The Carved Muse


The best poetry

leaves nothing

but a feeling,

an itch

that can’t be scratched away,

until you delve

into the innermost parts

of your being

and let it guide you astray

Garden of Regret

Obtained via PhotoPin/Flickr (


once so sweet,

turns to ashes

beneath my very feet.

Every moment,

that my guilt returns

becomes a stinging wound

that slowly unwinds

every time my conscience meets.

(Photo Obtained via PhotoPin/Flickr (

Do Writers Write What Readers Want To Read?

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Have you ever wondered if the genres authors most enjoy writing in, match
the genres readers most enjoy reading? Before self-publishing, all new
books for sale were filtered by agents and publishers, who acquired and
worked on books they thought would sell well. If there was an oversupply of
manuscripts by authors in a particular genre, the competition to be chosen
and published within the genre, would be higher too. Enter self-publishing:
now any writer can publish, without filter, into any genre they desire.
Given the influx of new books across genres, does the proportion of books
in each genre meet with readers’ demand?

(We focussed on fiction for this experiment).

Methodology (or How to Speed Read 3000 books in 3 hours)

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To answer our question, we needed a way to read and understand a good sized
sample of self-published books, to determine their genre. You might ask why
we couldn’t simply use the categories or tags authors themselves apply to
their books? The reason is accuracy and consistency – most indie authors
don’t have years of book categorization experience, working across a number
of titles. Even traditionally published books are categorized
inconsistently from book to book and from publisher to publisher. The
inconsistency is not because publishers are poor at the job, but because
standardizing the process would require centralizing the categorization
effort. (We’ve worked with data feeds from all major publishers and have
experienced this phenomenon first hand). The only way to derive accurate
and consistent categorization is to read a large sample of books,
understand how each book relates to each category, and assign it, while
ensuring consistency across the sample. One of our systems does just this.

We gave our categorization system over 3000 self-published novels to read
and understand (these were books offered free by the author). For each
book, our system identified all the topics the novels were about, then used
this topical knowledge to assign each book to one or more categories and
genres. Overall, our system read over 260 million words and figured out all
the genres, categories and topics in the data below, in a few hours.

What writers writeWriter’s Genres

The top genres (by count) detected by our system were Romance, Fantasy and
Science Fiction.

Romance was the most popular genre, with 24.4% of books tagged. By
combining Science Fiction and Fantasy though, to derive a total score of
32.1%, we can deduce that writers enjoy writing in this genre more than any
other. Literary and Mystery & Detective both came in around 6%. How does
this compare to what readers read?

Reader’s Genres

To understand the genres readers enjoy reading the most, we looked at
revenue data. This doesn’t incorporate units purchased or read, or ratings,
but in aggregate, revenue is a good proxy indicator for reader enjoyment.

Source: Leading book genres worldwide as of January 2014, by revenue (in
million U.S. dollars)

The highest selling fiction genres were Romance/Erotica, Crime/Mystery and
Science Fiction and Fantasy. Romance was high in both charts, but we can
broadly extrapolate that there’s a potentially underserved market for Crime
and Mystery & Detective and an oversupply for Science Fiction and Fantasy
books (when combining the two genres in our first chart).

The correlation isn’t perfect of course, as our sample size is small, we’re
not considering units sold vs. price, and the revenue data is based on the
less consistent human classification of books. We also assume the novelists
in our sample wrote their books for the joy of it, and didn’t select their
categories purely for commercial potential. These points aside, for the
purposes of this post, the proportional difference in genres across the two
charts is interesting.

BISAC Categories

We also wanted to understand the categorical split of each genre, so
we dove deeper and analyzed the individual BISAC categories that made up
each genre. The chart below is measured by category composition – which
analyzes how much of each book belongs to a category. For example, instead
of tagging a book as Romance and Fantasy, our systems tell us the book is
30% Romance and 70% Fantasy.

