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  1. #1

    Question Fiction Market Statistics

    Hello,

    I am writing my proposal for a fiction novel (fantasy/sci-fi) genre, and I am having difficulty finding any 2010 statistics, as well as anything else that can assist me in the marketing aspect of the proposal.

    I've tried contacting my local library, exhausted the "2010 Writer's Market", and even looked online for helpful resources...all to no avail. It seems that there is one site out there (AAP, I believe) that has the statistics and the information that I am seeking, but they charge an outrageous fee for any of that to be disclosed. What's a newbie, struggling writer to do, eh?

    So...I'm hoping that some kind soul(s) out there will provide me with a link(s) or names of books that can assist me in this rather troublesome aspect that I am researching for my proposal.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    The best I can do is 2008 ending-first quarter 2009...

    * Over the past five years, sales of adult nonfiction were up overall 11.1% but declined in 2008. In adult nonfiction, travel was down 4.6%, biography and autobiography rose 34.1% and business was up 19.4%.
    * In biography, over the past five years, sales of personal memoirs rose 567%, travelers were up 516%, cultural heritage rose 175% and political bios were up 56%.
    * In the business category during the last five years, personal finance rose 122%, economics and general business was up 351%, finance jumped 103% and investments and securities were up 117%.
    * In the self-help category during the last five years, spiritual was up 224%, mood disorders rose 108%, general personal growth was up 183% and motivational and inspirational titles rose 51%.
    * Sales of adult fiction were up 8.9% during the past five years. In that category, general fiction was up 23.3%, graphic novels rose 52.7%, mystery and detective titles were down 12.7%, literary fiction rose 86.1%, historical fiction was up 24.1% and political fiction was up 157.7%.
    * In the first quarter this year, adult nonfiction sales were down 8%. Within that category, cooking was up 4.8%, humor rose 8.9%, travel fell 18.7%, business and economics were down 10.1% and biography/autobiography rose 7.5%.
    * Fiction has been "pretty much flat" during the first quarter. General fiction was down 3.4%, romance has risen 1.5%, mystery/detective was down 19.8%.

    * Children's book sales were up almost 9% in the quarter. ("Stephenie Meyer is still driving children's.") Children's fiction was up 10.4%, and children's nonfiction was up 2.5%.The average book reader last year was 45 years old. Some 65% of buyers are women, who tend to buy in higher volumes than women.

    * Of all Americans 13 or older, 50% bought a book last year. The average age of the most frequent book buyer is in the 50s.
    * The average price paid for a book last year was $10.08.

    * Unit sales for the year to date are down just 1.2%.
    * 31% of all books purchased last year were impulse purchases, and 28% of purchases involved readers planning to buy a book but not knowing what they wanted. Thus more than 50% of book buys are impulse purchases.
    * 41% of people earning more than $100,000 a year buy comics and graphic novels.
    * 41% of all books purchased are bought by people earning less than $35,000, and most people in the U.S. earn less than $35,000.
    * The average book reader now spend 15 hours a week online, more than for TV, providing "opportunities to provide information to them online."
    * In the trade, digital book sales grew 125% last year and represent 1.5% of the trade. Seniors are "leading the way" in the purchase of e-books. Digital book purchases by those 64 and over rose 183% last year. Seniors are also the largest users of Kindles.
    * 48% of e-books are still being read on computers. Kindles have a 22% market share; the iPhone has 20% of the market "with less than a year of having a good e-book app."
    * Last year for the first time online became the "No. 1 selling channel," and accounted for 21% of sales.
    * "The younger crowd are larger supporters of large chain bookstores."
    * Book clubs are still significant sales channels for reaching older readers.
    * The fiction market is predominantly female. The one area of fiction in which men predominate is science fiction, where 55% of buyers are male.
    * Stephen King's audience is "middle market." Sue Grafton appeals to an older, low income audience. Stephenie Meyer appeals mostly to younger, higher-income readers.
    * 67% of book buyers who were influenced by book reviews read them online, and 32% did so in print. Overall online ads were the "first level" of book awareness in 2008--54.1% of buyers of a book became aware of the book through online ads, including banner ads, Google ads and publishers' websites. (And likely e-mail newsletters, too!)

