Most Popular Book Genres – What are they, and what do you need to know about the latest trends? Lastly, what are the five most popular book genres when it comes to book sales? This article explains. It’s part of a free multi-part training guide about genres of books, written by a former NY Times bestselling literary agent.
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Most Popular Book Genres – What’s Hot?
What are the most popular book genres?
As a former Literary Agent and Marketing & Licensing Manager for a well-known publisher, I’m asked this question a lot. Authors want to know which book genres are ‘hot’ or pay the most right now. I always answer questions like that in two parts. First, I explain why you shouldn’t worry too much about trends or the most popular book genres. Then I explain what the most popular book genres are (just because it’s interesting).
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Most Popular Book Genres – Should You Follow Trends?
Whenever I’m asked a question about the most popular book genres, I remember an author I met at a writers’ conference many years ago. She had paid the writers’ conference committee money to meet with me for a one-on-one “pitch session.” When we sat down together she asked me if she was wasting time writing books in her specific genre.
Much to her surprise, I immediately said, “Yes.”
I then went on to explain (gently) that if she was going to give me, or anyone else, that kind of power over her and her writing, she might as well stop writing. It’s important to study the market to make your work more marketable, and pay attention to trends.
But great writing begins in the heart.
When I first became a literary agent, I asked myself the same question? What are the most popular book genres? What categories should I focus on to have the most success and make the most money? I identified the trends and provided timely projects to editors. It worked and I sold books. But, as time went by, I started trusting my own interests and instincts more.
That made me more successful.
In other words, I stopped caring so much about the most popular book genres, and books I thought other people might like. Instead I started focusing more on the book genres (and books) that I liked. Book genres and books that I thought other people should like as well. If you’re going to be successful (and happy), you can’t build your life around what you believe are the most popular book genres or trends.
When I was a new literary agent, I was having lunch with a well-known publisher at a restaurant in the famous Flatiron building (home to St. Martin’s Press, Tor/Forge, Thomas Dunne Books, etc). The publisher told me about a literary agent who’d pitched him on a project the year before. The publisher, after reviewing the material, turned it down.
But then the agent told the publisher that he was wrong. The agent insisted that the book was a great project, and the publisher needed to understand that fact. The publisher then bought the book. Much to my surprise, the publisher told me that he doesn’t trust his judgment regarding what the next big book will be (or what the most popular book genres are going to be next year). He relies on agents to tell him.
I sat there, dumbfounded.
Bottom line, don’t put too much weight on the most popular book genres. If your book explores themes you’re intimate with, your voice is strong and unique, and you have an original premise, you can write in whatever book genres you want. You can blend book genres. And you can create new book genres.
Writing in the book genres you want takes a great deal of courage (and rationale to support it), but it also makes it much more likely that you’ll eventually rise to the top… and find yourself in a place where few, or none, can imitate you.
Although they will try, because you’ll no longer be
a trend follower. You’ll be a trendsetter.
Now that I have that out of the way, I’ll just answer
the question: What are the most book genres?
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Most Popular Book Genres – What Are They?
According to book sales reported by the Romance Writer’s of America Association, citing figures from Simba Information, the most popular book genres (top five categories) are: 1. Romance/Erotica ($1.44 billion), 2. Crime/Mystery ($728.2 million), 3. Religious/Inspirational ($720 million), 4. Science Fiction/Fantasy ($590.2 million), and 5. Horror ($79.6 million).
Now that I’ve answered the question, “What is the genre of a book?” and “What is the best sub-genre definition?” and “What are the 3 main types of book genres?” and “How many different genres of books are there?” click here to see my article about the most popular book genres (and every other article in this free multi-part training guide about book genres).