On Trends in the Slush Pile

14 Dec

by Mandy Hubbard


I haven’t shared the trends I’ve been finding in the slush pile in a while, and I thought it would be fun to share them with the LTWF crowd. Before I dive into the stuff you *really* want to know, I need to provide some context.

For starters, you should read my two blog posts– the first on whether you should chase trends, and the second on what editors told me they were looking for (hint: It’s pretty much everything, as long as the writing is awesome).

All that said, no matter how many times someone says not to worry about trends, people are forever fascinated by them. And I do think there is some power in knowing where you stand– whether it’s in the midst of a saturated trend or if it’s something wacky and left field.

So, I quickly flipped through the last fifty queries I’ve received, and here’s the breakdown:

A type of project I don’t represent: 8

Number of above who queried because they thought it was YA and it was adult: 2

Realistic YA or MG: 19

Breakdown  for *some* of above

-Adventure: 2

– Dark or Issue-based: 5

-Coming of age (MG): 3

-Romance: 4

-Modern retellings of a fairy tale or classic: 2

Historical (w/no fantasy elements) realistic YA/ MG: 3

Total number of speculative fiction/SF/Fantasy queries: 31

Break down of this:

-Urban Fantasy: 6

-Magical Realism: 4

-Dystopic or Post-Apocolyptic: 4

*Paranormal Creatures:

-Vamps: 2

Comparisons to twilight: 1

-Ghosts 1

-Devils, Demons, or Angels: 3

-Mermaids, Sirens, or other water creatures: 1

-Banshees: 1

– Steampunk: 1

-Dreams or Dreamworld or Visions as the leading paranormal element: 3

-Teens or Middle-graders discovering special abilities: 2

-High or Epic Fantasy: 4

-Fantasy-esque retellings of a fairy tale: 1

-Based upon Lore/Legends/Myths: 3

-Time Travel: 1 (MG) 2 (YA)

-Historical w/fantasy elements: 2

-Other realms/parallel worlds: 1

So, by the above, it’s a little tough to see any particular saturated point. If I had done 100 or more queries, I think stronger patterns would emerge. I *can* tell you things I feel like I see a ton of: Ghosts/After life, Angels/Demons, books based on Greek, Roman, or other myths (Often the main character discovers she is a goddess reincarnated), girls who dream up a boy and then he’s there– in real life (Gasp!) Post-apocolyptic based on realistic fears (water running out, viruses, global warming) and books that are “Like Twilight but with X.”

In the end, as I always say: Be aware of the trends so you understand where you fit, and can better decide who to query. If you’re torn between writing two novels, perhaps the market dictates which one you choose. But otherwise: Write the novel in your heart. Write it as well as you can. Kick-Ass writing almost always sells, trends be damned.

Good luck!



Mandy Hubbard is the author of Prada & Prejudice and You Wish (both now available) as well as the forthcoming RIPPLE and BUT I LOVE HIM (both coming in 2011). She’s also an agent at D4EO Literary, where she represents authors of middle-grade and young-adult novels. Visit her at www.mandyhubbard.com


12 Responses to “On Trends in the Slush Pile”

  1. Chantal December 14, 2010 at 12:29 PM #

    Very interesting post, thanks!

  2. Julie Eshbaugh December 14, 2010 at 12:36 PM #

    Fantastic post, Mandy! I EAT THIS STUFF UP! (Trends are like gossip – you know you SHOULD NOT pay attention, and it really shouldn’t matter to you anyway, but you want to hear as much as you can get!) 😉 Thanks for sharing this insider info!

  3. Sammy Bina December 14, 2010 at 12:38 PM #

    I can testify to everything you’ve said based on the submissions I’ve been reading lately. I can’t even count the number of reincarnation stories I’ve seen in the last few months.

    Thanks for sharing, Mandy!

  4. authorguy December 14, 2010 at 1:05 PM #

    Write the story that is telling you to write it. Anything else is just asking for trouble. Let the trend follow you.

    Marc Vun Kannon

  5. Martha Ramirez December 14, 2010 at 2:12 PM #

    This was a great post, Mandy. I am really enjoying following your blog. Thanks for taking the time!

  6. Tymcon December 14, 2010 at 4:05 PM #

    Oh a banshee story! I like what i seeXD

  7. Savannah J. Foley December 14, 2010 at 4:06 PM #

    Thanks for sharing trends, Mandy!

  8. Taryn December 14, 2010 at 11:31 PM #

    Trends are addictive. I also find it funny this is posted right after I queried you, so I’m sitting here pretty sure I know exactly where my MS is in that line up. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

  9. M. Howalt December 15, 2010 at 11:00 AM #

    Thank you for sharing! I think it’s interesting. Not because I want to follow or definitely do not want to follow a trend, but it’s nice to know if there is one and what it is.

  10. Dawn Brazil December 16, 2010 at 5:33 AM #

    Thanks Mandy! This was an insightful post. I see where my novel falls at here and I like it. Not too many. I don’t follow the trends. I write the story I feel needs to be told.

  11. sdennard December 16, 2010 at 2:02 PM #

    In-ter-esting… ::taps fingers together:: I’m glad to see steampunk was overwhelming your slush… Don’t want too much competition (although, I suppose that genre is pretty saturated anyway).

    Great post, Mandy! Thanks for sharing.


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