SPS- 424:What’s the big deal about Romantasy? With Alex Newton

Join James and the numbers man, Alex Newton from K-lytics who digs beneath the Romantasy data and explains current trends.

Show Notes

Show notes:
– Trends and longer trending genres
– What is the Romantasy genre?
– What does the K-Lytics report on Romantasy include
– Other genre data
– German markets

Resources mentioned in this episode:


PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page


Voice Over (00:03):
Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no one standing between you and your readers. This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.
James Blatch (00:19):
Hello and welcome to the Self-Publishing Show with me James Blatch here on a Friday. If you happen to be listening to it live or watching on YouTube, I shall wave. If you're watching on YouTube, we have an interview today about writing to market one of the people in our industry who spends their life scraping data. It's a rather unusual expression. Isn't scraping data basically collating all the data Amazon makes public sifting through it and finding out which topics are on the rise, which genres on the rise, which genres are going down, and those hot genres where there are more readers. There are a lot of readers and not enough books serving them. So if you are interested in adjusting your genre writing or tweaking your existing genres, you could do worse. Then listen to Alex Newton, who's coming up in just a few minutes, right? A couple of other things to mention before then.
James Blatch (01:13):
First of all, we have a winner from our competition last week, so you remember last week we said that if you retweeted the tweet for that or whatever you say now, the tweet for last week's podcast episode, you would go into a draw and we have drawn out at random from the very many retweets. Thank you very much indeed. If you took part in that and the person who came out is at Amber Cruz. Amber Cruz, well done Amber, I dunno if that's her pen name or real name, but Amber writes Cosy Mystery, Sandy Bay Cosy Mystery Series seems to be the one she's pushing on Twitter X. Yeah, so well done. We will give away a couple more tickets at some point, but if you didn't take part in it, if you did take part in it didn't win. I'm sorry at this time, but well done.
James Blatch (02:02):
Amber pair of tickets for Self-Publishing Show Live in London in June. We'll be on their way to you. What else we're going to talk about? So if you've been on Twitter this week or threads, the other sort of alt Twitter, you may have noticed there's been a bit of discussion about a event in Denver, which has been one of these sort of popcorn eating moments. Now, I'm not going to be judgmental about this. I have no firsthand experience of what happened in Denver. It was a reader event called Readers Take Denver. It wasn't cheap, more expensive than SPS Live, which happens over two days. It was $300 I believe, and there is a litany of complaints about the way it was organised and what happened. It had some big names there, including Rebecca Yaros who's going to be mentioned actually in our interview with Alex Newton, obviously one of those hot genres romantic that's doing very well and we are going to be talking mainly about romantic but also about some other genres as well in that interview.
James Blatch (03:07):
But it's interesting. So I read there was some very good blog posts on it, people who went there, few sort of influencers who went along and they detailed what they thought was wrong with the event and went wrong with it. And it's obviously a bit of an inquest going on now, but it's interesting from our point of view as organisers of an event, I didn't read it from a salacious point of view, enjoying somebody else's misfortune. I absolutely don't enjoy that at all and I know what it's like trying to organise large events. I read it looking for the detail of what went wrong and whether these are things that we've got covered for our event to make sure that nothing like that happens. So it is interesting, different takes I guess. But when you organise a big event, you do look at these things a little bit differently.
James Blatch (03:50):
However, I'm kind of keen to know what your experience was. If you did go to readers, take Denver, just drop us a note in our Facebook community and just let us know because we are keen to avoid anything like that happening in the future. So easily done when you're organising a very big event, but I think we're on track for our usual high level of delivery. Thanks very much indeed. In part almost full to Catherine Matthews who does a lot of the organising and our fantastic team of volunteers. So that's SPS Live, which won't be like RTD, it'll be great in London in June. Looking forward to it. Hopefully the weather will pick up. Blimming awful. It's been awful. I know I'm British and I moan about the weather, but it's been awful. Can't stop moaning about it. It's cold every day. It's like eight degrees, which is like, I dunno, 40 Fahrenheit, 45 Fahrenheit, something like that.
James Blatch (04:47):
