Thursday, March 07, 2013

A Boom of Their Own: Baby Boomers Spark New Genre...Boomer Lit

Are you over-the-top fed up with YA-themed stories, erotica taunting you with lithe 25-year-old heroines who give away their power, Sci-Fi with adolescents saving the world, and all the other popular fiction featuring protagonists the same age as your children (or worse, younger)?

If not, you were probably born after 1970. Nothing wrong with that, of course, or with YA or NA literature, for that matter. Any well written book is usually worth reading.

But for those who used to say "Never trust anyone over 30," and are now approximately twice that age, a new restlessness is emerging. Through their sheer numbers, Baby Boomers (technically defined as people born between 1946 and 1964, although those who came forth close to either end of the scale often fit the demographic) have been driving trends since the post-WW II baby boom gave birth to their name.

Now this formidable group wants to experience characters like themselves in the books they read and movies they watch. They want media (literature, broadcast, and film) that addresses their challenges, chronicles their triumphs, and heralds their transition (or coming of age at the other end of the timeline) to what is often referred to as "The Third Age" in Europe. And, they don't want to be characterized as senior citizens waiting out the end of their lives in retirement homes.

Once again, Boomers get what they want. Screenwriters, novelists, and nonfiction authors are (wisely) creating material to sate the Boomers' desires.

Meryl Streep & Tommy Lee Jones in Hope Springs
Movies featuring Boomer acting greats like Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson (Something's Gotta Give) or Meryl Streep with Tommy Lee Jones (Hope Springs) and Streep with Alec Baldwin (It's Complicated) have been instant box office hits.

In publishing, this growing trend has produced a new literary genre— Boomer Lit. And if you write for or about boomers, you want to be very aware of how to hop on and ride this growing trend now, before everyone jumps on the bandwagon and you're just another contributor.

It's time to take the lead! Right now there is no JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, nor EL James of Boomer Lit. That means it could be you! This is the time to identify with the genre, join the movement, and get your name associated with the trend.

Where do you start? Good question! Begin by becoming familiar with definition of Boomer Lit. Although not written in stone, the general agreement is that it's writing that points to, examines, or attempts to offer solutions for circumstances that Boomers presently face, including but not limited to: divorce, retirement, death of a partner or spouse, empty nesting, being sandwiched between elder and child care, romance at age 50+, starting over in a new business or career, and more. Subgenres, like in YA lit, span the gamut and include romance, contemporary, fantasy, mystery, and the rest.

Boomer Lit is not nostalgia, although Boomers are fond of remembering the 1950s and 60s. Literature that deals with those times chronicles what it was like when Boomers were children or transitioning to young adults, not their coming of age as mature adults moving into the latter years of life.

Part 2 of this article series will provide some resources and possible markets where you can submit your work. But for now, whether you write for and about Baby Boomers or just want to read samples of this new genre, head on over to Boomer Lit Friday, a new blog I started that showcases short excerpts from Boomer Lit authors.

This site features a weekly blog hop event, and you can sign up to participate if you want to post a snippet from a published book or work in progress that fits the Boomer Lit genre definition. Be sure to read the Author FAQ before signing up!

If this topic interests you or you consider yourself a Boomer Lit author, join the Goodreads Boomer Lit group and "like" the group's page on Facebook. Lots of opportunity to get and share information at these links.

Hope to see you riding the Boomer Lit wave with me!


  1. Great post, Shelley! Thanks for sharing all this information. I will definitely be following your advice :)

  2. Thank you, Joanne. Glad you've found the post useful, and hope to see you at the blog hop and Goodreads group ;-)

  3. Shelley, congrats, this is an excellent presentation of Boomer lit - and I think I have a claim to knowing what I'm talking about when it comes to Boomer lit since I'm the one who started the group discussing it on Goodreads (!) and by the way, I also started the thread in the Kindle Forums where boomer authors can list their boomer titles.

    For anyone interested in listing their work there or consulting it to find good reads in Boomer lit, here's the thread's link:

    1. Thank you, Claude, for your kind feedback and for adding the Kindle forum link. Part 2 of this article series includes mention and links to the fine work you've done in raising awareness of the new Boomer Lit trend. We owe you much thanks!

  4. I've been writing Boomer Lit for some time. Three novels, all about mid-life ennui, but which contain a bit more intrigue and cultural matter such as art, music, literature.

    Protagonists are forty-something, at a fork in the road.

    I agree - the market is huge and the material interesting.

    Are we showing our age here? You bet!

  5. Thanks, Rosanne, for your comments. Your books sound very exciting!

  6. Boomer lit, as defined. - 'writing that points to, examines, or attempts to offer solutions for circumstances that Boomers presently face,' It doesn't sound to my taste though - rather boring.
    So what would be the fiction that would appeal to people in this generation? Sophisticated, knowledgeable (though maybe not knowledgeable about the latest iphone) and looking for something a bit deeper than the latest teenage vampire/faerie/werewolf of royal blood but previously unknown who discovers that he/she is the one and only who can save the world? There used to be a lot of getting-towards-middle-age jaded detective heros in 60s writing, but that is a bit old now. It's an interesting thought.
    Excellent article.

    1. Thanks for your feedback. I think good fiction examines some aspect of the human condition...boomer lit focuses on The Third Age years of life. It's not the age range or the protagonist's occupation that makes a good story, though. I think, like in any genre, you'll find some great writing, lots of good writing, and some books you'll wish you never started! I'm glad you liked the article and hope you find good lit to enjoy ;-)

  7. Excellent article, well-written--but I wonder about the premise. Do Boomers really want to read about 60-somethings? I am a Boomer, and I have no interest in reading about someone my age. Maybe I'm shallow, but I want a young, adventurous hero/ine, filled with passion and derring-do.
    So are there sales numbers to indicate that Boomer Lit is the next big thing?

    1. Good points to bring up, thank you! I don't necessarily think that 60-something characters can't be adventurous and filled with passion & moxie (Technically, today's boomers age range begins at 49, and that's still "young" to me!) As far as statistics...I don't have any handy, but that's a good query and I will research further as part of the article series I'm writing at present. However, the popularity of movies—some of which are novel adaptions—indicate that there is a significant demand. In addition, in reviews of my boomer erotic romance and reviews of other boomer lit books, I have seen many remarks that indicate appreciation for older hero/ines and requests for more. Whether or not boomer lit is the Next Big Thing or not remains to be seen, but writing for a demographic that has initiated worldwide trends since its inception has to be a good use of a writer's time, given that writer is interested in the same things as the target market.

  8. Several years ago, I published my beatnik/boomer memoir, 60, Sex & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer. I wrote about my humorous and poignant journey in the decade of m6 60s. I am also a keynote speaker and speak to boomers on health and wellness and work/life balance.
    There is a blog for boomers on my website:
    Boomer lit is here to stay and it is an expanding market, I agree.
    Email me if you would like to share information. I'd be happy to send you my book.
    Congratulations for getting the word out!
    Best regards

    1. Thanks, Jan. Be sure to visit the boomer lit blog hop at Registration for the weekly event is Mon thru Thurs, with the new excerpts posted on your blog by 8am ET on Friday mornings. Read the FAQ to see if this is an event you want to join. Thanks for commenting here!