Anyone can write and self-publish a book, but the success of those books sales-wise has a lot to do with many factors, one of which is the book’s genre. That’s one of the many reasons why most writers get their manuscripts rejected by publishing companies; either the genre doesn’t fit with what a certain publisher normally publishes or the audience it caters to is too niche and unprofitable.

Luckily for self-published authors, this type of thing is a non-issue as authors who want to experiment with different genres aren’t constrained by restrictive publishing contracts and book deals. Still, there is an evident trend of which literary genres tend to be more popular. And according to a 2014 article written by Betty Kelly Sargent, the founder and CEO of, the most popular genres of self-published books are romance, science fiction and fantasy, and mystery/thrillers. Let’s get into some statistics.

Books by the Numbers

Couple reading romance self-published book

According to Book Ad Report, 49% of all romance novels in the United States are self-published and accumulate up to $1.44 billion a year. Erotica is often included in these statistics. Around 2012, sale numbers for traditionally published romance novels were in decline and found a thriving market on Amazon Kindle, the best example being E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. And according to Kristen McLean of NPD Books, there had been a total of 16.2 million romance ebooks sold between the January and May of 2020, a whole 17% increase. This rise has much to do with the rise of COVID-19 in the United States because the closure of many bookstores left buying (e)books online as the safest avenue for consumers, an avenue where almost all self-published books are marketed.

Sci-fi and Fantasy
Dragon flying away from castle in fantasy self-published book

Book Ad Report calculates that 56% of all sci-fi and fantasy books in the market are self-published and accumulate an average of $509.2 million a year in sales. Book sales for sci-fi/ fantasy books, says Adam Rowe of Forbes Magazine, have doubled between 2010 and 2018. It was during this period of time when Andy Weir self-published his sci-fi novel The Martian in 2011. Science fiction and fantasy are often the go-to genre for writers wanting to make a name for themselves as published authors, so it’s no surprise that almost half of the books in these genres are self-published.

Woman placing hands on glass in mystery thriller self-published book concept

Mystery/thriller books, says the Book Ad Report, make an average of $728.2 million a year, though only 11% of these books are self-published. Admittedly not nearly as popular as romance or sci-fi and fantasy, mostly because mystery and thriller books are “slower burners” in terms of pacing compared to the previously mentioned genres. This genre still dominates in traditional publishing and shouldn’t be undertaken by new writers as their beginning genre of choice.

These are only a small portion of the genres that get self-published daily, but writers who want the easiest chance of climbing to success would find it in their best interest to throw their hats into these genres.

Which self-publishing genre do you like best? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.