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Angel’s Bits – Genre Fiction by the Numbers


(chart from

It’s not a big trade secret. Genre fiction outstrips all other book categories in sales, and not by a small margin. It’s the monster in the room. Woohoo for us! In one form or another, that’s what we all write.

We can argue about what’s a more deserving genre or what we enjoy more, but when we look at sheer numbers, where does the money fall? (Please note: I’ve ignored any charts that list a category of “women’s/romance” since I feel this is both misleading and an improper labeling.)

genre fiction sales(From – Neilson data)

Again – this isn’t news. You’re going to see different comparison data with different percentages depending on how the chart chooses to divide up fiction. But romance outsells everything else, no matter whose chart you check. People have different explanations for why romance sales increase every year, but we won’t go into that. Romance sells. But we all knew that.

I find it interesting that many of these surveys of sales data will break out Mystery, Thriller and Suspense, but tend to lump all speculative fiction into Fantasy. What’s with that, number crunchers? As with any data, though, there are so many ways to slice and dice the numbers, often to show what you want the data to show.

Odd pie graph choices aside, we do have a good bit of market share to play with. Mysteries/Thrillers take about 20% of the genre market share when it’s all said and done. Science Fiction grabs about 5% and Fantasy a little over 6% in the adult market. While these are smaller pieces of the pie, they’re still significant pieces.

What’s the point to this little romp through statistics? Just this – genre fiction is big business, and we’re part of that. No, I’m not advocating trend following, or trying to say you should be writing something else. Unless you want to be a frustrated, flash in the pan writer, you have to be true to yourself, your voice and your vision.

But we have market share – it’s out there waiting. Spec fic has a consistent audience from year to year, one that has more organic growth than fad growth. Your readers are out there. Go find them.


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1 thought on “Angel’s Bits – Genre Fiction by the Numbers”

  1. The Sci-Fi and Fantasy has grown too big to be lumped together. Science Fiction and Fantasy need to be separated, because they’re so different. High fantasy has more to do with historic elements while science fiction is usually more toward the future. Then there’s all the paranormal romances that don’t have anything to do with science fiction. I’ve been saying this for years! *Whine*


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