Episode 54

What Genre Sold the Most Books Last Year

Today we’ll be discussing publishing salaries, book pricing, and since it’s Valentine’s Day, what’s trending in romance books. In honor of our one-year anniversary, we are going somewhere sunny and warm.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

"See Down to the Bottom" by Humans Win

"Down to Get up Again" by Humans Win

"Over the Ocean" by Sondé

"Sail Away" by zoze

"Second Chance" by Humans Win

Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

Today we’ll be discussing publishing salaries, book pricing, and since it’s Valentine’s Day, what’s trending in romance books. In honor of our one-year anniversary, we are going somewhere sunny and warm.

The Writing Break flight crew is readying the plane. We’ll catch up on publishing news once we’re up in the air.

Let’s talk about entry-level salaries at New York publishing houses for a moment.

Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group USA, and Simon & Schuster offer starting salaries between $45,000 and $50,000. At Macmillan the starting salary was $42,000. They’re going to raise it to $47,000 in April.

As for HarperCollins, the only Big 5 publisher with a union, it looks like the three-month union strike is over. HarperCollins has reached a tentative agreement with its employee union. The starting salary was $45,000, and the new deal includes unspecified increases to minimum salaries as well as a one-time lump sum bonus of $1,500. Union members spent 9 weeks on the picket line.

Shortly before the deal was reached, HarperCollins announced plans to reduce their North American workforce by 5%. So, you know, don’t get comfortable just yet.

% in:

In nonfiction, sales numbers went down in biographies, history, reference, and self-help but up in travel.

In fiction, sales numbers went down in religion, sci-fi, and Westerns and up in horror, fantasy, and romance. In fact, romance went up 52.4%. Happy Valentine’s Day, indeed.

I’m not sure how many of my listeners are fans of Barbra Streisand, but I know her fans are diehard, so I thought I’d share that her memoir, My Name Is Barbra, is available for pre-order and will release on November 7th of this year.

Now, let’s get a refill and recline these airplane seats for today’s Overthinking segment where we’ll be talking about fluctuations in book prices on Amazon and ACX.

If you self-publish, you might look on Amazon one day to check on your book and find that your book is on sale. Amazon and other book retailers often reserve the right to lower your book price. ACX, a major distributor of audiobooks used by self-publishers to get their books on Audible, reserves this right as well, and they recently told their customers in an email that they will be reducing the price of audiobooks across the board.

This type of thing is frustrating to self-published authors, especially to those who chose to self-publish in order to have more control over their work. I can understand that frustration, but I think ACX’s timing makes sense. In their email to customers, ACX said they were lowering prices to increase sales. This is also why Amazon and other retailers drop prices on their books, including ebooks. While audiobook sales have been increasing for years, right now, inflation is up and spending is down. Some customers might find that audiobooks are outside of their budget right now, so they’ll find something else to listen to and might never get back to audiobooks. Theoretically, lowering prices to generate sales keeps people in the habit of buying books.

So, if you ever find your book unexpectedly on sale, look at it as an opportunity to promote your book all over again.

And now, let’s return our seats to their upright position and prepare to land on the island of Mauritius.

Welcome to the island country of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean, off the southeastern coast of Africa, about 500 miles east of Madagascar.

When Mark Twain visited Mauritius, he wrote, “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and heaven was copied after Mauritius.”

The weather this week is expected to be partly cloudy with an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius, 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect beach-going weather, but first, we need to find a bookstore and pick up a book.

We are at Harry’s Bookshop in Port Louis. Mauritius has the highest literacy level on the African continent, and there are several BookCourt bookstores on the island, but Harry’s small shop is where you’ll find books about palmistry, chakras, and ancient Hindu science. They have books in many genres as well as gifts and some gorgeous travel journals.

Let’s pick up something for Valentine’s Day, shall we?

Well . . . That Was Awkward by Megan Montgomery is a romantic comedy perfect for a day at the beach.

“Emerson and John meet on the boardwalk as the moonlight dances off the Chesapeake Bay. She thinks he’s gorgeous and comes down with a case of instalove. He thinks she’s a panhandler and gives her five dollars.”

The two are then set up on a blind date, and things go on from there.

The recipient of several awards, Well . . . That Was Awkward is available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback formats. The ebook is currently free with Kindle Unlimited.

Now, let’s head down to the beach to discuss second chances.

As I mentioned earlier, romance is selling strong. Alex Newton of K-lytics recently released a report about the sales of second-chance romance books. If you are writing a second-chance story or thinking of writing one, here are some interesting takeaways from Newton’s report about this subgenre.

Common categories for second chances are contemporary romance, romantic comedy, holiday romance, and sports romance.

About half of the top-selling 500 titles show a man on the cover; the next most popular cover image is a couple or group.

And the phrase second chance is in the title or subtitle of 40% of these books.

I don’t know about you, but data reports and cold-hard facts are the way to my heart.

Until next week, thanks for listening, and remember, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at podcast@writingbreak.com.

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at podcast@writingbreak.com.

About the Podcast

Show artwork for Writing Break
Writing Break
An award-winning podcast for writers and readers

Listen for free

About your host

Profile picture for Rosemi Mederos

Rosemi Mederos


Rosemi is the founder of America's Editor, a book editing company.