How do you start writing successful books in profitable fiction genres? Let's look at popular book genres and do some genre decoding.
Popular Book Genres
There's really a type of book for everyone. No niche is too niche. Books are divided into genres (and into further subgenres). Genres are ways of categorizing books (as well as movies, TV shows, and really any form of media text). When we get into genre decoding, we can see that each genre has its own set of tropes or rules. When we talk about tropes, we can think of them almost as habits of books in that genre. Do you notice that when you watch an action movie, there are almost always explosions? Or, in a romantic comedy, do the two main characters end up as a couple? Those things are tropes. You can think of them as sort of the clichés of the genre.
There are some more popular book genres than others. The more profitable books are the more popular ones because authors sell more copies of these books. Writing success is not solely determined by making a lot of money, but if you want to make a living as a writer, you have to consistently make a profit on your book sales.
Books can be broadly split into Fiction and Non-Fiction.
Fiction is a very broad umbrella term for numerous genres of books. There are a lot of popular and profitable fiction genres, which we will look at shortly. While there are many different genres of fiction, some books will cross over into multiple genres.
Non-fiction books are basically the opposite of fiction. Instead of telling a made-up story, they are based on fact. Non-fiction books could still tell a story, but unlike fiction books, the story will be true (although the story may not cover every perspective). Sometimes, non-fiction books don't actually contain any kind of story or narrative device. They may just be giving instructions or be for educational purposes.
Examples of non-fiction book genres include:
- True Crime: Similar to thrillers or mysteries, except these stories are actually true (as the name suggests). Over the past five years, true crime podcasts have exploded in popularity, which has likely led to their becoming a very popular book genre.
- Biography: The true story of someone's life. Usually, a famous or significant person.
- History: Factual accounts of the past. Often written from a particular perspective, it is not always unbiased or tells all sides of the story.
- Cookbooks: Directions for cooking various recipes. Sometimes, they'll be specific to a particular type of food (e.g., baked goods or stews). Can include images to go alongside recipes.
- Self-help: Books containing advice for getting through difficult times and bettering yourself as a person. Often, self-help books will contain elements of spirituality and may include themes of mindfulness or meditation.
In this article, we are going to focus on fiction and writing success in the fiction genres.
Profitable Fiction Genres
All the genres of fiction have groups they are popular among, but some are more widely popular than others. This can be due to their wide-reaching themes and relatability or simply because they capture a large amount of people's imagination.
Oftentimes, the most profitable fiction genre books are ones that can be turned into series. When one successful book is released, it can lead readers to want more. When the first book in a series is popular, the sequel will be eagerly anticipated, as will later releases. A big part of writing success with fiction books is knowing when something could be spread over more than one book and having an overarching plan for the series. That is to say, you know where the story is going, not just for the first book but for each book in the series.
Romance novels are among the most popular book genres, with over 20% of fiction books sold in the US being in this genre. Thriller and mystery books and fantasy books are also among the most popular varieties of fiction books.
Writing successful fiction revolves around knowing when to stick to the rules of the genre you are writing in while at the same time giving your book a unique element. Writing a fiction book requires an understanding of the genre, which means you have to do some genre decoding.
Let's dive deeper into popular and profitable fiction genre books.
Mystery and detective books have long been popular. Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, and more have made this one of the most profitable fiction genres over the past century.
In these books, there could be something stolen, a murder, somebody disappearing, or secret codes. Part of writing success when it comes to mystery books is giving the reader clues along the way, as readers like to try and solve the mystery before they get to the end of the book.
Many of us read fiction books to escape into a new world, which is why fantasy books are such a popular genre. Fantasy books are set in a fictional universe. Sometimes, there are still humans, and the characters may live in a place that resembles our planet, but generally, there are fictional locations. Usually, in fantasy books, there is a source of magic or power that people have to harness. There is generally an evil being who wants to use this power to take over the world.
Fantasy and fiction go hand in hand. If we look at fantasy in terms of genre decoding, most of the elements (e.g., magic powers, mythical beings, fantastical places) are in themselves fictional because we don't have them in the real world. So, people who love fiction books often love fantasy.
Love is universal, so it's no wonder that romance books have traditionally been up there with the most popular and profitable fiction genres.
Romance books contain a central love story. There may be other subplots going on around the main characters or in the character's world, but the love between the main characters is the central focus. Oftentimes, there will be something standing in the way of the main characters being together, and they ultimately have to get over this obstacle. This could be their family disapproval or cultural differences.
