Which Self-Published Genres Sell The Most Books? Self-Publishing Relief Has The Answer!

by | Genre, Other Helpful Information | 11 comments

Self-Published Genres

You’re at the starting gate, ready to self-publish your book. But how do you know if you have a winner? We at Self-Publishing Relief know that while some genres seem to enjoy unbridled success when self-published, others fall behind in the race for sales. Take a look at the top-selling genres in self-publishing to find out where your book fits in:

Win: Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Romance, science fiction, and fantasy books are the best-suited for self-publishing. In fact, half of the e-book bestsellers in the romance, science fiction, and fantasy genres on Amazon are self-published! Readers of these genres are more likely to share recommendations via blogs and community forums, and their clearly defined interests make it easier for authors in these genres to target their book sales marketing efforts.

Of these three genres, romance books make up a whopping 40% of the market share on Amazon e-book sales. And if you think romance sells so well because it’s erotica—not true. Only 1.2% of Kindle sales are erotica. The romance genre actually covers many other types of romance novels—even Christian romance. You’re in good company if you love writing romance novels, whether they’re steamy or not!


Place: Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Of the Top 100 mystery and thriller Kindle sales, 11% are self-published books. While not as popular as the romance genre, self-published mystery, thriller, and crime books still sell extremely well.

Show: Nonfiction

Nonfiction books are also good choices for self-publishing. They make up a smaller percentage of the market, but readers are often happy to pay more for a nonfiction book. So even if you sell fewer books than fiction writers, you’ll still make a decent profit because you can charge more for each copy.

Self-published literary fiction doesn’t sell as well as genre fiction does: This category makes up only 2% of all Amazon e-book sales.

So is every non-romantic book destined to fail?

Don’t let generalizations about which books sell best discourage you from self-publishing your book, whether it’s a romance, a mystery, or even a western! It’s important to stay true to your unique writing style and vision—forcing yourself to write only for the market will show in your work, and disappointed readers will notice. Instead, you might want to consider adding a little more romance to your mystery novel to create some crossover appeal, or querying agents for a little longer before starting down the self-publishing route.

Remember: For any genre, the key to successfully selling your self-published book is to market it effectively. Even traditionally published books can end up in last place if they’re not marketed well. And in today’s publishing industry, more traditional publishers are putting the responsibility for marketing a book onto the author’s shoulders.

QUESTION: In which genre do you write?


  1. Wendy

    I’m surprised non-fiction isn’t at the top. With fiction and a new author, there’s always the question of whether you really want what’s in it. With NF in general and how-to in particular, you know whether you want it or not no matter who the author is. And a lot of how-to work better in hardcopy (and depending on subject, lore likely to simply get worn out), which often get higher royalty that ebooks.

    I got that in one of my Yahoo Groups–they had pages of instructions for specific designs, and some of the members begged them to get printed as books because it would be cheaper than all the ink they were going through making their own hard copies!

  2. Peta

    A great topic. Thanks

  3. Kristen Steele

    While there is certainly information out there that could point you in the right direction of which genres sell the most copies, don’t let that drag you into writing about something that you’re not passionate about. Write what you know and what you love!

    • Ojiefoh

      Greater Heights IJN. Thanks sir

  4. Elizabeth Foster

    Self-publishing looks attractive but is it the right avenue for YA fantasy? My teen readers are likely to be in the 12-15 age bracket and they prefer printed books. I am sure it would be fine for all those adult readers of YA but I wouldn’t want to miss out on the teens, for whom the book is primarily written. Thoughts?

    • SPR Staff

      You can self-publish a print version of your book and/or an electronic version, so that wouldn’t leave out readers of any age who prefer print books. And although it seems that more agents are considering YA these days, self-publishing is still a great way to get your YA book out there. Let us know if we can help!

  5. Kris Jordan

    I wrote a YA novel and see my friends who are selling non-fiction doing much better. I seems I have to “hit a target” when it comes to my book, but anyone will buy theirs. Maybe I’m not doing a fair comparison.

  6. Rich

    I am about to jump into the self publishing pool using Bookfuel. I first book coming out is “The Odessa Legacy” It is about an Island that was build to hide a secret base for Germany before WWI and was later used by the Nazis as a repository and weapons depot for a planned attack against the USA…an attack that clearly never took place. It is action adventure with adult themes as the main character in the book catches his wife doing her mothers estate attorney. Not quite pornographic, but it is close.

  7. Denise Marullo

    There will never be a more comforting feeling than a crisp new book in my hands, curled up in my bed with my pillows, cats, Great Dane and hot lemon tea. Sorry, but no EBook can compare. Besides, I love creative bookmarks and bookplates. My, we would have no use for our bookcases!
    I hope to be published again for hard copies AND EBooks..for all to enjoy!

  8. Caitlind Alexander

    I self-publish children’s books and it seems like they are a really hard sell. The non-fiction ones do MUCH better than the fiction ones. I think it helps that I have added a company name, which makes it look like it isn’t self-published.
    Above all else, make sure it looks as professional as you can get it. I think that has as much bearing as anything for getting it to stand out in the crowd.

  9. michael mckinney

    There’s an unmistakable bias in favor of non-fiction by readers and publishers because the prevailing opinion that fiction “is not real” is held by many. In reality it’s fiction and not non-fiction that best describes the real world. Non-fiction is an interpretive chronology of events and history, whereas fiction (not all fiction) attempts to describe the underlying unseen, and often un-measurable reality beneath the passing observable effects of something powerful and unapparent. Fiction more readily describes this hidden reality than any non-fiction chronology no matter how crammed with authenticated fact it may be.


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