March 15, 2011

Two For Tuesday: Genre Grudge Match

Hang out with YA authors for awhile, and you'll probably hear us bemoaning the death of contemporary novels. But don't despair. I counted up all the YA deals from the past twelve months and was surprised to find that contemporary is alive and well.




So why the perceived slight? Because paranormal gets half the big bucks, and dystopian takes another quarter. But contemporary is hanging in there. I was surprised to find science fiction and "other" holding their own as well.




A few random thoughts:
  • This may look depressing if you write contemporary, but honestly? I had never heard of a contemporary getting six-figures, and these weren't celebrity-turned-writer deals. So I was actually pleased to see that 9%.
  • Several deals noted authors moving from one genre to another - and not all from realistic to paranormal.
  • Charts from five years ago, or five years from now, would likely show very different statistics. Don't write to trends. Write work interesting enough to start a new trend.
  • I write both, I love both, but my love of paranormal does not extend to trolls. No paranormal-bashing in my comments. Please and thank you.


Margin of Error Disclaimers:
  1. I'm terrible at math.
  2. Paranormal includes fantasy and anything the least bit supernatural-sounding.
  3. Dystopian includes apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic, unless the blurb specifically mentioned those as sci-fi. 
  4. "Other" includes historical fiction and deals that didn't include blurbs.
  5. I counted deals, not individual books within deals. 
  6. Only 30% of the deals I counted indicated size, so the second chart only represents 1/3 of the deals in chart one.
  7. A small number of six-figure deals are not represented in the second graph because when they weren't listed with the standard categories ("nice" through "significant"). 
  8. These figures were taken from Publisher's Marketplace deal reporting. I didn't download any statistics from their website- I counted the deals manually and assigned my own categories when necessary. I'm no genre expert and may have mis-categorized a few things. 
  9. Some agents and editors choose not to list deals in Publisher's Marketplace, which means neither chart is a full representation of YA publishing.
  10. Did I mention I'm terrible at math? 
  11. EDITED TO ADD: As pointed out by Tracy Buchanan, few UK deals are reported in PM, which made me realize I also forgot to mention that I haven't included the selling of foreign rights in these numbers. 


Two For Tuesday is a weekly meme I made up when I couldn't think of anything to blog about. Post two of anything: book reviews, pictures, quotes, poems, songs, videos, rants, shout outs, whatever floats your boat. Just connect them somehow. That's it. Leave me a comment if you want to share!

51 comments:

  1. Wow, very cool idea to chart it out visually. Thanks for this! While paranormal has my heart, I'm still a fan of contemporary as well. Anything that tells a good story, really!

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  2. I love the chart but I'm going to put on my nerd hat and say given we have no idea how many deals aren't being represented, it's entirely inconclusive. sorry to be a downer. I'm surprised by the 9% for contemp in the second chart too.

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  3. This is awesome, Kate! And encouraging! Thanks for putting this together. =D

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  4. Jess - Agreed, for sure, but I'd argue the existence of the deals at all, particularly that 9%, is noteworthy. I'm definitely not claiming this is a comprehensive picture, just that indicates more health for contemporary than I expected.

    Thanks Lori, and agreed!

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  5. It would be interesting to be able to look at this side-by-side with sales numbers, to get an idea of whether the Para/Dystops were making back the advances more often than contemps. Of course there are so many, many factors involved in that as well... but so interesting!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together! (you should definitely include this in FTF!)

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  6. I heart graphs. Especially when they're about YA publishing. Thank you!

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  7. Wow. I truly appreciate this as a fellow mathematically challenged writer. I would have needed teams of savant monkeys to help me put together a chart like this.

    The results are really interesting and encouraging. It just goes to show you that perception and reality are not the same -- it seems of late EVERYTHING is dystopian and clearly, it's not. Plus it seems EVERYTHING is a big and major blockbuster deal of late. And clearly that's not true either. Maybe we just hear about those projects/deals because they get blasted around the interwebs.

