What fiction genre sells the best?

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You’re going to be smart. Strategic. You’re going to look at the books readers are going crazy over right now and write one just like them – but better – and copies will sell like hotcakes because you’re giving the people what they want.

As you’ve probably figured out, it doesn’t work like that. You can look at the market now and see that Twilight* is popular and decide to write a novel about the forbidden romance between a vampire/werewolf hybrid and a dog lover who runs a blood bank. It’s going to be huge! The problem? It’s going to take you a few years to write and edit the book, another couple of years to find a literary agent to represent you, another couple of years for your agent to find a publisher willing to take a chance on you, and another year before it sees print. Next thing you know, a decade has gone by and paranormal romance is so blasé now. Steampunk zombies are the new hot topic.

Don’t write for the market; write for yourself. This sounds narcissistic at first, but when you really think about it, it’s quite the opposite. If you are writing for the market, what’s your motivation? You want to sell a million copies, become rich and famous, and be interviewed on Regis and Kelly. But if you write for yourself it’s because there’s a story you need to tell. You want to write the kind of book you’d enjoy reading, and you want to share a bit of your soul with the rest of the world.

Now this soul bit you create may or may not be a huge commercial bestseller. It may or may not sell at all. But it will be honest, and it will be a good story, and because of that, it will be more likely to succeed than any produced-for-the-market book would ever be. When you like your own story, you put more tender loving care into it. You take the time to get it right, and your readers can tell.

With that being said, you must also be conscious of your responsibility to your audience. Writing talent is a privilege, having your work read by others is an honor, and in exchange for these things you owe honesty, quality and completeness. So write from the gut, rewrite like a critic, and be sure to tie up all your loose ends.

*If you’re curious, I’m team TARDIS.

About Stephanie Orges

Stephanie is an award-winning copywriter, aspiring novelist, and barely passable ukulele player. Here, she offers writing prompts, tips, and moderate-to-deep philosophical discussions. You can also find her on and Pinterest.
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25 Comments

  1. Team TARDIS?

    I can’t read your blog anymore.

  2. I couldn’t have said it better.

    • wow, that’s cool. I’ve kinda lost motivation to continue my book, I just feel like a horrible writer, I’m stuck in a combat scene, I’m tired of sounding repetitive (He slashed, he cleaved, he plunged, he lounged, he dove etc.), and i got writers block. Which sucks. but I couldn’t agree more with your post. Your advice has always been inspirational, thank you.

      • Just plough on through, Jeremy. You’ll get there. Don’t worry about sounding repetitive during your first draft – just get the facts out there. Change it up on the second time around. As for motivation: you have a story to tell, and no one else can tell it but you. So for heaven’s sake, tell it.

    • Thanks, Scribbla. I’m so glad you’re back.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for the inspiration to keep writing, even if the only eyes to ever see it are my own.

  4. The part about how long it takes to get published is quite an eye-opener for a newbie. Write from the gut, rewrite like a critic . . . . got it! Great advice.

    • Yeah, the process of landing an agent and finding a publisher could be even longer, but from signing the contract to holding the finished book in your hands, it is about a year. Thanks for reading!

  5. Amen! For one thing, it’s hard enough to write something that you desire to write.

    I would be on team TARDIS too, save in this case I must, on principle, be on Team Abraham (Van Helsing) ;)

  6. I remember two vampire episodes… the more recent one, the vamps died. I can’t remember what happened in the earlier one. With the Doctor, if can so easily go either way.

    Theory time:

    I think everyone has some kind of character or creature in fiction that they have VIEWS about. For instance, person A wants Dragons done “right” in fiction and cannot stand books where they are not. Person B gets irritated when a book doesn’t represent policemen in a certain way. Person C likes a certain type of protagonist, and has little patience for anything else. I think it has something to do with what resonates with us, and why.

    For me, I have VIEWS on vampires. I find vampires to be a societal barometer of a sort, and how fiction represents them is very telling of the period in which that fiction was written. I find that I have very little patience with most modern representations of our bloodsuckers. Therefore my being on Team Abraham isn’t so much about killing all vampires, as it is an objection to “tame,” angsty, objects-of-desire vampires. I want vampires un-watered-down. I figure sicking Van Helsing and any other vampire hunters I can find on them, might toughen them up and put them in touch with their monstrous roots. If I ever finish the vampire story I have, I doubt anyone will want to read it, because it completely rejects most of what makes vampire fiction sell… no sex, no sympathy for the vampiric condition, and only a normal story’s worth of angst. …and no sparkles. ;)

  7. Thanks – that’s actually helped more than you know.

    PS Team TARDIS all the way!

  8. Hi. This is my first visit here. I’m a PhD clinical psychologist, with a number of sub specialties. Anyway, I’ve been thinking of writing a book (nonfiction), for a number of years, and I now finally have the time. I visited your site because I’m trying to decide which subject would be the most useful. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

    • Thanks, Priscilla! I’d say pick the subject you are most passionate about. Maybe something that has changed your life, affected you personally, or just something that fascinates you. If you find you can talk/write/read about it for hours, that’s a good topic to pick! Your passion will be infectious to your readers. I’m curious, though, what are your sub specialties?

      Personally, there are a lot of aspects of psychology I’m interested in and would like to read about:

      What dangerous psychological messages are contained within some of the most popular books and movies (e.g. Twilight)? As writers, who love to create stories about very disturbed and damaged characters, how should we guard against romanticizing mental and emotional illness? (Actually, if you have anything to say about this subject, I would love to interview you for a blog post – would you be interested?)

      As a copywriter, I’m also interested in the psychology of marketing. How do particular words affect people emotionally? What about colors? Why do stories have so much power over us?

      These are things I’d love to read about. But ultimately, you should pick the subject you are most passionate about.

      • I agree with Stephanie. That’s some very good advice!

        I tend to write about damaged characters & make them suffer through their personal hell to get better in the end (though depending on story either they’re broken worse for wear or stronger). I hate happy endings. Though it possibly explains why i got boxes of rejection letters from brick & mortar houses despite my doing everything right… (for the most part – cant afford an agent. I’m poor yo)

        • Thanks, Majestik – but what do you mean, “afford an agent”? Literary agents should only charge you a commission after you recieve money from the publisher for selling your book. Any agent that charges you up front (for a “reading fee” or whatever) is scamming you. Check out this post on how to find a legitimate agent.

  9. In the original article it states, “The problem? It’s going to take you a few years to write and edit the book, another couple of years to find a literary agent to represent you, another couple of years for your agent to find a publisher willing to take a chance on you, and another year before it sees print.”

    Well, this is total rubbish. It took me eight weeks to write a 110,000 novel, just one week to find an agent, who took just one more week to find a publisher (a major one) and it will be published in six months. Admittedly, it doesn’t always happen this fast, but it doesn’t take six years that’s for sure, not if it’s a good book anyway.

    • Wow, Ian, congratulations! But I don’t think you’re aware of how unusual your situation is. Clearly you’re some kind of savant to write a good novel that quickly, and perhaps you’ve had luck on your side to find an agent and publisher so quickly (even good novels get rejected if the agent simply doesn’t feel right for the project). I’d bet that 99 out of 100 authors (yes, even good ones) would agree that my timeline is far more typical than yours.
      Perhaps you could share the name of your book, agent, and publisher, just to confirm to my readers that you aren’t simply trolling?

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