Thrillers and romance can do very well in eBook for both trad and indie authors, but these are very competitive categories.
Science fiction, fantasy and horror might be a little more niche, but they have passionate readers, particularly for series. Both trad and indie can do well with these.
Contemporary literature — and what might be categorised as Literary Fiction — can be a struggle for indie authors, particularly if it’s a standalone novel. These kinds of books really benefit from the kind of mainstream publicity — newspaper reviews, radio and TV interviews — that a publisher can get.
Children’s fiction can be very difficult for indie authors. The success of children’s fiction is driven by school events, festivals and — perhaps most importantly — word-of-mouth recommendation. Traditional publishers have a great reach into schools, festivals, bloggers and high street retailers who can drive word-of-mouth.Non-Fiction is a broad church and bestselling success can depend on trends and zeitgeist as much as the writing. Editors keep on top of trends.
Million-seller Kate Harrison on how her BBC TV background helps her identify trends:
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Memoirs can be great in both trade and indie, though if you have a memoir set in a specific location — say, a nostalgic history of a particular town — you might do better self-publishing and focusing all your marketing in that town. You might have a passion for a particular hobby that might seem niche to mainstream publishers, but self-published and targeted at the right market it could be a smash.Self-help and business titles have seen some great self-published bestsellers in recent years, driven by individuals and organisations who have grown their readership through their own brand-building online.
Kate Harrison on deciding to self-publish her million-selling non-fiction series:
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What is your genre?
Think about what the genre and sub-genres for your bestseller are.
Sooner or later, someone will have to find a spot on the shelf for your bestseller in their bookstore or library. Where would they put it? And in which chart on Amazon might you get that orange flag for?
Complete the “What is Your Genre” exercise in your Genre Workbook
- List the broad category for your bestseller: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s
- List the broad genre for your bestseller
- List three possible sub-genres for your bestseller
If you are stuck with which genre to write in, try the following exercise:
- For your book idea, write a short story of 500 to 1000 words in each genre. Which one works best for your story?
- Try a mash-up of two different genres and write a short story version of this. Is it working? Are you excited to write more?