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Self-published genre books are eating Big Publishing's lunch

If you want to know why Harlequin is being sold--cheaply--to Haper Collins, this'll make it pretty clear. Self-publishing is dominating the charts for romance, sci-fi and fantasy.

Self-Publishing’s Share of the Kindle Market by Genre | Edward W. Roberston

I’ve taken a quick whack at looking at what percentage of Kindle ebook sales self-publishers represent by genre. To get there, I simply look at the top 100 bestsellers in each genre—romance, mystery/thriller/suspense, science fiction, and fantasy—and split them up by method of publication. Note that, unlike the Author Earnings study, this is merely a breakdown of the raw number of self-published titles on the bestseller lists, not the number of total book sales within each genre.

Also, instead of five categories of publisher, I use four: self-published, small/medium press, Amazon Publishing, and Big 5 (including, where appropriate, major genre publishers like Harlequin and Baen).

. . . .

ROMANCE

Self-published: 49%
Small/medium: 11%
Amazon: 9%
Big 5/Harlequin: 30%

MYSTERY/THRILLER/SUSPENSE

Self-published: 11%
Small/medium: 5%
Amazon: 16%
Big 5: 68%

SCIENCE FICTION

Self-published: 56%
Small/medium: 9%
Amazon: 5%
Big 5 (plus Baen): 30%

FANTASY
Self-published: 49%
Small/medium: 7%
Amazon: 7%
Big 5: 37%

. . . .

[T]his is just a look at the top 100 in each genre out of hundreds of thousands of total books. It’s quite possible, perhaps even likely, that a broader look at the data would present different trends. However, it does match up well with the Author Earnings study of these genres combined, so I’m not sure a bigger sample would be that much different.
. . .
Of course, there’s one more big factor here: each genre’s total share of the Kindle market. Fortunately, that’s really easy to ballpark. By looking at the #100th-ranked book in each genre and dividing that by its overall Kindle rank, we get an estimate of what percentage of the entire Kindle market each genre represents. For instance, if the #100 book in Romance were #1000 in the Kindle store, we could figure that 1 in 10 sales, or 10%, are of romance books.

Here’s how it shakes out:

Romance: 40%
Mysteries/Thrillers: 20%
Fantasy: 6.33%
Sci-Fi: 5%

You’ll note that adds up to 71.33%. Hugh Howey’s much bigger and better sample suggested these four genres comprise 69% of total Kindle sales (though it didn’t break it down by genre). To me, this means the above numbers should be pretty accurate, despite the crude methodology used to determine them.


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