Baby boomer author Claude Nougat knows the next trend in publishing

 
Almost since we reached middle age, advertisers and marketers have sold us short. They said we no longer represented the demographic they were looking for. Well, we’ve got news for them: baby boomers are the biggest, richest demographic in the world today. Author Claude Nougat already knew that, and has begun to promote books written specifically for, and about, baby boomers. She says, it’s the next phenomenon in publishing.

A new genre is born, a pendant to Young Adult literature, with one difference: Baby Boomer novels address “coming of old age” issues just as Young Adult novels are concerned with just coming of age. The word “age,” or “aging,” used to scare marketers intent on targeting the young, but no more. With a huge and growing market of some 70 million boomers — technically, all those born between 1946 and 1964 — Hollywood was the first to notice the change in its audience. Recent Baby Boomer movies, such as RED, Hope Springs, or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, have all been smashing successes.

Claude Nougat, Writer, Painter, Economist

Yet most movies are based on books and perhaps, historically, the first book that led to a hugely successful movie, was Louis Begley’s About Schmidt in 2002. The movie was only loosely based on the novel, but Jack Nicholson’s star performance made it memorable. And it certainly opened the way to the new Baby Boomer genre.

Since then, many Baby Boomer novels have been produced without being categorized as such by publishing houses. Literary conferences still tend to focus on the classical genres (romance, thrillers, sci-fi etc.). If they happen to aim at an age group, then they talk about Young Adult literature. People in the industry appear not to fully realize that Young Adult has been around a long time and that its success is largely attributable to the boomers themselves. Some forty years ago, when the Young Adult craze started, boomers were just leaving their teens behind: it was the boomers, interested in their own transition to adulthood, who provided the natural market for Young Adult literature.

Now boomers have moved on. They are 50+, still vigorous and dynamic, and their interests have also changed. Fiction needs to follow them and provide protagonists who deal with issues of concern to baby boomers. Many writers have risen to the Baby Boomer challenge and things are starting to happen. A thread was started in September 2012 in the Kindle Fora for authors to list their Baby Boomer titles and the list is growing fast. In November, 2012, I created a dynamic group was created in Goodreads to discuss Baby Boomer literature.

Within just four weeks, the Goodreads Group had attracted some 50 members, plus twice as many “friends,” and 16 Baby Boomer novels had been listed on its bookshelf, many from well-known, bestselling authors, like Anne R. Allen, Kathleen Valentine, Saffina Desforges, and Rachel Joyce. It has been running a poll with eight titles put up by its members, to select a Baby Boomer novel to read over the Holidays. This exercise will be repeated every month.

The purpose is not simply to provide more exposure to the Group’s novelists, but to give everyone, readers and writers alike, an opportunity to interact with the author and comment in a discussion thread. Everyone will have a chance to help in better defining what Baby Boomer literature should be all about and thus play an active role in launching it.

It is already clear that Baby Boomer literature is like Young Adult: It is a moving feast that can accommodate all kinds of sub-genres, from light comedy to tragedy, from romance to thrillers, and more.

Anyone interested is welcome to visit the Goodreads group and participate:
http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/81261-baby-boomer-novels-a-new-genre

Read Ms. Nougat’s books – click here.
 

29 Comments

  1. Thank you for a great article. Baby Boomers are indeed a force, a positive force, to be taken seriously, not just by AARP and politicians, but by the media, marketers and book publishers. We are a generation that has spending power and when it comes to literature, that reads.

  2. Thanks, Eric, I really appreciate your comment. Yes, you’re right, BB literature is here…along with boomers, all 70 million of them, or is it 75 million? In any case, the numbers are with us, just as they were 40 years ago when we were all into YA lit! And see how big YA became!

  3. I am so glad to reas this! I have been harping on this very same subject for years now. I so wish Amazon (and others) had a category for Baby Boomer Literature. Instead of dividing books into specific genres, they should also be divided by age group. I have written three novels, self-published them myself and am trying to market them now. I have searched for reviewers and havent found any that review specifically Baby Boomer Lit so have taken it upon myself to become The Baby Boomer Lit Reviewer.

    And I have been active in Goodreads, yet have not seen this group. How did I miss it?

