Publishers Weekly did an article earlier this month pointing out what they view as “hot” in YA this year. Those themes included horror, mental illness, gender identity, and the apocalypse. Of course, these trends reflect what editors and agents believe will be popular. It really says nothing about what the reader may actually want. Getting a handle on the reader can be difficult because good statistics are not kept and predicting the future is always tough. But, is there a way to get a feel for what will interest teens of the future? Maybe.

Recently I watched an episode on Gaiam TV where Regina Meredith was interviewing an astrologer. I’ve been interested in astrology off and on since I was a teenager, but over the past year or so that interest has become more intense and I watch quite a few YOUTUBE astrologers as they explain what’s going on in a given month. It is fascinating and personal.


What resonated with me in this interview concerned the movement of Pluto and how these long transits (248 years to circle the zodiac) influence generations. With Pluto in a given sign anywhere from 11 to 32 years, it defines a whole generation. In a way, this is the opposite of personal because I share influences with everyone in my age group. As a writer for young people, this idea intrigues me. It especially drew me in as the astrologer talked about my adult children’s group (Pluto in Scorpio). He talked about the attraction for this group to pagan religions and pure philosophy. My daughter describes herself as pagan and my son is currently exploring nihilism and its intricacies. Further extrapolating, I thought- wow, this was the perfect market for Harry Potter. Some people think JK Rowling had a unique idea or that the books were exceptionally well done. But most of us realize that young wizards going off to school has been done before. Perhaps then, Pluto in Scorpio almost guaranteed Harry Potter would make publishing history.


The youngest of the children of the Pluto in Scorpio generation will turn twenty soon so as a children’s writer, I bid them farewell. My attention turns to the Pluto in Sagittarius (1995- 2008) group. This would be my target audience and astrology should help me see who these kids are. What are the characteristics of this generation?

Sagittarius rules religion, philosophy, long distance travel, and foreign countries. This generation should have a keen interest in these areas and Sagittarius has a can-do enthusiasm that Scorpio lacks. They value freedom, are easily bored, and may not be as well-grounded and realistic as some. If I were to try to predict what would appeal to the Pluto in Sagittarius generation in terms of books (and movies), I’d list novels with far away settings, diverse cultures, exciting plots, maybe some quirky humor. I’m not sure dystopia like Hunger Games and Divergent will continue to appeal. In fact, those dark, complex, and mature themes Publishers Weekly would have us believe will be hot, probably won’t be. Scorpio is all that, but Sagittarius is not! The Sags should be interested in religion and philosophy so perhaps visionary fiction will find its place. Time will reveal what this generation gravitates toward and what the next big blockbuster will be. I for one would not expect editors and agents to be able to see the next phenomenal success because they are looking to the past trying to recreate its success and it won’t be there. Just about the time we start to see how obvious it all should have been, the Pluto in Capricorn (2008-2024) kids will show up and we’ll be scratching our heads all over. But then Capricorn will reveal itself.




  1. ellisnelson · May 20, 2015

    Reblogged this on ellisnelson and commented:

    Don’t look to Publishers Weekly to call the next blockbuster YA read!

    Liked by 2 people

    • nonfictiongeek · August 15, 2015

      Could machine learning techniques be applied here? Use YA genres as the dependent variable and any other factors we can get as predictors? Book stores and libraries might have that info, survey sites as well. Age, location, gender, race, household income, zip code, religion, all of it could be used to predict interests with enough data.


      • ellisnelson · August 15, 2015

        If Target knows the ages and buying habits of my household using buy data (they even know how far along someone is in their pregnancy), you’d think publishers could predict sales data on their books. They should, but they don’t. Coming from a math background, I’m very puzzled by their marketing behavior. Publishers have never been able to predict bestsellers except on the basis of an author who already has a huge following. The breakaway bestsellers are always surprises. Basically, a book is thrown out there and they see how it does. But- Amazon has VAST data on our buying habits. It outweighs anything bookstores (those few that remain) and libraries (who reflect our buying habits to a certain degree as a delayed behavior) have. So I agree that Amazon should be able to predict buying behavior of books. And does. The problem is there are new genres coming into existence that muddy the waters. For example, Amazon could not predict the huge market for YA dystopian novels before they came into existence. There are more of these kinds of things coming. It’s like trying to predict the market for the personal computer before one exists. But if we can see into the personal desires of a generation, we can attempt to fill it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lily Wight · May 20, 2015

    This was a really interesting post xx


  3. Silver Threading · May 20, 2015

    This was an excellent article. Good points and thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. zuniverse2013 · May 20, 2015



  5. clavielle · May 20, 2015

    What a neat idea! You could use it to market most anything, just figure out which generation is most likely to buy your product and pitch to them.
    But as writers, we write what we write. I can’t see myself changing what I write to make my book possibly maybe more attractive to YAs.


    • ellisnelson · May 20, 2015

      A lot of writers do though. When dystopia was making $, agents & editors got lots of copycats. And they bought some of them. But I get your point! I wouldn’t go chasing a hot trend just because it’s hot.


  6. patternsofsouldevelopment · May 21, 2015

    Great insight, Ellis! I totally agree with your vision on the direction of the shift, because a shift will happen, definitely!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Joseph Nebus · May 21, 2015

    I’m not sure what the next big thing is, but I imagine it’ll be a bestseller. Of course as a libra I’d say something like that.