It's very cold and it's March and it should be, it's April, it should be spring. Okay, so that's two things. What else did I want to mention? Oh yeah, so I had a little thing I will just mention now. So I've got a positive and a negative from my own author experience in the last couple of weeks. One of the negatives was that I had five free days. Actually this wasn't me. This was a book in Vinci books. We have five free days, we plan these. Now, if you're in ku, you'll know that you get five free days. So I don't want to assume you know what I'm talking about here. Let say that if you're on Kindle Unlimited, your book is free to people who pay a subscription. You get paid per read page read, you get these five free days so you can put the book free so it goes free to everybody, not just the people in Kindle Unlimited.
James Blatch (05:31):
And it's a great opportunity, particularly if you have a series, it's great for a series because book one can be the book that hooks people on the series and you can promote that in various ways. So obviously you could drive some ads to it, paid ads like advertising on Facebook and Amazon. The other thing you do is you try and get on these big mail list. So BookBub featured deal is the big one, 20 million odd readers they have around the world, but it's not easy to get a BookBub feature. You apply for it. They say it's like a one in four chance. I think I personally think my track record is worse than that, but they're good when they happen, but we got 'em. So I normally I apply for a book by feature deal and if I don't get that, then I set up the other deals I was going to do anyway.
James Blatch (06:11):
But that gives me, I then set up the times. So that's things like Hello Books, which is our sister company, free Booksy. I'm not a big 99 P fan. I know lots of you do do 99 p promos and we do do them on hello books. Personally I find better return on doing a free book. You have to sometimes cross that Rubicon, which not everybody seems to want to do to give your book away that you've slaved over. It's easier when it's someone else's book, but I do do it with my books as well. So I set the notes, however, in this case, which was Kerry Donovan's on the run book first in his Ryan Kane series, we got a BookBub featured deal, which is great, and it's was a deal, us and the rest of the world a full deal. And I always do the same thing.
James Blatch (06:57):
So I gear the dates around the day and because you're in this 90 day block, so you can only book your free days within the 90 day enrollment period. And then if you've got auto renew ticked, which we all do, it auto renews your next block. But if the 90 days comes to an end, you can't book three days for the next 90 until it's happened. So when I booked my featured deal, I couldn't actually book the three days or I had to wait until it ticked over, but that was still plenty of time. It was like two weeks ahead, two or three weeks ahead actually of the featured deal. So then when it ticked over into the enrollment period, I booked the days and I booked from the 20th to the 24th. Those five days, it doesn't seem like that should be five till the 20th, 24th, it feels like it's four, it's 20, 21, 22 to 3 24, it's five weird.
James Blatch (07:43):
And the book by future deal was on day twos on the 21st. I always do that. I always have the big day. It must be free on the second day. So if there are any issues, you get them ironed out. You've got 24 hours to get them ironed out. Before the feature deal happened, it was on a Sunday the featured deal, which was part of the problem I had here because I woke up on Saturday morning. I checked if the price had gone and had gone to free in the United States, but it was still paid in the uk. It was 1 99, our regular price here in the uk, which is a problem for me. This is where I discovered that Amazon KDP don't have 24 hour support. I had to wait until midday. So woke up in, even though even the support was definitely in the far east, so I had to wait until midday Seattle time wake up to get anybody.
James Blatch (08:28):
And I was told after somebody went off to investigate that there was a latency lag. She described it as in updating the price in the uk, but it would happen in the next couple of hours. I checked again in the evening, it still wasn't at free. That's when I started to get worried because I thought, okay, there's a latency lag, but it turned out not to be the case. And I emailed BookBub at this point and I said, look, the rest of the world's okay, but the UK is priced. Can we bump the feature deal by a couple of days? Then I get this sorted out. But also didn't have support on over the weekend. I don't think they do, but they do. They're very, very good. But I just don't think they're 24 hours a day, which is understandable. Sunday morning, disappointingly still 1 99 in the uk.
James Blatch (09:16):
