I keep reading various articles and blogs talking about how these days the major publishing houses have moved to a model where they are seeking to publish fewer books while selling larger amounts of the ones they do publish. Rather than remain diverse in what they sell, they are looking for more 'home run' books that sell mega-amounts.
This is really depressing for most of us, I think. I am writing books that I wish to read, and I don't think my primary tastes fall into the category of what makes up a home run book. I didn't much care for The DaVinci Code or Twilight. I did like Harry Potter, and that has spawned a whole Young Adult phase that is also killing off writers like me who do adult speculative fiction. I have nothing against Young Adult books. I just wish all the agents and publishers weren't jumping on the YA bandwagon so heavily that many of them specifically ask only for YA on their websites these days.
Sure, they are selling a lot of YA today. But that can blind them to tomorrow's trends. I see A Game of Thrones HBO series being produced and building up a tremendous amount of excitement because it looks like they may be doing it right (the way that Peter Jackson finally did a fantasy the right way after decades of pathetic fantasy efforts). I see the two Hobbit movies coming out in the next few years. The Hobbit may technically be YA, but it doesn't have that feel. It feels more like epic fantasy, and A Game of Thrones is completely adult fantasy. Any half smart publishing exec looking for home run books right now should be thinking about this.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the vast majority of epic fantasy lovers already purchased the Tolkien books because of the Lord of the Rings movies. They will be looking for something new once the above shows come out.
The problem remains that most epic fantasy novels are not so huge that they make it into the 'home run' category. They can do very well, as The Sword of Shannara demonstrated and A Game of Thrones also, but still they don't sell the tens of millions of copies that we saw with Harry Potter or DaVinci Code. If publishers insist on only going after home run books, it means that it will continue to be nearly impossible for writers like me to get published.
My hope is that some very smart small publishers will recognize the void and step in to snatch up books like mine. So far I don't see this happening. A couple months ago I looked up a big list of small publishers for fantasy. I went to each of their sites. Almost all of them were either closed to submissions or were looking for only YA or urban or paranormal fantasies. I found no one I could submit my books to.
So, I am writing my second novel right now. I wish I could write it in the same adult style that I used for the first. However, I keep fighting myself on this, thinking that if I just tailored it to the YA audience it would give me a much better shot at being published. I really don't want to go that route, but I can't stop thinking that I may have little choice, since I do wish to be a published writer.