Genre Schmenre

Dear Reader,

I am giving up any and all pretenses of having a blog schedule because there have been too many interesting things to write about this week. Such as an analysis of indie authors who have reached the “1000 sales per month club” as described by Derek J Canyon. I encourage you to read his post where he analyzes what is getting authors into this club (hint: number of titles and genre).

What I found fascinating and a bit disheartening is the breakdown of popular genres for ePublishing. Why disheartening? Take a look at the pie chart that Derek uploaded.

This pie chart breaks down the genres of the authors that are making 1000+ sales per month, as self-reported by authors at KindleBoards. Top genre? Romance at 16%. Where is my genre, historical fiction? Do you see where the slices start getting really small as you go clockwise around the pie chart? Historical fiction is in there at 3% (orange).

Of genres ePublished, 3% of the authors who are making 1000+ sales per month are in the historical genre. That’s a really small number. Or really big, depending on the sample size of book buyers.

I suppose it makes sense. I guess a stereotype of someone who likes historical fiction would be someone who prefers a book with actual pages they can flip in hand. It’s certainly eye-opening to see where my genre fits in with everyone else.

Now, depending on who you talk to, I don’t write straight historical fiction, but historical romance. Which could bump me into the 16% slice of the pie.

Come on, Belinda, why is this so important? I really think genre is a huge indicator of “success,” i.e. getting 1000 sales per month. But then, this is a specific result, in that this is self-reporting through KindleBoards.

I don’t know. What do you think? I’m going to continue publishing because I enjoy it so much, and I know there are fans out there if my Goodreads reviews are any indication. I may never make the sales that Zoe Winters, Amanda Hocking, Susan Bischoff, and others are making. But that’s ok as long as I’m getting to my readers. I also, however, want to be successful. I want to get to that 1000 sales a month.

Do you think genre plays as big of a role as I do?

7 thoughts on “Genre Schmenre

  1. I do think genre plays a big part, which is sort of disheartening when you consider that *most* of us have a hard time sticking our book into just one genre. Heck, even readers can't decide where my books go – Tempest has been tagged as everything from romantic suspense (which is where I put it), to erotic, to literary, to action/adventure. I don't think erotic or literary fit at all, though "romantic adventure" would probably be more apt than rom. suspense. But hey, readers see things differently – who am I to argue?

    I think the beautiful thing about Amazon is the tagging feature – you could list your work officially as historical romance (to get the rom. crowd), but then have it tagged as historical, historical fiction, etc…and those other readers should find it there.

    And always keep in mind – 3% of historical fiction authors *are* selling 1000 books per month. There's no reason you can't be one of them. 🙂

    Backlist, backlist, backlist. It's all about quantity , after quality.


    1. Yeah, that's the worst part of publishing, trying to decide which genre readers are most likely to find you. You're right about the tagging feature… I just wonder how many readers actually tag the books they read, and how many people use the tags to find books to read.

      And yes! I can be one of the 3%, as long as I keep writing quality books. Too bad it takes me so long to write a book thanks to research… le sigh.


  2. i think romance is a big seller in whatever format. even when i walked into my local Christian bookstore, looking for uplifting fantasy for my son and i to read together, romance was the largest percentage of the fiction section. granted, i like romance, but enough is enough.

    so, do we write in the genre that sells the most or do we write the stories we're dying to tell? i see that fantasy is at 8% and that's what i write, but not because it's popular. it's just the genre that tugs at me the most. and i'm going to keep writing it because it's the best way for me to tell the stories that are trying to burn their way out of me.


    1. Michelle, you are completely right. I don't write the genre I write because it makes money, but because I can't write anything else. I know because I've tried. I really need to just believe that what I'm doing is valid and important, and that people out there will believe the same. Better to have a small, dedicated following than anyone else, right?

      Thanks for commenting!


  3. I think the most important aspect of a work that MIGHT help achieve 1000+ is entertainment. If I like romance, buy what I think is a romance novel, find it's actually historical fiction and I'm still entertained I will probably read it and look for another by the same author. If I like historical fiction, buy historical fiction, find no entertainment (for me, the reader) by about chapter 8, then I probably won't buy that author again.
    Personally, I like historical fiction so that's what I wright. If I'm entertained by this story that keeps coming from nowhere, then there's a good chance the reader will be entertained as well.
    If I ever get through this series I've started I might try some of the other things I like … mystery, SF, etc.


  4. I totally sympathize with the genre woes. Eight percent seems reasonable for fantasy, but it gets divided down further into epic, dark fantasy, steampunk, swords & sorcery, etc. and not everyone reads those across the board. I suppose that's true of any genre, but I know I have a hard time finding a category to put my stuff in when I'm uploading it at Amazon.

    My book briefly made it into the epic fantasy bestseller list on Amazon, and it's sooo not epic fantasy. 😛 I'm going to try and put my science-fantasy-mystery-adventure-love-story into a romance category to see if I can get those people, but if they're looking for harlequinn that won't be it, heh.

    Good luck with the book sales, all!



    1. That's the crazy thing: the genre readers find you in and make you a bestseller for are often not the ones we think of! In which case… do we even attempt to tag our books, or should we only have our readers tell us what we write? I feel like it's one big Chicken-or-the-Egg problem.


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