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Is there a book genre that sells better than others?

One blog reader asked me whether there is a genre in book publishing that sells better than others. Since I didn't have an answer, I did some research on the matter. I even polled on Facebook (a self-publishing group) to see what people thought. For those who are wondering the same, continue reading.

But first, what do you think?

Which book genre do you think sells the most books?

  • 0%Fantasy

  • 0%Science Fiction

  • 0%Memoir

  • 0%Dystopian

You can vote for more than one answer.

My reply to the question (pre-research):

That’s a good question. I haven’t done any research into this, to be honest. So I’m afraid I can’t be of any help. However, I’m a big believer that no matter the genre, as long as the story is well-written and well-marketed, there is no doubt it will sell. Self-publishing authors who sell loads of books usually say that marketing is the key, and if the story is captivating and of good quality, referrals will do the rest.

While I still stand by this answer (because no matter the genre, as long as you have a good book, there is no reason it won't sell), the data generated by book sales gives a better indication of market trends.

I used Gitnux's data (Accessed: March 2024) for this blog post. I tried to access other book data websites, such as Nielsen, Bookstat, and K-lytics, but they charge a heavy fee for their services, so they were a no-go. I could read a few Statista reports; however, most were paywalled, so I couldn't get a good picture of genre sales from Statista.

Statistics about the most popular book genres, updated February 2024 by GITNUX, Marketdata report 2024

Gitnix Marketdata report 2024, must-know book sales by genre statistics

And the most popular book genres are:

  1. Crime and Thriller at 18.7%

  2. General Fiction at 18.3%

  3. Romance at 13.4%

Some other interesting facts:

  • About 48% of book sales in the USA are fiction, while non-fiction accounts for 52%. According to the data, non-fiction sales are bound to be more widespread genre-wise since the three most popular genres already account for 50% of total book sales.

  • Even though Romance is number three on the popular genre list, according to Gitnux, in the UK, Romance novels only constitute 4.38% of book sales! Surveys suggest UK readers prefer Crime, Thriller, and Adventure books.

  • While Mystery, Thriller, and Crime account for 32% of the fiction book sales, making them the most popular genres, they are not the highest-grossing genre; Romance is.

  • In the US, Romance sells well, accounting for almost 30% of fiction sales.

  • Horror books are really low on the list, with only 1.22% of total book sales.

If you write in a different genre, one that is not as popular, fret not. That 1.22% is the equivalent of £86,172,800 in UK book revenue alone (2022 figures). If your book is on worldwide distribution, imagine the possibilities!

Print accounted for 3.8 billion British pounds of sales revenue in 2022 (source)
Sales revenue from consumer audiobook downloads in the United Kingdom reached 164 million British pounds in 2022 (source)
In 2022, book publishing houses in the UK reported a revenue of 3.1 billion British pounds generated from digital books, journals, and rights (source)

Poll results

My poll received 255 votes in three days.

Looking at the poll results and Facebook comments, it is clear that readers and writers believe Romance is THE best-selling genre. Some people state that Romance is clearly the best-selling genre and has been for some time and by no small margin at that. Some state that Romance has only just taken over Crime and Thriller, and only by a small margin.

Unfortunately, no one verified these claims with data, but it's interesting nonetheless. They are most likely referring to claims of the high-grossing aspect of Romance vs books sold (popularity).

Top three genres from the poll:

  1. Romance 44 % of the votes / 116 votes

  2. Fantasy 15 % of the votes / 40 votes

  3. Thriller 8 % of the votes / 18 votes

Did your guess match the data? Let me know in the comments.

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