Nothing's changed, but Bub have emailed me to say they've withdrawn it from the uk but thankfully went ahead with the email including to the US audience and the other parts of the world. So that was something, and I think we got 15,000 odd downloads in that morning, which was great, but nothing happened with the UK pricing. It was Monday morning yesterday, I'm recording this and I finally had a longer conversation with someone at KDP and they said it was an error. They didn't really say why it happened, but it never got to free. It still isn't actually today I'm recording this on the 23rd, we are still in that free period, but it's still 1 99. So it's simply never clicked over. They gave me a free day. Another free day has been added to my account. I would've preferred another five days because it's five days that I booked for that promo.
James Blatch (10:11):
But anyway, I have got back to them. We'll see if they'll move on that, but I've never had this before and I am keen to know whether you have or not because we have got a lot of authors coming on board at Vinci Books at the moment. There is going to be this constant cycle free promos and when you book things, so you pay for a BookBub, they're not cheap, it's like $700 because $150, something like that, they're not cheap. You need to know it's happening, right? Disappointing when it doesn't. So probably just a one-off a huge organisation. It does an incredible job very efficiently, 99.9% of the time, but that a blip occasionally happens. But I would like to know how common it is, whether it's something that you've experienced or not. So again, if you post into the group and I'll try and start a thread on this, see if anyone has had it and we can keep an eye on that situation.
James Blatch (11:02):
It'd be easier for us to act as a group if there is an issue there. This is something like I say you need to rely on. So that was the negative side of things. That was somebody else's, but it was Kerry. So I've been in touch with Kerry, obviously we've been commiserating in it, but we're doing everything we can to make up the difference and hopefully cells are going really well in the US with his series, brilliant Ryan Kane series. So that will go even better now with those downloads. But on a positive note on my books, the German translation of my book is continuing to gather pace and gather ground and is now accounting for, let me get it in front of me. 72% of my sales are now Germany and I've only got one book translated into German. That market's great. Now, I have a very good Amazon ads campaign that runs on my book in the uk, does very well, but this is being dwarfed a Facebook ads campaign.
James Blatch (11:55):
It's only six pounds a day, so it's not a lot. And yeah, it's incredibly profitable for me. So I've scaled it up today. There was an episode a few weeks ago where I was running an Amazon ad and I think it was serving it to the wrong people. It wasn't getting great reviews, but that has fixed itself by me stopping the Amazon ads campaign, running Facebook ads to people who like military aircraft, I'm getting the right people in for my books. The reviews are going up, which is great, and sales are consistently good. I mean they're every day they seem to come in and not change. So I'm really pleased with that. It just goes to show, I know translations are expensive. I use people of, I used an Austrian based German translator, very important to use them from Austria so they don't have a copyright hold of your book if they're in Germany.
James Blatch (12:43):
And then a separate copy editor and the whole thing cost me less than 2000 pounds, about two and a half thousand dollars, something like that. Not 10,000. It's a long book. It's 134,000 words. So I did it fairly cheaply, but I felt safe with a copy editor going through it afterwards. And the review so far, no one's mentioned the translation. So I think I've done a good job there or they've done a good job for me. So this is really interesting for me. And I have already ordered my second book in series Dark Flight to be translated into German. I have a deadline for that from Stefan who's going to be doing that. But I thought I'd just mention it because I know we've been talking about translations recently. We have this translations course, which I should probably give a plug to shall I Learned.
James Blatch (13:26):
So I've now if you want to learn how to do it, the process of doing it, and I learned a lot doing it the first time and learned a lot from Bella because I edited the course and went through it, which was very helpful for me at the time that I was translating my first book. But this is significant, financially significant to me that this, I've been working, dot co uk, the English speaking language, main markets, and suddenly there's Germany and it's big, Germany is big. There are people consuming and it's pries that are doing it for me five times the amount of pries that I had in the UK at the moment. So I thought I'd mentioned that positive note. I only have three books, but I'm really pleased with the result of that first one. So definitely going to go down that route, get those books as translations paying for themselves and then into profit quicker than I envisaged that would happen.
James Blatch (14:20):
