Pub Rants

Query Trends

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STATUS: It was a nice day here so I popped out to give Chutney a quick walk. Now back at the office and will probably be here until at least 7 p.m.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE STAR OF THE EAST by Judy Garland

I’m not sure why, but my most popular blog entries (in terms of comments) tend to be when I blog about sample page or query trends.

So back by popular demand, here’s what we’ve been seeing too much of lately in the query inbox (and thank you Anita for compiling this handy dandy list):

1) Retellings of fairy tales in unusual settings (Sleeping Beauty on Mars, Snow White in the future, etc.)

2) Sci Fi stories featuring travel between planets using a Space Elevator.

3) Not really a new trend, but we’ve been getting a lot of WWII stories (even more than usual)

4) Still way too many vampires and werewolves *grin*

5) Tons of New Age spiritual stuff (a protagonist and her Spirit Guide, various takes on reincarnation, etc)

Not sure how this will help you folks in the trenches but there you have it.


42 Responses

  1. Karen Carr said:

    Darnit, will be throuwing out my manuscript about Cinderella and her werewolf spirit guide who has been reincarnated from a world war II hero in order to fight a war between the space elevator worlds.

  2. Kerry Lonsdale said:

    i don’t know, but that “space elevator” sounds kind of groovy to me. it would be especially outworldly if the authors packaged a few disco balls and studio 59 tunes along with the query letters. i must be writing in the right direction…no elevators, vampires, werewolves, or spirit guides in my MS. And i’ve got enough Snow Whites and Sleeping Beauties in my house (thanks to my 7 year old), so none are needed in my story. Thanks for the wonderful heads up, and the trends to avoid. all the best to ya!

  3. Remilda Graystone said:

    It’s weird but I was actually thinking of starting a retelling of an old fairytale, so it’s funny to see that it’s one of the query trends right now. How does this happen?

  4. Guinevere said:

    I admit to loving these posts too. I’m a big WW2 history buff (I did my senior project on women in Warsaw during WW2, which let me tell you, makes me the most popular girl at any cocktail party). But I don’t plan to write anything about WW2 anytime soon.

    Now, space elevators on the other hand…

  5. Alyssa Palmer said:

    I’m just trying to figure out how Sleeping Beauty would work if they were done up in space suits… would be a bit tough to kiss. (but then the geek in me says ‘Remember Doctor Who? Just think Bowie Base One.’)

    I’ll only take the space elevator if Willy Wonka is driving and he brought chocolate.

  6. Joie said:

    I love fairy tale re-tellings. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more of those on bookshelves.

  7. Tamara Hart Heiner said:

    I started querying my retelling of a fairy tale about 8 months ago and gave up about 4 months into it when I got this response from a lot of agents: “I like this but I’m already representing something similar.” Yeah, I realized there must be a lot of those out there right now.

  8. stevie-carroll said:

    Nope, not working on any of those right now, although I’ve noticed a trend for my 20th Century stories to have some kind of nod to either ‘Jane Eyre’ or ‘Rebecca’. I’m almost tempted to have no Eyres in my Derbyshire story, but the absence would probably stick out too (it’s a very common name, at least as common as the other local surnames I’ve picked for my supporting characters).

  9. Gilbert J. Avila said:

    Darn. There goes my mashup “The Oz-Wonderland War,” where Dorothy and Alice have to team up to avert a war engineered by the Red Queen against the benign Council of Three–The Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow.

  10. MCPlanck said:

    Travel between planets via space elevator? As in, the planets are connected by a cable?

    Now that’s some uberrific engineering… 😀

  11. Anonymous said:

    Thanks, K. We love these posts.

    What we can do without are the predictable comments: “Oh there goes my WWII werewolf/vamp fairy tale in a Space Elevator.” Next time, readers, don’t. We’ve heard the joke before.

  12. Anonymous said:

    I do wonder how this happens. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a great idea for a story, and gone out to see if there’s anything like it already… and found NOTHING. Then a year and a half later (while I still haven’t done anything with it), BAM! Three upcoming releases with the same idea. It’s really bizarre.

