Perception and Selling Categories

• Genre and Category Sell-through

This is where continual research is so important.

At the beginning of the series I mentioned that science fiction was one of the genres selling well in ebooks. And it is. Genre fiction is typically selling well. But some are selling better than others.

In print books science fiction is at the bottom of the ladder. Only westerns sell fewer books. That’s depressing to me as a writer. And for me, as a science fiction reader, it’s even more depressing.

Why? Because the few editors out there in traditional publishing that are deciding how to feed this niche market have created a genre full of horror and dystopia (and downright depressing) stories, as if that is all the public wants.

Maybe they truly believe that. Maybe they are following some SF publishing fad I’m not aware of. Maybe that’s what these particular editors want to read and are draggin the rest of us with them.

The problem is, they are leaving out so many readers who want something OTHER than horror, dystopia, and depressing stories. The big sellers in science fiction appear to be the media tie-ins that still understand the public wants a good entertaining read. This is the part that gives me hope.

I write what I love to read. And too many times, what I cannot find from other authors.

Perhaps there are only a few out there like me. However, in the message boards and mailing lists I’m now a part of I don’t think that number is necessarily small. It’s just an underserved segment. Maybe I can capture some of the audience who are devouring the media tie-ins and want other science fiction to read.

Now to move on to perception. “Science fiction is for geeks”, or some variation there-of is something I hear a lot. Some people won’t touch the genre, but if the story is of another genre but has SF elements, they will read it.

Somewhere along the line, marketing an original science fiction story as strictly science fiction became a kiss of death. Many best sellers in other genres are actually science fiction. But they aren’t called that. They will argue till they are blue in the face that they DO NOT WRITE SCIENCE FICTION. Yet, in fact, they are.

And they are selling well.

Well, there’s a lesson. Sometimes, even if we may not like it, we have to bend and take advantage of the PERCEPTION in order to make the sales to those who have a mind block on a particular label or tag.

I want to find readers, but I don’t want the books to be held back by reader perceptions.

This means a slight change in the marketing of the books. While they are most certainly science fiction, and I’ll be doing all I can to categorize them in the science fiction categories of the online stores, I also need to seriously look at the other categories these books fall into.

Categories where readers who might not necessarily look in the science fiction category would nonetheless, want to read the story.

* Taking into Consideration Categories

Time for more research!

Not taking into consideration any of the short stories, the first two major projects I am releasing are the following:

Night of the Aurora (Book 1 of the Salmon Run series): The Callahans arrive in Alaska to begin a new life at the lodge left to them by crazy Uncle George. But first they must survive the wilds of Alaska, a massive Aurora… and an alien spacecraft hidden under the snow.

Into the Forest Shadows (Stand-alone): On a world of valuable giant trees and intelligent animals, a red-cloaked headstrong teen struggles to save her family from a planetary conspiracy awaiting her at Grandmother’s house. A Science Fiction novel retelling of the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood”.

Both definitely go into the science fiction category. However, they both have elements of other genres. To position these books well, they need to be a part of other genre and sub-genre categories that have nothing to do with science fiction.

“Night of the Aurora” has element of our contemporary world (although placed slightly in the future), that just happens to have aliens and spaceships wreaking havoc with the MC’s lives. But it also could be classified as adventure. Most certainly as young adult. Each of those categories would reach different readers.

This is where the research comes in.

At the moment there are two big sellers of ebooks: Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Each online store uses different categories and subcategories.

To start the process I took that tags I thought would apply to each of my novels and used them to navigate around each site, learning what their main and subcategories were in each, making note of them.

Then I used the same tags and did a general search. What came up? Going to these books, what were their listed best seller status in what categories? Did that match up in any way with the list I previously made? Did new categories come up that I didn’t think of?

The process takes some time, but it’s important. While categories can be played with a little bit later, it’s a good idea to go into it with an idea of there the books should be placed.

Here are the results in the Kindle store for each of the books:

Night of the the Aurora

• Books > Literature & Fiction

• Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Adventure

• Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Adventure & Thrillers

• Books > Teens > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction

• Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction > Adventure

Into the Forest Shadows

• Books > Children’s Books > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths

• Books > Literature & Fiction

• Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Adventure

• Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Adventure & Thrillers

• Books > Teens > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction

• Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction > Adventure

Are they the right conclusions? I don’t know yet. Time will tell. By going Indie, I have the flexibility to change if something isn’t working. The categories are not set in stone.

But at least I started out the process with researched results instead of blind gut instinct. I feel better with the chances of the books by using the research.

Night of the Aurora: AmazonPerception and Selling Categories, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords

Into the Forest Shadows: AmazonPerception and Selling Categories, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords

“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.


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Perception and Selling Categories

1 thought on “Perception and Selling Categories”

  1. Thanks for the tip. I selected Science Fiction, Adventure for my novels because they are not our planet Earth, and it was the best fit. You have more choices because you chose Earth for the setting.

    I also agree about the lack of Science Fiction novels released these days. Thank goodness for Modesitt. 🙂


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