak with the simultaneous release of books from Amy Schumer, Tina Fey, Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift, Cara Delevingne, Melissa McCarthy and Carrie Fisher, all on the 14th of October 2016. Unfortunately, this deluge resulted in a backlash against the ‘real woman’ trope, and spawned an additional five Kardashians nobody had ever heard of before.


Wednesday November 2nd became known as “Launch Of The Walking Dead” after no fewer than fifteen posthumous titles were published on this day alone. Events were not without controversy, as seven ghost writers had to be placed in witness protection, and four of the book launches used a wake as their theme, somewhat to the embarrassment of their publishers. However, relatives of the deceased authors in question, including Tolkien, Beckett, and du Maurier, took a break from counting money to give their blessing to the enterprise.

The Annual Review Of Things That Haven't Happened Yet


Nobody was surprised when This Isn’t  was declared the must-have gimmicky book for the Christmas 2016 market. Described as “refreshing” by the Guardian; “a truly original idea” by the Telegraph, and “grand” by the Irish Times, this blank, unlined book, with its plain brown cover, invited readers to enter their own thoughts, in order to form their own relevant narrative of what it means to be a human being alive today. It sold 73 million copies in December after the price was increased from 8.99 to 14.99.


And there we have it, folks. Tune in next December, when we will review my review, and judge mercilessly accordingly. In the meantime, if I’ve left any major trends out, do please oblige by giving me what for in the comments.

  54 comments for “Your Annual Review Of Things That Haven’t Happened Yet

  1. January 19, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I actually read Marie Kondo’s book, but in my defence I didn’t know it was cool. I’m never cool. But I did clear out a lot of stuff. Thanks for your great blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 19, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      You’re most welcome, Victoria. You’re doubly welcome for being so cool. I’ll bet you read that (and had tidied it away) before the rest of us had even heard of it.


  2. January 19, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Far-sighted as always, Ms Sparling – 😀 I hear they’ve already discovered 1 of the 5 ‘hidden’ Kardashians already… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 19, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      No way! Where? Don’t tell me. In a tanning salon… walking bone-dry out of a gym… stuck in a loop, trying and failing to string a coherent sentence together… I know. Pouting. In an Instagram file.


  3. January 19, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Your powers of divination are astonishing, Tara. I’m especially looking forward to Martin’s YA series, at least the first eight books before he leaves us hanging and we give up 🙂 Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 19, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      I can’t wait for it myself, Diana. In particular, the bit where a beardy man of a certain age reads out how someone’s eyes boring into his soul gave him the feels.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Todd Duffey Writes on Things
    January 19, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Hilarious and devastatingly on point! Your futuristic observational abilities astound yet again, Madam Sparling! And just so other readers know, The Neil DeGrasse Tyson book will also be coming out in a scratch and sniff version. Thank you for giving us all something to contemplate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 19, 2016 at 9:33 pm

      Thanks, Todd. The science world is grateful too. 😉


  5. January 19, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Someone bought me a book very similar to ‘This Isn’t.’ It didn’t have a plain brown cover though, an ornate one. My money’s on Science Fiction 2.0 because we haven’t had a decent 2.0 in something for a while now. Lots of 6s and 7s, but no 2.0s. Which is a shame because they’re always very exciting events.

    My own prediction is the monetization (note the Z in there) of self-published novel titles. (Bain of my life at the moment!) Expect to see ‘Wolfmoon: A Rihanna Primark Mystery’ and ‘The Very Curious Case of the Amazon Prime Free Delivery in the Night.’ And I also think it’s only a matter of time before Apply copyrights every word in the English language.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 19, 2016 at 9:36 pm

      I share your love of 2s, Chris. I was a fan of the 6s and 7s myself, but then everyone else started liking them, and it was a total drag. I too want to monetiZe self-published titles. Or can I at least get a cut? That’s what you’re offering me, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. January 19, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Please write it. Please please (This Book Has a Girl In It). What I can’t believe is all those unreliable narrators writing in first person have enough responsibility in them to actually write and finish a book.
    In my experience, they are pretty unreliable.

