You’re writing Kindle ebooks, and you want to sell. If you’re writing fiction, choosing the right genre makes a huge difference, and in some cases, it can mean the difference between hundreds of sales a day, and none at all.
“Why isn’t it selling?”
Six months ago, a new Kindle author approached me about her novel. She’d published it, and… crickets.
“Why isn’t it selling?”
I skimmed her ebook. Then I looked at the book’s Amazon page. I read her description and and the categories (genres) she’d chosen.
“Your main character’s a 15-year-old girl,” I pointed out. That placed the ebook firmly in the Young Adult category.
“Yes, but it’s a mystery,” the author replied.
So it was. However, the ebook has a young protagonist, and had been written for a young audience. It didn’t fit into Amazon’s Mystery, Thriller & Suspense genre all that well. This new author had decided that she was writing a mystery, and that fact blinded her to a far more suitable genre — Teen & Young Adult.
You can’t fault the author. Deciding on a genre can be tricky, and you’re sometimes too close to your own writing to see the obvious.
Here’s a tip… when a genre is new to you, investigate. Read in the genre; you can just read Amazon’s excerpts if you like. Does the genre sound like your book? If your book is obviously completely different to top-sellers in a genre, you need to re-think it.
She changed the categories (genres) for the book. It started to sell, and she recently released a second ebook in her series, still with the same 15-year-old protagonist.
The author’s building a mailing list, and has been promoting both books to her readers, so that has had an effect on sales.
The second ebook’s selling, but not as well as the first — her first ebook is the first in the series, and now it’s selling more copies a day than it ever has. It’s never cracked the top 100, and may never do, but the author’s pleased. She’s making money, and she can’t stop smiling. She has readers. She’s thrilled about that, and so am I.
There’s a lesson in this. The sales of the first ebook encouraged the author to get moving on the second. Her latest book isn’t selling as well as her first (yet). The first ebook got a kick from the release of her second.
Readers want what they want: get to know the genre in which you’re writing
Confused about genre? Fiction genres are just categories. Romance is the most popular genre. Wikipedia says this about genre fiction:
“Screenwriting teacher Robert McKee defines genre conventions as the “specific settings, roles, events, and values that define individual genres and their sub-genres”. These conventions, always fluid, are usually implicit, but sometimes are made into explicit requirements by publishers of fiction as a guide to authors seeking publication.”
As we’ve often said on this blog, fiction is about FEELING. Fiction is entertainment, it’s an experience. Just as with movies, sometimes you’re in the mood for a comedy, at other times you’re in the mood for a thriller. Readers read fiction for the experience, and the experience starts with the genre.
Authors often talk about “genre conventions”, and they’re conventions for a reason. They’re what readers of that genre want to read. Here’s an example of a common challenge which new romance authors come across. Our newbie romance author writes a “romance” novel, but the hero cheats on the heroine. Or he romances another woman while also romancing the heroine.
Our newbie author made this mistake because she wasn’t clear on what romance readers want. Essentially, they want fairy tale romance: the hero never, ever cheats. They’re reading escapist fiction to be uplifted; not to be brought down.
Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t write romance with cheaters, you can. However, then it becomes women’s fiction, or chick lit; it’s no longer a genre romance.
Vital: when you’re starting out, STICK with one genre, if you want to make sales
The more ebooks you have to sell (as long as you get the genre right) the more you WILL sell. Our Kindle author’s first book’s moving thanks to the second. I’ve no doubt that as the author writes more, all her books will start to move.
When you have more ebooks to sell, you give readers confidence. They know that they can expect more ebooks from you, so they’re willing to invest in you.
Write on. Remember genre — get it right. If you’re not sure what genre to choose, get advice, and don’t be shy about it. It’s important. 🙂
Update: May 20, 2018
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