  13. lvae said:

    Ack! There is another blow to my amazing plans for the most awesome fairytale retelling ever (that hasn’t been written. Another blow).

    But I’m glad that my soon-to-be-queried novel doesn’t fall into your trends. Immediately after I typed that, I’m wondering whether or not that is a good thing.

  14. Rik said:

    So – just to check: you’re not being flooded out by stories of psychic parasites living in people’s skulls who have to operate through their humans to save the world?

  15. marissameyer said:

    How weird! My agent just sold my Cinderella-as-cyborg novel last month (no, really). I had no idea I was part of some alternate fairy tale movement! Now I’m trying to determine if I think that’s kind of cool, or a little disconcerting. Hm.

  16. Working Stiffs said:

    “Not sure how this will help you folks in the trenches but there you have it.”

    That’s why you’re one of the agents on our BAAM list over at our blog today. Thank you for all you do!

  17. Anonymous said:

    Just wanted to point out that there’s nothing new about reincarnation, let alone New Age; it’s been part of Buddhism and Hinduism, at least, for millennia. I’d guess the same is true for spirit guides as well, in shamanic and other Native American traditions.

  18. Anonymous said:

    Hello?? What about Angels?? Nye on drowning in Angels now. Bad boy angels. Sullen female angels. When is that trend going to leave?

  19. Kristin Laughtin said:

    Well, I’ll offer another predictable comment, and be glad my last MS didn’t feature a space elevator as the method of travel between planets, and thankful I put off my alternate fairy tale retelling in favor of another story for now. (I am a bit surprised by the popularity of space elevators right now. I went for solar sails.)

    Zombies and angels seem to be a big trend right now. I’ve even heard of zombie unicorns. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are zombie angels out there.

  20. Kelly Andrews said:

    I love fairy tales but I’m burnt on retellings of the same handful of stories.

    Marissa, you SOLD! So don’t be disconcerted. You’re way ahead of any stories querying now.

  21. June G said:

    I’m with [email protected]:45. The predicable comments…oy vey! It was refreshing to see Anonymous’s reply on this.

    And yeah Kristin;I saw your post on another site’s sidebar and ran right over. It’s always fun to see what other writers are into. Thanks again for the heads up.

  22. J. T. Shea said:

    So THAT’S what an ‘elevator pitch’ is!

    But seriously, MCPlanck, the space elevator is (or would be) a cable reaching to above a geostationary orbit. That gets you out of the Earth’s gravity well. You would still need a spacecraft to get to another planet, but smaller engines and a lot less fuel.

    And, speaking of fairy tales, space elevators are nicknamed ‘beanstalks’.

  23. Elise M Stone said:

    “1) Retellings of fairy tales in unusual settings (Sleeping Beauty on Mars, Snow White in the future, etc.)”

    I’ve been hoping someone else would mention this because I keep forgetting to check out my memory, but since no one has, I’ll throw this out there. A few(?) months back, RWR (Romance Writers Report, published by RWA) had an article or a sidebar on using fairytales as a basis for a romance novel. Of course, the author was specific about using lesser known stories, but it looks like writers took the idea and ran with ones they knew. I remember this because, not being a romance writer by instinct, I ran to the library and checked out several of the “color” Fairy Books to see if I could come up with a plot for a romance novel that way.

    BTW, it didn’t work for me. I said I wasn’t a romance writer!

  24. Karen Duvall said:

    I think someone should write an alternate ethnic fable and give it an urban twist. Now THAT would be interesting and loads of fun.

    My book that just sold to Luna has angels, but it’s mainly about a female order of modern knights who are angel halflings.

  25. Tara Maya said:

    I’ve read quite a few truly excellent fairytale retellings lately. My friend Michelle has a dark Cinderella story, not really a retelling, but a “what happened next?” story called Cinders. She’s doing two sequels. My own novella, also on Amazon, called “Tomorrow We Dance” is a retelling, of sorts, of The Pied Piper. I don’t think that one is quite as common….

    @ Karen Duvall. Angel halfling female knights sounds pretty awesome. Do keep me up to date on that one.