I did it, too. Seriously. I fell into the trap and there wasn't a dang thing I could do about it, until I grew a little as a writer.
Publishing, like any other enterprise, follows trends. Trends are a wonderful idea because you don't have to wait until the horse is dead to beat it. You can whup that puppy while it's still a living thing. Just don't be surprised when it dies and you find yourself flaying a corpse.
Right now, the biggest trends in publishing are sparkly vampires, half-assed erotica, and dystopian romance (and by 'dystopian', I mean the setting, not the state of the romance in the story). There they are, fellow writers. Get 'em while they're hot. The trouble is, they're already cold. Want to see what last-year's trend was? Look no further than what fan fiction writers are doing. Vampires already make me want to bleed my eyeballs.
Publishing houses, like movies studios, don't know what the Next Big Thing is going to be, and the lead time is such that by the time most publishers have figured it out, it's gone, like a will-o-wisp. If you're not ready to beat that horse while he's still pulling a buggy, you're out a horse without a replacement, and you're gonna look pretty stupid pulling the buggy by yourself.
Having said that, I'm suggesting that you stay away from the trends I just mentioned. I mean, if you're in it for the money. They're already filled, and anything you write now in those genres will be passe by the time you're finished. And don't give me that 'artistic' crap, either. I like to be as altruistic as the next Hemingway, but face it, a girl's gotta eat.
So with that in mind, I'm going to suggest something weird, screwy, and completely off-the-wall: Get ahead of the curve and stay there.
There, that was easy.
WAIT A MINUTE!
Maybe I should, you know, tell you how to do just that. The only problem is, I don't know any more than the people who have been in the publishing game all their lives. I know, shocking, right? So write what you want to write and be prepared for it to not be the Next Big Thing.
Some publishers are brave, taking chances that what their editor is reading will lead to a lot o' money. Others, big and strong, can afford a separate division to try new things.
What I (personally) feel the readers want is something different. Something adult and romantic, but with some meat to it. Something Fabio wouldn't pose for. Romance with style and adventure and humor and attitude. Something modern in setting and intelligent in execution. Gee, did I just describe my own stuff? I hope so! Just doesn't mean it's gonna happen.
Crystal balls currently go for about fifteen bucks. Crystal balls with the future in them go for a lot more. But I did receive a wonderful compliment, yesterday: Someone said of my book series 'Your story is very cool and original. Nothing else like it out there.' Wow, was I on Cloud Nine! Now if only, when my book launches at the end of June, other people feel the same way.
Keep your fingers crossed, and don't look away from that glass orb..