    Liked by 3 people

    • January 19, 2016 at 9:39 pm

      Hahaha!! I’m going to run with that, Melodie. In fact, I’m going to make an art of it by promising you faithfully to write This Book Has A Girl In It, but then reveal that I never in fact wrote it, whilst simultaneously releasing it under a pseudonym. Does that work for you?

      Liked by 2 people

      • January 19, 2016 at 9:44 pm

        Bestseller material, if I ever saw one. It’s a literary novel, right?

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 19, 2016 at 9:46 pm

          Literary crime erotica, yes. I know the title gives it away, but I’m going to try to use it as a selling point.


          • January 19, 2016 at 9:50 pm

            Oh Lordy, you have me laughing: “the title gives it away.” That’s worth the last word.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. January 19, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    So much to look forward to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 19, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Is there?? Where! I demand you tell me what there is to look forward to at once! Optimism is not permitted Mr Rossis!

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 19, 2016 at 9:48 pm

        Well, the 5 Kardashians for one thing! What can I say, I’m incurably optimistic… A lost cause, indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 19, 2016 at 9:51 pm

          And here was me thinking you might redeem yourself with sarcasm… Sigh. Fatherhood is doing horrible positive things to you.

          Liked by 1 person

          • January 19, 2016 at 10:12 pm

            Lol – true. You can blame the (slightly smelly) bundle of joy in my arms. It’s close to midnight, and only now am I finally catching up with today’s posts!

            Liked by 1 person

  8. January 20, 2016 at 12:19 am

    A Song of Ice & Fire done in 2011? I knew it all along! Now we can wait 5+ years between the releases of his new YA series…

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 20, 2016 at 10:48 am

      He could surprise us all, Stephanie, and crank out all 7 in the one year. You just never can tell with George R.R., that’s what I always say.


  9. January 20, 2016 at 11:24 am

    That paragraph about G.R.R. Martin–yeah, I want that to happen, because then I don’t think I’d ever be able to stop laughing.

    I can’t say I’m looking forward to more Kardashians though. Maybe I’ll just skip this year and move on to 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 20, 2016 at 11:48 am

      What, and miss all the fun?! Still, I suppose I understand, Liz. There are months of this year I would gladly skip myself, and I’m the one who made them up. Says a lot really. If you know of a good self-help book for that you might let me know. (Not written by a Kardashian. I repeat, no Kardashians.)


  10. January 20, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    April and May both sound worryingly accurate, and the ideas of July/August made me laugh, yet consider the idea it could be true. I’d also, depressingly, go along with your ideas for November as something that will probably happen.
    Perhaps the only other thing is some sort of reality show where ten desperate independent authors compete against each other in a number of increasingly violent challenges, with the last one standing being given a publishing contract by one of the big five. Then they’re told they’ll receive 0.5% royalties and have to manage their own advertising, because ‘things are tight in the marketplace.’ It’ll be called The Final Chapter or something similar.

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 20, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      Helen. Oh my God. This is genius. It just has to be commissioned before it becomes too normal even to be considered social commentary. How soon can you get it off the ground? Can I be a merciless judge? And can we throw in a round where they give each other paper cuts with printouts of one-star reviews?!

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 20, 2016 at 6:57 pm

        You’re in! Merciless judge number one 🙂 And there will definitely be a paper cut round. Also another round where they read excerpts of each others’ work, pointing out the adverbs and making up funny voices until the other person loses control and clocks them one – whoever lasts longest is the winner of that one.
        As to how soon I can get it off the ground? Well, I might know someone who works at ITV… 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 20, 2016 at 10:38 pm

          I swear, if I don’t get to see a full 22-episode series of this by February, I’m going to cry. And I’m warning you now – I’m an ugly crier.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. January 24, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    I have just climbed (briefly) out of the swamp of ‘compelling (COMPILING spellcheck) the index’ to see what has been going on… sorry what is about to be going on… while I have been drowning. It’s looking pretty accurate to me. May and September are almost a given. You seemed to have missed out on the unexpected surge of interest in last year’s Far East POW commemorations. Letters and memoirs from this forgotten theatre of war are snapped up by readers as a viable alternative to tidying their homes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 25, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Nice segue into POW matters there, Hilary. I don’t think anyone noticed 😀 I’m sure it bodes well for your publishing date, though. Sounds like you’ve been in non-fiction admin hell. Is it warm in the swamp?!


