As Writers, We Demand To Know!


In fellow writer Derek Haines’ recent post Who Are Your Readers, he raises some pertinent points regarding demographics when it comes to the literary world. Without exception, all publishers be they traditional or self do not pass on the information to we writers. Why? Because they keep it to themselves, guarding it jealously to sell books. We’ve all seen examples of how they use it. Think about those annoying emails from Amazon et al. You know the ones I mean. They begin with “Since you showed interest in etc, etc”.

Well, as the writers of those self same books, we also need access to that knowledge!

Just think about it. Wouldn’t you like to know which gender your books appeal to? Which genre is selling? Which is not? As Derek says, you can’t draw any real conclusion from reviews these days, since their value was cheapened by the likes of Amazon and Goodreads when they gave over their review systems carte blanche to their inhouse trolls, and the growing number of self important armchair critics and pedants that crawl out of the woodwork.

As a writer, what do you think?

When we write a book, no matter the genre, in effect we are reduced to adopting a ‘hit or miss’ approach. Will it sell, or won’t it? If the publishers shared the knowledge with us, it would go a long way to deciding what that next book would be. If, like me, you write purely for the eBook market, you soon find out that the largest market for that particular format is the US. No one told me. I had to find it out for myself!

What about paperbacks or hard cover? Which countries are hungry for them? Which are not? Which country loves Fantasy? What about Adventure? Which gender prefers which genre?

All this information is held in secret by all publishers. If only they would tell us, we wouldn’t spend months writing a book that no one wants to read. But then again, when have publishers given a tinker’s cuss about writers?

My fellow writers, do yourselves a favour and reblog the living daylights out of this post to all the writers you know. It’s high time we showed all publishers that we mean business. Let us become organised!!!

30 thoughts on “As Writers, We Demand To Know!

  1. Marketing info would be so helpful to all of us! I wonder if authors are charting new ground here. Before, yes, people wrote to make a profit, but they primarily wrote to write. For example, if Stephen King wanted to write a story where a bunch of folks died because of some biological plague, so be it. He didn’t care if 75% of the market is clamoring for that type of book. He wrote what he wanted to write. With the surge of self-publishing, ‘writing’ has taken on new meaning. There are people catering what they write to a sales demographic, and making decisions about what they will write next based on that information. Instead of just writing what their heart tells them to write. It will be interesting to see how this develops.


    • A good idea, always assuming that the bookstore in question sells all formats and all genres, not forgetting age specific books. Most only sell paperbacks at best. Then only what they are told to sell by the traditional publishing houses.


    • Read my answer to the previous comment. Plus, don’t forget that your local book store is just that – local. Therefore, what sells in one town, will not necessarily be the flavour of the month in another town a hundred miles away. 🙂


      • Jack, a decent bookstore can tell you what is selling across the country. We have access to lots of lists – bestsellers, pre-orders, by genre…

        And I know quite a lot of stores that I have constant contact with would happily answer those questions. And then offer to do an event as well to help sell books.

        “Most only sell paperbacks at best. Then only what they are told to sell by the traditional publishing houses.” – Have you been into an independent bookseller lately? The reason we are independent is that we don’t bow down to publisher demands and stock what we know we can sell. Sure, there are some “must-have” authors…but then, we know we can sell those, too!


      • Paul, both Derek and myself sell internationally, not just locally. Publishers sell internationally as well as locally. We both know what sells locally, he in Switzerland, me here in the UK.


      • Jack, I am not arguing the fact that authors should have access to numbers from both publishers and retailers. That is fair enough. I was just saying that there are ways of finding out what is doing well in your country, if nothing else. And, surely, that is a god place to start?


      • I think you and I are at cross purposes here Paul. As I said, both Derek and I know what sells in our respective countries. What we don’t know is what sells in some other countries. Obviously the top one percent of writers will sell anywhere – think Dan Brown and J.K Rowling. But for the thousands of mid listers like us, as well as the new comers, often it is a different story. In my case 97% of my sales occur in the US, 2% here in the UK, 1% in Germany and Spain. But then again, I only publish in the eBook format. 🙂


    • Our argument here is not with editors like yourself Corina, but with all publishing houses both Traditional and Self publishing. Even editors need to know what sells and what doesn’t, don’t you think?

      Thanks for the follow and your most welcome comment. 🙂


  2. I agree; we are writing ‘blind’. In no other industry are you expected to do this. Local book stores, particularly independents, have no time for, or interest in self published authors, I have found, and certainly haven’t got time to have a discussion with you over what’s selling and what isn’t. There are always best seller lists; they’re limited, but it’s the best we’re gonna get!


      • I actually meant the best seller lists as published in the national newspapers… although they dont tend to include indie authors, or ebooks, but they give an idea of what the nation is reading. I know, it depends what trad pubs put out there, who buys the best front space in the stores, and what the pub gets behind and gives the biggest hype to. It also depends on whether the ‘author’ is a celebrity with… er… big attributes… oh dear, I’m getting increasingly cynical lol! Even so, there are some real authors with great stories mixed in that we can learn from.


  3. I have seen Amazon statistics regarding which books have the highest sales. I guess that with a little bit of research, you might get a better picture. I agree, though, that it would be really helpful to have some good statistics around the subject. I’m not even sure publishers, editors etc have bothered to collect the info. I think that they base their choices on hunch, word-of-mouth and their feel of the market.


    • Thank you for that Nicholas. If you click on the highlighted link at the top of the article, as some appear not to have, you will see what Derek has found. Add to that the numbers by title and country supplied by whichever self-publisher you may use, and the fact is the amount of information is pitifully low. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • For any writer to have any kind of readership these days, we all need the best possible information at our fingertips. I continue to write what I want, when I want. However, when I first started out, like everyone new to the game, I naively believed that my favourite genre – traditional science fiction stories like H.G Wells’ War of the Worlds in its original form, was popular. Was I ever wrong…


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