In real estate it’s location, location, and location. Similarly, when you’re writing genre fiction (commercial fiction) it’s genre, genre, and genre. With some five million books for sale in the Kindle Store, SHOWING your fiction’s genre is essential.
A couple of days ago I chatted with a writer who’s seriously depressed about the sales of his three novels. I checked out the novels on Amazon only to be confused. What the…???
Despite studying the cover, reading the blurb (book description) and reading the first ten per cent of all the novels via Look Inside, I remained confused.
Not good. Readers won’t go to the bother of studying anything. They’ll scan a book’s cover and title, and if they’re confused they’re gone.
Whatever you’re writing, knowing and showing your genre/ category is essential, because you’re orienting readers — they know what they’re getting.
Readers know what they’re getting with genre fiction
We all need to know what we’re getting, up front.
Imagine you’re hungry. You wander down the street. You see a store front with a sign saying “Food.” A curtain covers the window so you can’t see inside. Sniffing tells you nothing. Are they selling groceries? Or is this a restaurant?
Glancing across the road, you spot a large sign saying “Hamburgers.”
Do you open the “Food” door, or scoot across the road? A hamburger will eliminate your hunger pangs, so that’s where you go. Thai food would be better, but at least you know what you’re getting with “Hamburger.”
“Genre” in fiction is its category. It’s a label which tells readers what they’re getting.
Perhaps you’re in a similar position to my friend whose novels aren’t selling. To help you to make sales, clearly identify your book as genre fiction, and the genre itself.
Let’s look at some tips to help you to identify genres and improve your sales.
1. Study Amazon’s Kindle Best Sellers’ list to discover which genres are selling (and study books’ labels)
Your best source for discovery is Amazon; specifically, the Best Sellers in the Kindle Store.
The Best Sellers in the Kindle Store
Currently the top-selling book in the Kindle Store is: Thin Air (Jessica Shaw Book 1).
This book is published by Amazon itself, via one of their imprints, and currently it’s unreleased — it’s on pre-order.
A digression: pre-orders make sales. Look on pre-orders as a marketing method… End digression.
Let’s look at the book’s genre details.
Scroll down the product page, and you’ll see the genres/ categories section.
As you can see in the image, the book’s #1 in several genres, notably Mystery, Thriller & Suspense.
You may be wondering: how much is the book earning the author? Below are estimated sales from the app Publisher Rocket, and are based on the book’s current ABS (Amazon Best Sellers Rank).
Daily sales: $963
Monthly sales: $13,210
Sales estimates: Publisher Rocket
The novel’s sales have slowed.
This is common with pre-orders. A week or so ago, the sales were:
Daily sales: $19,106
Monthly sales: $154,733
Sales aside, your primary question, when looking at genre fiction is: is the genre clear?
Is the book’s genre clear?
Take a moment to study the book’s cover, title, and blurb.
Do they scream Mystery, Thriller & Suspense to you?
From the blurb:
She investigates missing persons—now she is one.
Private investigator Jessica Shaw is used to getting anonymous tips. But after receiving a photo of a three-year-old kidnapped from Los Angeles twenty-five years ago, Jessica is stunned to recognize the little girl as herself.
Yep — the genre is clear.
Make it your aim to always represent the genre of your genre fiction novels clearly, so readers know what they’re getting.
2. Decide whether or not you’ll “write to market”
Many authors “write to market.” That is, they write what’s selling. If you can do it, it’s worth trying. On the other hand, if you can’t, you can’t.
Write whatever you want to write, BUT label your books clearly. Everything, including the title, cover, blurb, and content, should make the genre immediately obvious.
Which brings us to…
3. Label everything from the moment you start writing: cover, title, book description, and your content
Whether you decide to write to market or not, remember: genre, genre, and genre.
Novels tend to morph. You start out writing a domestic thriller. Then before you know it, your female lead is a spy, her husband’s in the military and on deployment. Your domestic thriller isn’t so domestic anymore.
Morphing happens to everyone; don’t stress. Try ordering the cover as soon as you’ve decided on a title for the novel. Once you’ve paid for a cover, you’re less inclined to give in to flights of fancy; you’ll write with your genre in mind.
Good luck. 🙂
When you write in series, you're giving yourself more chances to sell with every novel you write.More info →
You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell.
You can rescue books which aren't selling, and have confidence that your new books will have the best chance to find their audience.More info →
Resources to build your writing career
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