In this episode of the Writing Momentum podcast, Chris and Gena are joined by Marisa Corvisiero, the founder and CEO of Corvisiero Literary Agency. They discuss the concept of trends in the writing market, including what defines a trend and how it affects writers. Marisa explains that trends are what is hot and being published or read at a particular time, but cautions against blindly following trends because they can change quickly. They also discuss the influence of other media on book trends and the importance of staying informed. The episode concludes with a discussion about Marisa’s upcoming Authorpreneur workshop, where writers will have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals and gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed as an author.
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episode 92 transcription:
[00:00:00] Christopher: Hey, hey and welcome to the Writing Momentum podcast. I'm Christopher Maselli. I'm here with my wife, Gena. How's it going today, Gena? [00:00:05] Gena: It's going great. We have such a fun person on with us today and so I'm really excited about this. [00:00:11] Christopher: Yes, we have Marisa Corvisiero on with us. She is the founder and CEO of Corvisiero Literary Agency, she's an attorney, a senior literary agent, literary consultant, speaker, author, she practices law in New York City, she's attended over a hundred writers conferences and workshops, and she also, you continue to present on webinars, tutorials, and bootcamps, and you have your own Authorpreneur workshop, which we're excited about coming up here in just a few months. [[00:00:37] Christopher: How are you doing today, Marisa? [00:00:39] Marisa: I'm great, thank you so much for having me. [00:00:41] Christopher: Don't you love the lead in to that? It's it's a long block before I get there. [00:00:45] Marisa: Just say, I'll just let Marisa tell you about herself, and then I'll be like, let's not talk about me let's just talk about you. [00:00:53] Christopher: I'll tell you what, today... You are a literary agent and you know all about trends in the market and people talk about [00:01:00] trends and how the market changes for writers and there's all these things you've got to think about when you're writing and when your book comes out and all that. But let's just, let's start with the basics here. [[00:01:10] Christopher: Can you share with everyone what exactly is a trend? When it comes to being a writer? [00:01:16] Marisa: Absolutely. Yeah. So when we're talking about trends, we're basically talking about what's hot and what people are looking for, what's being published or, what people are reading. So there's different trends and that's what you, that's where you need to be super careful because people might say, Oh, this is super hot trend on mermaids. And that doesn't mean that you should go and write a book on mermaids. Now, that means that people are reading mermaids. You know what I'm saying? Especially if we're talking about Traditionally publishing. When you get a publishing deal, first you go through the whole rigmarole of finding an agent, then the agent signs you, then they pitch it, then you get an offer. [00:01:48] Marisa: Once you sign the publishing deal, there's still possibly a 12 month wait period for them to actually publish your books, especially if there's a print component because there's printing and [[00:02:00] distribution and shipping and all those fun things that take time. So they take at least 12 months to put the book out. [00:02:06] Marisa: So if you're thinking of writing something now, you need to be really thinking ahead, but by the time your book comes out, will it still be relevant or in trend, if you will. [00:02:17] Christopher: Yeah, that's my thought is that by the time you'd hear about some great trend like mermaids that you like that you're to use your example by the time you write that book and Find an agent, find an editor, or even self publish it for that matter, unless you write super fast You're probably going to have missed that trend, right? [[00:02:35] Christopher: Do trends, do they hang around for a while or do they change a lot? [00:02:38] Marisa: It depends. Some come and go really quick, And there's cyclical things and things that come back like vampires like every couple of years or People try again to do vampires and there was a couple of years ago that was like An impending trend, like we started seeing a lot of vampire things coming in and we tried and I actually got to two deals for different authors for vampire books and they didn't do super [[00:03:00] well and it fizzled out. [00:03:01] Marisa: So you never really know. You just got to be there and got to show up. If you don't play, you don't win. So you really never know what's going to happen and how long it's going to last or what? It's super subjective. [[00:03:12] Christopher: Is there any way to see into the future to know, okay, I think maybe this looks like it might pick up in a year from now. Or is that just completely, is it guesswork? [00:03:24] Marisa: For