Author Aubrey Cara told me that she just did an Amazon search and there are 47 new step books right now (like Step Alien on the right, a sci-fi twist on the stepbrother appeal). Apparently the pseudo-incest theme is off the charts hot right now. Just like spanking fiction and M/M fiction was two years ago, this past year has had its trends for what sells in the erotic lit genre.
Ageplay: Seems like anything ageplay sells fast, but particularly if you mix it with another one of the hot themes like Victorian, Western, and Medical BDSM)
Medical BDSM: We saw a huge rash of medical BDSM books come out and take the Amazon rankings by storm.
Victorian BDSM: According to RWA, this is the favorite historical period for romance novels right now.
Western BDSM: Second favorite
Breeding stories: Hot.
Lactation: Human cows are quite popular right now
Billionaires: Still hot. I think it’s funny that money is a fetish, but it makes sense with the whole powerful alpha male thing. Of course we know shopping/spending money is a form of foreplay for some.
Amish Romance: I love that this is a hot trend. It must be similar to the Victorian era erotic stories, where the juxtaposition of naughty against the backdrop of very rigid social mores turns us on.
MMf: Don’t try Mff– at least not in my genre– the readers only are interested in two doms and a woman.
I still think the appeal of many of these hot trends resides in shame. The things that are more taboo, that people are more in the closet about, are the things they’re buying to secretly read on their Kindles. BDSM is most socially acceptable, so it doesn’t sell as well as domestic discipline. Ageplay is an extremely misunderstood subset of BDSM and has a huge following (my ageplay blog posts get thousands of hits).
Should we chase the trends?
I believe authors should write what’s in their hearts and fantasies. I don’t think anyone should shove down an idea because it isn’t popular right now (a vampire story, for example). That said, we all want people to read our books, so if you can throw in one of these trendy elements to sweeten the deal, why not do it?
Try one out as an experiment–use a different pen name if you don’t want to be associated with Step Aliens who breed Victorian Littles and use them as Hucows. Don’t pour your heart and soul into them if you’re not feeling it, but be playful– you might find the payoff in both book sales and an improved Amazon algorithm ranking as an author (if we are to believe such a thing exists).
What trends have you seen? Have you written in any of the genres I mentioned? What were your results? Please share so we can all learn!