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Gigi Will Know: Does fiction about current events have a higher chance of getting published?

Do editors prefer timely pieces over timeless ones?

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Do you think fiction submissions need to be timely (i.e., more in tune with current events or politics) to increase the chances of them being accepted for publication?

—Glued to CNN

Dear Glued,

No.

Love, Gigi.

Hunh? Oh, sorry. You wanted more. OK, here. Look, you’ve heard it before: “Everything old is new again,” and in fiction, where writers are often writing about more than just events – you’re writing about themes – well, you can pick just about any event to illustrate a theme, right? Why would you limit yourself to only current events? But I guess that’s not really your question. You want to know if it’ll sell more quickly, and I’d argue that depends on what you’re pitching and where. Short story? Pitched to a weekly publication that deals with news? Yep, that’s a no-brainer.

Book? Via traditional publishing avenues? Definitely not, because traditional publishing is glacial.

I mean, heck, I know a woman whose book was accepted for publication in 2019, and it won’t publish until 2022. Even if her book were pegged to a current event in 2019, it certainly won’t be current by the time it hits the shelves, right?

But if you’re querying an agent who loves current events, and all of their book sales are pegged to current-events fiction? Or you’re querying a publisher who only publishes that kind of thing? Sure.

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Broad strokes, though? I’d say the answer is no.

As with everything, there are outliers. Remember that thing with GameStop earlier this year? Where a bunch of retail investors made a stock go sky-high in defiance of hedge funds? Well, two movies and series about that event just sold, so there’s that. But those won’t be fiction, so – yeah. I wouldn’t worry about it.

Historical fiction rules,

—Gigi

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