me, because we get so many submissions and my team is super hands on and we literally chat every day and every week we spend at least one or two hours on Zoom calls and we share things that we're reading, things that we're seeing in the inboxes and all of those things. [00:03:41] Marisa: We're in a better position to put our finger on the pulse of what's happening. So we see the things coming in. So if we see a lot of people writing a certain thing. We know there's a chance that's going to be most likely a trend. [00:03:51] Christopher: That's interesting. So it could be based on even what the writers are interested in right now into what might be coming out in the future. [00:03:58] Marisa: It's almost this mass consciousness thing, [00:04:00] people just start, for whatever reason, they just start writing similar projects or things like certain themes. Oh, there's a lot of alien abductions all of a sudden. And you're like, what's everybody writing about this? I don't know if it's like... Other books that are triggering things or media things or just, like I said, people I could, we are all connected. So I think that's how it all happens. [[00:04:20] Gena: Tell us, give us the inside scoop here. What are you seeing right now? [00:04:24] Marisa: What am I seeing right now? I'm seeing actually a lot of changes in the young adult market. We're still seeing a lot of Fae fantasy things coming in. Honestly, that market is a little bit saturated. [00:04:38] Marisa: There's so many really, like Sarah J Maas and Holly Black and there's just so many amazing authors writing like this amazing Fae fantasy young adult books. It's super hard to stand out in the market. Because of that, we say it's saturated, so unless you have a really out of the box, completely new idea, new take on something, it's going to be difficult [[00:05:00] to pick up on that. [00:05:01] Marisa: So the demand for those books are diminishing, even though those readers are still looking for the really good books, but they want something new, so it's like a balance. People writing those or pitching those really need to make sure that the books are steaming out. [00:05:13] Christopher: Yeah, that's good. So what, let's look at the opposite side though. What would you say is on its way out right now? Or would you say, okay, I'm not touching that subject. That's, it's just, that's been overdone. [[00:05:25] Gena: She just said vampires. [[00:05:26] Christopher: Yeah, maybe vampires. [[00:05:27] Gena: Is a little bit. [00:05:29] Marisa: Not super hot now, even though I've seen like a few like new TV shows and new movies that have come out, but that hasn't, I haven't seen that pick up. And that's probably because I think, Almost every author I know has written a vampire book in the past 10, 20 years. But it's we're all little iffy about vampires. I think in, in different genres, there are like different things that are not like super hot. We talk about young adults, so young adult like issue driven things are still super popular. [00:05:56] Marisa: But things that are going out, like we mentioned young adults, so like in [00:06:00] thrillers psychological thrillers are still really hot, so science fiction thrillers are really hot, and I think the quirky comedic science fiction things are not doing super well now and say, romance the cocky boss, that kind of thing, that's been redone a million times, so that's on its way out, even though I know some authors that are still continuously making a boatload of money doing those, but because our readers just keep wanting them. [00:06:25] Marisa: But it's hard to break out traditionally published. Like self published authors are probably doing well, especially if they have a readership. So you need to know what's happening, right? So in romance, maybe paranormal romance is not doing as well. Rom coms are still doing well. Picture books, like rhyming books are not, they are their way out, if not already completely out. [00:06:45] Marisa: We're looking for, really quirky character driven stories with maybe like a beautiful message, but not didactic, like not preachy, so those are the things we're still looking for. STEM things are super hot in, in [00:07:00] picture books. In fact, I'm signing one tomorrow. Don't tell the author. [00:07:03] Marisa: There's a lot of different things in different genres, and at the agency we represent almost all the genres, so we get to see what's happening. [00:07:11] Christopher: A variety, yeah. Do you find that other media tend to influence what's hot in the book market? Do the movies and TV shows that are out strongly influence what people are interested in reading about? Or are they, or is it maybe even the other way around? [00:07:27] Marisa: I think so. I think people are definitely influenced by media or things that are happening. To write or to not write certain things like, we all stay away from certain hot button topics that we just don't want to go there and editors don't like books about the pandemic. [00:07:43] Marisa: None of us want to read those. Like we're done. We're over it. COVID