Romance novels have been around since the time of the ancient Greeks, and with good reason. After all, as the old saying goes, love is what makes the world go round — or, alternatively, as Franklin P. Jones said, “Love is what makes the ride worthwhile!”
Many authors will also tell you that publishing romances makes writing worthwhile, if it’s a regular paycheck for your writing that you’re looking for.
Well, there are lots of romance readers — 29 million of them to be exact. And, surveys indicate that about a quarter of these readers complete a book a week. So in rough figuring, that means there are at least seven million romance books sold or borrowed every week.
The question for most of us authors, though, is how to ensure that our book gets to be one of the popular ones. While marketing plays a big role, market demand plays a bigger one.
Here are some of the things you need to know if you want to make money selling romance ebooks.
Why You Need Sales Information to Make Money Selling a Romance EBook (or any other book!)
Readers are a fussy bunch. Really. When you think about it, you probably have specific storylines or settings or conflicts you like to explore when you read. I know I do.
So, it’s not much of a leap to see how important it is to know what sub-genres your readers prefer.
The other piece of knowledge we need though, is how much competition our books have. Remember those foot races back in elementary school?
If some other event kept a number of the other girls from the big “ribbon” day, I had a chance at earning one myself. But if we had another school join us for the big field day and double the competition, well, I was sunk.
Selling ebooks is the same. The more competition you have, the harder it is to make sales.
If you’ve got a pen handy, try jotting down all of the romance sub-categories you can think of. How many pop into your head? My list starts off with contemporary, fantasy, westerns, well, it’s pretty straightforward. And well, short.
My list sure doesn’t get to the 100+ submarkets in the K-Lytics Romance report (please note that I’m a K-Lytics affiliate, so will earn a small commission on any purchases you make by clicking on one of the K-Lytics links in this article)!
That list includes things like Paranormal, Ghosts; Historical romance, Victorian; Inspirational, Christian; Military; Multicultural & interracial; science fiction, and well, lots more. When you include sub-sub-categories the breakdowns become even more specialized (and there are 400+ of them).
But you’re likely wondering how you can take advantage of this to make more sales — thus more income — with your romance novels. The answer is actually pretty simple. It’s understanding the romance genre as a whole and being able to slot your own ebooks into the right sub-categories.
Amazon uses the industry BISAC subject codes. So, when you upload your ebook to the Kindle store, you need to pick the most relevant two (that’s the limit) for your book. Then, Amazon converts them to their browsing codes that buyers use to find their next read from the Kindle store.
The catch with the romance category though, is that you also need to add keywords to the metadata for your ebook to end up in some of the browsing categories.
You’ll find the specifics on Amazon’s website under the link: Categories with Keyword Requirements.
The competition is keen in the ebook romance market. Did you know that there are 245,000+ titles in the Romance > Contemporary category alone?
That’s a staggering number of titles, isn’t it?
However, chances are that your ebook will fit into another category that’s got less competition if you analyze it carefully.
Let’s say your novel isn’t one of those steamy ones, but is more about the romance that grows between two people over time. Did you know there was a category Romance > Clean & Wholesome? There’s only around 11,000 titles in that category and the top 20 titles sell 125 copies each daily.
Big difference, isn’t it?
As you’ve likely guessed, clean romances skip the profanity, violence, and sexy scenes. While Christian and Inspirational romances fall into this category, it’s broader than that. So, if you’ve got a simple old fashioned love story like the Harlequin romances you remember, then you’ve got a clean romance.
And the good thing is that you can get a complete analysis of this category, including sales statistics, average prices, page counts, cover art, and lists of popular titles, in a Clean Romance Seminar from K-Lytics with a video and spreadsheet of data.
What are some other romance categories with less competition but with the top 20 titles still selling more than 100 copies a day (statistics from K-Lytics ELITE Key Data Summary July 2021) each?
