|Photo credit: K. Denman on Flickr|
Although fans would most certainly disagree, many have called The Hunger Games the next Twilight, and others have speculated what the next Hunger Games would be, but I think if bestsellers have taught us anything, it's that very rarely is there a next x (where x is a previous franchise, anyway).
Allow me to explain. If, for example, the fan base behind a non-Twilight vampire series exploded, meriting a debut on the screen and ridiculous merchandise sales, then yes, it might be appropriate to call the new phenomena the next Twilight. But as it is, The Hunger Games is about as similar to Twilight as Edward Cullen is to Mad-Eye Moody—both are fictional characters with recognizable names, but there ends the similarities.
Now I'm aware that when people refer to a phenomenon as the next x, they aren't referring to the similarities between the two, but the popularity of the franchise. That's fair, but comparing the two, at least to me, indicates some sort of lumping together (i.e.: Twilight and Hunger Games), which isn't fair to either book.
Harry Potter and Twilight and The Hunger Games are all their own separate entities. They were bestsellers for various reasons, none of which include their authors trying to write the next x. Time and time again when successful authors have talked about their experience writing their book, by and large they have talked about writing the story—their story, the story that only they could write. The point wasn't to be hugely successful or write the next big thing, the point was, and always will be, to write the book that demanded to be written.
And that is a lesson that all of us should remember.
The next hugely popular book won't be the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games or Twilight— it'll be the next it. It'll be its own thing with its own synthesis of ideas and characters and the right combination of word-of-mouth and captivating story. It'll be the book that the author had to write, the book that they pounded into the page over the course of years, the book that the author never equated with the other bestsellers because it is its own it.
The bestsellers are telling us something, and it's not just that vampires and magic and dystopians are popular— they're telling us to write the story that you want to write and worry about the rest later.
Or don't worry about it at all. Who knows? One day your book may be the next it.
What do you think? Have you learned any lessons from the bestsellers?