So you are an unpublished writer and you want to get published, which genre gives you the best chance of landing a book deal?
The premise of this post is that the more popular the book genre, the more books that are published and the higher the chance of you landing a book deal. The evidence for this post is all based on a recent Harris Interactive report based on US reading habits.
Fiction or Non-Fiction?
It appears that, of the people who buy at least one book at year, 8 out of 10 buy a fiction book.
Great, fiction it is… but wait.
It is also the case that out of the same group people, 8 out of 10 will also buy a non-fiction book. OK, good news I suppose, suggesting that fiction and non-fiction are equally popular. I am a bit sceptical, but let’s plough on.
This is a bit more straight forward, of the people buying at least one fiction book a year, just under half (48%) buy what is classed as Mystery, Thriller and Crime. This is a pretty broad spectrum but gives us some indication of buying trends. Yet, I suspect this will be no surprise. The figure did leave me wondering if mega-writers such as Dan Brown altered buying habits. For example, how many people bought Dan Brown because he is a best seller, but not because they are a fan of his genre? The same goes for J.K. Rowling, I bet a lot of readers buy Harry Potter but no other fantasy.
The second most popular genre was Science Fiction with 26% of readers buying Sci Fi books, ‘Literature’ was close on its heels with 24% and Romance is worthy of a mention with 21% of the market.
So for Non-Fiction, of the people buying at least one fiction book a year, the biggest selling genre was history, perhaps no surprise, with 31% of the market. A close second was Biographies with 29% of sales. In third place was Religious and Spirituality with 26%, though I suspect this percentage will be smaller outside the US. The remainder of the marketplace was split between Self-Help, Current Affairs, True Crime, Business and ‘Other non-fiction.’
For me, the surprises in Non-Fiction were the fact that Self-Help made up just 16% of sales and Business a measly 10%. My instinct prior to reading this survey was that these would both sell more. The survey also seems to not include text books and educational books.
My thoughts are that this report simply doesn’t give us enough data to make a definitive decision on which genre is the easiest to get published. Clearly for Fiction, writing ‘Mystery, Thriller and Crime’ will give you a bigger fan base and more potential book deals. The same is true for History in Non-Fiction. Yet, this is a dangerous approach. So many factors go into securing a book deal that simply picking a genre because it has the biggest market is a little bit silly. If nothing else passion for a particular genre goes a long way. I can use myself as an example of an alternative approach. I write children’s history book, with a target audience aged 9-12, and a focus on reluctant readers. Yes, this pigeon holes me and yes it cuts down the readership, but it does allow me to work closely with my agent, whilst developing good relationships with publishers who are interested in this genre.