If you want to make money as an author, you need to sell as many books as possible, regardless of how good your ideas are. If you’re a novelist, that means you need to think about what types of novels sell best when contemplating new ideas.
What genres and novel characteristics lead to the most sales?
Writing and Publishing Your Own Book
First, understand that it’s easier than ever to write and publish your own book. Once you get past that initial hurdle of putting your ideas on paper, you’ll be on the fast track to getting your book printed and circulated. The writing, revising, and editing processes may be grueling, but once you have a finished novel in hand, it’s relatively easy to make it available for purchase both physically and digitally. All you have to do is find a printer, come up with a distribution strategy, and make your initial investment.
Most of your time should be spent planning and preparing your novel, maximizing its chances of success once it’s circulated.
The Most Popular Book Genres
One of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing a genre for your novel. Your choice in genre will affect your target audience, the scope of your work, and even the sales potential of your finished product.
These are some of the most popular genres for novels:
- Romance (contemporary or historical). It’s not hard to understand why romance novels are so popular; they have some of the best potential for developing individual characters and relationships, while simultaneously appealing to some of our deepest fantasies. Both contemporary and historical romance novels sell well, but these types of novels typically have different target audiences.
- Crime/thriller. Crime and thriller novels also sell well, because they’re so exciting. If you can build a suspenseful thriller, you can potentially appeal to an audience of millions of people. However, it can be exceptionally difficult to avoid cliches and write something new in this genre.
- Children’s books. Many adults don’t have the time or patience to read anymore, but for children, books are still a practical necessity. That’s one reason why children’s novels sell so remarkably well in the modern era.
- Fantasy and sci-fi. Fantasy and science fiction novels also perform well. But you’ll need a specific strategy to appeal to your target audience if you want to be successful here.
It’s also worth noting that religious books, self-help books, and humorous books also sell well, though these aren’t novel genres, per se.
How to Make Your Novel More Appealing
After you choose a genre, what steps can you take to make your novel more appealing?
- Hone your craft. There are many ways to improve your abilities as an author. If you’re capable of creating better characters, writing more immersive environments, and assembling prose with deliberate finesse, your work is naturally going to be more appealing to a wider range of people. Spend some time honing your abilities before you attempt to sell anything to the general public.
- Appeal to a niche. It’s also important to appeal to a niche. Novel writers sometimes make the mistake of drafting books intended to please the broadest possible audience, so they can reach more people. But it’s usually better to make your work as targeted as possible to a smaller audience, to increase relevance and appeal. Who is your target audience?
- Understand your target audience. The next step of this equation is working to better understand your target audience, so you can write a novel that specifically appeals to them. What types of characters does your audience want to see? What kinds of settings are going to appeal to them? How does the plot typically develop in books regularly consumed by this audience?
- Build a compelling lead character. One of the most important elements of a traditional novel is a compelling lead character. If you can create a character who’s likable, relatable, and unique, your novel will immediately be more appealing. Keep your target audience’s preferences in mind when establishing this character.
- Do something new. Finally, go out of your way to do something new. Nobody wants to read a novel that simply rehashes old ideas in a slightly refreshed setting. If you want to make an impact and sell as many copies as possible, you need to make at least a few innovative moves, such as blending genres or introducing wild new types of characters.
If you want to write a novel as a passion project, you may not need to spend much time thinking about target demographics or sales potential. But if you want this to turn into a viable, stable career, you’ll need to keep some of those practical considerations in mind. With a bit of strategizing, you can write novels with much greater sales potential.