I hit the bookstores this afternoon, because buying books is apparently what I do. I certainly don't seem to read them lately, considering how ridiculous my "to be read" stack is getting. Anyway, I went to a decent used book store first and then to Books a Million, determined to find a good fantasy to read (or at least add to the stack).
Now, this wasn't any kind of, you know, scientific excursion. I didn't write any impressions down or take any surveys of what I saw. But here it is anyway:
99% of fantasy novels have a dragon on the cover
the other 1% have a woman with a sword but no dragon
(about 80% of books have both a woman with a sword and a dragon)
My eye is drawn to white horses on covers, or deer
95% of fantasy novels are Book 2 of a series
100% of the books I picked up today to read the first few pages started with long, dull conversations about politics
100% of books I picked up to read the back covers of involved the World in Peril
Conclusion: If I write the second book of a series involving a woman with a sword who has to save the world, and also throw a dragon in it, and start with a conversation about politics, I will sell the book to Tor or Baen or DAW or some other big publisher.
I don't much like epic fantasy or high fantasy, and I really, really am sick of books where the hero(ine) has to save the world. Can't the world take care of itself? But obviously people still eat up that crap, because that's all I could find today.
So since I want to start a new project tomorrow, but I have no time to come up with something fresh, I think I really will just go to town with the cliches. Why not? It's working for all those other authors.
(Oh--regarding my December book of the month, it looks like I'm going to have to shamefacedly claim The Boxcar Children since I never did get a chance to finish anything longer. Hey, it's been a busy month! Of course, I did manage to find time to reread any number of books, but somehow rereading takes less time than reading for the first time. Um.)