This is a discourse that actually started on Booktok, where someone made a video saying they didn’t like tropes and thought they were actually harming the publishing industry. Especially after another well known author has openly talked about her publishing house picking a popular trope that she had to then write a book for, rather than the tropes being picked out of an existing narrative for the purpose of marketing.

So what do I think? Is it good or bad?

Yes and No.

I think that Booktok and the emergence of books being characterised by tropes, as well as genre, and the resulted hype has revitalised the publishing industry, with big book sellers like Barnes and Noble crediting Booktok for practically saving their stores in 2020, let alone the feature Penguin has partnered with Tiktok to create that allows you to link directly within a video to a book on their website (with no monetisation benefits going to the tiktokker FYI).

Plus, I think readers have always read by seeking their favourite tropes, I know I certainly did, except now there’s a nice big table in Waterstones called ‘enemies to lovers’.

And since I do also work in marketing I can’t really find it in me to condemn clever marketing because it does just make good sense. Marketable books = thriving publishing industry = more opportunities for authors = more wonderful books in the world. I think that part of writing a book, besides writing the story that’s in you, is thinking practically about your audience and who you will want to read said book, so I don’t really think it’s too far outside of the realm of ‘writing for your audience’, but instead of aiming at 18-25 you’re aiming at the ‘forced proximity trope’ girlies- buyer personas change, how we market books has to change with it.

However…

We are danger of stories that don’t fit into neat little trope boxes, meaning they are somewhat unique, getting lost, or not picked up by publishing houses at all. If you cannot market a book according to the current trend, then that author’s story will be penalised simply for doing something a little outside of the norm.

Think of all the ground breaking literature in history that wouldn’t get a chance in this world now because it didn’t have any ‘morally grey’ MC’s or something.

I also think we are in danger of vapid, shallow books getting shelf space simply because they conform to a popular trope, or books which have been written purposely for trope with absolutely no substance.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of fluff and a bit of trash, it is valid and falls into its own space of ‘easy reading’ that people (including me) adore but I hope that doesn’t become the only thing we get, or that gets picked up and giving the full marketing hype by publishing houses, while books with more depth that don’t fit a trope get published with little to no fanfare.

So my thoughts very firmly sit in the middle. I enjoy a good trope (as anyone whose read more than one of blog posts will know) but those video I saw on booktok that spoke about it in the negative did have a lot of valid points.

What do you think?