    This restores my hope that I wasn’t wrong. That we BBers are a generation who reads, because that’s what we’ve always done, and now we’re beginning to retire and there will be more time than ever to do that.

    Great article!

    1. Lynn, since you wrote this comment I know you joined our group on Goodreads and we’re all very happy to have you with us and looking forward to reading your book! I’d like to add that the BB novel reading exercise the Group has assigned itself is meant as a voyage of discovery in this new genre. There are still many details to firm up in the BB literature definition and scope. For example, I was recently reminded by poet Jo Von Bargen that there is also such a thing a Baby Boomer poetry and even short stories! Come to think of it, even I overlooked that fact and indeed, there are at least two chosrt stories I’ve written that could be classified as BB lit.

      But a full collection of BB short stories? Why not! But I suspect that’s for the future. Indeed, that’s the advantage of identifying a marketing trend: because, before you know it, it becomes enriched with new material, in this case, BB books of all kinds, from poem to short stories, serials, Kindle Singles and of course novels!

  4. Great piece. This is so important. Boomers who are retiring are finally going to have time to read. And in spite of the wonderful books that are being published in the popular YA genre right now, Boomers don’t want to read books that just make us re-visit high school over and over. We want to explore larger landscapes than the painful world of teen mating rituals. I’m so glad you’ve started the Goodreads group. I’m proud to be a member!

    1. Thanks so much Anne, and I’m so happy you’re on board. I really believe we’re onto something BIG – the numbers are with us, and of course, our age group loves to read! I just hope the publishing industry will take note but I’m encouraged that Hollywood already has!

    1. Thanks David, I really appreciate the support and enthusiasm I found in the Boomer Café and I’ll be happy to come up with new stories as they happen. Meantime, our Goodreads Group to discuss BB literatureis literally roaring along, as I now write we are 89 members (up from 50/60 when I wrote the article a few days ago)!

  5. So glad to see you on WordPress Claude and thanks so much for sharing this blog with me as well as this post.

    As you know, I’m a baby boomer. I’ve also been speaking with a guy who is a very successful Kindle author who is trying to convince me that this is the route I should go as well.

    You just gave me a brilliant idea that I can take what I’ve learned about blogging to the baby boomers. Hey, I started not knowing a darn thing either and just look how far I’ve come. I don’t think that Kindle reads should all just be able stories, what about us going in a direction we’ve always wanted to go!

    Thank you Claude for bringing this to my attention and I appreciate this share. Long live baby boomers!!!

    ~Adrienne

    1. Thanks Adrienne, I do appreciate your support and I’m glad I was some use to you – generally, it’s you who’re the one teaching me something new! I’m sure baby boomers will love to get your advice about blogging and can vouch that it is indeed very good, useful advice!

  6. I think a baby boomer reading category is a good idea. No matter that there’s the expected diversity, most baby boomers swam through the same cultural waters. I think that’s why it’s often easier to talk with someone in the same generation: most of us have the same or similar references. 1952

    1. Absolutely right, fpmorales, the cultural framework is the same! And the reason why BB lit is going to be the next BIG genre in publishing is simply because…there are so many of us! Some 70 million boomers (or 75, depending on the definition) in the US alone and that’s not counting people ofthe same generation abroad, in Europe, but also in Japan and China! The whole literate world is going in that direction, so expect big things to happen!

  7. Claude,

    Judy here from the Cat’s Eye Writer blog. So glad I read about your new venture on Anne’s blog. Boomer lit is an amazing concept and I would love to join your group on Goodreads! My first book, a memoir in novel style chronicles in part my political activist days in the early 70s. There is a whole segment barely touched, as Anne said, a readership approaching their retirement years. I’m looking for Baby Boomer titles to read right now, so this post couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks!

  8. This is a wonderful idea. The Boomers are a significant part of the book-buying public. We are also part of the ‘sandwich generation’ – looking after children and parents. Many of the Boomers emigrated to start better lives for themselves, and I explore this in my humorous novel But Can You Drink The Water? http://amzn.to/a2V4Zy which tells of the Turner family who emigrate from Liverpool to South Africa in the 1970s

  9. So happy to have found your blog (thanks to Anne Allen). This is a great concept, the Baby Boomer novels. I’ve already joined the Goodreads group. It will be exciting to see how this concept develops in the future. I think it is going to be very significant. As you mentioned, it really incorporates many different genres. I see it as books written from a particular perspective, one which all/most of us Baby Boomers can relate to, no matter what the subject.

