We need to know who’s writing it, what they’re writing about, and who’s publishing it. We need to read widely within in the genre, as well as reading outside the genre. You might or might not want to follow trends.
Either way, you need to know what the current trends are, so you don’t inadvertently write what’s already been done 500 times in the past two years. Or if you do plan to jump on the Trend Bandwagon, you need to make sure that yours is a totally unique slant.
- Amazon is an excellent source. If you look up a book you liked, and then scroll down the page, you’ll see “Customers who bought this item also bought,” which often features 100 or more books that are similar to this book. Often, they're books that haven't been released yet.
- Publishers Weekly: As a librarian and as a writer, the tool I like best is Publishers Weekly’s semi-annual lists. Twice each year, the list features all of the new releases by more publishers than you might imagine exist. Last week, the Spring 2011 Children’s Announcements edition was released. I use this 90-page, single-spaced list to buy books for my library. What I like most about this tool is its comprehensiveness. I can see at a glance each and every publisher’s list, broken down by age group. As a writer, I find it very helpful. (Listed alphabetically by publisher): A-C ; D-F; G-L; M-Q; R-S ; T-Z .
- Last but not least, you can check out the New Books section @Your Local Library.