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Which Self-Published Books Sell the Most

Crumbly Writer

Found the following summary of genre sales (by a group marketing marketing services for self-published books, duh!).

You're at the starting gate, ready to self-publish your book. But how do you know if you have a winner? We at Self-Publishing Relief know that while some genres seem to enjoy unbridled success when self-published, others fall behind in the race for sales. Take a look at the top-selling genres in self-publishing to find out where your book fits in:

Win: Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Romance, science fiction, and fantasy books are the best-suited for self-publishing. In fact, half of the e-book bestsellers in the romance, science fiction, and fantasy genres on Amazon are self-published! Readers of these genres are more likely to share recommendations via blogs and community forums, and their clearly defined interests make it easier for authors in these genres to target their book sales marketing efforts.

Of these three genres, romance books make up a whopping 40% of the market share on Amazon e-book sales. And if you think romance sells so well because it's erotica—not true. Only 1.2% of Kindle sales are erotica. The romance genre actually covers many other types of romance novels—even Christian romance. You're in good company if you love writing romance novels, whether they're steamy or not!

Place: Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Of the Top 100 mystery and thriller Kindle sales, 11% are self-published books. While not as popular as the romance genre, self-published mystery, thriller, and crime books still sell extremely well.

Show: Nonfiction

Nonfiction books are also good choices for self-publishing. They make up a smaller percentage of the market, but readers are often happy to pay more for a nonfiction book. So even if you sell fewer books than fiction writers, you'll still make a decent profit because you can charge more for each copy.

Losers

Self-published literary fiction doesn't sell as well as genre fiction does: This category makes up only 2% of all Amazon e-book sales.

So is every non-romantic book destined to fail?

Don't let generalizations about which books sell best discourage you from self-publishing your book, whether it's a romance, a mystery, or even a western! It's important to stay true to your unique writing style and vision—forcing yourself to write only for the market will show in your work, and disappointed readers will notice. Instead, you might want to consider adding a little more romance to your mystery novel to create some crossover appeal, or querying agents for a little longer before starting down the self-publishing route.

Ross at Play

The statistics quoted don't tell me anything about self-published books. They seem indicative only of the most popular genres of books written, or of book sales.
A list, be genre, of percentages of all sales which are self-published may show trends which are significant.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I think it might be informative to know the number of self-published books in each genre.

If eg 60% of the books are romance but they only achieve 40% of the sales (by volume), then perhaps romance shouldn't be considered a winner after all.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I think it might be informative to know the number of self-published books in each genre.
If eg 60% of the books are romance but they only achieve 40% of the sales (by volume), then perhaps romance shouldn't be considered a winner after all.

I'm still half asleep and going back to bed soon, but that precisely says what I was trying to say. :-)

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

The statistics quoted don't tell me anything about self-published books. They seem indicative only of the most popular genres of books written, or of book sales.
A list, be genre, of percentages of all sales which are self-published may show trends which are significant.

The figures quotes are consistent with the last bunch I put up from SOL (which typically has the best stats on Indie Author sales, since they're the largest Indie Author only site (not counting Amazon, which sells everything!).

Romance wins every category, by far, while non-fiction isn't great and literary fiction is almost non-existent.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Romance wins every category, by far, while non-fiction isn't great and literary fiction is almost non-existent.

Greatest sales - without a doubt.
The quote implies romance is the best choice for authors who want sales. Perhaps they make up 50% of both sales and works offered for sale. Literary fiction may be a better choice if it has 1% of sales but only one-tenth of a percent of works offered.
That's why AJ and I both think these "statistics" provide no information about what's the best choice of genre for an author, naively, hoping for significant sales.

Replies:   Joe Long  Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

The quote implies romance is the best choice for authors who want sales


How about a literary, young adult, coming of age, erotic romance?

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

The quote implies romance is the best choice for authors who want sales. Perhaps they make up 50% of both sales and works offered for sale. Literary fiction may be a better choice if it has 1% of sales but only one-tenth of a percent of works offered.
That's why AJ and I both think these "statistics" provide no information about what's the best choice of genre for an author, naively, hoping for significant sales.

Actually, the SW reference looked at that (sales vs. numbers of books, this was just a summary, rather than an analysis (The SW was a PowerPoint talk at a large writers' conference).

Actually, I suspect more than 1% of books written by aspiring authors are 'literary fiction', because it's prestigious to have one published, but they're not popular in the Indie marketplace, even though they (the famous ones) get a lot of attention (even though they're not been sellers, even when made into classic movies).

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Actually, the SW reference looked at that (sales vs. numbers of books

I think an extraction of those figures would interest some here.
They don't interest me, and I only skimmed your original post, but I could not see any relevance to anyone in the "winners, etc." in your post.