  10. It was encouraging to learn that Baby Boomer Lit is of interest to so many people.It makes sense, considering the high proportion of people who were born between 1946 and 1964. Baby Boomers, by definition, are people with enough age, experience, knowledge, and perspective to have something interesting to say. Baby Boomer characters in novels are more complete, more sophisticated, more complex, and perhaps more flawed (they’ve had more time to screw things up).
    My compliments to Claude Nougat for getting the BabyBoomer group going. I am thrilled to be a member.
    Joseph Badal

  11. Through a series of links to links I stumbled on your article yesterday and was so delighted to find the Baby Boomer book group you started on Goodreads. I joined right away, but didn’t have a chance to read very many of the postings until today. What a wonderful thing you have done, Claude, for us Baby Boomer writers! Thank you and I will be contacting several Boomer authors I know and pass the word around. I so like your concept that everyone who is writing for Boomers have a hand in defining what Baby Boomer literature should be all about. It IS a genre and perhaps will soon be actually recognized as one.

  12. Thanks for the great article (and the mention.) I’m happy to see more and more people with a growing interest in this. I just finished a novella that fits into this category and, of course, my novel “Each Angel Burns” has been selling well in recent weeks. I think the best is yet to come.

  13. It bothers me that authors are pigeonholing their work in such a way. I don’t think that the age of the characters is nearly as important as the story! I am in the process of publishing a book called The Hunters. Because my main characters are 17 to 23, an agent was all excited to have a YA title. I totally freaked. My book is NOT YA. I would not put this in the hands of fifteen year old children. There is language, sex, violence, stuff that I sure wasn’t allowed to read at that age! She said, “Well then why are the characters that age?” Because adults wouldn’t respond to the situation the same way they do. That is what makes the story. Doesn’t mean it is for kids. But then my son, who is in 6th grade, is mad at me because I don’t think he is emotionally ready to read The Hunger Games. His school has it in the library, so he thinks it must be ok. I don’t know, maybe I am a prude (which just about blows my mind, because I NEVER would have thought that!) I guess I am just weird, but I don’t read or write books based on the age of my characters/ audience. I stick to genres because that is what I like. I justr as interested in reading a Sci-Fi exploration with young kids as main characters as I am about a Sci-Fi adventure with old people as the main characters. Why? Because it is Sci-Fi! Meh, oh well. Guess I’ll miss out on the BB bandwagon as well.

    1. Heidi, your comment of course stands out from the rest and I’m moved to respond because I think the boomer literature concept requires clarification.

      Let’s be clear:I’m not at all against classifying books by genres the way you do, i.e. defining a genre as being related to the kind of story told: sci-fi, historical, romance etc Indeed, all these theme-related genres are part of boomer literature.

      What is different about boomer lit is that it is audience-centric. As Mike Shatzkin recently wrote on his blog (he’s that famous e-publishing guru), there is a need for publishing houses to focus more on audience-centric marketing, i.e. reach out to communities, satisfy people’s current interests, have a better/clearer idea of the audience they are aiming at – all things that they don’t do much nowadays, if at all (the exception are small presses that are often closer to their communities and specific interests).

      Historically, only YA lit has ever been an audience-centric genre. And more recently, in fact since 2009, there is a New Adult genre: from 18 to 30 or so, one step up from the very restrictive definition of YA seen as concerning only the 14-18 age group. So now we have identified another audience-centric genre: boomer lit that covers the some 78 million boomers in the US alone (plus many more around the world). Which is also why boomer lit like YA spans across just about all theme-related genres of the sort you are interested in.

      Returning to your book, since it’s for the 17 to 23 age group and contains material not suitable to younger people, this is typical of New Adult, I think your agent should consider re-classifying it as a New Adult…That’s a big, growing market!

