There are probably as many genres in the world as there are successful living writers. We all know about misery memoir, chick-lit, sick lit, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, dystopian romance, nostalgia fiction, new adult, adult, space opera etc etc and that amorphous beast we just call ‘literature’, into which falls any book we like but we can’t really pair with an obvious partner. They spring up out of seemingly nowhere and dominate our lives and the charts and have publishers rushing to buy up in bulk. But their popularity isn’t random – it is based on a delicate balance of social factors. Tapping into that idea, I’ve made a list of five genres I predict will be massive in the next few years.
(Please note: this is not an analysis of what defines genre. I’d recommend this article by author Kate Griffin if that’s what you’re looking for. She’s smart as hell and makes some really good points.)
The exact opposite of Fan Fic, this genre will explode onto the scene probably as early as this year. Instead of putting favourite characters in new situations, authors will make a living by turning their most hated popular stories into tragedies. It will have incredibly short lived appeal, as one of its defining features is that the hero/love interest must always die at the end. The books will live on as legally questionable films where slight name and plot changes attract a new generation of viewers.
This is a difficult genre to explain so I’ll simply say this: the detail and world building of JRR Tolkein; the characterisation of Dan Brown; and the plot lines/story arc of a cookery book. If you’re not at least a little intrigued, you have no soul. It also has no cross over appeal whatsoever.
After gorging ourselves on porn for two years, our apparently insatiable appetite will be throughly satiated; all taboos will be broken and fisting will have become a standard topic for dinner table conversation. Basically, sex, especially exciting sex, will be boring. And then comes celibacy lit, which firmly shuts the lid on all our rampant desire and says: ‘No more sex. Or kissing. Just feelings and inner turmoil, please.’ The message of the genre won’t actually be celibacy at all – it will be one of deprivation and frustration, which will give us all the macabre satisfaction usually reserved for Catholic self-flagellation. Celibacy lit will take a while to get going, but when it does take off it will be massive in America.
Mind, Body, Pet
Similar to the current mind, body, spirit range addressing human needs (like how to quit smoking or hypnotising yourself into believing you have a gastric band), the new mind, body, pet range will address the same thing for animals. This publishing line will be spawned partly from our lust for animal stories, our need to focus on someone else’s problems, and the inevitable success of the first ever audiobook for dogs. Titles may include ‘Cats and Dogs Don’t Need To Fight: Bettering Your Interspecies Tolerance’ and ‘A Puppy’s Guide To House Training’. I should also mention they’ll be written by celebrity animals. Or the animals of celebrities. Same thing.
Because climate change is such a massive issue and we’re all expecting the earth to explode/freeze/be overrun by the population increase at any minute, the public appetite for stories about the beginning of humanity is throughly whet. This genre is kind of like alternate history, except more extreme, because it’s basically fictional stories about the beginning of the universe and how life started. Striking that delicious balance between science fiction and creation myth, the genre will be survived by several cults, who will (somewhat ironically) be big into book burning.