However, if "winners" in the OP actually meant a high proportion of sales compared to number of books offered for sale in that genre, then others could reasonably use that information as they see fit.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

However, if "winners" in the OP actually meant a high proportion of sales compared to number of books offered for sale in that genre, then others could reasonably use that information as they see fit.

The big takeaway, is that Romance is the #1 selling book because Romance readers typically read a book a day, while most people are lucky to read a single book a month (a certain President reported never even read his own books (book's supposed written by him)).

Replies:   Joe Long  Ross at Play
Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

a certain President reported never even read his own books (book's supposed written by him)).


Then he already knows what is in the book!

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

a certain President

The same one who said, "he and her"?

Ross at Play

@Joe Long

Then he already knows what is in the book!

Like he never asked Cheney and Rumsfeld, "What have I let you start?"

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Bondi Beach

@Joe Long

How about a literary, young adult, coming of age, erotic romance?


Already done. "Romeo and Juliet."

bb

awnlee jawking

@Bondi Beach

Already done. "Romeo and Juliet."


Banned in Canada because Juliet's only twelve?

AJ

Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

How about a literary, young adult, coming of age, erotic romance?


I didn't read the novel so I don't know if it's literary, but how about "The Blue Lagoon?"

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Like he never asked Cheney and Rumsfeld, "What have I let you start?"

Wrong president. I was referring to the semi-illiterate one who never reads anything, and can't make it through a single page of a security briefing if his name isn't repeated twenty times.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Banned in Canada because Juliet's only twelve?

No explicit sex, so it's covered. Plus, it falls under the 'pre-existing story' clause. (It's almost impossible to pass 'retroactive laws', because almost everyone would be automatically guilty if they never knew the act was against the law in the first place (no 'willful intent')).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

and can't make it through a single page of a security briefing if his name isn't repeated twenty times.


That's an ego/vanity problem, not a literacy problem.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

(It's almost impossible to pass 'retroactive laws', because almost everyone would be automatically guilty if they never knew the act was against the law in the first place (no 'willful intent')).


I wish that were true.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Bondi Beach

Already done. "Romeo and Juliet."


See, I knew they could get published. How steamy did Shakespeare write the intimate scenes?

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Joe Long

@Ernest Bywater

I honestly believe it's a lot easier to show underage sex, even explicitly, on TV than in printed word.

The first episode of Californication has a 16 year old character, bare tits flying, bouncing on David Duchovny's dick. In some places I'm not allowed to write that. Those under 18 can turn on the tube and watch it, but are forbidden from reading it.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Joe Long

I honestly believe it's a lot easier to show underage sex, even explicitly, on TV than in printed word.


A large part of that is the fact the TV networks can afford to pay for high priced lawyers to fight the cases in courts, while you and I can't.

My current go around with the Gestapo is due to a change in the law that made any image of a person who looked like they may, in the mind of the prosecutor, be under 16 y/o where her breasts, anus, or genitals may be exposed. Thus those old family photos of the naked baby on a rug were legal one day and illegal the next. Yet certain companies are still airing advertisements for child care products showing pre-pubescent girls sitting in a bath with water up to their waste so their tops are on display - yet the TV companies and bath product companies aren't even being asked to take the ads off the air, let alone charged, while I'm facing charges for having electronic copies of nudist family images of magazines being sold in the shops. They were legal when I hot them, some 25 years ago, but not now, and the government never made a media announcement about it when they changed the laws - so there was no way to know of the change. It all comes down to how good a lawyer you can hire.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Banned in Canada because Juliet's only twelve?

Thirteen, I think. Whatever.
My first draft of my first attempted had girls aged thirteen, then younger sisters, because that was Juliet's age.
I wanted one of them to explain to the others why it was natural girls their age would want and should be having a lot of sex. A crucial point in her case was:

Juliet was the same age we are now. The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet was that her parents hadn't married her off when she was ready. The poor girl was so frustrated she invited the first cute boy who walked past her window up into her bed. Shakespeare was not a pedophile.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

A large part of that is the fact the TV networks can afford to pay for high priced lawyers to fight the cases in courts, while you and I can't.

That's not why TV and films are different. There is a censorship/ratings Board for film and TV. It's safe for works to be created, but the board may insist changes are made before various rating will be given, up to refusal to classify at all.
I am not discounting how different and heavy-handed how other laws are written which apply to fiction and images. The majority of the country are probably, technically, breaking those laws and theoretically risk up to 15 years in prison. They have no way of knowing that totally innocuous things will not be prosecuted, and can only hope that police, prosecutors, and courts will interpret the word "reasonable" in the law in the same way reasonable people would. It totally sucks. What irks me most is the law does not even allow a defense for fictional portrayals of events that are legal in real life?!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Joe Long

@Bondi Beach

Already done. "Romeo and Juliet."