- Romance — Holidays: around 29,000 titles
- Romance — Gothic: around 5,000 titles
- Romance — Paranormal > Angels: around 7900 titles
- Romance — Westerns: around 30,000 titles
Fact #3 is actually a sad fact.
Did you know that while Romance may be the top selling category for Kindle ebooks, that you can still find sub-categories where the top 20 titles sell fewer than 50 copies a day each? And there’s still a lot of competition.
Compare those 50 copies a day to the 800+ average copies per day sold by each of the top 20 titles in the Romance > Contemporary category and that makes income for the top 20 in Contemporary Romance earning 16 times MORE than the top 20 in some less popular categories (data from K-Lytics).
These may not even be the sub-categories you’d expect!
For example, the top 20 best sellers in Romance > Time Travel have sales of only 39 copies a day for each book. And there are over 7000 titles to choose from!
Medical romances average right around the 50 sales per day for the top 20 best sellers, but with fewer than 2000 titles listed.
You’re probably aware that Amazon has two programs — one where titles are exclusive to Amazon so you can’t sell elsewhere (KDP Select), and one where you can sell widely (KDP).
Why does it matter in romance if the competition is selling only through KDP or through other online retailers like Apple or Kobo?
Because romances in KDP Select are available in Amazon’s “library,” or Kindle Unlimited (KU). So, if voracious romance readers can read a book a day with their KU subscription, they’re not going to buy your book.
Some self-publishers choose KDP Select or being exclusive to Amazon for their first 90 days. This lets them test the market by having their books eligible for programs like Kindle Unlimited (a bookclub that lets Amazon users read unlimited ebooks), or to give their books away in an advertising campaign for 5 out of their 90 exclusive days (books are committed in 90 day blocks).
You may consider KDP Select if there’s a lot of competition in your genre, as you may find readers more willing to try out a new author without having to pay for the book.
So which romance sub-categories have a high Kindle Unlimited, or KDP Select, share?
The following Romance sub-categories are three examples where more than 60% of sales (once most of a book has been read in KU it counts as a sale) are through Kindle Unlimited (data from K-Lytics ELITE Data Summary July 2021):
- Romance > Black & African American
- Romance > Inspirational > Christian > Contemporary
- Romance > LGBTQ+ > Transgender Romance
All of this, of course, brings us to the big question, which is how many books are actually selling? While it’s great to find the perfect niche where your ebook fits and see that you don’t have a lot of competition, if there aren’t any buyers you’re still not going to make much money.
That’s where the K-Lytics reports come in. They tell you the secrets of how to find high sales in niches of low competition.
In the free video report released at K-Lytics in July, 2021, Alex Newton indicated that Romance > Fantasy was increasing.
Even more exciting, he indicated that Romance prices had increased in the past year to an average closer to $4.50 per book!
It’s an economic truism that the more competition there is, the lower the price drops in order to entice buyers. In fact, according to statistics from K-Lytics, romance may be the top selling genre, but a few years ago it also had the lowest price levels of all thirty genres in their free monthly reports.
In fact back in 2017, the average price of the top selling romance novels was around $2.97, compared to a high of $12.48 in education and teaching. In between, it’s interesting to note that even genres like biographies and memoirs have an average of $6.88 over the top 100 titles.
Remember, markets change constantly, so it’s important to stay on top of them, whether you do your research yourself or rely on market guides you can purchase.
Romance Reports at K-Lytics
As a K-Lytics affiliate I have access to all of the following reports and can highly recommend them! If one of your goals for your Romance novel is for it to be profitable, then, a special report can be one of the best investments you’ll make.
- Clean Romance
- Romance Genre Seminar
- Romantic Comedy
- Romantic Suspense
- Sports Romance
- Christmas Romance
- Historical Romance
- Military Romance
- Science Fiction Romance
Publish and Sell Your Ebooks
Excited about getting your romance — or other genre — novel onto ebook shelves? Join me in class to go through the process step-by-step.
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