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  8. Great graphs, Kate. It's so much easier to see things in picture form.

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  9. Great charts!

    Another thing to remember:

    Paranormals and things tend to sell in trilogies.

    Contemporary tends to sell stand-alones.

    While the numbers may be heavily skewed toward paranormals while looking at *deals*, per *book* they may not be that different.

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  10. That sounds like a ton of work, Kate! Thanks for putting it into chart form. It's really interesting to see them beside one another. As much as this is interesting, I'm hoping that a book will sell regardless of whether its genre is hot, cold, or so last season.

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  11. I agree with everyone else -- I love seeing things through a visual perspective. Also, I like how you chose all your fonts representing the different genres. ;)

    "Charts from five years ago, or five years from now, would likely show very different statistics. Don't write to trends. Write work interesting enough to start a new trend." High five, Kate!

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  12. AMAZING! This puts so much in perspective. It's refreshing to see YA selling regardless, but contemporary holds a very special place in my heart.

    Thanks, Kate! :)

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  13. Excellent work, but I would like to contest the grouping of Paranormal and Fantasy together. They aren't remotely the same, in the true sense. Paranormal is based in reality while fantasy is generally on an alternate world. Very different things.

    I imagine the breakdown will look different if those two are split. I'd be interested to see how that would change.

    (And yes, I'm anal about it because I write YA fantasy and *not* paranormal. So not the same thing.)

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  14. While I don't write contemporary YA, I *do* write contemporary women's fiction and so I'm glad to see contemporary is still selling fairly well in a market saturated with paranormal.

    Thanks for putting this together! I love seeing a more visual representation of what's going on in publishing, rather than hearing the gazillion opinions out there and having to "guestimate" on my own. =)

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  15. Thanks everyone! And *high five* back to @shabbygeek!

    Sarah, that would be so interesting. Pretty sure our chances of accessing that info are less than zero. LOL

    Michelle and I already talked on Twitter, but yes - the grouping of paranormal and fantasy was an unfortunate result of the 2 sentence blurbs provided. If the genre wasn't specified, I just had to guess, so all magic went in paranormal. Definitely not ideal. :\

    I guess on the plus side, I probably lumped some sci-fi in with other categories too, so you can mentally revise the others accordingly. :)

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  16. Delightful news indeed! Now if I can just join those statistics, I'll be even more delighted!

    Long live contemporary!

    - Liz

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  17. The stat nerd in me has died and gone to Heaven. This is so going to get Tweeted ... to the cloud!

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  18. Cool Stats!! I've been wondering what percentage contemporary is occupying. Thanks!

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  19. Kate, this is amazing! Thanks for compiling this.

    When I first looked at the stats, I was like... where's fantasy? Lol. A good lesson: always read the footnotes! As a fantasy writer, it would be interesting to know how much of the paranormal category was what we actually think of as paranormal and what was traditional fantasy?

    And by the way, don't feel bad - I am supremely bad at math - practically inumerate. Hey, I can count my money and calculators can do the rest, right? ;)

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  20. Thanks for the charts. I'm sure the trends will change in few years. There's no way B&N will have a "Teen Paranormal Romance" section forever. (For some reason I find that oddly specific in a creepy way.)

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  21. Thank you for this information. It's good to know this.

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  22. This was amazing! Thanks for the research--glad to see contemporary is still fighting. :)

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  23. Wow! This was a really cool way to look at it. I find the visual breakdown very interesting. Thanks!

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  24. Definitely interesting! I can't decide if my YA novel is SF or paranormal, but looks like I'll be okay either way. Thanks so much for sharing this!

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  25. INTERN's Tuesday just got way more exciting after reading this post! statisticky numbery things are so addictive.

    please more pie charts. INTERN doesn't even care what they're about.

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  26. Yay! There's hope for contemporary YA writers! Thanks for putting this together. I'm VERY impressed. :)

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  27. *brushes sweat off brow* Thanks for this! My YA is contemporary and a standalone. *crosses fingers* There IS hope!