  14. It is a movement that has been happening in the last ten years or so, and although YA is probably the biggest movement we have seen, Midgrade has been around at least as long. You even mentioned the New Adult category. What bothers me about this shift is that it becomes more about targeting an audience based on their age, rather than their interests. Twilight was a much bigger hit among middle aged moms than it was with the teenagers (which is actually terrifying, when you know how many teenagers were obsessed with it!)

    Fortunately I found a publishing company who is willing to sell my book without the need to slap the label on it! They agree that the age of the characters is not what decides the group you pitch to, it is the content. I certainly agree with the principle that you shouldn’t discount any particular age group when writing or marketing a book.

    1. Heidi, I’m glad you found a publisher who supports you! What we are talking about here goes to the heart of the definition of genre: there are basically two broad categories of genres. One is theme or content-related (which is what you are talking about) and the other is audience-centric (which is what I am talking about). The two categories may overlap: it is clear that YA lit has many sub-genres, ranging from paranormal romance to sci-fi, all of them content-related – ditto for boomer literature!

  15. I couldn’t agree more Claude, the babyboomer genre is ready to take off and I think it could do a great deal of good. Indeed, my main ambition for the next 5 – 10 years is to develop The Crone Club series as an inspiration for the ‘older’ woman. I am passionate about the need for my generation (the babyboomers) to reinvent the over-60s stage of our lives into something much more positive and rewarding. Even when we were young we never passively accepted being pushed into the sidelines of mainstream life and it is no time to start now.

    1. Sandra, I’m so happy to hear that you are passionate about this because so am I! I’m about to set up a boomer lit Facebook Page linked to our Goodreads Group discussing baby boomer novels and I hope that through our page we can take our cause one step higher! I know you are a member of our Group and I count on you to contribute interesting stuff to our FB page once it’s up, so that boomer readers flock to it and learn about boomer lit…

  16. Boomer Lit – YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE I CAN TRUST by Michael E. Petrie should fit quite nicely. The story, set in the here and now, depicts baby boomer characters who are active, youthful, and sexy. A stressed-out lawyer, about to turn a certain milestone age, abruptly finds himself getting a second chance at truly enjoying life. Meeting up with a long-lost love at a school reunion, he finds her just as desirable as she ever was … maybe even more so. But he’s not the only one pursuing her affections. Another former classmate has his eye on her as well. Unrequited love, tropical islands, nostalgic references to the 60s &70s, Rock-n-Roll, sandy California beaches … all wrapped up nicely in a cleverly written murder mystery that will keep you guessing right to the end.

    1. It sounds like the perfect boomer novel! Why don’t you join our Goodreads Group discussing BB novels? We have a bookshelf (with over 50 titles now), a growing membership (over 190)and we are reading a BB novel every month as a way to explore boomer lit. These books are selected democratically through a poll set up using the books pitched at us in an appropriate discussion thread (so that we are sure these are BB novels and not nostalgia pieces evoking our young days back in the 1960s/70s). Come and pitch your book at us and get your chance to be selected as our monthly read (it’s good exposure and fun!)
      Link: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/81261-baby-boomer-novels-a-new-genre

  17. Claude, Thanks for the tip. Boomer Lit seems a very popular genre. Just joined up & am msg #183.

    You can read an excerpt of YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE I CAN TRUST, by Michael E. Petrie right here at BoomerCafe, just go to http://www.boomercafe.com/books-baby-boomer/baby-boomer-writer-conjures-up-california-dreamin-mystery-novel/

    Unrequited love, tropical islands, nostalgic references to the 60s &70s, Rock-n-Roll, sandy California beaches … all wrapped up nicely in a cleverly written murder mystery, based upon actual cases of the attorney/author. YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE I CAN TRUST is available wherever books are sold. For synopsis, reviews, and more info regarding this book, go to http://www.CalWriter.net

  18. Thanks everyone for all the wonderful comments!

    I just wanted to add that in addition to our Goodreads Group that has now exceeded 300 members and has over 80 boomer titles on its bookshelf, we have also set up a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/BoomerLit. Come and visit our page, “like” us and post your Boomer lit news there, tell us about your book or about the latest boomer read or film you’ve discovered and enjoyed.

    And be sure to follow us on Twitter, the handle is @boomerlit, to get all the latest news!

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