    * Direct mail catalogues continue to be very important for Harlequin in introducing readers to books, and the publisher has done an excellent job converting book club members and subscribers from catalogues to the web.
    * Readers first hear about books most often from "store displays" (44.4%). The second-biggest "awareness driver" already is online (including online ads and e-mails from retailers).
    * Kroger's book of the month program has been very successful.
    * Target has a far higher number of female buyers than Barnes & Noble.
    * Some 60% of mass market books are bought by people who earn less than $50,000 a year.
    * At Costco, some 33% of buyers of adult books earn less than $50,000 a year.
    * In grocery stores, 75% of book buyers are women and 83% of the purchases are impulse purchases and 83% of books sold are fiction--all the same demographics for mass market books.

  3. #3
    Here are some 2008 ending dollar amounts

    Romance fiction: $1.37 billion in estimated revenue for 2008
    Religion/inspirational: $800 million
    Mystery: $668 million
    Science fiction/fantasy: $551 million
    Classic literary fiction: $446 million









    Damn Cheesy Romance

  4. #4
    Here is a 2009 list of queries a literary agent came across, to help give you an idea of how they look at what's submitted to them...

    Just plain not good enough: 21 (a novel needs to be in the 99th percentile-these were closer to 90%--not bad, but not good enough)

    Good premise, but the rest of the novel didn't hold up: 11

    Not compelling or vivid, or focused; no plot/tension: 10

    Slow start or the pace was too slow: 9

    I didn't believe the narrative voice: 5

    Structural problems with the novel: 8

    Interesting premise, but not a fresh or new take on familiar plots/tropes: 7

    Had caricatures rather than characters: 2
    Boring: 3
    Grossed me out: 2
    Major plot problems: 2

    Needed more polish and editorial input than I wanted to do: 2

    Good books but I couldn't figure out where to sell them: 7

    Got offer elsewhere; I withdrew from scrum: 2

    Great writing, just not right for me: 2

    Not right for me, refer to other agents: 9

    Not quite there/send me the next one: 1

    Sent back for revisions with editorial suggestions and I expect to see them again in 2010: 9

    Getting second read at FPLM: 1

    Got offer from me: 2

  5. #5
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Yeah, statistics not so much in book publishing. The AAP is the Association of American Publishers and provides info for publishers, not writers, hence the hefty fees. Why exactly do you need any statistics and which ones specifically? If you are looking for publisher lists, then the Literary Market Place, a reference directory that can be found in most major public libraries, might be of help. If you have a particular question about the SFF market, some here may be able to help you, but certainly neither publishers or agents are expecting you to quote statistics in a fiction ms. submission or query.

  6. #6
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    Here's one from the American Bookseller's Association (ABA).

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Yeah, statistics not so much in book publishing. The AAP is the Association of American Publishers and provides info for publishers, not writers, hence the hefty fees. Why exactly do you need any statistics and which ones specifically? If you are looking for publisher lists, then the Literary Market Place, a reference directory that can be found in most major public libraries, might be of help. If you have a particular question about the SFF market, some here may be able to help you, but certainly neither publishers or agents are expecting you to quote statistics in a fiction ms. submission or query.
    KatG, I think the poster was looking for actual statistics to throw at a agent. I know that most do not require it, but lately I have seen a few agents asking writers to detail the portion of the fiction readers that would buy their work. Thanks for the link, guess I should have thought of it before I C&P'd everything.

  8. #8
    Edited for submission Holbrook's Avatar
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    The word that stuck out at me was proposal. Most agents I know won't accept a proposal, they want to know that the manuscript is finished and polished to an inch of its life.

    If the poster means that the agent wants some idea of where the writer feels the book fits in the current market, potential buyers and so forth, then that is different. I have noticed a few US agents that state such in their submission details. I have also had long talks with my agent concerning what box my work fits into. The only conclusion so far is that it is bloody good

  9. #9
    Hello,

    Firstly, I want to thank JT Billow for all the wonderful information provided. On that same vein, I was wondering which website/or book(s) that you found that information?

    Further to my original inquiry on the thread, I read in a few "how to" books that regardless what genre a writer writes in, he/she should know their market (and competition) and state thusly in their proposal. I figured that having figures would aid me in my write-up on this certain aspect. I'm sure that I can use the information that JT Billow has provided me without many problems.

    I also have another question pertaining to writing proposals and sending off fiction manuscripts to an agent. Granted that they require 50 pages (or three sample chapters), I am also aware that the writer should do an outline for all the chapters in a section of the proposal. My fantasy/sci-fi novel has a little over 100 chapters, and is approximately 400,000 words. I know, the length of it sounds like a lot but I intend to make it a series. Hey, Robert Jordon produced lengthy novels, why can't I? But that's besides the point. Anyway, should I make an outline for all the 100-or so chapters, or just concentrate on the first three for the partial?

