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After “Romantasy,” What Are the Next Buzzy Bookish Portmanteaus?

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Arvyn Cerézo

Senior Contributor

Arvyn Cerézo is an arts and culture writer/reporter with bylines in Book Riot, Publishers Weekly, South China Morning Post, PhilSTAR Life, the Asian Review of Books, and other publications. You can find them on arvyncerezo.com and @ArvynCerezo on Twitter.

Even if we don’t realize it, buzzwords permeate our professional lives. Who hasn’t heard of phrases like “return on investment” or “customer journey”? They sound very corporate, yes, but they make long-winded ideas easy to recall and make complex information easier to digest.

It’s no wonder, then, that buzzwords are well-loved in the literary realm. There have been many buzzwords in the publishing world over the years, such as “high concept,” which usually refers to the quality of a plot, or “comps,” which are the comparative titles a manuscript has when authors pitch to literary agents.

Perhaps the biggest buzzword in 2023 and possibly this year is “romantasy,” or the fusion of the romance and fantasy genres. This is evident in the continued rise of romantasy novels on TikTok and on bestseller lists, such as Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas.

Publishing is an industry that relies on bestsellers like these above-mentioned books. When a publisher releases a book, they hope it becomes the next Fifty Shades of Grey, selling like hotcakes around the block. The majority of books, however, don’t reach that level of success. This is why, this year, publishers are capitalizing on the romantasy trend by releasing more books in the genre. Truly, it’s an industry that bleeds one trend dry before moving on to the next.

A single-word buzzword is simple enough to spin, but a portmanteau buzzword is not, however. Despite the fact that combining romance and fantasy elements in a book is common, the term “romantasy” didn’t become popular until late last year. Portmanteau buzzwords like romantasy must sound good to be considered a portmanteau in the first place.

In publishing, I see PR professionals primarily use bookish portmanteaus to promote books. Buzzwords are used to pitch books to content creators or journalists. Then, bloggers or vloggers use the same terms in online spaces like blogs or TikToks. Readers then pick them up. The cycle begins, and portmanteau buzzwords are born.

But aside from romantasy, what other bookish portmanteaus are going to emerge? I asked some industry professionals what they think.

The Next Buzzy Bookish Portmanteaus

“GenAI”

This is already a popular buzzword in AI circles, referring to AI-generated content. Given the industry’s heavy reliance on technology, I expect it to reach publishing bubbles as well.

This portmanteau, I believe, will be used to distinguish between content written by humans and content written by AI. Examples of GenAI content include AI-written copies, AI-generated images, and AI-written ebooks that are allowed to be sold in marketplaces such as Amazon.

“Cli-Fi”

This one is not a new portmanteau, but it’s becoming ever more popular.

“The book world loves blending genres, so I’d keep an eye on cli-fi, which is gaining traction as environmental issues become more pressing,” said Ibrahim Taha, a reader and senior manager at online learning platform Roowaad.com. One of the global issues receiving media attention is climate change. As the world feels its effects, many are putting out content about taking care of the environment. If climate fiction gains significant traction in the publishing world, “cli-fi” may likely be adopted.

Book blogger Harrison Alley has an alternative, however: “ecolit.” “This term could encapsulate narratives that seamlessly blend ecological themes with various genres, offering readers engaging stories while fostering a deeper connection with nature,” she told me.

Books in this genre include Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.

“Femtrepreneurship”

“Femtrepreneurship” fiction shows potential to take flight, according to book blogger Niklas Göke. He explained that this combination of the words “female” and “entrepreneurship” neatly encapsulates stories celebrating women in business.

This portmanteau will take the spotlight, Göke said, as a result of the growing prominence of female entrepreneurs in real life, which provides fertile material for fictional stories. He believes that upbeat, empowering stories about women pursuing their dreams and finding fulfillment through entrepreneurial endeavors appeal to readers, particularly younger ones.

The -preneur trend is well-established in book genres, with examples such as “momtrepreneurship” and “solopreneurship,” Göke elaborated. Thus, femtrepreneurship fits logically into this concept-driven category. “Femtrepreneurship fiction synthesizes today’s themes of female advancement and ambitious small business ownership into a succinct, marketable genre label primed for its publishing moment.”

Books like Girl Code by Cara Alwill Leyba and How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh fall under this microgenre.

“SpicyTok” or “Smuttok”

BookTok. FantasyTok. More -toks.

This particular portmanteau may be added to the common bookish parlance soon. Right now, the term is not being taken seriously outside of BookTok or book blogs. But as romance books discussion on the platform become more common, it’s only a matter of time before SpicyTok follows suit.

In fact, Harlequin is launching an imprint dedicated to SpicyTok content. Soon, you may see the use of the term SpicyTok in mainstream publications.

Talia Hibbert’s Act Your Age, Eve Brown, and The Roommate Risk, as well as some of Colleen Hoover’s works, are considered SpicyTok books.

“Sci-Fantasy”

This is not a new subgenre, but it’s one that has recently grown in demand, along with other genres of escapist fiction. This is evident in the popularity of N.K. Jemisin’s novels (like the Broken Earth trilogy) and Dune.

In sci-fantasy, there’s a balance of both science fiction and fantasy. This term should not be confused with the acronym SFF, which refers to two genres that are grouped together solely for the purpose of categorization. Some publications even add the final H for horror, making it SFFH. These don’t combine genres in one book, whereas sci-fantasy does.

Books considered sci-fantasy include Dune by Frank Herbert and Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.

“Darcademia”

The dark academia subculture emerged out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its popularity spread to the literary realm. In fact, this aesthetic may still be popular for years to come.

“Dark academia,” however, is a bit long to pronounce, so some people opted for the portmanteau “darcademia,” which is easier to roll off the tongue. Some books include Atlas Six by Olivie Blake and Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo.


Buzzwords help reach readers looking for specific genres. Aside from these bookish portmanteaus, here are some industry changes that might arise in 2024, including the continued rise of romantasy.