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Top Genre Categories and other ebook sales tidbits

Crumbly Writer

Running thru the last smashwords survey of ebook sales (a yearly summary of ebooks which provides useful information) always provides interest insights. Here's the list of this years most popular genres:

1: Romance (47% of the total market)
2: Erotica
3: Fantasy
4: Young adult or teen
5: Science Fiction
6: Gay and lesbian
7: Thriller and suspense
8: Historical
9: Adventure
10: Horror
11: Literature (not sure how this is defined)
12: Women's fiction (stories about women or about women's issues?)
13: African American fiction
14: Christian
15: Children's books
16: Anthologies
17: Humor & comedy

That shows that SOL is on the right track by frequently combining romance and erotica (thought mostly from a male perspective), though we frequently miss the YA market, and almost completely ignore the #6 category entirely.

It also hints that a decent way to boost flagging thriller sales is by specializing (combining #6 and #7, and maybe even #8). Combining #14 and #13 or #15 is largely as wasted effort, on the other hand.

The actual sales by these categories are:
Romance (73%)
Fantasy (9%)
YA (5%)
Sci-Fi (3%)
Non-Fiction (3%)
Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction/Thriller/suspense (each 2%)

Aside from being the top sellers, romance readers are the typically book-a-day readers, romance authors are typically the first to adapt new marketing practices and there are more professional romance associations and conferences.

Strangely (or maybe not) the top romance & erotica subcategories are:
#3 Paranormal and #4 Couples Erotica
No surprise is #8 Lesbian erotica and #10 Sci-fi erotica. MILF, Time travel historical and horror are the lowest romance categories. However, the nebulous "Contemporary" romance is the far-and-away best selling romance, across the board.

A big surprise for me were "box sets", or multiple books combined into a single book (say an entire series sold as a single volume). The average price of these was $7.43 and the word count was 316,644. However, it's offers the fewest best-sellers (of 3 of the top 100 bestsellers).

$2.99 is the most common price point, followed by $4.99, $9.99 and $3.99 (the suggestion being that if you have strong sales at $2.99, you should migrate to $3.99 or $4.99). $3.99 seems to get the most downloads, though, followed by $4.99. (The higher prices reflect mostly non-fiction works.)

Pre-orders seem to work best for Romance, YA, Gay/Lesbian and historical fiction, but performs badly for erotica.

For book series: 7 of the 10 bestsellers had free series starters, and 7 of 10 were romance (2 YA). The average series contains 7.48 titles, while the medium is 6).

Series also seems to boost overall sales by 383% over single books sales.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

though we frequently miss the YA market


Actually, YA is not a genre. Most of the YA sales are fantasy.

My latest novel is YA Contemporary Romance and there's not much of a market for that.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

The actual sales by these categories are:
Romance (73%)
Fantasy (9%)


What happened to Erotica which was #2 above?

sunkuwan

I would like more female protagonists but most romance female protag stories are "train-the-bad-boy-into-your-dream-man" fantasies. The only female protag romance stories I can stomach are lesbian stories, because of that.

Other female protag stories that dont have the romance focus are mostly fine. i.e. Bec or fantasy, supernatural (if you exclude twilight copies) or superhuman stories.

What do they include into YA? normal CoA types, Adventures or more like the Shonen genre, i.e. teenage badasses saving the world (most superhuman stories)

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Capt. Zapp

@Switch Blayde

Switch Blayde 7/1/2017, 1:56:33 PM

@Crumbly Writer
The actual sales by these categories are:
Romance (73%)
Fantasy (9%)

What happened to Erotica which was #2 above?


If you add up all these categories, there is only 1% left. That must be for Erotica but then how would Erotica end up #2?

The actual sales by these categories are:
Romance (73%)
Fantasy (9%)
YA (5%)
Sci-Fi (3%)
Non-Fiction (3%)
Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction/Thriller/suspense (each 2%)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@sunkuwan

What do they include into YA?


YA is an age group. So there's YA Fantasy, YA Romance, etc. So if the characters in their teens, it's typically YA.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

What happened to Erotica which was #2 above?

The first set of figures were how many books in each category were released, while the second was which were the biggest sellers (per title).

Crumbly Writer

@Capt. Zapp

If you add up all these categories, there is only 1% left.

The other categories in the second list are all rounded to 1%, meaning they're likely much less than that, but they didn't want to report them as zero values.

Again, the first figures measure something different than the second set.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

YA is an age group. So there's YA Fantasy, YA Romance, etc. So if the characters in their teens, it's typically YA.

YA is more marketing gimmick than actual demographic, so I suspect it's more the age of the author, or the readers the author targets, rather than the age of the character, as a LOT of authors target teens for a variety of reasons.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

Curious about the "Boxed Sets" doing so well, I investigated some (only reading the blurbs). I saw the following:

Can You Handle This? Series Starters Boxed Sex by Alice Bello

This sizzling hot Boxed Set contains the starter books for six different series: Contemporary Romances, Romantic Comedies, and Paranormal/Shifter Romances. If you like action packed, funny, sexy as all hell reads, look no further!

It's no wonder these sell other books, as the 'boxed set' are simply a compilation of the first books in multiple series by the author. Readers can read each, only deciding to purchase any they find interested.

I don't call that a collection of stories as much as a marketing scam, as there's no link between any of the stories aside from the author who's pushing them.

Still, it's something to consider. All this time I was thinking of a boxed set as an entire series in a single book, where it's obvious quite the opposite (i.e. not a complete story in any of them). :(

Another Starter Set contains the following description:

This starter set includes the first two novels in the series, an extended preview of Starbound, book 3, and never-before-published bonus content providing additional insights into the series.

