Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Let Me Check My Crystal Ball

As I said last week, I'm answering some questions from a friend of mine. Here's her second question:

2. If you could see into the future, where do you see women's mysteries going in the next 10/20 years?

Depends where the mystery book industry goes. Technology and buying habits are changing so fast, it's anyone's guess. The cost of traditional publishing is skyrocketing. Probably less people are buying paper books. I say probably because some folks vehemently deny this is true. The publishing industry is more secretive about their business than the Pentagon. My opinion? I see less people in bookstores. And less mysteries on the shelves.

More people have electronic readers like Kindle and the prices of those are expected to come down until electronic readers are as ubiquitous as cell phones. That said, if you go anywhere people are waiting (train terminal, doctor's office) or relaxing (beach, cruise ship, lunch hour), books made of paper are still the pastime of choice.

Given the pace of Western society these days, readers may very well move toward shorter novels. More and more writers will likely jump on the self-publishing bandwagon, though probably only for a book or two before they find out how hard it is and how fast it drains their bank accounts. The more the big publishers merge and remain rooted in their 19th century ways, the more small presses will spring up to siphon their markets. A fraction of those small presses will avoid bankruptcy and they'll print some truly great mysteries.

I'd love to see more authors take their out-of-print short stories and put them up on the Internet in Kindle format for downloading. Maybe we can start a short mystery Renaissance.

If you mean content, my answer is "Who knows?" Ten years ago, no one was publishing vampire mysteries, now they're everywhere. New York will barely touch a cozy mystery these days, but at least 50% of mystery readers actively seek them out. When my novel BY BLOOD POSSESSED came out in 1999, no one heard of a cross-genre mystery, combining paranormal, history, or what have you. Now they're the big thing. (Note: I did it first. HA!)

My opinion? Predicting trends 10-20 years out is impossible. Trends can change every 6 months. If you're a writer, trends should be the last thing you think about. Writers ought to concentrate on writing good stories and nothing else.


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