I've also taken my audio books out of exclusive with a CX thinking about doing some direct selling on that, but it's not quite got the bandwidth for us as they say at the moment to set that up. So I will talk about that in a future episode. I think that's everything I've got to say about my books and the trials and tribulations of my life this week. I didn't go on about the weather too much, but we are now talking to another German on a kind of German theme, Alex Nihal who lives in Switzerland. He's a truly international gen. He's probably working for the security services, I imagine he's German in Switzerland, but we know that he is a, I dunno, he didn't really like it when I called him a geek, but we know that he is somebody who's into the data and on our behalf, he does a lot of nerdy work, should we say, to produce this information that's very useful for us in placing our books and choosing how to market our books and ultimately, which books to write if we're going to be very commercially focused.
James Blatch (15:18):
So romantic has been this huge thing, hasn't it? There was indie led, there've been a couple of big traditional books, Rebecca Yaras most prominently perhaps from that, but it's still very much an indie project and the wise heads have realised that. Now does that mean you write a romantic book now? I mean we've got the Zodiac Academy. I think book nine is coming up very soon. If it's not out yet, I think I've seen Caroline and Suzanne plugging away on that. So is this an area you should write into or is it now overserved by books? That's exactly the type of question that Alex can answer. We also talk about thrillers and broader romance as well in this interview. So I'll let you listen. This is Alex and I'll be back for a quick chat at the end.
Voice Over (16:03):
This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.
James Blatch (16:09):
Alex Newton, welcome back to the Self-Publishing Show. You are a man who proudly wears the lytics and probably proudly wears the word geek.
Alex Newton (16:20):
Ah, I knew that. Not coming. I knew that going, no, see, well perhaps yes. I think there is a distinction between a nerd and a geek, and I think you're a nerd also a sociopath. What was that definition? A geek if you're a passionate about something, but also the nerd, I dunno, you're the native speaker. You can label me whatever you like, but I also go by the numbers man or Alex or simply a guy interested in publishing trends, whichever you prefer my friend.
James Blatch (16:54):
No, we need nerds and geeks. I mean that's the whole point of the modern world and somebody who digs beneath the data and gets us the juice. I mean there's so much you can look at Amazon and have no idea of how much insight you can get just from studying what happens on there. That's basically what you do, isn't it?
Alex Newton (17:14):
It is. And I think the big learning is we've been doing it now for 10 years, actually we're going to have an anniversary this year. It's going to be 10 years of number crunching with Lytics, which is the Kindle and analytics where the indu vanishes from the Kindle. So lytics and I think the big insights happens then when you not just observe, occasionally browse Amazon once, but you do it at scale and you do it regularly because obviously a book can go up in rank with a book pop and drop back into oblivion. And if you catch a trend trend in one moment in time, it can lead you a bit of stray. So that's where we try to cut through the data and come up with trends.
James Blatch (18:03):
And so it is long-term trends and the dynamic aspect of the market. I mean they're quite different. Some stuff is sticky and stays forever, but you do so recent years, we've seen a lot of stuff come and go quite quickly.
Alex Newton (18:16):
Yeah, I mean the good news for writer is many of the trends, if they're truly a trend and they are really driven, they're sticky and they can stay on for years. I mean, take the Twilight movie and then 10 years of Paranormal Vampire Romance or take 50 shades of grave with to the present day. I mean the book was 2012 and to the present day, billionaire romances is still one of the biggest tropes in the romance markets. Some are very sticky. Others say that even the Hunger Games things, it was a thing of years and on Netflix or on HBO, games of Thrones, these are really longer term things. Some things tend to go come fast and go fast again. I think an example would be these days, the last half a year, sports and hockey romance. We're just looking into that. Let's see how sticky that's going to be. I think there are some faster ones, but by and large it's not like a fashion trend. It's one quarter and then spring is over, summer comes and that book trend is gone. Thank God for writing because it takes time to write a book. It's not that fast.
James Blatch (19:27):
Yeah. Okay, well let's talk about romantic, which has been a huge world beating globally phenomenal genre, and everyone's suddenly talking about romantic. I mean it's not brand new romantic, right? Romance fantasy is a pretty established genre, but something's happened in the last few years.
Alex Newton (19:46):
