Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Genres - what are the most popular?

Paula looks at the most popular genres on a recommendations website:

One website I belong to offers daily suggestions of books based on the genres each subscriber likes. Subscribers can also specify their preferences based on language, violence, and sexual content.

Authors may request their book to be featured, as long as it has at least 10 reviews and 4.0 rating or higher, and there is a small charge, which depends on the genre of the book.

I found it interesting to see which genres are the most popular.

Here are the top ten:
Mysteries (40,507)
Thrillers (39,574)
Historical fiction (39,466)
Literary fiction (38,825)
Women's fiction (38,618)
Science fiction (38,579)
Contemporary romance (38,269)
Romantic suspense (38,041)
Young adult (38,030)
Biography/memoir (37,679)

Genres like paranormal, urban fantasy, detective, action and adventure, and horror all came much lower down the list, as did some of the sub-divisions of romance: erotic, historical, comedy, religious/inspirational, western, and gay/lesbian.

I was glad to see contemporary romance featuring in the top ten – especially as you meet so many people (or at least I do) who claim they ‘never read romance.’ At the same time, I wondered about the distinction between contemporary romance and romance suspense, since surely all romances contain (or should contain!) some element of suspense. Yes, the readers know the hero and heroine will come together in the end, since this is the hallmark of a romance, but they should be held in suspense wondering just how this can possibly happen after all the problems and conflicts we writers throw at our characters!

I also found it interesting, and quite surprising, that some of the sub-divisions of romance did not feature in the top ten, particularly historical romance. Maybe readers have had their fill of Regency rakes and scoundrels – or of poorly researched so-called historical romances. As for erotic, it seems that for every person who liked 50 SoG, there are at least 50 (maybe a lot more?) who either didn’t read the books or started one and never finished it.

I think I’ll stick with my contemporary romances! 


  1. Very interesting! Would it be correct to assume the people in this poll are e-readers?

    1. Yes, the website only lists e-books.

    2. I'm sticking with my contemporary romance. It's what I've always read. I have tried other genres but can never really bond with them (for want of a better word)

    3. Some of mine have an element of suspense or intrigue in them, but I still consider them as contemporary romances! I've never really tried any other genres.

  2. It's a bit of a wobbly line - the figures are interesting, but it's tough to know when Romance (contemporary, suspense, or otherwise) and Historical etc, stop being those things and turn into Women's fiction. Because my books are historical, and both my publishers are heavily skewed towards romance, they are keen to push that aspect of the books. But although there is a strong romantic element, this is secondary to the physical and emotional conflict the characters have to weather. I tend to get them together early in the story, then throw rocks at them to see how they cope. But the books are marketed as historical romance, and therefore lumped in with the rakes and scoundrels brigade even though they're set in the early 1900s rather than Regency era.

    I do hope, though, that they're not considered badly researched, not after swearing blood to make sure it's all spot on!

    I'd be very interested in learning more about how these categories are arrived at, thanks for this post. Food for thought!

    1. Terri, I agree that the distinctions between genres are often blurred - and I'm not even sure what 'women's fiction' actually means! Makes me wonder why there isn't a category called 'men's fiction'! As far as I know, the owner of the site has decided on these categories
      And I didn't mean ALL historical novels are badly researched - although I have read some where 19th century characters (or even medieval characters) use 'modern' words and phrases - which always makes me cringe, and some have glaring anachronisms! I'm sure yours are all well-researched, so I'm guessing you get as irritated as I do by those which haven't been thoroughly researched!

  3. Romantic suspense is meant as a combination of mystery and romance. It's not the suspense of wondering if the hero/heroine will get together, but a mystery they need to solve together while also getting together romantically.

    1. I assumed that is what it meant, but what makes that different from romantic intrigue or romantic mystery (both of which I've seen as sub-categories of romance!)?

    2. I'm not sure those are considered "official" subcategories. Those may be just people trying to clarify more of the same thing.

    3. Amazon seems to have a variety of romance subcategories, even 'romance fiction'!

    4. Yeah, but that's Amazon. I don't take their word as law, personally.

  4. When it comes to writing I definitely prefer cotemporary romance. For reading, I like contemporary as well. I can also do some of the other sub-genres as well. Paranormal, as long as it's vampires; historical, American Civil War era is my fave, and some suspense, depending on the author.

    I also like cozy mysteries (nothing too graphic and gory) and some action adventure - I just finished a new Clive Cussler last night.

    When I'm in writing mode, I try not to read romance. The lines of theirs and mine tend to get all blurry.

    1. LOL, Debra, you and your vampires! Must admit that's something I've never read.
      I quite like modern historical (if that's not a contradiction!) - mainly late 19th or early 20th century (e.g. 1st World War, 1920s etc).