What’s Hot in Feb 2021

Your job is to take that brilliant idea in your head and figure out a possible successful marketing tactic that will get your book and series off the ground and launched successfully.

Chasing the trends and what’s hot and what’s not can be a bit frustrating at times. Your job isn’t to see what’s trending super-hot and then jump on that trend train. That’s not what we’re doing here. I mean, you can if you want, but you will be tired by summer.


Your job is to take that brilliant idea in your head and figure out a possible successful marketing tactic that will get your book and series off the ground and launched successfully.


So, today, we’re going to focus a bit more broadly so you can see some of the bookselling waves.


Many of you know that your readers don’t just read your genre. I know I, for instance, will read non-fiction, women’s fiction, sci-fi, epic fantasy, hopepunk, cyberpunk, off-world steampunk, mystery, thriller – just about anything that catches my interest. So, when you’re strategizing your marketing campaign, sometimes, it helps to see how the tides are shifting this way, and then that way, so you can hopefully catch a wave that will bring you into the shore of success.


So, let’s start with a high-level perspective and get a little deeper. We won’t be diving into tropes this week. We’re just looking at what genres are selling right now because it’s interesting to see how sales ebb and flow – because they do.

High Selling Genres

Every week brings a new high selling genre, so it’s hard to pin down. However, by looking at the ebbs and flows, you can see when things are going to be easier on your book sales and when they’ll be harder.

  • Women’s Fiction – $16.5 million
  • Romance – $7.5 million
  • Mystery/Thriller – $7.5 million

It’s easy to look at those and get all twitterpated. Women’s Fiction seems super-hot-hot-hot, and you’re right. It is. But that genre is all-encompassing and includes any book where the author has included women’s fiction somewhere in her keywords or SEO blurb plugging. It’s hard to pin down just what that $16.5 million even includes, but this is where you’ll find the high-selling science fiction romance, the high-selling Bridgerton novels, and more. There are a lot of unicorns on this list that skew the numbers.


The thing to keep in mind is that more readers want more female leads. They want their females strong. They want to read these books and be empowered. They want to relate to the characters they’re reading. That’s what that $16.5 million number means.

The romance and mystery/thriller numbers, however, are perfectly normal. Those are the two biggest selling genres nearly every single week.


Romance is big, it’s not super hard to get into as a new author, and it seems like a pretty easy target to hit. This is the genre that gets book-farmed because book farms can hire just about any outliner and just about any ghostwriter and make a small mint. The big whale authors are leading the way. The book farms are following close behind. And the rest of us are just along for the ride, hoping to make enough to get by. There’s a lot of competition.


The average per book cost is just under $5, making this one of the lowest-earning genres per book. What that means is that there are a lot of authors out there using whatever tactic they can to make money. They’ll lower the cost of their book. They’re jumping on trope trains. They’ll plug successful author names into their blurbs. These are all viable strategies, no matter your personal bias. There’s a reason this genre is an author churn.


We’ve got the normal big-author names out there and they had a few releases which definitely bumped this genre-earnings up a notch. Bridgerton continues to sell well, but J.D. Robb’s Faithless in Death and Christine Feehan’s Reckless Road are claiming two of the top spots. No surprises there.


What’s really neat to see are the indie names we know, our own people living large on that list. Linsey Hall, Jaymin Eve, K.F. Breene, and Jen L. Grey to name a few. They’re indie authors who found their brand and are making a positive name for themselves consistently. They’ve figured out what works for them. They’ve honed their book production teams, and they’re killing it out there. They’re on the top 50 Bestseller’s List for All of Romance. That’s… huge. So, if you want to see how to become a great author and succeed, watch those ladies because they’re success slayers.


Mystery/Thriller is a harder one for us to crack, but it’s still doable. Scanning through the author bios in this genre, I’m struck by the consistency of these authors. The indies making a killing here are consistent, don’t stray from their brand in the slightest, and have great, active blogs lighting up their author page. Not a ton. They’re not getting crazy with it, but most of them are posting at least something every month or two.

Mid-Sellers

  • Fantasy/Sci-Fi – $3.5M
  • Young Adult – $2M
  • Children’s – $1.9M

I’ve got good news for Epic Fantasy novelists. Sales in this genre went up this month. It nearly doubled. This is largely due to Sarah J. Maas. However, as readers plow through her latest releases, they’re going to need some hangover books to help with.


If you’ve written books that deal with young adult angst, powerful female characters trying hard to save their world while discovering what it means to be who they are, and if you’ve got a healthy dose of romance in your plot, you could probably follow her wave right now. Her latest book is set to release on the 16th.


Paranormal Women’s Fantasy went down this month, but, again, there aren’t a bevy of authors rushing to fill this genre hole. If you intend to do so, I recommend forgetting about the “rules” of this genre and just stay true to your characters and story. Don’t worry about their age or their midlife crisis. What’s necessary is that female readers get their female-led stories in the urban fantasy setting.


Urban Fantasy also took a sharp dive this month, likely because everyone’s reading Bridgerton and the other big-name books that dropped this month. Don’t worry, though. UF always comes back. If you had a drop in sales this week, don’t fret, and don’t let it deter you. They’ll be back. There’s just a lot of great books out there for your readers to feast on right now.


Young Adult is also on a down-turn this month as readers are turning their sites to slightly older, more experienced main characters, or they’re sticking with the authors who have proven their ability to write consistently good and strong novels. Sometimes, reading about a character who has figured out at least something in their lives is refreshing. But don’t worry. That teen-angst will always bring them back. So, in this lull, just stay true to your brand. It’ll swing back around. Learn to write great stories, three-dimensional characters, and amazing plots consistently with great editing, and you really won’t have to worry about lulls in this market.

These readers can be forgiving, but sometimes, they do get a bit frustrated. They’ll leave, but they almost always come back. Even when they say they won’t.


Children’s books are on a rise, which I was a little surprised to see. I’m glad to see this. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been getting more requests to format and edit children’s books, so I decided to do a little research.


I think this is stemming from a lot of us dealing with kids, nephews, nieces, friends, etc who are failing in school. As we’re working with them, we’re discovering they’re struggling with reading comprehension and problem-solving. So, what do when we’re faced with a situation like this? We solve it through books. Maybe I’m reading too much into the woes we’re facing now, but I will say that buying trends are driven by pain. We buy things to solve what’s wrong in our lives. So, children’s books are on the rise. They’re not incredibly easy to format. They’re not super easy to translate from an ebook and into print. They’re a challenge.


But that shouldn’t deter you from getting your book idea from your head to your readers.

Conclusion

I’ll keep watching the trends and will let you know each month how they shift.

Next week: Mystery/Thriller

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