How to write books that sell (writing fiction for hot markets)

I talk a lot about writing to market – AKA writing books for popular genres to maximize profit – but since it seems sketchy and abhorrent to authors who consider themselves “real authors” writing “real books” I thought I’d share my process.

It’s true there are a lot of other online marketers writing shitty books to cash in on popular keywords, and using all sorts of tricks to make a lot of money off the Amazon marketplace.

I don’t necessarily think they are the satan-spawn most writers consider them to be (I think people who can make money online have some neat skills) but that kind of thing is money without platform: you aren’t going to be building an audience of fans who like your writing, which means, short term gain you need to keep repeating with new content.

I’m trying to create passive income generators, which means my books have to be good enough to be appreciated by real readers; earn a lot of positive reviews; and stick in the rankings so they keep selling and earning, for years, with no marketing.

However, it’s easier to make money with books in popular genres.

I write a certain way, in a certain style.

It’s what feels comfortable to me, and I enjoy working on the challenge of creating a good story.

That said, it’s pretty easy to write “fiction” for any genre. Most of the character development is going to be the same. My writing style doesn’t change much. All that changes is the setting and background. Since I’m more comfortable writing young adult, I’ll probably keep writing YA but do it in every genre.

understand authors who say they “hate” writing in other genres, as if it’s some rare form of torture that’s sucking the soul and passion out of them; that it feels like work or a chore.

If you can only enjoy writing when you write exactly what you’re interested in, I would argue you don’t write character or plot based fiction, but instead write some weird mix and are oddly obsessed with your chosen genre.

And I’m not saying you should write the ONE genre that you HATE, because that would be stupid, but there are plenty of genres to pick from, and if you want to sell books, it helps to shift the book you want to write to connect with more readers.

Anyway, here’s an example of how that works, for those who are interested.

I made this cover awhile ago.

I make all my covers first, because I know having a great cover is the first half of the battle.

Starting with a cover, instead of the story, is a big step towards success.




Scifi is definitely not my genre, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. But here’s where things get interesting – I got a report from K-analytics today that says the hot niche, “Alien Warrior Romance.”

WTF is that, I ask? According to K-analytics, using “Genre blending + Niche Market approach” you can find ideal opportunities where the demand is more than the supply.

These “sub-sub markets” are places where you can publish a book and get to the top quickly, because most authors are just getting there by luck and very few authors are deliberately targeting hot fiction niches like this (seriously, like, hardly anyone).

That’s why it’s been so easy for me to publish fiction profitably, because few fiction authors are treating their writing like a business, shooting for specific categories, and dominating there.

So I’ll figure out whatever the hell “Alien Warrior Romance” is, and I’ll make the best damn Warrior Alien Romance the world has ever seen. I’ll dominate that genre (or at least get a slice of the action).

I won’t be writing shit to accidentally trick readers looking for a good story, but I will try to connect with and satisfy readers who are searching for (and willing to pay for) a certain kind of reading experience.

And I’ll do that for lots of genres.

I think a lot of authors stick in one main genre, which makes it really difficult for them to stand out and reach readers. I understand it may not be a good idea to build an audience of cowboy/scifi/thriller readers, because they are all wanting very different experiences… but that’s why I love YA, it’s not really a genre, more an age group, so I can write YA cowboy/YA scifi/ YA thrillers and keep making the same kind of satisfying experience for my YA fans, but also be putting out books in all major genres.

Sci-Fi Romance Seminar


Here’s another cover I made recently (I made it fast, it needs to be redesigned).

Country/cowboy is totally not my genre, probably the furthest away I could get.

But the cover is kickass, and I really liked the YA book Walk the Earth which was set during the gold rush. I think it would be fun to make a paranormal/fantasy YA book set in the old west.

And I’m also probably not great at writing thrillers, at least I have no experience yet, but I adore this beautiful cover I made and can’t wait to use it. When I do, I’ll probably see what’s selling and use that knowledge to start plotting out the kind of story that will sell.

With a hot market + a fantastic cover + a decent story it’s really hard to fail. I have dozens of these, and it will take a while to finish writing them all, but I’ll see my Kindle earnings keep rising until I’m making a full-time living.



Some authors refuse to write for market because they’re worried about “getting paid” for their work or “feeling like it’s a job. And they’d rather just write what they want and enjoy themselves, and spend 60% of their time at an unrelated job to pay the bills. That’s not OK with me. I love writing. I would love to wake up every day and have NOTHING else to do, except work on whatever story I’m writing.

That’s my dream lifestyle, and what I’m working towards. (I also want to earn enough to be able to travel, pretty much constantly).

I’m not there yet, but I will be in a year or two… and that won’t happen by accident.

It’s a result of the publishing choices I’m making.

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me
  • The Soul of Gary Collins

    I guess Avatar was an alien warrior romance.

    Ridley Scott’s Alien could have been; there was certainly an underlying brooding sexual tension between William Hurt and the face-hugger.

    If Ripley and the xenomorph could patch up their differences and compromise they coulda been the next Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn.

  • TariAkpodiete

    hadn’t heard of K-analytics before, but i just looked it up. interesting.

  • Pingback: 5 Quick Links To Boost Your Book Sales - Publishing Spark()

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