Monday, July 02, 2007

The Future of Women's Fiction

Where do you see the women's fiction market heading in the next three to five years?

Ah! A prediction. A complete and utter guess, but from an industry professional. Well, I’ll do my very best, and of course if I’m right, watch me sell some really hot books in the next three to five years.

Women’s fiction isn’t a market that’s as easy to predict as, say, romance or mystery since it’s not a market that relies so heavily on hooks. For example, romances are going to continue to get steamier simply because of the success of erotica. Does it mean all romance is going to be erotic? No, it just means that a lot of romance will be sexier than it was three or four years ago. With women’s fiction, however, there isn’t a whole lot of change. The newest trend was chick lit, mom lit, and all of those other types of lit. I actually suspect those will drop off and we’ll see a return to more traditional themes—the recent divorcee, the wife of a cheating spouse, basically the woman trying to make it after tragedy, whether it’s death, divorce, or just an empty nest. And we’ll see a return to more traditional voices. I think people tired quickly of the snappy, acerbic “lits” and want the quieter, more dramatic read.

From what editors are asking me for, everyone wants the next Jodi Picoult or Debbie Macomber, and if they’re buying those now you can bet that will be the way women’s fiction is headed.



Alli said...

Woo hoo! Now that is a great post to read first thing in the morning, Jessica. Let's hope your predictions comes true. I'm wondering if you've had any comments from editors re: multiple POV's in women's fic. I'd be interested to know what their opinion is on this.

Anonymous said...

Good morning! This isn't related to the topic of your column, but I wanted to ask an industry professional anonymously. I've received conflicting answers across the board. I have several author acquintances. Should I ask one to refer me to an agent? My instinct says no. It's akin to inviting one's self to dinner.

Anonymous said...

Anyonymous, your instincts are correct. I'm agented, and if an acquainance asked me for a referral, I would feel extremely awkward. One, I wouldn't refer anyone without at least reading some of their work first. And two, my relationship with my agent is still new and I wouldn't feel comfortable referring writers to her without some idea if she's looking for a particular type of project. So, I'd have to decline.

You could ask your acquaintances to recommend resources for finding agents. That would let them know you're looking, and if one of them was so inclined, they might refer you to their agent.

By the way, my agent works at one of the top agencies in New York. I didn't have a referral, and I didn't pitch her at a conference. I just sent her a query letter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, anon 11:43!

Su said...


Thanks for this post. I write women's fiction and romance, but my heart is in women's fiction. It's good to hear folks aren't getting tired of the more heartwarming, traditional story. I have one making the rounds now. My experience is that it's a matter of editorial taste and marketing's belief they can sell the project.


Kris Fletcher said...

So what are the elements of Debbie Macomber and Jodi Picoult's work that you feel give them such a high level of appeal?

Travis Erwin said...

Jessica I sure hope you are right because that is exactly what I write.

Just curious, what is your take on a man writing these types of novels?

Sometimes I feel like a get extra points for stepping out of the norm and other times I sense rolling eyes and yeah rights - like a man can write an emotion- driven story from a woman's POV.

BookEnds, LLC said...

Great questions everyone. So alert on a holiday week. I'm impressed.

Anon 11:23 I think anon 11:43 answered perfectly. Referrals are often offered not asked for. You could say in your letter that you're friends with or in a writing group with or something like that and that you hear such wonderful things. Agents know this isn't a referral, but might give a little extra look since they know you're friends with or know a client. The truth though is that it all depends on your writing and nothing else.

kris, it's all about the emotion. readers want women's fiction to pull at their heartstrings

travis, go for it. I don't care if you're a man or a woman. I just want a good book. If I, or the publisher, thinks it my deter readers we would only ask you to write under a pseudonym or with your initials.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jessica. We get so much conflicting advice out here.