Yeah, something has certainly happened. If you look at the sheer numbers, they're like mind bog boggling for that very term and hashtag romantic on TikTok. I think before TikTok shut down the number of views that they displayed, which happened I think start of the year, they quoted that romantic as a hashtag had 475 million views or so. By the end of last year, J MA's books alone, anything connected with JMA was at the time like 14 billion views. So it was a big thing. And then along came this year, obviously Rebecca Yaros with her books, the Iron Flame as an example, and the Fourth Wing and Iron Flame became like the biggest, highest waterstone's, highest selling pre-order title in a single day. So no doubt there is something, but as you say, the very term romantic, nobody has really traced it back. Some say they've used it in the eighties, other say it's in the Urban Dictionary, 2008 already, but I never care about these.
Alex Newton (20:57):
Was it used once back in 1972? I think the point is what happens to the term now. There's one interesting thing though, to the present day, the very term, if you look into Google trends longer term, what do readers actually look for? There were two terms before, and the one which is clearly the winner over the years is simply fantasy romance. Now there's also romantic fantasy, but nobody is searching for that. And only very recently, the last year or so, you have this new emergence of the romantic keyword, if you will, and right now it's at about 60% of the volume of what you get for fantasy romance books. So it's happening. It's happening now. And we should definitely, definitely talk about it.
James Blatch (21:47):
And we should say before we go on that you produce user friendly reports on these areas, and I think romantic has been one of your recent ones. So this is something you'll, you'll get a chance to plug this properly at the end, but that people can buy this report and help them. The idea is help shape their writing to market aspect of their business.
Alex Newton (22:08):
Yeah, it is both the writing part, I mean first of all it's about recognising the trends, then it's about the writing part, who are other authors to look at what are the really top trending books over a longer period of time, not just when you look into the Amazon site once, but over time we look into the bestselling cover art, even down to market share of cover arts keywords, what categories do these books use and so on and so forth. And yes, we will talk about it at the end, but you can have a look at, learn self-publishing lsp, and there you will find the links to all of the genre reports. And one of the latest ones is fantasy romances. We just had to look at it again. Actually it's the fourth edition of the report. We started reporting on this as early as four years ago.
James Blatch (23:01):
Wow. So okay, let's go back to romantic then, which is the big talking point at the moment. You can see the trends in terms of sales ranks, but you also understand I guess the tropes that make up a romantic book. Can you sometimes have a way of identifying whether a book does fit into the genre or not?
Alex Newton (23:21):
Yeah, I mean the first of all is what constitutes romantic in its simplest, obviously it is the mix of fantasy and romance and how is it distinct from then romantic fantasy or fantasy romance. The academics would argue, well, fantasy romance is a romance, what type of romance? Not billionaire. It has some fantasy in it. Romantic fantasy, people would argue that's a fantasy novel or type of, is it dystopian? No, it has a bit of romantic elements in it. So there's always this one dominant part. And the authors obviously of romantic argue, no, no, no, no. Here it's really an intertwined fantasy plot with a romance plot. And the whole proposition is that both are more in balance. That is all academic debate to me. It's in the end of the day, what do the readers want? What resonates with the readers? And that is obviously the mix.
Alex Newton (24:17):
Now having said this from a, we are obviously not crafts people, but it's interesting to look into craft aspects with a numbers point of view in mind. So every book obviously comes with a book title, it comes with a book subtitle, it comes with a book description. And in the book description you have all these words, a theory, a prince, a quest, a dragon, and all these words then in turn relate to a sales rank. And if you do this for millions of books or at least over time, you start getting, well, what is it? Is it the dragon? Is it the fairy? Is it the quest? And what outsells the one or the other? So yes, in the reports we would also look into what are the top words? So in romantic, in common romance author terms, you obviously have the things like forbidden love or you have here the chosen one.
Alex Newton (25:18):
