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Hot Genres – What To Write If You Want To Sell

There are two approaches to writing. One is to write for the sake of writing – to let free those ideas and stories that are whirling around in your head. The other is more pragmatic – write to sell and make money. That might seem an unidealistic and mercenary way to go about writing, but there’s a limit to art for art’s sake. A little – or, if you’re lucky, a lot – of extra income is always welcome.

Let’s stay with this second approach. Write to sell. You need to know what’s hot, what’s topping the sales charts. Here are the current most downloaded books on Smashwords.

1. Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide

2. Short Erotic Tales by Carl East

3. Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, Mark Coker again

4. 101 Degrees Fahrenheit by Eva Gale (erotica)

5. Zombie Nights by Tom Licttenburg  (sci-fi with a touch of paranormal)

6. Fryupdale by Mark Staniforth, fiction short story anthology

7. The Seduction of Gabriel Stewart by Eva Gale (erotica)

8. We Don’t Plummet Out of the Sky Anymore by M David Blake (sci-fi)

9. A Letter to Justin Beiber’s Hair by German Alcala (poetry)

10. The Mating by Nicky Charles (adult rated paranormal)

We can ignore the two Mark Coker books since they’re what every Smashwords author has to have. So let’s another two to the list. We now have.

11. Sentence of Marriage by Shayne Parkinson (historical romance)

12. A Bride for Tom by Ruth Ann Nordin (romance)

So what do we have? 3 erotica, 2 sci-fi, 1 paranormal, 1 general fiction, 2 romances, 1 poetry. Note: These books are all free apart from Justin Beiber’s Hair which is a relatively pricey $6.99 so that has done extremely well. Being free can skew results a little.

 

Erotica

I guess we’d better start with erotica then. This isn’t for everyone. It might be you don’t approve of it or it may be that it just gives you the giggles. Possibly you’d love to write it but are embarrassed about your children finding out! Anyway, readers love it. Readers love sex so if you want readers, well, it’s something to think about. Here are a couple of good places to start: http://writing.helium.com/how-to/14484-how-to-write-an-erotic-romance and http://www.writesex.net/

 

Science Fiction

Alternate realities, the ultimate in escapism, always make for popular reading. Personally I feel you have to be quite methodical and analytical to write sci-fi. You need to have your new universe all mapped out – its inhabitants, politics, morals and so forth. So this is quite a challenge to write but, if you’re successful, there will always be demand for your writing. My own favourite science-fiction writer is self-published R Peter Ubtrent with his amazing Dark Pilgrim series. Read some of these to get a feel for this genre at its best.

 

 

Paranormal

I was frankly surprised that there weren’t more of this type of book in the top ten. This genre is so hot at the moment, in particular paranormal romance. The romance element frequently veers towards the erotic. It looks like we’re all interested in going to bed with vampires or other demons! Vampires are the most popular supernatural characters you’ll come across, but shapeshifters, werewolves and ghosts aren’t far behind. These books generally feature a very strong heroine and have a happy-for-now, if not a happy-ever-after, ending.

Here is a brilliant article about writing paranormal romance.

 

Romance

These books will ever go out of fashion. Everyone loves reading a heartwarming tale of the girl and guy, who usually hate each other at first sight, finally getting together, after overcoming various huge obstacles along the way. The romance can be set in any time period and feature straight or gay love, and, since paranormal is a subgenre of it, we’re not limited to just writing about humans either. A growing trend is for what I call homme-rom – romance from the man’s point of view. (I’m based in France which explains the ‘homme’ element – it’s French for man.) Mainstream publishers tended to fight shy of this but now that we have indie authors self-publishing, there are more and more examples of this subgenre around. It’s as enjoyable for women to read as men. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the excellent Song in the Wrong Key by Simon Lipson or The Wake-Up Call by Jonas Ericsson.

So a few handy tips for what to write if you’re wanting to sell well.

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E-Erotica – Sure Fire Best Selling Ebooks?

According to reports nearly all we ereader owners are busy reading erotica aka porn. OK, not all the time, but at least some of it. And apparently we get an extra thrill from reading them on our Kindles or Nooks when we’re on public transport or during work breaks when other people are around but have no idea what we’re feasting our eyes upon!

What’s more, it’s not just the books that are dirty. There are some shady authors out there in the erotic arena who are shamelessly plagiarising material and masquerading it as their own. There’s an interesting report about it here.

So, erotica sells well. What other genres enjoy consistently good sales? In  a previous blog post I discussed a report that gave the following information about ebook market shares: romance 16%, paranormal 15%, thriller 12%, mystery 12%, fantasy 8%, science fiction 7%, young adult 5%, comedy 4%. There’s no breakdown of how much erotica comes into that romance category!

This site  gives an idea of erotic ebook sales which it summarises as:

Average erotic romance ebook sales as of Dec 8, 2011

  • First month (or quarter): 290 copies
  • Total to date for books out one year or less: 417 copies
  • First year: 845 copies
  • Total to date for books available for more than one year: 1415 copies
  • Total books on record: 258

These averages are based on sales of at least 5 in print books by at least 3 different authors for each press surveyed.

I’d be very interested to find out what sales are for the free erotic books that appear every day in the lists of free Kindle books, and on Smashwords. I’m guessing those are through the roof.

Should we all jump on the bandwagon and churn out hardcore novellas with lots of groans, sighs, throbbing and words starting in ‘cu’? At times it’s tempting when sales seem SO slow on my books. I do have a blovel out there with an adult element in it, shall we say, but it’s contemporary romance rather than erotica, with mystery thrown in. (I use a pseudonym since I’m mainly known as a children’s author and this isn’t something you’d want them reading!) But am I on the top of a slippery slope?

Paranormal is another immensely popular genre, closely followed by thriller. Maybe I should give those a go?

No. I think it’s pretty clear I’m not going make much money as an author, certainly nothing like enough to live on, so my writing remains an enjoyable if time-consuming and occasionally infuriating pastime. I shall carry on writing the rom-com/mystery stories that are swirling around in my head.

And yes. I confess I’ve downloaded some naughty ebooks and enjoyed them, but I’ve downloaded an awful lot more travel memoirs, mysteries, rom-coms, fantasy and chick-lit. Like many ebook readers I imagine.