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The Pendulum Swings…again

by Julie Gwinn
B & H Publishing Group

Writing novels is an art form, a craft, much like fashion design, interior design and painting. And as such is subject to changes in consumer tastes and trends. Just as clothing styles change (think military jackets and skinny jeans), interior design trends shift (from French Country to Shabby Chic), even paint color combinations pop up (think of the blue and brown pallet so prevalent now), so does the consumer’s taste for novels change. Who could have predicted that Amish fiction would become so popular?

Aside from the trends, you have the classics that fall neatly into Romance, Historicals, Contemporary and Suspense categories. But even within these categories of genre fiction are popular trends, such as WWII, Civil War, Titanic, and “issues” fiction, those novels dealing with today’s topics of drug addiction, rape, sexual abuse, divorce, illness and death of a loved one.

So as a writer, how do you know what is a trend and what is a classic? How do you decide what to write? If it seems everyone is jumping on the Amish bandwagon, should you abandon your cozy mystery idea and write Amish instead? The answer is no.

Our previous publisher compared book publishing to legalized gambling. There is very little data to back up why a book or trend becomes popular and why another book or trend fizzles. So trying to write to a trend is a big mistake. It is like chasing a train.

God has gifted you with the talent for telling a story through writing. He wants you to write what is on your heart, not what will sell. Although sales are nice, you have to be true to your voice, your gift, your calling. Before too long, the pendulum will swing again and something else will be popular. The key is to stay the course and write the story God wants you to write. Your fans will thank you for it.


Julie Gwinn has been a professional in the public relations, advertising industry for more than 20 years for organizations such as The American Red Cross, the YWCA and public relations and advertising agencies in Nashville. She joined B&H Publishing Group in 2007 in the trade marketing and publicity department where she and Karen Ball launched the Pure Enjoyment fiction line. Recently, she has been given the responsibility of managing the line including acquiring new authors.

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2 Responses to The Pendulum Swings…again

  1. Paula Mowery says:

    Great advice! When I read comments from readers about how my book boosted their faith, I knew I had written what God led me to write even though it was different than many books I was reading.
    So, the big question: Are you accepting manuscripts from new authors without agent representation? I checked out the B & H website and found one place that said only agent submissions, but in another area, I didn’t see that stipulation. What’s the scoop? LOL

  2. After working on a novel for two hours this morning, I decided to take a break and re-focus. I read your article and am just so thankful–and relieved. I’ve been telling myself that when I’m through with this project (an historical fiction trilogy) I’ve got to write something more contemporary since that’s what everyone in the industry seems to be clamoring for. But the truth is my heart is in applying the lessons from the past to current time. It’s how I teach history in the classroom, it’s how I read historical novels, it’s how I view historical fiction on film, and it’s how I write. Thank you for your encouragement. It was just what I needed on this “break.” God bless.
    –Marbeth