It's very often enemies to lovers wind in. And I think it's also fair to say that in romantic, you then have, again, different selling and different romantic markets if you will. There is more the young adult market with quite some spice, but it's not like grim dark. And then you have these very more dark fantasy type of things. I mean, look at, we discussed it I think a year ago, last year, the Zodiac Academies of the world where things can get dark too, and yet other books where it can get very dark. What do we always have in romantic? You have the walls, the battles and fights. And I think that's the one important aspect that distinguishes the romantic from a billionaire office. Romance is, and that's what the romantic authors argue here. We not only have romance, we have romance against the backdrop of something epic, of something large stakes that usually in a small town or office romance, you don't have these large stakes and that is I think a pivotal element. And then you spice it up with all the romance elements and you spice it up with all these epic fantasy elements, the crowns, the loves, the enemies, the secrets, the quests. I mean take Rebecca and you have that young heron who now to become a dragon rider type of things, and it's Harry Potter growing up and all of a sudden then the bachelor meeting, hunger games sort of plots.
James Blatch (26:56):
Okay, so you mentioned Sergio Mass and Rebecca Aris. You also mentioned Caroline Peckham and Suzanne Valenti Zodiac Academy. Who are the other big names? Are there big indie names in romance?
Alex Newton (27:08):
It's an interesting market because you have, it was very indie driven, but obviously also the traditional published ones, the traditional publishers saw. There is a market, a commercial market to go after. So big names obviously currently, I think in terms of leading by sales is clearly Sarah J Mass now closely followed by Rebecca IRAs. Not to forget Jennifer Armand Trout with her series, which was there already a couple of years ago. Carissa Broadband is currently a big name serpent. The Wings Knight, we've mentioned the Caroline Peckham, Suzanne, Raven Kennedy would be up there in the list. And so is LJ Andrews currently with the ever king, ever queen. If you go down the list that we have in the report, the good news is it's I think a very good mix of both of actually all three sorts of authors. The traditionally independent authors who've driven a lot of the market, lots of opportunities there. Obviously a couple of very big hitters and a couple of hybrid authors who are successful in these, but who now get a print deal for the print editions of their books,
James Blatch (28:26):
Which I think is what Zodiac Academy is going down soon. Hopefully that wasn't secret. There's quite a difference I think between if Zodiac Academy is grown up, Harry Potter type thing. You've got Dragon Riders in, is it Serge Mass is the Dragon Rider,
Alex Newton (28:45):
That's Rebecca Yara. Oh, that's
James Blatch (28:46):
Rebecca, yeah. Okay. So if you are not particularly into one thing, I mean I think people who are probably in Harry Potter are not necessarily going to be into dragon riding, so they're quite distinct sub genres. You're not a romantic fan necessarily as a fan of one of the subs within it.
Alex Newton (29:06):
Now that's an interesting one. Obviously if you do look on Amazon into the also bots or what other customers bought of the one or the other books, the books do connect. Obviously the readers, the ones that experiment actually it's sometimes very tightly knit communities of also bots across these books. But by and large, very good point. I think the data wouldn't show us directly how much reader overlap there is, but that would make an actually very good interview topic with these authors who tried then to venture out into another sub trope or market going from the say academies into the dragon stuff and vice versa. I wouldn't know that.
James Blatch (29:51):
No, sorry, you briefly froze, but I remember now we've got this system that doesn't matter if it, we froze because it cause us all locally. So there'll be no edit necessary. Okay, yeah. So you've got a report on romantic and what will people get out of it?
Alex Newton (30:08):
Well, first of all, we look at the longer term trends, part of which we've covered here, but then when it gets, you have two big questions about the writing and obviously about the marketing. When it comes to the writing part of things, we look at these high selling tropes. We basically built our own virtual best list of top 1000 something books of which you get the top 100 and they've been observed over time. So it's not just an inspiration for a one time. I look up the bestseller list on Amazon. So you really get a good collation of top authors, top books to look into for your writing craft. We have all the relevant book descriptions, also nicely collated for you, but then very often the questions get into the marketing. And here for the last four years, we look at the predominant market shares of which covers are selling, how much in terms of cover tropes to brief your cover designer, we monitor the exact price points that the books are priced at this year, last year, what's the trend? What is KU versus wide? So all these channel driven questions, what are the categories that all these top sellers truly use? Because sometimes it's not the obvious fantasy romance categories, so you get all the marketing related stuff as well. So with a big mantra, research less, write more so that you can focus on what you hopefully do best, which is the writing.