Oh yes, you can add 'tragic' to the descriptions of my novel.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

There is a censorship/ratings Board for film and TV.


Except those operate on shows and movies, not on advertisements, and they don't review ads unless people complain. The main point is the law was changed without anyone being told or given a chance to comply, and the cops aren't going for the companies with the big pockets at all, because they know that would result in the law being changed back after a few cases are lost, so they go for those who can't afford the lawyers.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@Joe Long


See, I knew they could get published. How steamy did Shakespeare write the intimate scenes?


My fast read of the original text seems to indicate they didn't even spend the night together, Hollywood to the contrary, but then I never could read the original very well.

I don't know how explicit he wrote other stuff, the "Sonnets" aside, but in Promise I used a couple of lines from "Venus and Adonis":

"Graze on my lips; and if those hills be dry,

Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie."

It may not be graphic but it's pretty clear what he's talking about.

bb

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

The main point is the law ...

Preachin' to the choir, EB, preachin' to the choir.

Ross at Play

@Bondi Beach

My fast read of the original text seems to indicate they didn't even spend the night together

I understand it made was clear by the chambermaid who knew that they had, and was accepting and supportive of that. Also, she was the one who identified Juliet's age as thirteen.
I'm not going to read the original text to check. Unless spoken by a good actor, I find Shakespeare's language confusing and impossible to read quickly.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@Ross at Play

I'm not going to read the original text to check. Unless spoken by a good actor, I find Shakespeare's language confusing and impossible to read quickly.


Exactly. Read quickly I miss most of it. Read slowly and carefully, I come to a dead stop. I blame my 8th grade teacher who "led" us through "Julius Caesar" by giving her own rendition of key scenes. Argh.

There seems to be some question about whether they actually had sex but the Internet overall says they did, so that's that. It's all in the interpretation [of the nurse's remarks as you point out, among others], as one source put it.

It's always in the interpretation, of course. My money is on the sex. I like Hollywood movies.

bb

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Bondi Beach

My money is on the sex. I like Hollywood movies.


If they're going to make a movie out of it I at least want to see some boobs.

From my current reading of the plot synopsis, it sounds like another Disney 'love at first sight' thing. How can they meet at a dance and then profess their eternal love for each other, to the point of ending their own lives?

My characters take three weeks to kiss and two more to consummate the relationship. Love takes work.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

'love at first sight' thing

'lust at first sight' only ends in enduring love for each other in the movies. Most are content if it ends in endured like of each other, rather than the eternal ...

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@Ross at Play

'lust at first sight' only ends in enduring love for each other in the movies. Most are content if it ends in endured like of each other, rather than the eternal ...


Problem conveniently and perhaps kind of messily resolved in R&J.

bb

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Joe Long


How can they meet at a dance and then profess their eternal love for each other


West Side Story — Tony and Maria (of course it's Romeo & Juliet with singing and dancing).

I'll tell you a real life story. My daughter-in-law's grandmother is Hawaiian. During WWII, her grandfather was stationed there and saw her and his heart went pitta-patta so he asked to take her out. Her parents wouldn't allow it because he wasn't Hawaiian. So he left, learned to speak Hawaiian, returned after the war, and asked her parents if he could take her out — in Hawaiian. They said yes and the two got married and remained married until their deaths. Definitely love at first sight.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Definitely love at first sight.


I confess that the first time I heard my wife's voice and then saw her in person I was captivated. I was also quite obsessive/compulsive at that time in my life, but honestly it was Divine Intervention that brought us together.

Regardless, I believe a good story needs conflict, and not just from the outside. The protagonist is going along their normal life, happy or whatnot, and this new personal stumbles into it to create an inciting event. Things are shaken up and the protag needs to react and sort it all out. Later on comes the decision at the point of no return that leads into act two.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

I confess that the first time I heard my wife's voice and then saw her in person I was captivated.


When I was 17, some friends and I picked up some girls ice skating. They asked if we wanted to go to a party. We said yes. We went to a girl's house where they were having a sleepover or something. Her parents weren't home and boys weren't allowed so one of the girls told us we couldn't come in. That 14-yo girl eventually became my wife. Next month, we'll be married 45 yrs.

Replies:   Joe Long  awnlee jawking
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

So you're older than me! Congratulations. I assume you waited a few years to get married.

The next day I asked the girl who would be my wife for a date, and when I took her home she kissed me for twenty or thirty minutes on her back porch. We dated for three months, barely breaking my personal best - and then she threw me out. About another four months after that I had proven myself to her and a year and a half later we were married, now going on 33 years.

So despite the initial enthrallment, it wasn't a straight line.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

one of the girls told us we couldn't come in.


What complicated lives vampires lead!

AJ

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