iUniverse presents: Genres which make the most money, Part 1

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Contrary to what many might think, the average reader searches for books by genre, and the best-selling books are those which can be identified as belonging to a particular group. To help you use this to your advantage, iUniverse has put together a list of the Top 5 best-selling genres worldwide, compiled from our research.


Stephen King’s writing success has garnered him a personal fortune of USD400 million.

Fifth: Horror. Horror has always been able to bridge the Young Adult and Adult markets – which is why the typical horror book or movie has at least one sex scene. But as for the storytelling itself, horror resembles crime/mystery in that novels in this genre tend to be page-turners, with stories written in a manner which have suspense, surprises, and cliffhangers. Horror is also a genre in which authors can acquire a loyal fan base, which in turn motivates them to write more – and earn more! It is worth noting, however, that horror ranks far below its nearest neighbour in revenues: the horror genre was responsible for USD80m in 2014, whereas sci-fi/fantasy brought in just under USD600m.

Fourth: Science-Fiction and Fantasy. This genre, really the composite of two fields that blend nicely and often necessarily together, accounts for a large percentage of books that have been made into high-grossing films. And, with the popularity of Game of Thrones – which is based on George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series — the genre is now making significant inroads into television. (Martin’s personal wealth stands at USD50m, by the way.) Sci-fi/Fantasy has skyrocketed in popularity from the 1970s, due to the fanfare over The Lord of the Rings and most recently Harry Potter. Like horror, Sci-fi/Fantasy serves as a bridge between YA and Adult readers.

Third: Self-help and Inspiration. While the works of Dale Carnegie were published in the 1930s and sold immensely well, books on how to be happier, healthier, and at peace have never been as popular as they are now – showing that life really hasn’t got any easier. (iUniverse has a separate article on how to write your self-help book.) The genre raked in over USD700m in 2013, falling just behind the #2 category, which we’ll reveal in our next post. Books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, which are oriented towards success, and the works of Tal Ben-Shahar or Eckhart Tolle, which focus on achieving internal happiness and equilibrium, have helped make the authors famous and wealthy.

iUniverse enjoys the opportunity to help you know which types of books will bring in the cash. We will be back with Part 2, and in the meantime, do check out the iUniverse site for more advice and blogs, as well as iUniverse Facebook and iUniverse Twitter.


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