With the newest Fifty Shades installment in theaters and the hype surrounding the “romance” genre that is ever-present in almost all of the Facebook writer’s promotion groups I’m a part of, I thought I’d do a little digging into what genres topped the charts for book sales. I was sure I’d see Romance taking first place. I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t the most popular selling genre. That is, depending on who you ask.

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

Rarely do I trust the first page of Google to give me the kind of answers I’m searching for. However, the first page that popped up actually gave a vague and generalized list of top selling genres, listing them thusly:

  1. Romance/Erotica
  2. Crime/Mystery
  3. Religious/Inspirational
  4. Science Fiction/Fantasy
  5. Horror

According to this list, my instincts weren’t wrong. But also not being satisfied with this list, I did a little more digging around the web. Sure enough, I found some interesting tidbits on the publishing industry and which genres actually sell the best.  You see, it’s not as cut and dry as: “Romance is the top selling genre.” It actually varies depending on who you publish with and how you publish.

The statistics on e-book retailers, which account for 61% of the market, indicate that Amazon.com has a monopoly-like grip on book sales, holding 74% of the market share. However, only a small percentage (16%) of the books sold on Amazon come from top five publishing houses. This makes a big difference because Amazon is a sales leader in the indie publishing industry. And if you’re writing within the Literary Fiction genre, independent publishing might not be the way to go if you’re looking to strike it rich.

Source: Aksomitis
Source: Aksomitis

If you’re trying to land a sweet gig with a big five publishing house, their top selling genres (in order) are:

  1. Literary Fiction
  2. Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
  3. Children’s
  4. Non-Fiction
  5. Science Fiction/Fantasy
  6. Romance

Indie Publishing seems to be the best way to go for any author, monetarily speaking. However, Romance is top dog there, taking 66% of the pie. If you write romance and intend to go the indie route, expect competition to be fierce. The genre takes up 87% of the top 100 selling slots. The remaining top-selling genres go to Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Non-Fiction, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Children’s, and Literary Fiction, respectively.

Small and medium sized publishers trend towards Non-Fiction (34%) and Children’s (28%), with a huge disparage between that and other genres — Literary (20%), Romance (8%), and almost nothing worth mentioning for Mystery/Suspense/Thriller and Sci-fi/Fantasy.

However, there are also some eyebrow-raising sales trends for other genres not typically seen in a top ten list. LGBT books have seen a 200% increase, comic books and graphic novels — an 119% bump, and Teen and YA novels are on a 63% rise. Following the digital trends, Romance and Children’s e-books are also seeing a 40ish percent growth.

Source: LGBT Center of Raleigh
Source: LGBT Center of Raleigh

In short, if you want to take book sales and bunch them all into one by genre (as shown in the first list), with a commanding $712M lead above #2 (Mystery/Crime), Romance definitely takes the cake. And the icing. And the cherry on top, too. But if you’re looking to publish in a different genre, it may pay to look at all your publishing options, even if it seems the Big Five’s are doing a nose-dive. It appears they have better luck in some genres.

With that, I wish you happy writing and publishing success — wherever you take your masterpiece.

YouTube Channel: Jenna Moreci

 

Featured image via Amazon