Popular Book Genres & How to Choose Which One to Write
According to PublishersWeekly.com, a good resource to determine popular book genres, as book sales in general increased between 2020 and 2021, the contemporary fiction genre which saw the highest increase in sales (in adult fiction) was graphic novels at a whopping 109.3%, while the second highest increase seen was in fantasy at 45.3%!
Does that mean you should abandon your romance novel or throw out the idea for your next suspense/thriller in favor of these new popular book genres?
Not at all.
Book publishing as a whole is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and there’s plenty room for authors of every book genre.
This brings to mind for me an interesting, never-ending struggle many authors face and some even love to debate.
Should we be writing stories we about what we know and love? Or should we choose the type of stories we write based on what is the popular book genres or “marketable” books at any given point in time?
It’s an interesting question, and many authors have a strong opinion one way or another. But, especially for new authors, the answer may not come to us so easily.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell anyone which genre or types of stories they should write. It’s a decision each author must make for themselves.
But in this post, I’m going to give you some facts, figures, and points to consider, so you can make a well-informed decision that is best for you.
Tip #1 - Determine Your Overall Genre
If you searched the internet for the top most popular types of genres and how many there are, you’ll get answers that vary stupendously. In fact, I just ran a quick search myself, and here are just a few of the answers Google gave me on page one alone as to how many genres exist in fiction:
Many people agree, however, that the following represent the most common and most popular book genres, and a large percentage of fiction stories can fit into at least one:
- Crime (mystery, thriller, suspense)
- Science Fiction
- Women’s Fiction
But figuring out which genre your story will fall into is just the first step.
Considering there are BILLIONS of books that exist in the world (and anywhere from 7 to 144 genres to divide them into), that still lands you in an enormous pool of “similar” books.
So, it’s important to not only know your book genre but to figure this out and be very familiar with the ins, outs, and expectations of the one you choose before you even begin writing.
The reason? It’s two-fold.
- 1. Knowing your genre inside and out, as well as the expectations readers/fans of that genre hold will help you meet those expectations and craft a story your readers will rush to purchase.
- 2. Being familiar with your genre and the audience of fans who adore that book genre will help you create a more targeted (and effective) marketing campaign because you’ll be keeping your target audience in mind.
Tip #2 - Decide Which Subgenre Fits Best
Subgenres are the subcategories of each fiction genre that essentially help you “niche down” your book into a more specific grouping.
The possibilities are endless, especially when you consider that some really well executed books can slip between popular genres.
And the reason it’s so important to identify your subgenre, even before you begin writing is explained in a post on WritersDigest.com as follows: “One of the most important things a writer can do when trying to pitch their novel is to identify the correct genre for their book. Knowing the correct sub-genre only improves a writer’s chances, because it shows an understanding of the market that not every writer has.”
In other words…
The more familiar YOU are with your story’s genre and its reader expectations, the easier it will be for you to craft the perfect story for them and find them when it comes time to market you book!
Here’s a graphic that shows just some of the subgenres that fall under the three most popular genres: crime, romance, and fantasy.
There are also many types of stories where the lines between genres and subgenres blur a bit, and you wind up with genre-crossover. Notice how “romance” shows up under “thrillers?” You can also write a fairytale fantasy with a romantic subgenre or a romance that has a suspenseful undercurrent.
This is just another reason you should be familiar with the genres and subgenres of books out there. Some mix. Some don’t. You just have to do your research and see what’s currently selling.
Tip #3 – Decide Which Genre You Want to Write
No one can decide this for you, but my best advice is to stop trying to DECIDE which genre you want to write.
Instead, clear your mind, and just think about the types of stories you enjoy the most. When you watch TV, listen to podcasts, or read books, which genres do you tend to gravitate toward the most?
For example, when I first decided to write novels and aim for a career as an author, and it came time to choose what type of stories I wanted to write, I realized that, although I enjoy a little bit out of each genre, crime stories really were my jam.
Once I made the decision to write what I knew and enjoyed most, things started happening for me.
Not only did I feel more “at ease” when writing, but my writing improved, my stories got better, and that’s when I landed my first literary agent and everything else that came after.
If you’re not already certain of your book genre and what type of stories you want to write, stop and think about it first, then, when you’re ready, choose the type of stories that speak to you, feel right to you, and that you know will come easier and more naturally.
In conclusion, whatever you do, do not choose your genre solely based on what is “trending” at that time. At the end of the day, if you aren’t in love with your story, neither will be your readers.
Before you go…
I have something that will help you with all the aspects of planning and preparing for writing your next novel, including choosing your book genre!
To help you take those first, intentional steps toward writing your best possible book, check out my latest project, available on our website now! The Book Boss Author Planner (digital version) is a comprehensive writing tool I created to walk authors through each and every step you must take to be successful, from idea brainstorming all the way through your book launch.
It comes with all the standard pages you’d expect in a planner and so much more. I’ve packed the 210-page planner full of writing tutorials, worksheets, templates, trackers, and even a list of the best resources available to help you along your writing journey. Visit the link below to read all about The Book Boss Author Planner and purchase/download/start using it instantly!
And as always, you can (and should) follow me across all social media (except Twitter) by searching for @BookBossAcademy, and post with the hashtag #ImABookBoss to get special shout-outs or even special offers!