Whether you’re looking to write to market or are scouring manuscript submissions for your next acquisition, knowing what tropes appeal to readers can help inform your decision. We see different trends in different categories. And studying these publishing trends, especially those that have been selling well recently, will help you learn what content can best engage your audience.
To help you get a sense of current publishing trends and what’s engaging BookBub members, we’re showcasing two tropes across each of 15 different categories, along with examples of books that performed well for each trope. These trends and examples are based on our internal engagement data from the past few months as well as our editors’ research. Note that our readers’ tastes change over time, and these are the tropes that are currently trending!
Special thanks to BookBub’s editors for contributing their expertise and trope summaries below!
Crime Fiction Trends
When a person vanishes, they leave dozens of questions in their wake: not just how and why the incident occurred, but sometimes even whether the disappearance was a crime at all. And our readers are loving a good twist right now!
Our puzzle-loving readers enjoy books that reopen a cold case — a crime that’s lain dormant for years, sometimes decades — from a fresh angle, where someone finally finds the tools needed to crack it.
Historical Romance Trends
Marriages of convenience
In historical romances, readers love when heroines must wed the hero for reasons beyond their control, or marry for anything but love — only to find themselves falling head over heels!
Heroes with titles
Dukes might have been few and far between in actual 19th century England, but in historical romance they’re thick on the ground, and our readers have been loving them as heroes lately — along with earls and marquesses.
Middle Grade Trends
There’s nothing better than magic with a good dose of whimsy. Middle Grade fantasy often strikes a great balance between the quintessential magical elements our readers love and an inviting tone that appeals to all ages.
Drawing from classic series like Nancy Drew and The Boxcar Children, contemporary middle grade mysteries combine sleuthing with charm for low-stakes puzzles that are fun, exciting, and stress-free.
Teen & YA Trends
Contemporary about real world issues
We’ve seen our YA readers turning to books about real-world issues recently, like abuse, suicide, and mental illness, as they explore tough topics through emotional reads.
Fairy tale retellings
There’s nothing more satisfying than a new twist on an old favorite. Fairy tale retellings deliver a wonderful mix of familiarity and surprise as they approach the classic happily ever after from a different angle.
Literary Fiction Trends
Literary fiction often helps us reflect on how we as individuals belong in a community. Small towns — where everyone’s business is inescapable — are the perfect settings for exploring the divides between personal ambition, duty, and home.
The best literary fiction also helps us understand our relationships with those closest to us. Family sagas allow us to see how characters’ most intimate ties change over time, often underlining the sentiment that you can never truly go home again.
Science Fiction Trends
Science fiction stories span galaxies and centuries — and more often than not, several volumes in a series. Our sci-fi readers love good deals that let them visit and stay awhile in worlds beyond our own.
Great science fiction paints a picture of the future that shines a light on the present. Artificial intelligence has been a particularly strong frame for exploring current questions of consciousness, labor, and identity.
Our epic fantasy readers like to be swept up in vivid secondary worlds and love tales with high stakes, magic, and intrigue.
Fairy tale retellings
Fairy tale retellings breathe new life into classic fairy tales and myths, offering either lush reweavings of established storylines or new takes on familiar tropes.
Paranormal Romance Trends
Our paranormal romance readers enjoy sci-fi romance tropes, particularly a steamier plot featuring a sexy, alpha alien looking for a human mate.
In the supernatural world, sometimes destiny delivers one’s soulmate, igniting an unfathomable, intense connection. Fated mates is one of our paranormal romance readers’ favorite tropes right now.
Erotic Romance Trends
Sure, you’re probably thinking about Christian Grey from Fifty Shades, but he’s not the only brooding billionaire out there. What woman doesn’t want a wealthy man who can offer her everything her heart desires?
Right now our erotic romance readers are loving ménage romance and all the tension and pleasure that comes from adding another person in the bedroom.
Action & Adventure Trends
In military fiction, protagonists will likely have a degree of experience in the combat and survival departments, so the book’s action sequences will reflect that expertise.
Ancient secrets, codes, and hidden treasure
Given the gargantuan popularity of stories like National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code, it’s no surprise that our action and adventure readers are big fans of books featuring historical clues, hidden treasures, and puzzle elements.
Cozy Mysteries Trends
English village mysteries
Our US readers like to visit the pastoral countryside with English village mysteries — think cozy town centers and witty suspects who are questioned over afternoon tea. The inciting murder typically happens off the page and the amateur sleuth is able to tie things up neatly in the end.
Bookish cozy mysteries have amateur sleuths with one foot in the world of books — often as bookstore owners, book club members, librarians, or authors — and evoke the charm of a reading ritual or the thrill of researching through dusty tomes.
Queer literary fiction
Queer literary fiction is often bittersweet, with plots involving difficult choices and self-reflection. It captures parts of the queer experience not always covered in romance or other genre fiction.
In our LGBT category, mystery and thriller plots are popular when they provide a backdrop for a relationship — the central action or investigation creates tension, forcing characters into close quarters and bringing attraction sizzling to the surface.
Chick Lit Trends
Opposites attract & enemies-to-lovers
An unlikely couple slowly realizing they’re perfect for one another is a tale as old as time. This classic plotline is a perfect fit for those who want a taste of will-they-won’t-they tension.
Whether they’re set in bakeries or centered around an aspiring chef, books brimming with food conjure up warmth and coziness — and are sure to satisfy every appetite.
Historical Fiction Trends
World War II
The horror, drama, and emotion of World War II have been depicted in countless bestselling books, and it’s no surprise that the time period continues to enthrall BookBub readers.
Looking at recent performances, we can see that BookBub readers love novels set in early America, which often illuminate the dangerous lure of the unknown, the desire for independence, and the promise of a fresh start.
Lapses in memory bring an added layer of uncertainty to thrillers, forcing us to question whether we can trust the person at the center of the story (or how much they can trust themselves).
Children in peril
Thrillers featuring a child in peril have heightened stakes — the helplessness of the victim means greater urgency to defeat whatever’s threatening them. This is a popular trope across many thriller subgenres, from legal thrillers to psychological suspense!
What category trends do you want us to talk about next? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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