The right way to follow a writing trend

Paranormal seems to be a big trend in YA lately. Some people love that, and some are totally over it.

I find myself in the (un)fortunate position to be writing a paranormal story. And because it’s based on the Caribbean jumbies I grew up with, I figured that I was still standing out from the pack. And then I came across this book.

My first reaction: frustration.

While the premise of this book is different from my own, the setting and creepy cast are similar. I really hate to participate in trends, so at first, this really chafed.

My next reaction: curiosity.

It’s my job as a writer to know what’s happening in the market. I need to know the genres and trends so that I know where I stand in the world of children’s lit. And finding stories that are similar to mine, can only be an advantage. I was worried before that my premise was too out there, but now I know it’s not. (Meanwhile, Nalo Hopkinson has the jump on both me and this author as far as writing about Caribbean folklore creatures is concerned.) If this book does well, it bodes well for someone else taking a chance on mine. The similarities between my book and this one are close enough to perhaps attract the same readers, but the premises are different enough that should my book be published, it won’t tread on her ground. We’re also in different age brackets. My book is MG. Hers is YA.

As a writer, this is part of the job. There’s hardly anything new under the sun, so it’s how you set yourself apart that matters.

Read the work that’s similar to yours.

Know the market for that type of book.

Distinguish yourself from the pack.

Write well.

Don’t worry.

(If only I could take my own advice on that last one, I’d be all set.)




9 thoughts on “The right way to follow a writing trend

  1. Pamela Keyes says:

    Tracey, by all means — write your jumbie paranormal story. I truly believe it will do well, and I already can’t wait to read it! Endless YA vampire and werewolf “worlds” have been spawned by Team Edward and Team Jacob, each story providing a new take on the old theme. We also have legions of faerie stories, dragon stories, and superheroes out there, which proves the paranormal trend is far from dying out. Yet I do think the YA and MG markets are ready for something a little different. How cool it would be if the word “jumbie/jumbee/jumby” becomes familiar to the mainstream, with it’s own paranormal following? Something new with tons of possibilities, based in a part of the world that is intriguing to everyone, not just those lucky people who grew up there…. You go, Tracey!

  2. Tracey says:

    Thanks for posting, Pamela. I’m excited to read THE JUMBEE and I’ll put up a review when I’m done. By the way, the cover is gorgeous!

  3. Pamela Keyes says:

    I look forward to your review. And thank you – my publisher did a fantastic job with the cover, imho. Most authors have little choice in the cover, and we don’t always get so lucky… Pamela

  4. Tracey says:

    You’re right that it is a matter of luck with covers. Maybe after the review we can do a short interview if you’re up for it. And best of luck with the book. 🙂

  5. Amie Kaufman says:

    So true–if only we could take the good advice we all give! You’re right, though. Seeing a story similar to your own is a great sign, it means that there’s an interest in stories of this sort!

  6. Tracey says:

    It is. So back to the story I go. I had stopped working on it during NaNoWriMo to do something else, but now… even more incentive to get it done!
    Thanks for posting, Amie.

  7. Pamela Keyes says:

    Okay, back to the computer after being sick (along with my two little ones) for a week. I’d love to do an interview. Let me know what you need from me. Thanks, Pam

  8. Tracey says:

    I’m sorry to year you and the little ones have been ill, but I’m glad you’re able to do an interview. Send an email to tracey [at] traceybaptiste [dot] com and we’ll discuss.

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