Genre Success: Mainstream vs. Niche
Whether you write in a popular, mainstream genre or prefer to stick to fictional tales of goat farm romance in central Europe, it’s important to know the effect that your genre has on your general success as a writer. Many writers feel that writing in a genre that’s too mainstream is a fast way to get lost in a sea of much better established competitors. At the same time, if your genre is too narrow and appeals to only the smallest of niches, you might fail to attract readers because there simply aren’t enough people out there who have any interest in what you have to offer.
Let’s get more in depth.
Vampire romance has been done to death over the past decade. The genre--seen as new and exciting with the rise of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, has now dwindled to layer after layer of cliches and destructive tropes with audible groans whenever it's brought up. No one cares about it anymore… right?
The fact remains that vampire romance is one of the hottest categories and sub-genres on Amazon’s lists. People love it. They know they love it. Readers who might have fallen in love with the genre ten years ago still crave the dark suspense, hints of magic and the supernatural, and the forbidden fruit offered in these pages. They don’t care if you’re established. They don’t care if they’ve heard your name. If they think you can give them more of what they crave, they’ll pick it up in a heartbeat, making this one of the easiest genres to break into.
Unfortunately for vampire lovers, vampire romance is well over-saturated, with over 60,000 results currently listing in the Kindle Store.
If you want to rank highly in such a competitive market, you’ll have to rely on an already-solid social media network and aggressive advertising. According to research done by TCK Publishing, other overly popular genres include contemporary romance, coming of age, paranormal, and women sleuths. So if you’re writing in any of those, keep in mind that the market might be flooded.
Mainstream genres are hard to rank well in, and maybe like me, you find them stale and predictable despite the rabid market. What about going niche? Let’s take the pastoral romance above. You want to write a series about a small town in Switzerland, where a pair of goat farmers fall in love after a tragedy. This market isn’t nearly as competitive. A simple search for “Goat Farm Romance” on the Kindle store only brings up 111 results, making it easy for your book to swing to the top and allowing you to claim bestseller status.
That certainly sounds good, and it is an easy way to become a bestselling author. Besides that, there are so many niche genres that you could probably find one to cater to just about any interest and write your way to the top. But how long does that good feeling last? Books in niche categories rank highly but have hardly any readers vying for them, making it shockingly easy to go broke on a bestseller. Selling only a dozen copies of something you spent months creating isn’t a great return on investment from a financial standpoint.
In the end, it depends on what you want to get out of your book: a large readership or a bestselling title. Some writers can swing both, targeting a niche audience under one pen name and a popular audience under another. It’s also possible that your preferred genre lies in the middle, like a detective crime thriller or a children’s fantasy chapter book. In that case, pay attention to your keywords and allotted sub-categories. Keeping a balance between mainstream and niche might be just the key you need to propel your book into a success story.
What genre are you writing in? Do you prefer to stick to a popular and well-loved genre, or do you like staking it out on a niche? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!