Welcome back to another issue of Industry Insights: a series that keeps a finger on the pulse of the publishing industry so you don't have to. In today's post, we're talking all about recent age category and genre Amazon trend reports, and how they impact the publishing industry as a whole — whether you're traditionally or independently published.
Amazon reports confirm, once again, that YA Fiction tends to produce the longest standing top-sellers (especially when part of a series). This comes as no surprise after over a decade of these statistics being in place. What is perhaps a little surprising is the fact that adults are the leading demographic in YA readers, thereby challenging the idea that YA is an age category and prompting the question of, "Is YA actually a genre?"
With YA's popularity remaining stalwart and steadfast, despite the turbulence of the industry as a whole, I personally believe there's weight in this argument. More and more, YA fiction is associated with fast-paced, compelling storytelling that features character-driven plots and a diverse cast of characters — which are, of course, presented in countless Adult works, but on a far less consistent basis. Because of this reliability, it seems more and more reasonable to begin to view YA as less an age category and more of its very own genre. This is especially so considering that (as mentioned) the YA readership is largely composed of adult readers, thus influencing what was once stringently teenage content to something that's more of a blend of adolescence and adulthood. Even among those who don't read YA, it's clear that the age category has evolved to include startlingly mature content — from swearing to graphic sex to gory violence, YA is no longer the fade-to-black PG-13 content it used to be.
The point: The publishing industry still favors YA fiction, especially the YA fiction that comes in a series and appeals predominantly to adults.
Now, as far as genres within the YA age category go: Science Fiction and Fantasy, not at all surprisingly, continue to reign supreme in terms of popularity and sales. However, there has been an unexpected upward swing in YA Historical Romance — which publishers have taken to calling "the Bridgerton effect" — that has granted this genre the highest twelve-month sales ranking, growing by 57 percent. Other books, such as The Selection by Kiera Cross and Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller have also spiked in response to the sudden demand for YA Historical Romance. As far as Science Fiction and Fantasy go, there appears to be a continued upward trajectory in sales of fairy tales and folklore adaptations. Three or so years ago, there was a spike in "GameLit" fiction (think Ready Player One), which has seen a significant decline in popularity throughout 2021.
Interesting observation: About two-thirds of all top-selling Amazon eBooks are exclusive to Kindle and enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. If you're an indie author debating on whether or not to enroll in KU, this should be considered in your choice. Unfortunately for most of us indies, we've got two choices: hardcover copy (through IngramSpark) or KU through Amazon. While the hardcover copy is more enticing, there's no doubt that eBooks are what generate sales, but at least the choice is there! Hopefully Amazon will continue to improve its customization options for hardcover copies, granting indie authors the best of both worlds.
Reports reflect that self-publishers can dominate the list of top-performing authors in eBook format, while YA continues to reflect a strong traditional publishing presence with authors like JK Rowling, Brandon Sanderson, and Sarah J Maas. Too-performing indie authors noted on this list include Caroline Peckham, Leia Stone, and Tracy Lorraine.
For more information on trend reports, check out this resource: https://k-lytics.com/teen-young-adult/
That's all for today's Amazon trend report! I hope this content was helpful for those of you attempting to navigate the ever-complex territory of the publishing industry, like I am. I have a goal of releasing one Industry Insights post every Friday, so stay tuned for more publishing industry discussion akin to this here! (And while today's was largely YA based, trust that posts in the future will apply to every age category, genre, etc.) Thanks for reading! — AV