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Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Do Readers Choose to Read?

This is a related post from the one earlier today.  Something within that first blog stirred my need to know.  So I did more unscheduled research and came up with the following interesting info.  My apologies for any errors or math miscalculations.  Believe me, they were not intended.  However, with that caveat, here we go.

As authors we should consider this:  What are our potential readers reading?  What genres do these Kindle Million Club authors encompass?  Does offering a huge selection of books to the public help generate these one million books sold?  

Restricting this discussion to the Kindle Million Club authors, here is a thumbnail overview:

Line No.
Kindle Million Club Author
Novels Published to Date*

D. Baldacci
Thriller**, Children's
A. Hocking
YA Paranormal
S. Meyer
YA Vampire Romance
S. Larsson
J. Patterson
Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb
C. Harris
Vampire Thriller
Lee Child
S. Collins
Children’s, Sci-Fi
M. Connelly
John Locke
Humorous Thriller
K. Stockett
J. Evanovich
Humorous Thriller, Humorous Romance
G. R.R. Martin
Fantasy, Sci-Fi

* -  no short stories or anthologies counted (at least not on purpose)
** - "Thriller" includes mysteries and police procedurals
*** - some of Janet Evanovich's novels counted here were co-authored

NOTE:  The children's genre is skewed as I was ignoring it at first, like I did the short stories and the anthologies--based on the fact they are probably not novel-length books, may not be necessarily offered via Amazon (such as articles, another category I overlooked, would most likely be published in magazines, periodicals, etc.) plus any anthology purchase could be deemed due to another contributor's name on the cover.  Hence, not part of why these authors made Amazon's Kindle Million Club.   However, it shows up for Collins as her bibliography has more books in that genre.  I plan to update this category with more research later (hopefully not today as I am already so off track--ha!).  At that time, I'll add the appropriate entries where needed and a confirming postscript at the end of this entry.

The million-sales-generating genres include crossovers so here's that tally per the authors referenced above, starting with the most desired/bought and working down to the other favorites:

     9 Thrillers/Mysteries/Police Procedurals, including the two mixed genres noted below

     3 Romance, including the two mixed genres noted below  /
3 Humorous, including the two mixed genres noted below

     2 Young Adults  /  2 Science Fiction  /  2 Humorous Thrillers  /  2 Children's

     1 Paranormal Romance   / 1 Historical  /  1 Fantasy / 1 Vampire Thriller  / 1 Humorous Romance

Remember, these numbers here indicate genres shared among these Kindle Million Club authors, not the number of books written.  If I have the genres wrong, then my math here is inherently erroneous, so take that into account.

Obviously Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb has the greatest number of books written to date among this selection of novelists.  Even adding together all the other authors' publications from the chart above, I come up with roughly 223 novels compared to 251 just by Nora.  That is incredible.  As author Nora Roberts, she has written 209 romance books.  Under the J.D. Robb pen name for her In Death murder series, she's created another 42.

Still, you have a debut author making this list with her lone contribution (K. Stockett).

So just because you aren't as prolific as Nora or have a humongous backlist to convert to e-book format, you can still accomplish great things with one individual story.

The other single-digit-book-producing authors here have trilogies--or a quadrilogy--going for them (Hocking, Meyer, Larsson, Collins).

The beginning of the double-digit producers (covering 11-19 books) seem to be replete with authors doing a longer series.  Look at Harris with her book/TV series, Child's Reacher series, then Locke's two series with his start on a third, ending with Martin who has one series among his other standalone books.

For authors offering twenty-something books to choose from, we have the series theme popping up again, with Baldacci's four (counting the children's series) and Connolly's three.

Nobody considered here has thirty-ish books published.  They either have less or more.  So we jump into the forty-plus-books-published category:  Patterson and Evanovich.  They both have embraced the book series, too.

Also, per our Kindle Million Club author listing, you can be traditionally published or Indie-published, as Hocking and Locke attest to, and still make the cut.

To recap, here's what readers want based on my personal analysis of Kindle's Million Club authors. 

A great entertaining read, first and foremost would be my generic answer, whether (1) hundreds of books prolifically written throughout the decades (keep 'em coming) or (2) a standalone adult novel, your first even, in whatever category (every one of these extraordinary authors started with Book One).  (3) Both traditionally and Indie-published authors appear in this listTop-selling genres include (4) Thrillers, then (5) Romance and Humor genres.  (6)  Create a series, at least a trilogy, but longer is better.  (7)  It is okay to mix genres.  Plus, as you see fit, (8) add in these elements:  fantasy, paranormal, vampire and/or sci-fi; (9) feel free to write to these audiences: young adults and children; and (10) they want more serious reads first and lighthearted reads second.

One final point.  No matter what genre of book is selling big at the moment, no matter what genre of movie is drawing record numbers at the theaters, no matter what genre of TV show is a huge hit, write from your heart.  Write what you want.  Write what you are drawn to.  If it happens to be the current "thing," so much the better.

Just as I am compelled to do this research and these two blogs today no matter what my To Do list may dictate, sometimes you gotta go with your gut.  Trust your instincts.  If they are nudging you now, then now is the right time to do it.

Like Kathryn Stockett's "differences" stand out among the other authors within Amazon's Kindle Million Club on so many levels (it's her debut novel, it's the only historical on the list, she made her one million in sales from one single book--that's a big following), she could be deemed the anomaly.  So could one of us someday.

And that's it.

For now.

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