(BISAC is the US publishing industry’s system for categorizing books. You
can read all about it here –

This chart closely matches our genre chart, but tells us that Romance books
typically consist of more granular categories than Science Fiction and
Fantasy categories. This is somewhat reflected in the number of different
BISAC subcategories for the genres – Romance has almost 50% more
sub-categories than Science Fiction and Fantasy combined. It also alludes
to a level of variance in the categories – our system was more easily able
to split Romance titles into clearly distinct categories, but for Sci Fi
and Fantasy, most content was generalized to Fantasy / General or Science
Fiction / General.

(We’ve also classified tens of thousands of freely available Gutenberg
books, which you can browse here. Many of these books were published before
BISAC was invented.)


Next, we dove even deeper to look at the topic composition of our sample of
books, and analyzed how much each book was made up of each topic. The
topics listed below aren’t industry standard, and were created by our
team. Topics allow us to quickly and programmatically understand, at a more
granular level, what a book is about.

Given the strong bias for Science Fiction and Fantasy, the top few topics
aren’t particularly surprising. One observation we can make from this data,
is that some genres have a higher proportion of genre-specific content than
others. For example, a Romance novel will have many romantic scenes and
dialogue, and be romance-themed. But the story will often revolve around
another topic (western, military, etc.). A Science Fiction or Fantasy novel
will usually contain a high proportion of genre-specific content – the
whole world of the story will usually relate to the genre. Books in these
genres are also likely to encompass elements of other genres too. Therein
lies the categorization challenge we discussed earlier – should a novel
be FIC027130 (Romance / Science Fiction) or FIC028000 (Science Fiction /
General) or both? Are the romance elements strong enough for a book to be
categorized as a ‘Romance’ book? Publishers of course, use knowledge of the
book as well as strategic category selection, to influence placement of
their books on bookstore bookshelves.

A few notes on the topics above. ‘Existence’ – covers concepts such as
consciousness, the universe, humanity and realms – elements often found in
Sci Fi / Fantasy. ‘Vampires’ have their own topic (instead of being part of
‘Creatures & Monsters’) which reflects the more prominent showing of
vampires compared to other monsters, in recent fiction. ‘Erotica’ as a
topic is smaller in representation for the reasons we discussed above for


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We speculate that writers write more Sci Fi and Fantasy books, as it’s
simply a lot of fun to create entire worlds with their own rules, creatures
and customs. Mystery & Detective or Crime novels, while also fun to write,
are often set in our reality, and typically require some technical or
specialized knowledge – details which may need to be fact checked and
accurate. Many authors in these genres have had prior experience in the
field, or have spent significant effort researching their topics. These
books will often teach the reader something, which is appealing to readers.

As a writer, should you switch to Crime and Mystery in order to increase
your odds of landing an agent or selling more self-published books? We
don’t think so. Write in the genre that is the best fit for you, as doing
so will be reflected in your published work.

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into what self-published authors are
writing. Please let us know how you interpreted our results in the comments

If you’d like to see this data for your book, sign up for Author Checkpoint

Sourced through from:

See on Scoop.itIndie Author News

Socially Unfiltered

“Poor People’s March at Lafayette Park ppmsca.04302” by Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report

You silenced our voices

You silenced our images

You silences our stories,

in ways so vicious.

You will not silence our conscience

You will not silence our truth

You will not silence our right,

to remain strong.

Justice has a voice,

She cries until heard,

Our protest will continue

until Injustice is subdued.

Flight With Faith


Mortals have no ambrosia,

Nor do they have nectar,

to partake of immortality.

But that is no matter,

because I need only faith

to reach Heaven’s peak.

The Sarcasm of Temptation


From “Satan, Don’t Get Thee Behind Me!” – Any Thing to get Possession . Published in 1872 (Courtesy: Flickr


subtle beast that it is,

has us preparing to

do epic battle with

monsters and dragons

to keep the virtuous path.

No, my friend,

Sometimes all it takes

is something really simple,

most wouldn’t even notice,

like one very little

innocent-looking line.

Broken Shards of Clay

Courtesy of MorgueFile

At the start

we begin as lumps of clay,

soft, malleable, and impressionable,

ready to find our place.

At the end,

we end as broken shards,

jagged, hard, and bent out of shape,

a plaything of that fickle being known as Fate.


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