May 10, 2012
Got an interesting question emailed to me here. Let's answer it...
Yes - this is what I have always noticed. Almost every time I see folks
saying they get a ton of downloads, it's nearly always romance, with
paranormal and historical romance getting the highest downloads. Other
genres just don't seem to get the high download rates romance does. And
sadly sci-fi (my favorite genre) gets the worst sales of all the genres.
Likewise romance authors tend to network with other romance authors and "share" fans, so you'll see Author A has 2,000 fans on FaceBook and Author B has a different 2,000 fans, the two authors will start recommending each others books and next thing you know they both now have 4,000 fans.
Romance authors are like that.
It's really common for romance authors to read romance and then tell their fans:
Interestingly only big house published Romance authors seem to do this. Harlequin and Avon authors are constantly shouting out to other authors.
But the self-pubbed Romance authors... not so much.
And while Romance authors are in the habit of promoting each other, I actually never see authors of other genres doing this, in fact, I've
seen many self-pubbed authors (even Romance ones) doing the opposite, and looking at fellow
authors as competition and ratting them out.
I can't even begin to count how many times I've read 1 star (Amazon and GoodReads) reviews that were clearly written by an author who was angry that a competitor was getting higher sales. You can tell, because they are never a review of the book, are never made by a verified purchase, and all say things like:
And other such "reviews".
Amazon is plagued with "reviews" that are spam as well:
It's reached the point that I no longer read book reviews on Amazon (or Goodreads) any more before buying a book, because I have to sift through hundreds of fake "reviews" to find any actual costumers who actually read the book.
I make a hobby out of reading 1 star reviews, even on books I've no intention of buying, because I find I learn a lot about editing from them (reviewers love to write very long and detailed reviews when they are angry! LOL!)
I see nearly every genre being hit by angry self pubbers lashing out at fellow better selling self pubbers, in a mentality that seems to be:
you out sell me, than I'm going to create 20 fake accounts and stop your
sales buy giving you 20 1star reviews, so readers will start reading me
instead of you, let’s see how you like that! So there!"
It's very childish, extremely unprofessional, and if they had any dreams of being picked up by a big house publisher, they chucked it out the window.
Yet in the romance genre you rarely ever see this sort of self pubber 1 star attacks on each other, instead it's tweets reading:
"OMG I love this book, she writes even better than I do, check her out!"
and FaceBook posts with lots of links to OTHER authors books, but
almost never a single post linking to one of their own books.
It reminds me of Miracle on 34th Street when Macy's Santa was sending customers to Gimbels, and suddenly Macy's got more sales because of it.
Sort of a reverse psychology thing, where if you promote someone else, suddenly you're seen as the better person so folks buy yours too.
And that's another thing I've noticed: romance authors tend to hang out on Twitter and FaceBook and bounce happy thoughts and encouragement off each other.
While other genre authors hang out on Goodreads and troll each other with 1 star review feuds. Has anyone else ever noticed this?
I've been doing NaNoWriMo since 2004 and I see the same thing over there on their forums as well. Romance authors gather in joyful hoards, patting each other on the back, exchanging ideas, often throwing out a single idea which they all then write a book about, for example, one author may say:
write a story about a Highlander who kidnapped a witch from the enemy
clan, planning to kill her, but falls in love with her instead?"
Next thing you know there are 50 romance authors writing a story based on that idea, at least 2 of which will get picked up by Harlequin, another by Avon, and the rest will be self pubbed.
Within a year all 50 books ON THE EXACT SAME STORY IDEA will come out and instead of kicking 1 stars at each other and screaming "You stole my idea" you'll see all 50 authors gathering on Twitter and FaceBook and posting links to all 50 books, and shouting out:
"Hey cool, check out this book, it's just like mine, you'll love it too!"
The readers end up buying all 50 books, because romance readers who like Highlanders kidnapping witches, want every single one of them (because the more Highlanders they can moon over the better) and will buy every single one of them, even if they never heard of the author before.
And believe me - as the proud owner of more than 2,000 paperback historical romance novels, a large majority of them about Highlanders kidnapping witches - I know it's true when folks tell you, romance readers can read the same story over and over again - there are only just so many times a Highlander can kidnap a witch and fall in love with her, but heck, does that stop me from buying every single dozen or so yearly new releases on that theme?