is not, the fear is gone. And my son was just telling me the other day, we actually, a couple of weeks ago, we went to Ecuador and there's a lot of sick people and he's Oh my God, mom, if we get like a new string [00:08:00] of COVID by the time, I go back to start school, it's going to stink. [00:08:04] Marisa: So we came back. We like, we don't want to send them to school and get everybody sick, it's mostly gone. And most of us have experienced some kind of something with COVID, even getting sick or. Being stuck at home and all of the things that came with it. So we're all stuck. Let's not knock on wood. [[00:08:25] Gena: Yeah, I get that. [00:08:25] Christopher: So you mentioned though, that some authors, like they continue to write in a genre that may be considered on its way out, but they're making a boatload of money in that genre. Is that because they have a writing platform and is that platform, does that kind of trump writing the following the trends then because they know they have a group of followers that are all about what they're writing and faithful to it, is that sort of thing? [00:08:51] Marisa: I think so. I think that definitely helps because their readers will continue to read those type of books and as long as they're offering something new with each book and [00:09:00] they're still entertaining especially something like romance, it's like very formulaic and there are certain elements that you can get really creative with and sometimes deviate from the formula a little bit and that kind of helps and it, surprises the readers and they like that. [00:09:13] Marisa: And there's a lot of authors that do that well. And there's some that don't and eventually they'll start seeing a downturn. So my suggestion to authors that are doing that is to start writing something different. I have a very clever client. I'm not sure if I should give her name, but she's amazing. [00:09:30] Marisa: Why not? It's Megan Erickson. She has written... Many romance, spicy romance, paranormal romance, rom com, she's amazing, right? And then one day she just decided to start writing this alien book. So she started writing under Ella Maven. So she's writing like this alien romance books. They have been so well received. [00:09:50] Marisa: She's written like 15 of them or something like ridiculous. We just got her like a big audio deal. And She was writing those for a while and she's [00:10:00] okay, now, sooner or later, those are going to start not being as popular and there's only so much new you could do. So she's starting, we're already talking about her next project that we're going to pitch, under her regular name. [00:10:11] Marisa: So those are all things that you need to think about, if you're doing something consistently, eventually it's going to get boring and you got to start doing something else before you get to that point. [00:10:20] Christopher: Yeah, I imagine if you're writing spy thrillers, your audience is going to expect more spy thrillers from you, right? [00:10:26] Christopher: So you've got that going for you, but then also at some point... Sorry, what's that? [00:10:33] Marisa: That's because that's their brand, right? That's what people are looking for. Their readership. So the, thriller writers don't get to change as much unless they decide to write a new series on like psychological thrillers or something like that. [00:10:44] Marisa: But, like some authors are just known for certain things. So they want the legal thriller authors to keep writing those, psychological thrillers, writing those. The thing with those is that there's a big... spectrum of different things that you can do. So many walks of life, people, careers, [00:11:00] they're not as formulaic as, there's an issue, they have a fight, they work it out, love happily ever after. Thrillers are a little bit different. [[00:11:08] Christopher: Yeah. And some of those genres might be adjacent to each other, right? So they could move from one to another very slightly without losing their current readership, but maybe gaining a new readership. [00:11:20] Marisa: Yeah. Yeah. So there's different things you could do. And sometimes people decide to, write under different pen names or whatever. That, that's a whole other conversation. And I think pen names shouldn't be done unless your genres are conflicting with each other because then you're managing two careers and you have to promote both. [00:11:34] Marisa: It's more work and it's not necessary. Now, if you're writing, romance and doing picture books, then you probably need, a different pen name. You don't want to create confusion in the market unless you're trying to keep a secret or avoid confusion there's really no reason to do a pen name. [00:11:48] Christopher: Yeah. But you are purposely then saying I'm going to have, there's going to be two of me. One of me is the picture book person. One of me is the romance person. And each of them is going to have their own followers and probably their own social [00:12:00] channels, their own platforms, all of that. Because you're not, yeah, the