James Blatch (31:38):
Yeah. Now talking about writing, I'm probably not going to write a romantic, I see maybe the odd dragon in the Cold War, but for us thriller authors and authors of others genres, is there any good news in the market, some areas that we should be focusing on?
Alex Newton (31:53):
Yeah, I mean aside from the fact that Romans has grown and grown and has again continued to grow last year and into this year, I think the good news is that also in mystery thriller suspense, we saw quite a bit of a rebound this year. And here I think there is this one hidden gem, which to many authors in my mind doesn't come obvious. I mean it is the literally label would be psychological thrillers. And you have the phenomena of the, which we also covered in our recent psychological thrillers report. You have the phenomena of the freedom fats of the world, which probably focus on a certain subsegment of psychological thrillers, which is coined domestic thriller because the whole thing happens in the confines of the house, the neighbourhood, the family, and the nanny. You get the idea, and that has been so thriving. But I think what distinguishes it from even the romantic thing, now everybody is talking about romantic.
Alex Newton (32:58):
You have many authors jumping into that segment and we've seen what happened to paranormal romance over the years, how incredibly crowded and competitive it has gotten for the thriller writers or mystery writers for that matter. We have psychological thrillers and what I feel is it's a hugely untapped opportunity by writers and why is it untapped? I have the feeling that many people think to write a psychological thrill, first of all they think, oh, that's Al Lecter type of stuff. It's the serial killer that's this weirdo stuff. I don't want to write this, I can't write it. But if you do read Alfredo McPhaden book, I mean there is huge romance parts in it as well. First, an enemies to love this type of thing where the villain and the protagonist in the house may they have something going on. And then there is, I think at the end, even happily ever after, it is written by mostly female authors and it's mostly a female audience, first point of view. Long story short for the mystery thrillers, Spencer have a look into domestic thriller, into psychologic thrillers. I think the sales rings by far outweigh the lack of level of competition you have in there in contrast to so many romance genres, which have been totally overcrowded.
James Blatch (34:23):
Yeah, there does seem to be a big explosion on Netflix and the streaming services of these sort of domestic crime fiction adaptations. I mean some of them are thrillers, but a lot of them are crime based police procedurals. There seems to be an unending appetite for the TV series of this, and that would feel that's reflected in books.
Alex Newton (34:44):
Absolutely, and I feel that in so many ways over the years, books have driven big blockbusters and then the big blockbusters fertilised whole parts of the book market for years and years. And in this very case of psychological thrillers, I feel there is a bit of disconnect because yeah, the leading books are there, the leading streaming services are there, but many authors have not really picked up on the trend. And to my mind, the book market is grabbed up by a few and that could be different.
James Blatch (35:22):
So if you find yourself watching those Netflix series and thinking, oh, that was a bit the way that happened. There was a bit of a plot hole there. If you are that person, maybe you should be writing into this series. I've got a quick question just about German language. Obviously people might know you are German, you live in Switzerland, but you're German by birth and nationality. Are the trends that we talk about, which largely I guess we're talking uk, are they reflected in the German market? I ask this because I know it's an increasingly important market for lots of people listening to the show.
Alex Newton (35:52):
Yeah, I mean for the big helicopter view on the market, also romance huge in Germany and has become huge, especially on the Kindle platform. So is mystery thriller suspense. There was even over the last couple of years something that to my mind in the German market, people never looked at. Even urban fantasy was suddenly really picking up as it did over the years, over 10, 15 years in America or the whole English speaking market. I think what is though important to note? So yes, the trends do reflect also in Germany, which is I think the third largest book market in the world, at least in terms of sales, not necessarily volume, but there are nuances. So I think also in the UK you have sometimes these locally driven filler markets. So in Germany there's one very big thing is obviously the so-called northern crime type of thriller where the scene is very much set in the northern part of Germany, a bit like the mirror image to what you call the Scandinavian thriller,
James Blatch (37:04):
Alex Newton (37:05):