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  28. Thanks for putting this together, it is really great to see. :) I better get back to writing!

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  29. You guys are so fabulous - thank you for all the comments!

    And dear Intern, there will certainly be more charts, although I can't promise they will all be pie-shaped.

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  30. Very interesting. I write contemporary YA so it's good to see that the deals are happening-which must mean the sales are there. Thanks.

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  31. Really, really interesting. I also appreciate Jodi's point that some genres are more likely to sell in 3+ deals, while others are 1 or two. Big difference in advance size!

    Queen of La Charts. How many crowns you got now, Kate? :D

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  32. You are the Chart Queen! This is awesome!

    And YAY contemporary!

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  33. Awesome charts! It's very heartening to know that contemporary YA has a strong life. It may not get the huge deals, but I bet general sales add up.

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  34. Wow, this is amazing! Thanks for all of your work to make these.

    I like to think that science fiction has a foot up in this grudge match, since dystopias are (often considered) a subgenre of science fiction.

    I suppose what's interesting about this, though, is not what genre stories really are, but why they're perceived as more marketable when labeled as one thing or the other. Perhaps "dystopia" -- being a less familiar term -- has been able in part to overcome the resistance readers might feel toward picking up a "genre" book. (Though the opposite would also hold: "paranormal romance" might attract romance readers less likely to pick up urban fantasy, and turn off fantasy readers who'd shy away from the romance genre.)

    I'm going to stop speculating now. :)

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  35. Thanks for this information! One quick note: a lot of more established authors are a bit uncomfortable with the trend toward sharing dollar amounts in PL.

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  36. This is so cool! I write contemporary, so this is good news. Thanks.

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  37. *stands up* *raises hand* What's paranormal?

    ...

    *runs*

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  38. This is beyond great. These charts really put it into perspective. Thanks!

    Also, I feel compelled to tell you that my word verification is "snedgeti". I don't know what that is, but I WANT ONE.

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  39. This is a great chart....it's so interesting. Thanks for putting it together. And yay for comtemp YA...I'm glad to see that it is selling!

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  40. while this is a great article, the print is so small that I really struggled to read it.. please, next time make two pages of larger font. The graphs are really nice too, and I thank the author for putting it together and for making it fun to read. I just wanted to be able to see it! You might ask why I dont simply put on glasses but thats another story...

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  41. Thanks again everyone!

    MiSchu - 87. I have 87 crowns.

    Sarah G. - I suspect you're right-- I wouldn't call myself a big sci fi fan, but think nothing of reading a "dystopian."

    Cynthia - I can see how that would make people uncomfortable. It's actually related to a conversation I had with a friend recently about attitudes toward money in our country, but this probably isn't the place to rehash it. LOL

    Anon - The graphs expand if you click them, and you can increase the text size in your browser settings. :)

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  42. Wow, great work compiling this, and really good to know. Not sure that this would actually change my output, but we neurotic writers always wonder about this stuff anyways, so confirmation is just less time wasted wondering and more spent writing!

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  43. Just FYI - I linked to your awesome post today! :)

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  44. Just so you know, I included this post in my Saturday blog round-up! :) http://www.smreine.com/2011/03/saturday-round-up_19.html

    Sara

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  45. I switched to YA contemporary because too many writers were writing YA paranormals (lured in by the 6 figure deals and bestselling listings, no doubt). Also, I sensed YA contemporary sales were starting to grow while paranormal had peaked (The DUFF and Like Mandarin had just been sold). I'm not sorry for the switch. Not that I switched to pure contemporary. More like contemporary with a lot of romance and danger (but not in the portion that make it YA romantic suspense).

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  46. So where does steampunk fit into this?

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  47. E. Diablo - I kept it with sci-fi for simplicity's sake.

    Thanks for the linkage, guys!

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  48. Dude! This is an awesome post! Loved the info! :)

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