In the past decade, there have been more romance books that focus on LGBTQ+ relationships. In the past, this subject would have been very much looked down upon and was perhaps even dangerous for authors to write about for fear of the response. While there are still people who discriminate against this community, thankfully, in modern times, publishers will publish works that focus on non-hetero-normative relationships.
Oftentimes, romance books overlap with other genres, such as history and young adult books.
Science fiction is similar to fantasy in a lot of ways in that it involves elements that aren't in existence in the real world. In sci-fi books, there will be incredible technology that we don't currently have access to (although, in the case of old sci-fi books, some of the technologies may have since been invented).
Sci-fi generally revolves around space or time travel. It's particularly common for these books to feature aliens, robots, or genetically modified creatures. Readers love to use their imaginations while reading these books about futuristic beings and technologies. Writing success in sci-fi involves explaining the rules of the newly introduced elements. For example, if there is time travel, are they able to go forward and back? And what exactly do the technologies do, and what are their limitations? These are things the readers want to know so that they can get invested in the story.
Thrillers are similar to mystery books. The big distinguishing factor is that in a thriller, the author attempts to build suspense and cause the reader to experience an adrenaline rush.
To write successful thrillers, the author needs to be able to induce feelings of fear and tension in the reader.
Similar to thrillers, horror books have to make the reader anxious while reading. People seek out horror to be scared, so writing successful horror means mastering suspense and knowing when to take action. Gothic horror specifically focuses on hauntings and is often set in the past.
Just like horror movies, this is a profitable genre of book, especially around Halloween. Some people just love to be scared.
In adventure books, the reader sets off with the protagonist on an exciting journey. This genre can cross over with fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery. But in adventure books, the core focus of the story is always the adventure itself. Often, the main character will travel to far-off places in search of something with a trusted crew of companions.
Writing a successful adventure requires good descriptions and the right amount of action.
You need to keep the reader hooked for the entirety of the journey. In terms of genre decoding, a common cliché is that the adventure itself is more valuable than the elusive treasure, and even if the protagonists don't find what they were looking for, they will learn something about themselves.
Historical fiction is not the same as a history book. Although historical fiction is constrained to a particular time in history, the characters, and situations they find themselves in are fictional, whereas history books cover actual events that happened.
Often, there are factual elements in history books, and there will be an accurate depiction of the time the book is set in, but there will be many elements in the books that are made up.
Unlike historical fiction, this type of fiction takes place in the modern day (generally anytime after World War II. This is a widespread, overarching genre and can really cover any fiction book that is set in recent times. These books will be set in our modern world with real-life aspects, but the characters and situations will be fictional.
We've had the past and the present; now, we look to the future. Unfortunately, in dystopian books, the future looks bleak. Dystopian fiction books tell the tale of people living in a society under oppression or in some kind of danger. The main characters have to find a way to escape the situation they find themselves in, overcome a corrupt power, or create a better world.
Any book that's intended to make people laugh can be viewed as humor. Generally, humor books crossover into other genres. Writing successful humor is difficult and requires coming up with creative ways to make the reader laugh.
Tips for Writing Success
Here are three tips for writing success:
- Think about your target audience and who you are writing for. Do some research on what kind of people read the type of books you are writing. Understanding who your potential reader is will help you write a popular book.
- Do some genre decoding by looking at common themes in the kind of fiction books you are writing. You don't have to include every single cliché, but you will need to meet the genre expectations of the reader. Make sure not to overload on unnecessary tropes; otherwise, the book becomes too busy, and the plot gets lost.
- Getting feedback on your writing can seem daunting, but it's necessary. By asking the right people for genuine feedback, you'll be able to improve your writing.
Writing in popular book genres can be a challenge because your work will be compared to other established titles. But the great thing about profitable fiction genres is that they are profitable for a reason: There is a hungry readership basis. Readers are always looking for new worlds to get lost in and new stories to be enamored with.
Writing Success With The Urban Writers
At Urban Writers, we have a team of vetted freelancers who are experts in writing successful fiction. Our writers and editors can help you turn your idea for a masterpiece in any popular book genre into a bestseller. Get started looking at how our freelancers, along with Dibbly Create, can give you a boost in the world of profitable fiction genres.
Writing successful, profitable fiction genre books requires some genre decoding. This will help you understand what puts various categories of fiction among the most popular book genres.