Noir. A Scandi noir. We have a similar thing in the German saying it's literally called the North Sea thriller sometimes. So I think sometimes that is important to note and all these things come with a very distinct cover art, cover, art cliches. So I think one thing is a translation. The other thing is can or should you adapt from a big trend to some of these local particularities. And when it comes to the cover design, it's something you also may want to have a look at what the German cliches are, which are sometimes different from the English language markets.
James Blatch (37:45):
Yeah. Okay. Alex, you better tell people where they can find you and how they can get hold of reports. I think you do like a free sample of people not sure what they're going to get here.
Alex Newton (37:54):
Yeah, so I mean, first of all, I always say after Christmas is before Christmas for writers. So as one of the sample sample genre report, you can always go to lytics k, very simple. And there you get a full jar seminar, which comes with video and report. In this case it is Christmas, Romans, I think we also have Christmas mystery which or mysteries which you can check out the same for Mystery that is free and it gives you a complete one hour seminar with a report, which gives you a complete sample of what these reports typically look at. And then if you want to go also through learn self publishing, brings you to our shop where we have all these individual journal reports, which you can buy a LA card or you can go with memberships as well, which you would find on the website.
James Blatch (38:51):
Superb. And Alex, you're going to be joining us in London.
Alex Newton (38:54):
I look forward to so much so it's great to be back. It's been two years.
James Blatch (38:59):
Yeah, it's been two years. You're going to be on stage at Self-Publishing Show Live London.
Alex Newton (39:04):
James Blatch (39:04):
Forward to it. Alex Newton, Alex Niheus
Alex Newton (39:09):
Yeah, real name is pronounced NIUs, but from the spelling I think nobody could tell how to pronounce that. So it's become Newton in the industry, which is fine given that geek or nerd argument you came up with in the beginning.
James Blatch (39:27):
It's a pen name, right? That's what we do in our industry. That's
Alex Newton (39:30):
What we do in our industry. Correct.
James Blatch (39:33):
Alex, been brilliant talking to you. Thank you so much. This
Voice Over (39:35):
Is the Self-Publishing show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.
James Blatch (39:41):
There you go, there's Alex Newton. My thanks to Alex. Now Alex is part of the team at Vinci Books. He does all the data scraping for us, points us in the right direction to finding authors. I've got a lot of response actually from last week's mention of Vinci books. So thank you very much. You put your name into the hat, we will get around to contacting you. I've had a few emails from people saying I haven't heard from you yet, but we're going through a list at the moment. So conversations are happening at the moment and you will hear from us one way or the other shortly. Okay. I think that is it from me. Thank you so much indeed for listening. I hope you've had a good week and you can look forward to having a nice relaxing weekend. Very important I think to have some time off at the weekend.
James Blatch (40:20):
I'm particularly feeling that at the moment. In fact, when this is going out, no, not this weekend, the following weekend I'm actually going to New Yorker to do some cycling and some running and to play golf and to drink quite a lot of beer. That's my plan. And hopefully get some sun because we have not had that. Did I mention that? We have not had that here in the UK anyway, it's a delight talking to you. I always love it. Love it when you always, if anyone ever mentions the fact that they listen, it means a lot to me. So thank you so much indeed. That's it. All that remains for me to say is it's a goodbye from me. Goodbye.
Voice Over (40:59):
Get show notes, the podcast archive and free resources to boost your writing career at self-publishing Join our thriving Facebook group at self-publishing Support the [email protected] slash self-publishing show. And join us next week for more help and inspiration so that you can make your mark as a successful indie author. Publishing is changing. So get your words into the world and join Revolution with the Self-Publishing Show.

SPF-135: The 2018 Indie Author Toolkit – with Mark Dawson

This Week's Handout


Grab it!

A countdown of the best and most popular tools for writers in 2018, including input from the SPF community about what their favourite authors tools are.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Podcast’s Patreon page

PDF DOWNLOAD: Click here to get the PDF with all the tools and links listed.

PODCAST EP 61: with Dave Chesson from KDP Rocket

PODCAST EP 34: with the two Brads from Vellum

PODCAST EP 101: with Damon Courtney from BookFunnel

EBOOK FORMATTER: At Draft2Digital (You need an account but then the formatting tool is free.)


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