Interestingly, go on the NaNoWriMo fantasy forum and try this, and OMG! watch out!
Within a week
the mods will be on the forum breaking up the "you stole my idea you fuck faced son of a bitch creep, I’m gonna hunt you down, I know where you live, you fucking bastard out of hell!" fights, that start breaking out.
The sci-fi authors are screaming "I created that race, don't you dare use them! You bastard I’m gonna kill you, that was my idea!"
Others are saying "Well just you wait and see, you dare publish that and I'll 1star you to hell and back and make sure you don't ever get a sale, the world's gonna know you stole my idea, just you wait and see! I'm warning ya! I’m warning ya! You fucking cunt sucking cock lover! I'm gonna kill you you bastard if you ever dare publish a book before I do. Don’t think I’m joking! I’m warning ya! You'll see"
It's why I've not posted on the NaNoWriMo forums since 2010. There's some seriously mentally deranged psychos over there.
And you really want to see the fur start flying?
Head over the Absolute Write’s Water Cooler forums and check out the “I’m a REAL author, I’m TRADE PUBLISHED, you get the hell off our forums you self published piece of shit! I know who you are. I know what books you wrote. You get your no good self published ass off our forum or we’ll all gang up on you every damned one of us is going to give you a 1 star review. You’ll have a 100 1stars before nightfall, just you watch and see. We only want REAL authors here.”
And those are just the posts you see from the mods, wait till you starting reading things actual members say! Yowsa!
I don't get it, I really don't get it, but I see it happening on every single writer forum, every single year, all year long. It's like in every genre, the authors are viewing each other as the enemy and feel the need to compete and put each other down, and make sure they use GoodReads and 1star reviews as a weapon against each other. It's just so weird to see this sort of kill or be killed mentality among writers (myself being a romance writer I'm used to the whole banding together like a big happy family and sharing ideas.)
It seems to me that romance authors have this “we are all in this together so let’s help each other” outlook.
While other genres have high rates of authors who feel they are “loners” with the need to “fight tooth and claw to sink or swim” and make sure they trample as many others on their way to the top as possible.
I think the thing with romance is, readers are used to Harlequin and it's habit of sending out 4 new books every month to it's subscribers, all from new authors, (and just about every reader of romance has at least 2 or 3 different Harlequin subscriptions).
So romance readers get used to reading stories based on a theme as opposed to stories written by an author.
This seems to be the main difference.
Therefore, the reader who subscribes to romantic suspense, reads every romantic suspense.
Vampire romance subscribers read every vampire romance regardless of author. No reader cares which author wrote which book. All they care about is getting as many vampire stories on their to be read list as possible. They just gotta catch them all.
Woman obsessed with Texas rangers read every book with a cowboy on the cover without ever once thinking about who the author is. Who cares who wrote it as long as a the cover features a half naked guy with a coyboy hat and jeans?
Romance readers obsessively collect up hoards of Romance books from every possible author out there, so Romance authors do not feel the need to compete with each other because they know fans of their genre will by their book, even if they are not a big name author.
Other genres aren't this way.
Sci-Fi readers have 1 or 2 authors they read and they refuse to even consider a 3rd author, so Sci-Fi authors feel the need to attack other Sci-Fi authors, out of a desperate attempt to get the reader to notice them.
Horror readers are probably the worst for the snooty "I only read Stephen King and no one else. If you aren't Stephen King, I'm not gonna read you."
While loyalty to one author is fine, it alienated you from ever finding the vast assortment of other authors who are just as good and maybe better then the one you are devoted to.
There are no Sci-Fi book subscriptions, so no jolly, hi-hos to each other. There are no Horror book subscriber book clubs, so Horror authors have to sink or swim on their own, and most sink fast.
And this is where you see the bitter author duking it out on forums (and yes, Amazon reviews is a forum too).
