New Author Earnings Presentation!

Author Earnings just did an in-depth analysis of the romance genre, and presented it at the RWA (Romance Writers of America).

Those of you who are not romance writers, you should really, really go read it! Why?

1.) Romance is the biggest, and most competitive genre in fiction. If you want to see a marketing trend coming, it’ll hit romance 6-12 months before it shows up in Science Fiction & Fantasy. So pay attention to the cutting edge of the market!

For example, just as the post Tuesday asked about KU vs. Non-KU, vs. authors with some books in and others out… the report broke that down for romance. Other questions include breaking out how many books have to be in a series before a permafree first in series makes money instead of losing it, what price points are selling (inside & outside of KU), and how many books an author has to publish before they “break out.”

2.) Down in the comments at the bottom, both of the report itself and in the comments at Passive Voice, Data Guy provides breakouts for SF&F, and for Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, too!

for example…

You might be surprised… 🙂

US trad print SF&F sales (hardcover & paperback) = roughly 47M units a year:
– 34M of that is categorized as Children’s Science Fiction/Fantasy/Magic;
– 13M of it is categorized as Adult Science Fiction or Adult Fantasy.
Add the 15% or so non-Bookscan sales, and you get to 52M.

When it comes to ebooks, trad SF&F sales on are running at around 23M units for Kindle. Add in iBooks, Kobo, Nook, etc. and we’re talking about 33M or so total SF&F ebooks for trad.

So that’s 85M US trad SF&F sales annually for adult+children’s print+ebook combined.

OTOH, indie SF&F ebook sales on are at 32M units for Kindle, which, when you add in iBooks, Kobo, Nook, etc. will total out somewhere between 38M and 40M. Almost all of that is adult SF&F, not children’s (although Teen/YA makes the distinction murky).

Which means that more than half of all SF&F ebooks sold in the US — and nearly a third of all SF&F books *of any format* sold in the US, including children’s books — are indie.


  1. That’s really impressive. For those who want to jump to some very eyebrow-raising data, jump down to the earnings per book over time and the dollars per book (how often to release for best sales).

  2. And meanwhile, the conventional “wisdom” being bandied about among trad publishing is that ebooks are dying. Mostly because their ebook sales continue to decline. Looking at how sales decline at higher prices (yes, Romance novels are likely more price-sensitive than other genres, but it is still indicative), there is no mystery about why. But hey, they are saving print sales (except they aren’t; if it wasn’t for coloring books, print sales would be in a much worse place).

    I have to thank the trads for their willful blindness; life as an indie would be much harder without it.

    1. i drove past the bookstore I normally shop at…. Hastings …. going out of business sign on all the windows

      1. They close on July 31. PG has had the news stories about it – long story short, the family owners sold to a managing company that didn’t know how to run a book-n-music-n-film store and tried to add all sorts of stuff (like a sporting goods store). They then chunked it to a holding company that tried to tread water, and now it’s gone.

  3. The reason why Romance trends end up in SciFi is because of all the authors who put ‘space’ in front of a romance title/story and fob it off as science fiction.
    Its not scifi or fantasy at all, just romance in a different setting. But the people who read romance don’t care, so they still buy the stories and you see these books shooting up to the top of the SciFi headings and so you pick it up thinking ‘science fiction’ and instead you get ‘Romance’, with little to no science fiction in it at all.
    This is why there are a lot less guys reading scifi now than there used to be. It’s also why there are much more explicit love scenes in scifi than there used to be.

  4. Thanks for mentioning the comments and Data Guy’s input on TPV. I usually read ALL the comments, but sometimes skip when I don’t think they’re relevant, and I don’t write Romance though I am writing a love story (I don’t follow their conventions, and have gotten my negative reviews from people that angered). So I missed what was quite useful and not specifically Romance.

  5. We can predict industry changes if the author earnings data is correct. One expected consequence might include more failure of small bookstore chains which are tied to legacy distribution and hence to big five traditional publishing.

    Questions: Is this based on previously published data, or can I see the data anywhere? Those ’21+ titles published a year’ people likely didn’t start writing at that rate. Any idea how long and how different those titles are? Prices? Any of these unpublished backlist or otherwise saved up?

    1. Author Earnings usually publishes his data for you to grovel over. I think the last one I looked at he said he had blown out of Excel, so was going to have to publish the data as csv or something, but yeah, usually you can get the raw data to chew on. Take a look at his website.

      1. The romance writers thing was a blog, not a report, and the only download is the pdf of the presentation. I guess I should see if the previous report’s data will shows the answers.

    1. I’ve been avoiding romance because, well, reasons. So, paranormal with were-critter, hmm? I cross list the next Cat book? (Just kidding, just kidding, don’t one-star my comment!)

      Actually, I had a short story idea floating around inspired by Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind Love,” about a cavalier’s ghost and a woman in a bad relationship, and how both save each other . . . Hmm.

    2. Sigh. I am about romances like I am about sports – love playing them, don’t have the patience to read or watch them… Some time along here, I need to get into reading, if only to do it well in the bits and pieces that are in my writing.

      BTW, Outcasts and Gods is next week’s scheduled review posting.

    3. I haven’t a romantic bone in my body. On the other hand, it isn’t like I can write other things any better.

      Gotta start somewhere.

      I have a project seed with suitable worldbuilding, and no clue to plot and world building.

      Question: Do you think the shifter grouping includes girls who turn into swords?

      1. Wow, I saw something very much like this once. Seriously. It was a page of doodles by an artist, about a young knight who finds a magical sword, which can manifest itself as a very beautiful (and tempting) woman.
        So you have times, when he’s relaxing, that the sword teases him (both flirting and non-flirting), telling him how he has to take good care of her, etc. And of course it starts out with him being rather clueless, but progresses as he gains experience and ability. (I don’t think there was ever any kind of ‘consummation’ of the relationship, didn’t look like it)

        I always thought it could make a good story.

        1. It’s possible that I got the taste somewhere, and could list a number of anime, manga, and light novels.

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