top of page

Oh Look - Books...!

Jennifer J. Lacelle

Oct 18, 2022

Statistics, Facts and Publishing

What’s so great about reading books? Non-readers will probably give you a small list of general “facts” and “hum haws” but a book reader will provide a slew of reasons. But each reader is different and even those who enjoy one particular genre won’t necessarily enjoy all the same genres.

As example, myself and a friend could both enjoy romance but perhaps I also enjoy steam punk while they have zero interest.

So, what’s actually happening in the industry and what's the top "player?"


Top Genres

The first is a billion-dollar genre in North America. Can you guess?

It’s romance. Believe it or not there are a wide range of romance subgenres like fantasy, erotica, historical, science fiction, or paranormal. In 2021, the gross income (sales) was between $1.08-1.44 billion.

The audience? You guessed it… about 84% of readers are women.

Next in line is the mystery genre! Who doesn’t love a good puzzle to solve? This style of literature is still in the high millions (but not quite one billion). It did reportedly experience a decline in sales but is slowly making an increase again.

One of the world’s most renown authors in this genre is Agatha Christie, whose novel And Then There Were None, might just be the highest grossing mystery novel to date.


Surprise, Unsurprising

Comics and Graphic Novels saw a massive jump in sales in Canada alone! Apparently, they rose by 92% during the first half of 2021, while Manga (Japanese style of art) rose by 145% in the same time frame.

This isn’t too surprising given that Manga has been widely available in Canada for at least a couple decades. Almost any book store you enter will have a Manga section.

Companies like Netflix have been offering Anime (the film version of Manga) to their viewers since the start and the available options continue to grow.

As example, the live-action show Untamed is based off Mo Dao Zu Shi (The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation or The Master of Diabolism) which began as a Manga before becoming an Anime and now live-action.

Another genre that made the leap is Young Adult/Fantasy with an increase of 129%. Despite that, the average book sales for Canadian-published book in this genre was only 343 in 2017 (first year of release). However, Canadian books that were published by foreign publishers saw 2,251 copies sold. I can’t help but wondering why that is…

Supposedly, Canada is a fantastical place over in the UK so if you’re considering publishing a YA Fantasy it might be better to look at the United Kingdom for sales.



Traditional publishing and self publishing are two routes that authors can now pick from when it comes to getting their books out there. It’s always best to do your own research if considering publishing, but what I discovered is that self-publishing:

1.     Released over 1.7 million in 2019

2.     Is the same quality as traditional publishing

3.     Authors get a higher royalty per sale

4.     Authors keep more creative control

5.     Authors need to keep some money aside to afford their editor, cover artist, book trailer, marketing, author copies, etc.

On average, the self-published author will spend $1-4K per book (not including time spent drafting and writing). This will include the above listed expenses, though the editor and marketing will likely be the most expensive.

Author copies usually come at the price of printing plus whatever you pay in shipping. That’s also going to be a big expense and you should definitely be prepared to drop that lump sum and know when, how, and who is going to be buying those books (either from you or on consignment).

Traditional publishing might still be widely considered the “professional” option but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of self-published authors who are making a killing! Why?

They know their audience, they know how to market, they know how to write, and they have connections to make sure their work is the same quality (if not better) than traditionally published books. They also support each other and other artists. They all work cohesively to help one another become greater and better.

While e-books are increasingly popular, and you should provide the option, hardbacks and paperbacks were still the leading sales in 2020.  

The average author needs to publish 5-6 books before they begin making a profit from their book sales. Crazy, right? The reason is that, on average, each book sale only earns them .30c - $2.00. Furthermore, no one knows who they are. They have no audience and no fan base. Their name has never been heard before. People buy recognizable names; it’s why branding and marketing is essential to any business model.

So, the next time you buy a book look up the author and discover who they are — you might be surprised!

bottom of page