two don't blend very well. [00:12:04] Marisa: Exactly. Unless you do something like, Megan Erickson did because the alien books were so different. They're like science fiction component. It wasn't like contemporary romance. She didn't want her readers to be confused and be like, what is this? [00:12:16] Marisa: Why is she writing this? I hate it. And sometimes when you do that and your readers pick up something that you're doing new they might actually hate it. You get really bad reviews because they're expecting something else. So it's clever that she did it this way, but she said, writing Megan Erickson, writing as Ella Maven. [[00:12:31] Marisa: So people knew that to expect something different. So you have to be smart with the way you brand it and present it. [[00:12:37] Christopher: Yeah. [00:12:38] Gena: That's good. [[00:12:39] Christopher: Okay. [00:12:40] Gena: So we've heard about the authorpreneur workshops. Tell us more about that. Tell us what we can expect and when it is. [00:12:48] Marisa: Oh, yes. You can expect lots of fun things. So it's April 13th. It's a Saturday. It's a full day workshop from early in the morning until the afternoon. After the workshop, we do a little [00:13:00] mixer with the faculty and the staff and all of the authors. And it's super fun. And more often than not, we actually stay for dinner and hang out like until way too late and we're all exhausted and talking gibberish. [00:13:11] Marisa: So that's the workshop and we have publishers, editors coming in. We have marketing people, we have literary agents that represent different genres. We have an audio producer, we have a movie producer, a book scout. We try to invite people from different walks of life, if you will. [00:13:29] Marisa: Different facets of the industry. So everybody gets what they need. They find the resources that they need and they get the advice that they need. And we try to make the whole program comprehensive. So once people leave our workshop, they're like, okay, I'm in a really good position to start doing this. I know what to do and I know how to do it right. [00:13:45] Christopher: I like that word comprehensive because you're really covering so many aspects of the writer's career, right? Because it's authorpreneur, it's not just being an author, it's also being an entrepreneur and it's putting those together and saying, okay, we're going to Just help [00:14:00] you launch into what you're doing or maybe if you're already launched, perfect your next venture, right? [00:14:05] Marisa: Exactly. I think everyone learns something, even if they already have books published or if they're doing, they've got things started. I personally find that, you've said in my bio how many conferences I've been to, which is a ridiculous amount when I actually quantify it. I've actually had years that I had like maybe 23 events and I was like, I really need to stop. [00:14:25] Marisa: So like for years I've been doing these workshops in my way of giving back and connecting to authors instead of traveling to all the other states and Spending so much time away from the office and my family. [00:14:34] Marisa: It's comprehensive because it's important for them to learn a little bit about everything and be in that better position to not just think of writing as an art and how to get their story perfected and all of those things, but thinking as an authorpreneur, as a business person and knowing how to properly get their book out there, packaged and presented and branded. [00:14:56] Christopher: Do you actually take time, do you have because you're calling it a workshop, [00:15:00] do you actually have some hands on time in there where they work on it or is it more Setting them up so then they can go home and work on it. How, what's your approach in this particular workshop? [[00:15:09] Marisa: Both. Yeah, absolutely. [00:15:10] Marisa: So we do lectures, we do like a mini synopsis bootcamp. And we do critiques. So we have people send things in early and they get feedback and then when they come in, they can meet with the agent and editor, and also they get to ask questions during the presentations as to the feedback that they've gotten. [00:15:26] Marisa: So it's super hands on and they get feedback on their actual work. To help them get that ready to submit and we help them prepare for pitching and they have access to pitch different editors and agents. [00:15:39] Christopher: That's awesome. All right. [[00:15:39] Gena: Now remind me, where is this taking place? [00:15:43] Marisa: So it takes place in Red Bank, New Jersey. It's on the coast. It's right by the river. So it's a really pretty, relaxing scene. And the ballroom that we reserve actually has a balcony so you can literally sit outside and look at the river and take a deep breath. And it's relaxing and [00:16:00] beautiful and it's a lot of fun. [00:16:02] Christopher: That'd be nice. You could just go there and during your downtime, you could just probably sit out there and write. Is that right? [00:16:07] Gena: Well, that network, you're there to meet people and