    Thanks.

  10. #10
    You're amazing! Thank you for this awesome information! Source please.

  11. #11
    That last thing is meant for JT Billow.
    Last edited by ausnos; February 17th, 2010 at 01:53 AM.

  12. #12
    Mystic and Misfit Gkarlives's Avatar
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    Talking Books and Movies

    Quote Originally Posted by JT Billow View Post
    Here are some 2008 ending dollar amounts

    Romance fiction: $1.37 billion in estimated revenue for 2008
    Religion/inspirational: $800 million
    Mystery: $668 million
    Science fiction/fantasy: $551 million
    Classic literary fiction: $446 million
    A little off topic. I would be interested to see a similar breakdown of movie revenues in comparison. If SFF ranked higher than it does for books, I would want to say to people "Why do you get it at the movies but not in the books. The books are so much better."

  13. #13
    Ausnos, it was from about 6 different websites, all of which I C&P'd rather than linking (My mistake).

    My fantasy/sci-fi novel has a little over 100 chapters, and is approximately 400,000 words.
    Yes, any agent or publisher is going to throw you into a series; possibly a trilogy?

    A little off topic. I would be interested to see a similar breakdown of movie revenues in comparison. If SFF ranked higher than it does for books, I would want to say to people "Why do you get it at the movies but not in the books. The books are so much better."
    Gk, I looked but haven't found anything on this yet...

  14. #14
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    They don't want you to give them statistics. They want you to let them know what sub-genre you're doing, which does not require knowing how much money SFF sales made in the U.S. (though thanks for the stats, JT.) This is another clever way that agents get around the fact that authors are lousy at synopses, to get them to cough up what their book is about because the author is going to forget to mention whether the book is dark, funny, darkly funny, epic, etc.

    Your competition is irrelevant because you're a fiction writer. You don't have any competition. That's non-fiction. Fiction authors don't directly compete; they ally symbiotically to attract readers. (This is why we have SFF conventions.) So authors working in your sub-genre are your buddies and the big names are your reference points that clue the publishing professionals in that you're in that particular ballpark. It's description short-hand.

    The best way to get a feel for what's in the market is to look at bookstore shelves, and not just at the bright shiny objects, but look through lots of them on the SFF shelves and then do a tour through the general fiction shelves looking for SFF titles there too. You can also check out publishers' websites and look through their catalogs. Hit SFF review sites. Then you can figure out where you "fit" by what's there. (And if you don't think you fit anywhere, you're wrong.)

    I also have another question pertaining to writing proposals and sending off fiction manuscripts to an agent. Granted that they require 50 pages (or three sample chapters), I am also aware that the writer should do an outline for all the chapters in a section of the proposal. My fantasy/sci-fi novel has a little over 100 chapters, and is approximately 400,000 words. I know, the length of it sounds like a lot but I intend to make it a series. Hey, Robert Jordon produced lengthy novels, why can't I? But that's besides the point. Anyway, should I make an outline for all the 100-or so chapters, or just concentrate on the first three for the partial?
    You don't have a book, you have two books. (And I'm guessing you're writing alternate world fantasy.) Figure out where to split it (possibly around the 50 chapter mark.) Send in the first three chapters from what is then Book #1. DO NOT do a chapter by chapter outline. That again is for non-fiction. Do a 1-2 page, single-spaced plot synopsis of the story. Make sure you have the central plotline in the synopsis, and brief explanations for who the main characters are, and focus on the central emotional dilemmas facing those main characters. Don't be too coy about the ending in the synopsis. If it's a really good ending, tell them what it is. The Infamous Query Letter thread here may help you with examples of what people have been doing.

    Do not lecture to agents about what is going on in the market or how novels like yours should be sold. They already know. What they don't know is what you have, and so that's what they want clear, concise information about, plus the ms., which is really the only thing that matters in the end for fiction.

    The only conclusion so far is that it is bloody good
    Yes, we know that, Sue. Tell him to condense that marketing plan and get you sold already so I can buy the freaking thing.

  15. #15
    Wow! Thanks for that incrediable insight, KatG! I had no idea that what I read in those "how to" books had certain information relevant for only non-fiction. It got confusing, especially when they put this type of information in the fiction proposal-making section.

    In my manuscript, could I put "Book One" and "Book Two" in the split as a brand new and seperate page? Or do I have to just say "The End" in the split and then let the agent know that the second book will be on its way?

    Thanks.

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