This is little more than a teaser, as they're hoping to recoup their 'loss' by overcharging for the final book.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


YA is more marketing gimmick than actual demographic, so I suspect it's more the age of the author, or the readers the author targets, rather than the age of the character


I once read an interesting article. The author wrote a novel that took place in the 1800s (I think or early 1900s) where the two characters were young orphan boys around ages 10-13 or so. She was told her novel was YA because of the age of her characters.

She did a lot of research about what YA was and came to the conclusion it was more about how the YA age readers associate with the characters. She concluded that although her characters were YA age, today's YA would not associate with her characters so she said it wasn't YA.

But she was told it was the age of the characters.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

But she was told it was the age of the characters.

Given the odd-mix of most YA stories, I suspect it's a mix of the two (ago of characters and appeal to the YA audience).

Basically, anything anyone can slide in under the YA door, they will! However, it seems to attack newer, untested authors, as most experienced authors won't even bother with the market.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

She was told her novel was YA because of the age of her characters.


I thought it qualified as YA if the characters said a lot of things like, "Ya, are ve all agree ve do dis, next week, now?"

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I thought it qualified as YA if the characters said a lot of things like, "Ya, are ve all agree ve do dis, next week, now?"

I take it we don't have many YA fans here at SOL. 'D

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I thought it qualified as YA if the characters said a lot of things like, "Ya, are ve all agree ve do dis, next week, now?"

I take it we don't have many YA fans here at SOL. Though, it's much like young boys reading the old Howard "Conan" comics, as long at they're reading books (purchased with their parent's money), hopefully it'll lead to their eventually reading something worthwhile.

As the old saying goes, teach a fish to read comics, and pretty soon it'll be swimming in literary seas with the likes of Hemingway, who'll spear, catch, fry and eat 'em! 'D (Talking about mixed metaphors).

Replies:   Joe Long
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I take it we don't have many YA fans here at SOL. 'D


I try to imitate Yooper speech, and dat's all I get! Dayum!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I try to imitate Yooper speech, and dat's all I get! Dayum!

I meant, no one seemed to be willing to defend or stand up for the entire YA marketplace in the discussion. That says a lot! Normally, even in the worst cases, someone will say 'they're not all bad!'

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  Not_a_ID
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I meant, no one seemed to be willing to defend or stand up for the entire YA marketplace in the discussion.


It's more likely most people don't understand the YA market, thus they can't really talk about it. I know a lot of my books sell to people in the YA market, but I'm damned if I understand how to cater to it.

Replies:   Joe Long
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I meant, no one seemed to be willing to defend or stand up for the entire YA marketplace in the discussion. That says a lot! Normally, even in the worst cases, someone will say 'they're not all bad!'


A LOT of Asimov's stuff is YA, in addition to being Sci-Fi. Orson Scott Card has a fair bit of YA (and Sci-Fi) stuff out there too(most notably Ender's Game). Anne McCaffery also comes to mind as another Sci-Fi author who frequently turned up on the YA listings.

This also ignores a certain hairy guy making pottery.

Edit to add: IIRC, Bradbury and Clark also found themselves in the YA section from time to time. Just write an adventure story with a young protagonist, write the story at a level that a "young adult" can follow it, and so long as it's something they're able to "relate to" then it will likely qualify as a "Young Adult" title, even if you didn't intend it as such.

..at least so long as your chosen subject matter doesn't give them, or their parents nightmares.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

There's an author who I've become friends with online who started posting a recently concluded serial three years ago when he was 18. He's said in a blog post that he started reading this stuff when he was 13.

When I was a kid back in the 60's and 70's (pre Internet & video days) my parents collected and swapped adult paperbacks. They didn't exactly hide them - the active ones were stacked beside their bed stand and the rest were on the steps to the attic. I started into the stacks when I was 12 or 13. Being an only child, I did wonder about the abundance of mother/son books.

Joe Long

@Ernest Bywater

I'm an old guy remembering life as a teen and writing about teens struggling with the process of learning to be an adult. That sounds both Coming of Age and Young Adult to me, even with the graphic sex. (Just tell me teens don't deal with sexual issues.) I've received several heart warming emails from young readers (presumably 18+, college aged) who told me they were encouraged by what I had written.

Joe Long

@Not_a_ID

so long as it's something they're able to "relate to" then it will likely qualify as a "Young Adult" title, even if you didn't intend it as such...at least so long as your chosen subject matter doesn't give them, or their parents nightmares.


You mean like parties with kegs of beer and porn videos, teen pregnancies, abortions, coming home drunk, going to the ER after being found passed out drunk, rape/murders, etc, etc?

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Joe Long

You mean like parties with kegs of beer and porn videos, teen pregnancies, abortions, coming home drunk, going to the ER after being found passed out drunk, rape/murders, etc, etc?


Depending on how they're portrayed, those may or may not give the parents the kind of nightmares that would have them trying to ban the thing. ;)

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Not_a_ID

Depending on how they're portrayed, those may or may not give the parents the kind of nightmares that would have them trying to ban the thing. ;)


Often in graphic detail, but they do live Happily For Now even if I torture my darlings along the way

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

Often in graphic detail, but they do live Happily For Now even if I torture my darlings along the way

Torturing our darlings is the main requirement in being an author. As they always say, you only hurt the ones you love. If authors didn't love writing so much, they wouldn't relish punishing their creations so much. 'D

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