      • January 25, 2016 at 3:56 pm

        If I’m honest, I’m rather enjoying creating the index (a first for me), but it’s a mammoth task. I am haunted, all the time, by research not done, yet I don’t want to spend my life in non-fiction or, indeed, in studying war.

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 25, 2016 at 4:22 pm

          It’s the job that’s never done, isn’t it? The only thing you can do is publish it, and never, ever, ever, ever read it again!

          Liked by 1 person

  12. January 25, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I’m wondering what happens in the Kondo tidy-up if you dump all the clothes that don’t give you joy and find you have nothing left nor the funds to buy new ones. Find me in a nudist camp this time next year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 25, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Well, Jean, if that doesn’t make you happy and clutter-free, I think we can safely say that nothing will!


  13. Ali Isaac
    January 25, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Oh dear… December’s forecast reminds me a little of the adult colouring book phenomenon. Fortunately, I have just completed my first draft of my current WIP, so while it’s resting, I can get this impressive project up and running, if you don’t mind co-authoring? Formatting might be a little tricky, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 25, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      I don’t know if I’ll have time, Ali – I mean, there are so many decisions involved, however would we have it all agreed in time to publish the damn thing? I do admit the sure-fire cash windfall would be useful, so I’ll have my solicitor get in touch.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac
        January 25, 2016 at 4:27 pm

        Great! And we have till December. A lot can happen between now and then…

        Liked by 1 person

  14. January 25, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Well, John E Smith was a bloody genius! Hats off and more power to his elbow. My new inspiration. Thanks Tara! Looking ahead 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 25, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      It’s like I always say, Jackie – an author must understand his readers before he makes them hate him…


  15. January 26, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    It seems Jackie may beat me to it, but I’m still going to follow in the footsteps of John E. Smith. It just makes so much sense. Of course, I’ve got to get someone to start reading the book first… Well done, Tara – you’ve spoiled us again

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 26, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      15% Graeme, that’s what I always say…

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 26, 2016 at 7:39 pm

        I suspect I’m being really thick here, but I didn’t understand that at all

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 26, 2016 at 7:42 pm

          Sorry. I was being cryptic. I’m always cryptic when I’m looking for money, and that’s what I wanted, 15% of the takings from your John E. Smith knock-off. But you drive a hard bargain. 19% it is, and we’ll say no more about it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • January 26, 2016 at 7:46 pm

            No wonder I’m getting nowhere with the Times crossword. And you’re not catching me out like that! 23% and that’s my last offer…

            Liked by 1 person

  16. January 26, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    You had me at “Slattern”. I haven’t heard that word in years. You got me again with “a masterful example of meta-manipulation”.
    I am writing a post this week that features you and Mark. I will send for review before posting over the coming weeks.
    Stay well. We (I) must rearrange that festival of food.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 26, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      OMG no way! Totes gonna be famous, yeah?! Duuuude! Amazeballs!

      Now see what happens when I exhaust myself with big archaic words and alliteration? I promise to bring more coherent drivel to the festival of food, though. Can’t wait. No pressure. No, really. No pressure. Honestly. I swear. But on another note, how to reciprocate? I suppose I could invite people over for a game of Boggle and What’s My Line…


      • January 27, 2016 at 9:56 am

        During some of my sleepless nights, I get great fun listening to some of the repeated Radio 4 Extra quiz shows from the 80’s. Some of the classical music quizzes and more obscure literary ones really break me up. hearing the shame of not knowing something that can only have been learned by rote is so much fun. “What’s My Line” it is!

        Liked by 1 person

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