Dystopian VS Paranormal market

I want to talk about something that has been on my mind quite a bit ever since I went to the writers conference.  Something that was talked about was the shift in the YA market in the last 10-15 years.  Justin Chanda, VP of Simon & Schuster, talked about how not too long ago there was almost no market for YA.  Very few YA books were out there.  And then things started shifting.  And in the last 6 or 7 years we have seen the market BOOM in one sub-genre of YA.  Paranormal/contemporary/urban fantasy.  (whatever you want to call it)

I sense another shift in the market and I wonder if people feel the same way.

It is blaringly obvious that dystopians are big right now.  So many new ones are coming out.  But how do they work themselves into the market?  I've heard talk already how people are getting a little tired of them because of hype they get.  But what I think is happening is that dystopian is becoming a sub-genre that people aren't recognizing.  Just like there is paranormal YA, just like there is contemporary YA, now there is dystopian YA.

There are three places in time to write about.  Past.  Present.  Future.  There's the market of historically set YA stuff (Gemma Doyle series, Octavian Nothing, Soulless).  The majority of YA contemporary and paranormal is written to set place in our current day.  But the market for writing about the future has been VERY small, until the last 2-3 years, in my opinion.  That hole is now being filled in.

Why now?

Look at our world today.  Look at what we see in the news every day.  Look at what our young adults are going to have to face in their futures.  The future for our young adults is so big, scary, and fascinating.  And that is now coming out in fiction.

So my question for you:  Do you think the market will support the new sub-genre of dystopians like it has paranormal?  Do you see the genre expanding or shrinking in the next 5 years or so?  Can it hold up as its own genre?


Jenni Merritt said...

I have been a fan of dystopians for a long time now. Only a year ago I remember having to explain what a dystopian was to almost everyone I talked to. Now, they all know. Which is great... but at the same time, I have to admit I kind of miss the "rareness" of it.

I hope dystopians stay. It is such a great genre that can literally go anywhere. People don't realize it, but they have loved dystopians a lot longer than they know (Think... The Matrix, Equilibrium, The Giver...)

Let's cross our fingers!

h.m.resch said...

I will start by saying I'm not a fan of dystopian. Sorry!

I wouldn't say that the general interest in dystopian is anything new. It's just new(ish) to YA fiction, which tends to run a little behind adult fiction anyway. World War Z and The Road were popular long before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the Hunger Games. Just like Anne Rice came long before Stephanie Meyer and her ilk.

Genre fiction runs in fads and always has done. The 2010s just might be dystopian's turn as top dog, just as paranormal dominated for the past decade. Neither genre will go away, nor will fantasy and contemporary fiction die either.

My only concern with dystopian is the grim factor. By definition there is a bleakness to all dystopian fiction. People will only stomach something dark and dreary for so long until they need a bit of sunshine. Just sayin'.

Nicole MacDonald said...

Dystopian isn't my preference but yes these style of fantasy books are only going to expand - and lots of books from decades ago can fit under these new headings. At the time they just made do with what they had.
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Keary Taylor said...

I agree h.m.resch, that is the big downfall that dystopian's have, is that they are all generally quite grim. I think that is another way that the market could grow, is to take a different, positive spin on it.

Here's something I just found and I thought was really cool. Apparently MTV has been having a dystopian week, lot's of interesting stuff to read. Not what I would expect from them, lol! Here's the link: http://hollywoodcrush.mtv.com/tag/dystopian-week/

Anonymous said...

Like Jenni, I still find myself having to explain to some people what dystopia is, and while I've read a few dystopian books, they are not at the top of my to-read list. I see this genre similar to the current excitment over steampunk - I doubt either will grow as big as the paranormal genre, but I think it will always be around, and us writers just have to keep re-inveting it:)


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