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Steampunk: running out of steam?

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JustinDono

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This has never really been an issue for me, but lately I've noticed Steampunk becoming more and more prominent in the YA/MG market.  I've never really followed market trends before but now that I'm writing in a genre that finds itself in the spotlight, I'm a bit concerned.  Will I finish my current manuscript's first draft in May or June, revise it by July, then send it off only to find out that Steampunk's golden age has come and gone?  That'd be annoying.

I've heard people say on here that there's a bunch of books in the steampunk genre due out in 2011-2012.  Obviously market saturation is something publishers want to avoid and something that can affect us little writer folk.  Now, I'm going to keep writing my steampunk stuff, regardless of trends, but I'm curious as to what y'all think.

Is steampunk about to reach its brassy, anachronistic zenith, or is the oncoming deluge of steam-powered publishing the tip of the aether iceberg?  Are you yourself writing, or have written anything sufficiently steampunky (including the less well-known subgenres dieselpunk and clockpunk)?  Hoave you subbed anything steampunk to an agent or publishing house?  Any buzz on how agents feel about steampunk submissions? 
#1 - April 18, 2011, 12:57 AM

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 I wouldn't worry about it. Steampunk is just rising--gosh, the vampire trend is still in stores and that's lasted at least seven years. I think you're safe (but that's just my opinion.) If you write an incredible novel, it'll sell despite trends.
#2 - April 18, 2011, 07:16 AM
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I just attended a SCBWI regional conference where there was a first page critique session by an agent. One of the first pages she read was a steampunk picture book! She gushed over it. She said she could think of several editors that she could call up immediately and tell them she had steampunk with a bunny and they would tell her to send it over right away. She didn't give any indication that steampunk was over.

Good luck with your manuscript!

Amy
#3 - April 18, 2011, 08:06 AM
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If you write an incredible novel, it'll sell despite trends.

Absolutely! 

Honestly, I think you're right to be a bit concerned. Steampunk is cresting right now, but if you've got a great premise independent of the steampunk genre, people will still want to read and publish it.  I thought I was getting a bit tired of dystopians, but as soon as I read the blurb for Bumped by Megan McCafferty, I knew I wanted to read it: It's a different take, it's funny and the themes are interesting to me.  They didn't even use the word 'dystopia' in the blurb and I didn't see it on her website until some of the reviews she quotes used it.  In July when you start querying, you can decide whether or not you even want to use the word 'steampunk.'
#4 - April 19, 2011, 07:13 AM
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JustinDono

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The title I'm using is a bit of a pun, and it's called "The Steam Punk,"  two separate words, as in Punk, noun: a person of ill-repute of rebellious behavior, and Steam, adjective, to describe his nature of using steam or something.

So NOT using that is going to be a bit odd.
#5 - April 19, 2011, 11:14 PM

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Ha, ha, ha!  Okay, but that's a different take.  At least your title implies a different take.  Is it funny?.  You don't see a lot of comic steampunk, and I think that would be a great, re-defining-the-genre type idea.
#6 - April 20, 2011, 08:45 AM
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Lena Coakley
Exquisite storytelling plus atmospheric worldbuilding equals one stunning teen debut. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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If you love this genre by all means write it and don't pay attention to trend rumours that may or may not be accurate.

I heard an editor say a few years ago that "Vampires and pirates are dead." It's all a matter of taste. He/she was probably tired of seeing yet another vampire manuscript in his/her pile. Another editor might have thought, "Great! Here's the next Twilight!"

Vampires are still around, years later. Pirates have mostly disappeared, although there was a wonderful twist on pirates in the stunning YA novel, The Dust of One Hundred Dogs.

#7 - April 20, 2011, 09:43 AM
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None of us should be listening to trend rumours.  We should be learning everything we can about the market and making our own evaluations because we’re professionals and that’s our business.  I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from writing a vampire novel if that’s what they’re inspired to do, but you’d be a fool to do it without giving a thought to how it’s going to stand out in this market.

The truth is, some people are writing books that just aren’t going to sell.  Justin!  I don’t actually think you’re one of them, so please know I’ve gone all theoretical at this point! 

I just think that asking ourselves how our books are going to stand out in an overheating market is always prudent. 
#8 - April 20, 2011, 10:47 AM
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Lena Coakley
Exquisite storytelling plus atmospheric worldbuilding equals one stunning teen debut. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

ahsitan

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Don't worry about the trends. I've always heard they cycle back.
#9 - June 27, 2011, 08:45 PM

Or maybe that fan base will all grow up and get married and you'll be writing adult-adult rather than young-adult.  Check out these cakes!

http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/2009/10/sunday-sweets-steampunk.html

(It's from Cakewrecks, by the way: the only thing that keeps me going during the sub process.)
#10 - June 28, 2011, 08:40 AM

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