  8. Cyndi Perkins · May 22, 2015

    I always remind myself about the times I tried in my earlier writing days to craft what was hot at the moment and how those manuscripts just kind of fizzled out because there was no authenticity behind them. Tell the story, the. Try to figure out where it fits on bookstore shelves, I say, even though I know in YA and Middle Grade and some other categories there are some super-specific guidelines. Enjoyed this speculative forecast very much – and this visionary Sagittarian who does have a thing for dystopian Handmaiden-y, Hunger Gaming tales, is grateful that you liked my blog! 🌞🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    • ellisnelson · May 22, 2015

      I’m a Sag too but lean heavily to Cap tendencies (29 degree Sag).


  9. Cyndi Perkins · May 22, 2015

    Oops, sorry for extra ‘the’ – another blunder brought to you by auto-co”wrecked.” Also wanted to say how much I love this blog theme, I almost chose it for mine as it is truly groovy, beautiful, awesome and great. ttfn


  10. Anne Whitaker · May 26, 2015

    Very interesting post, Ellis! I can see that your supplementary career as an astrologer is shaping up well…

    Liked by 1 person

    • ellisnelson · May 26, 2015

      Not sure about that! But I’m reading Astrology and the Rising of Kundalini by Hand Clow. It’s drop-dead astonishing that so much of what I experienced from ages 44-50 can be explained by her theory. She posits that Saturn, Chiron, and Uranus trigger mid-life crisis. Are you familiar with her writings?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anne Whitaker · May 26, 2015

        Yes. I like her work – and I would certainly agree with the correlation she posits between those planetary energies and the Mid Life Crisis…I have seen those tie in over and over with clients’ horoscopes at the crucial mid-life point.


  11. internetchemguy68 · May 26, 2015

    Reblogged this on Icarus Flies and commented:
    Hello Everyone,

    Just got done perusing through EllisNelsonBooks blogs here on WordPress. What a take on the top trends I YA books. I am in agreement on the subject matter for the next books and trends in the YA book market and am looking at some of my writings in reference to such trends. What a refreshing topic list, looking through it I am so impressed with how far we have come in YA books and subject matter with so many of our formerly taboo subjects that have such relevance to today’s world. Mental Illness, gender identity, as well the the kudos to the authors who guide d through these stages of Pluto….thanks for the Blog.


  12. Building Spaces · June 18, 2015

    I enjoyed this post. Great perspective, and I look forward to seeing played out.


  13. maswami · June 27, 2015

    So interesting! I do believe that we move in groups of souls and cycles of the planet on our individual journeys. My sign is Sagittarius and I am currently editing a draft of my first YA manuscript. It makes me happy to read this. Perhaps my timing is in sync with the universe’s flow. 🙂


    • ellisnelson · June 27, 2015

      I’m a Sag too. Good luck with your ms! It’s a tough road to publication.


  14. T.K. Lawrence · July 8, 2015

    Good points.


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  16. jdhill · July 20, 2015

    Hi Ellis,
    I forwarded your blog to my 92 yr old mother. She has been teaching astrology for 60 years. Both of us enjoyed your article.


    • ellisnelson · July 20, 2015

      Thanks! That’s really nice to hear. Had a wonderful experience when my husband and I were in Sedona about 3 years ago.


      • jdhill · July 21, 2015

        We live in a beautiful world and Sedona makes it easy to remember.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Maria · July 29, 2015

    Very interesting take on astrology cycles. I agree they are better predictors than agents. And thanks for dropping by my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. robert phoenix · August 3, 2015

    I’m the astrologer that Nelson speaks about in this piece. He is correct on the astro-trends and the move towards a different type of lit for young children. This commenced with the Hunger Games, which is actually a movement away from a dystopian world. The symbolism with the archer/sag is quite prominent with Katniss.

    I did a larger series of astrological symbolism of generations from Pluto in Leo to Pluto in Sag on my site.


    • ellisnelson · August 3, 2015

      Welcome Robert. I enjoy your work on Gaiam. It will be interesting to see how the next trends in MG/YA start to manifest.


  19. I-NETRADIO.COM · August 13, 2015

    Reblogged this on I-NETRADIO.


  20. Dara Llewellyn · August 19, 2015

    Enjoyed the blog on ya trends as well as the following comments. It’s interesting to think about visionary trends in children’s literature becoming more overt. I love that ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ellisnelson · August 19, 2015

      Thanks for commenting! I can smell the cookies. Make mine oatmeal raisin.


  21. vitaf15 · August 26, 2015

    This is so interesting – have you applied it to past periods too?


    • ellisnelson · August 26, 2015

      There are astrologers who have done that kind of thing. Astrological forces at work during the time of the American Revolution, for example. Specifically about trends for young people, I’m not sure about.


  22. Donna W. Hill · September 10, 2015

    Hope comes from the most unexpected sources. I think my novel may have an audience after all. Thanks for the lift:)Enter your comment here…


  23. sarahhill76 · September 17, 2015

    Reblogged this on whimsywoodseries and commented:
    A brilliant and intriguing read. 😃


  24. louiseannknight · September 22, 2015

    Great article Ellis! It gives me hope that my YA fantasy will be welcomed by the upcoming generation and it fits the bill neatly 🙂


  25. wambuavincent · September 29, 2015

    Great astounding piece! This was absolutely brilliant, genius, outstanding. It was remarkably enlightening and perfectly worded!


  26. Very interesting insight Ellis. It makes me reevaluate a lot about trends in YA as well as MG and even PBs.


    • ellisnelson · September 29, 2015

      It will be interesting to see what unfolds over the next decade or so.


  27. brentlibrariesblog · October 5, 2015

    I’m not entirely sure how convinced I am by the power of the zodiac but I’m pretty open minded and find this a fascinating idea! Lets see if you are right!



  28. Pingback: JUVENILE FICTION- what sold in 2015? | ELLIS NELSON BOOKS

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