How Important Is Genre to eBook Sales?

I’ve mentioned before that I have a love for numbers. I mean, it’s probably a hangover from another life, but still it’s there, and for me to feel comfortable about a thing I need to do the maths. So, my question is; How important is genre to ebook sales?

You hear people talking about crime and thriller novels; you read about the success of romance novels; what about fantasy and horror that both have their own dedicated and committed fans? Does any of this matter at all? I went to the numbers to find out.

eBooks by Genre

I found a link to Derek Canyon’s blog who has very nicely collated some statistics on eBook sales. These figures are from January last year but we can assume that trend information must be pretty similar, although volumes sold have probably increased.

Ok, so out of self-published writers that sell more than a 1,000 books a month, the top five genres are:

  1. Romance (16%)
  2. Paranormal (15%)
  3. Thriller (12%)
  4. Mystery (12%)
  5. Fantasy (8%)

This aligns with what I’ve heard in the past but interestingly there are also 13 other genres represented in the list below these, each having authors selling more than 1,000 books a month. So, again, how important is genre?

How many books your selling

The one conclusive piece of analysis from this data though is the number of books that an author is selling. It stands to reason that the more books you have out there, the more books you’re going to sell. So, out of just these authors that sell over 1,000 books a month, how many books do they each have?

  1. 3 or more titles available (67%)
  2. 2 titles available (17%)
  3. Only 1 title available (16%)

Clearly there is a correlation between the number of books you have out there and how many you sell. This also agrees to other evidence that I have read before, traditionally an author is only really recognised and appears on best seller lists by their third book. There’s a number of reasons for this; gradual market awareness, perhaps writing in a series, and just getting better by number three.

The Series of Books

By looking at the Top 100 Most Successful Books in the UK there is also another trend worth noting. 25 of the top 100 are books from a series. Once you’ve taken out all of the one-off cook books and biographies from that list, that’s quite a high percentage of the remaining fiction that’s part of a series. I haven’t counted but it looks to be at least 50%.


I think it’s good to know this. It’s easy for people to advise you to write what’s inside but, at the end of the day, if the book that’s inside is about the mating habits of a goldfish then it’s probably not going to sell too many. We’re in business and you wouldn’t start up a business selling something that isn’t wanted.

What I take from these numbers is that the genre is not the be all and end all of success. However, you can increase the probability of success by writing  books that appeal to a wider cross-section of the market. FACT.

Also, the more books you write, and get out there, the more likely you are of being able to sell more units per month and therefore make a living out of it. FACT.

If you write a series of books, the potential for readers to buy previous books in the series and await launches of new books in the series is increased. Therefore you will sell more units. FACT.

I’m interested to know if anyone else has been influenced to write in a specific way because of these external factors?


2 responses to “How Important Is Genre to eBook Sales?

  1. You should get on and write book number 3 whilst finishing book 1 and 2!
    1. I say this because in and earlier blog of yours you were talking of the number of words you needed to write daily to complete a book and asked for opinions re feasability, now you’re talking of the probability of success in respect of books sales by genre!. This is all good research but is it drawing you away from the main task at hand, which is…….the boring process of editing current work rather than getting on with the next creation?
    Your musings are all very well but shortly the children will be home from school for the week-end and then more editing time will be lost to play I suspect! (Not a criticism you understand, it’s just what I would do!)
    2. Is it possible for a writer to just change genre just to fit the sales trends or is this expecting too much of the mindset of the artist/writer? Surely one writes either from actual experience OR from fantasy. My question would be therefore “What’s the possibility and probability that a writer can change his writing genre to fit with fluctuating sales trends” is there evidence to answer this?
    3. My first statement holds…………….get on with book 3 and finish books 1 & 2. You’re knife-drawer tidying with maths, which is your real comfort zone! I too am knife drawer tidying……I’m supposed to be filling in my tax return!

  2. Pingback: Kindle Books 99 Cents – The Valentine's Day Curse by Elena DeRosa | Rear View Mirror The Contemporary Romance Novel

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