Considerations When Choosing Your Niche Genre

Amazon has many categories and subcategories for fiction, and if you upload your book into the Kindle store and choose general categories, you’re going to be competing with hundreds of thousands of books.

What you want for best discoverability is to have your book in categories that sell well yet don’t have tremendous competition.

All novels can fit in a multitude of subgenres, which we’ll see in just a moment. So while you might have in mind to write fantasy or mystery, which are popular genres that sell well, notching down to a couple of smaller niche genres will help your book have a better chance of coming up high in the search engines.

You need to be willing to adjust the type of novel you write or want to write. You may already be writing in a popular genre, such as romance. But this objective of finding a niche subgenre might mean you have to consider writing something a bit different from what you currently write or want to write. It may mean choosing an entirely different genre altogether.

What’s most important when considering a genre to write in is this: You should feel competent or comfortable with the thought of writing in that genre.

In my case, I chose a niche genre that I had never written in, but I had confidence that I could. And, more importantly, I was attracted to that genre—it interested me and held the potential of bringing me a lot of happiness in my writing journey. I’ve grown to love this niche genre so much, I plan to write many books in it.

That may not be important for you, but it is for some. So, this is why we took some time in that earlier lesson to explore why you write what you write.

So when searching for your niche genre, keep an open mind, be open to new possibilities, but also bear in mind what your personal writing tastes and interests are.

If you’re going to be writing in this new niche genre for many years, it should be an enjoyable experience. Otherwise, why write? There are plenty of other careers that can make a whole lot more money and give you more security and benefits than the life of a novelist. Just saying …

There are a number of ways to search for these niche genres, but most of them have drawbacks. Keep in mind you need to consider two criteria: You want to find a genre that sells well—meaning there’s a huge demand, but you don’t want to have so much competition that your book hardly has a chance of coming up in the searches.

Focusing on a niche audience raises your chances your book will come up high in keyword searches and might possibly get on the top of the Amazon best-seller lists, which is best.

Another important factor to keep in mind is that books can populate in the top of subgenres and be #1 on a best-seller list, but that doesn’t mean they are selling many books. Often there are few books in a subgenre, and while they show “best seller,” the demand is low.

Most searches you do on the Internet or Amazon Kindle store for these genres will not tell you this information that you need to know. In other words, seeing a book listed with that orange tag “best seller” doesn’t mean big sales.

So as we look at these general ways to search for the best genres to write in, keep in mind the big drawbacks to these searches.

  • First, they aren’t going to give you real time data. Usually the stats are months or years old.
  • Second, they aren’t going to give you current stats of how many books are selling in that genre, what they are priced at, how they are ranking, or what keywords they are using.

You can go to Google and do a search for genres. This can be very helpful. Finding blog posts that bring in stats and insights can help you decide on your genre.

Be sure though when looking for articles that you narrow the time frame so that you are pulling up current results. Even so, the stats within an article might still be months or years old.

Often researchers who compile information don’t release their reports for many months. So a look at best-selling genres might cover 2014, which isn’t going to help you much at all in 2021 to pinpoint which genres are selling big now.

Another way to search for genre is to go to the Kindle ebook store. Best-selling authors whose sales are in the hundreds of thousands will tell you that, proportionately, they sell very few print copies, so checking the Kindle store will give you the best information.

From what I’ve experienced and in talking with authors, it’s about 1%, if even that—print to ebook comparison. So while you may choose to put out a paperback edition of your novel, Kindle is where the sales are—also way above any other ebook outlet, although there are a lot of readers on other platforms. However, it’s fairly safe to say that the books that are popular and sell well on Amazon do so proportionately on other venues.

But Kindle is where the data is—where you’ll find the best stats for sales.

Drill Down

Now, once you’re here in the Kindle store, scroll down the sidebar and you’ll see the Amazon categories for fiction. Amazon uses the terms categories and subcategories for genre and subgenre. Note too that fiction isn’t separated out here. There are some categories that would include both, such as YA. There are lots of subcategories as well that don’t show in the side bar, and that’s part of the challenge in this hunt for a genre.

If you choose mystery as your category and only use that word for you keywords, you are competing with tens of thousands, and that’s a huge pool to swim in. If you notch this down a bit and choose  mystery, then cozy mystery, you can see the competition numbers are reduced.

Keep in mind that you are going to be choosing keywords to not only put in your KDP portal for your product page but also in all your page fields in order to have SEO.

Seeing how various books in a subgenre rank overall in the paid Amazon store is key. That will tell you a lot. (Kindlepreneur has a great free calculator you can use.) Books with ranking above 100,000 aren’t selling much. Look for ranking of under 20,000. Close to 1,000, on average, a book will be selling about 113 a day. With an ebook priced at 3.99, giving a 70% royalty, that equates to around $315 a day in royalties, or about $9,400 a month. For one book.

What you need is to know how the top-selling books in a niche genre rank in the paid store. That’s the ticket. And there is only one good way to find that info out, showing in real time—using the Chrome tool KDSPY.

So if you don’t have that tool, you will have to take the time to open up each one of these books, look at their rankings in the paid store, and get an overall feel for how many books they might be selling per day. This will only give you today’s data though, and that can be very skewed.

For example, if an author is running a Bookbub ad, their book is going to jump to the top #100 paid in one day and stay there for a few days. However, most books running that ad usually are way low down in the rankings, and after a week will return to those low rankings.

That’s been my experience. So again, your data here is going to be a bit unreliable when searching for stats to help you choose a best-selling subgenre.

So remember: when you’re looking to choose a niche genre to write in, and you have some ideas of what you’d like to write, you can do Internet searches, read reports, look at statistics, and explore the Kindle store. But for the most part you aren’t going to get clear, current data to help you make the wisest decision. You might be able to narrow things down a bit, and that’s good.

Maybe play around with this and find 5-10 subgenres that interest you. Take some time to open up some of the best sellers in these subgenres and look at the lists Amazon puts them in. That might give you ideas for subgenres.

Once you’ve done that, get ready to learn a better way that will make your effort easy. And not only that, this tool will be useful continually as you check the market and sales month after month and note what keywords are being used by the top sellers.

I hope this look at searching genre has given you some insights into how to do this and also what challenges you face in this effort.

Featured Photo by Aleksandar Cvetanovic on Unsplash


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