In romance, readers do not form author
loyalties, instead they form, hero type loyalties, and romance authors
are used to this type of fanship, so they go out of their way to
actively promote each other, thus you see fan crossovers in places like
Twitter and FaceBook, and the end result is, romance authors end up
getting higher download rates, simply because of the comradery among
romance authors, with everybody promoting everybody else, and because
readers of romance are conditioned to give new authors a try. Likewise
romance authors are often also the biggest romance readers, so while
they are writing a new book a month they are also buying a few new books
Whereas other genres, there isn't that same sort of genre loyalty among readers, so authors feel the need to push above the competition, because their readers are more picky about WHO they read, with readers forming tighter author loyalties. Authors than have a bigger need to promote themselves, rather than promoting their book's hero.
I write romance, horror, and sci-fi, and I have seen a marked difference in sales, fans, and fellow authors in each of these genres. Romance way out sells horror, which way out sells sci-fi.
In romance, I can literally take the same story and republish it with new character names and it will sell every time - try that with horror or sci-fi, nope, nadda.
Did you know, that the majority of Romance authors only ever write 3 novels, then simply republish it over and over again?
It's called "Formula Writing"
I heard of an author who did this:
She wrote one story, than every year, she'd edit it to have new place names (say the original was set in Scotland and the new one was set in Texas), new character names, and reword the love scenes, than publish it with a new title.
She started doing this every month, then every week.
In the end she wrote 881 romance novels this way.
Her name was Barbara Cartland, perhaps you heard of her: she's in the Guinness Book of World Records under 350 different entries, including the top selling author of all time, and the highest paid author in history.
She was the inventor of "formula writing" in the 1940s, and is the reason romance subscriptions like Harlequin exist today, and is the reason why romance readers got into the habit of reading the same story, over and over again and not caring that the only thing that changed was the character names.
Even today, 20 years after her death, her books are
still selling like hotcakes, and the trend in formula romance writing is
still going strong.
Yeah, basically, at least from what I've personally seen, if you are writing romance, you are going to get higher sales/downloads than every other genre, and every other genre is going to be really hard to get high sales rates, simply because romance readers have been conditioned by 50 years of Harlequin's "read every romance author under the sun" promotion style mentality, while other genre readers are conditioned to "devote all you energy to your 1 or 2 fave authors and ignore the rest" mentality.
What other genres need is a subscription group like Harlequin to condition readers to read every author in the genre rather than sticking with just a few faves.
The other times I see high downloads are with non-fiction/self help books on the topics of "finding love", "getting rich", and "power of positive thinking". It also seems like non-fiction in general, gets more sales/downloads than fiction.
idea if anything I just said could be proven as actual trends or not,
it’s just stuff I have noticed in my 31 years as a writer and self
publisher. I’m sure others have noticed other trends, and my view is
skewed by the fact that I hang out in romance reader/author circles, but
this is how it seems to work from what I’ve seen, at least.
Well, so that's my comment to your comment. I'm not sure, were you asking a question here or just making a statement?
Because, as I just explained... Romance readers read Romance. If you write 1 Romance and then hope for them to read your other books... you're living a pipe dream.
They will read your Romance book, never pay attention to your name, never pay attention to your other books, and move from your Romance book to the next newest release Romance book without ever giving your other books another thought.
A week after reading your book, if someone mentions your name they'll be:
The other person will have to say: "That book that had the hot guy wearing the black hat on the cover."
"Oh, that one. Yeah, I read that a week ago. I was SOOOOOO into WAAAAAAY back then, but it's old news now, look I'm reading this one today..."
If romance is not your thing, don't write it. I can tell you that much. Romance readers know good romance writers are good romance readers who know romance well, and if you don't know romance well, you won't write it well either.
And 1 Romance book won't cut it. You'll have to be releasing 1 a month MINIMUM, 1 a week recommended, to keep on top of the fickle nature of Romance readers.
Stick with genres you have a passion for writing.
And sci-fi, yeah, sales rates in sci-fi suck, basically you have to write a lot of books and settle for fewer sales each. You can't be a one-hit-wonder in sci-fi and expect to put food on the table.
Do a little research into your genre. Reader's reading patterns. Sales rates. What other authors do for a full time job to pay the bills after they realize they can't live off their writing career... it'll be quite eye opening once you start looking into the reality of being an author.
Publish a new book every 3 months if you write sci-fi. And hope you become someone's favourite author.
It's the only way you'll make a living at it.