learn. [00:16:10] Christopher: It's April too, so maybe a little cold for that I don't know. [00:16:14] Marisa: I haven't actually seen a lot of people do that, but one of my clients. The other day we were talking about something new that we were going to pitch and she said, you know what? [00:16:24] Marisa: Cause she was a guest in one of my workshops a couple of years ago. And she said, you know what? I had this idea at your workshop. And I wrote the synopsis of the blurb during your workshop. And I decided to write the book now. And I was like, Oh my God, that's awesome. So people do get creative ideas and whatever, they don't have a lot of down time to write. [00:16:40] Marisa: You have an hour for lunch and lunch is included in the workshop and we serve coffee and pastries in the morning and water and coffee through the day. We actually have candy on the tables. We really try to take care of people and have them sit, comfortably and feel welcome. And it's, and that's part of what makes it unique. [00:16:57] Marisa: Not that other people aren't doing that, but we try to [[00:17:00] really focus on the wellbeing of the author and what they need to succeed. Normally when people are happy and calm and relaxed they tend to be a little more open and in the right mindset to sort of absorb [00:17:14] Marisa: So we try to make it relaxing. The only thing that is not relaxing is that one hour that we do the first page critique, it's so intense, like you could hear a pin drop in there. So literally, like all the agents and editors sit on a panel and we pass the mic and like we read the first page and we raise our hands or hit a gong depending on how we do that. [00:17:31] Marisa: Like in the past we hit gongs like when we would stop reading so when we get three gongs we stop reading the first page and then we give feedback and we say this is what didn't work and then we I always tell everybody that's presenting Make sure you give something positive because we don't want to I mean it's intense enough people really nervous So it's let's tell them what you did it's important to give positive feedback as well. [00:17:53] Christopher: Those can be nerve wracking. I've sat in some of those before, but you learn so much from [00:18:00] hearing other people's pitches that you discover, okay, here's what I need to do with my own to make sure that it's ready to go. So there, it's always worth sitting in. And it's certainly if you've got the the courage to submit your own. [[00:18:13] Christopher: Please do. Just know that, it can be a little nerve wracking. [00:18:16] Marisa: Yeah, absolutely. But it's a good learning experience for everyone, I think. And a lot of times it's fun because, you have several people reading it and they read the first page and people are like, you know what, whoever wrote this submitted to me I love this. We've had that. And I've done that on panels too. It's Oh, this sounds really good. I, some people from the first line, they're like, they just pull you in and it's oh my god, the character is so amazing, the writing is strong, the language. It's oh my god this is great. I want to read more. So sometimes that leads to an opportunity. It's a win. [00:18:44] Christopher: Love it. Marissa has been nice enough to share a bunch of coupon codes with us for this conference, so be sure to look in the show notes for that. We'll also have a link to the website so you can find out more about it, find out how to get tickets. [00:18:55] Christopher: If you're on the East Coast, we strongly recommend you check it out because it's not too far [00:19:00] away from you, and if you're elsewhere, hey! This might be worth flying in for. I know that they have people flying in from everywhere to go to it. [[00:19:05] Marisa: The codes will be shared so save your seat before it sells out. [00:19:09] Christopher: Absolutely. Thank you so much for being with us today and sharing the trends. I always think it's fascinating to hear what what's hot and how to even see, try to coordinate, what the trends are in the future. [00:19:19] Marisa: Exactly. And it's ever changing. So it's always good to keep your finger on the pulse and, Publishers Marketplace is a really good resource for people to see what's coming out and what's being acquired, what people are writing and things like that. Inform yourself. Knowledge is power. [00:19:32] Christopher: Knowledge is power. Exactly. Hey, if you've enjoyed this podcast, please rate, review, subscribe and share it with someone else who might want to find out about market trends or about the authorpreneuer workshop. This is going to be some good stuff coming up. We thank you so much for listening to you guys. [00:19:48] Christopher: When you share this with others, when you leave reviews that helps other people find this podcast, which is so important. To help us all build this writing community together because as we've shared before we have writing [[00:20:00] momentum when we do it together. [00:20:02] Gena: That's right. [[00:20:03] Christopher: Bye-Bye. [[00:20:03] Marisa: Thank you for having me!