Publishing Dealmaking - An Insiders Look At Which Books Are Selling

Today US Publishers Marketplace released its semi-annual look at the state of dealmaking. This is a recap of what books publishers are buying and how much these deals are worth. To compile these numbers, Publishers Marketplace looked at the deals that were reported by authors and publishers from the month of September from the years 2007 to the present. This report is a true insider's look into publishing because while there are several sources for reader buying habits, Publishers Marketplace goes behind the scenes to look at the deals made before the readers are ever involved. By looking at these statistics we can see trends not just today, but because these deals often are made for the years ahead, we are getting a glimpse into publishing’s future.

So what can we learn? First, the publishing “recession” that hit in 2009 is over. That’s right. Just as the US economy took a huge hit in ‘09, so did the publishing industry. During this year, publishers made many fewer deals and paid much less for the books, which means less risks were taken. So while readers are still feeling the pinch of this dip in sales, thankfully there has been a significant increase is the volume of books publishers are currently buying. In fact, deal volume has grown by 10.5% over the last year.

US Publishers Marketplace Deals For The Month of September

Publishers Marketplace also took an in depth look at the types of books that have been selling. Statistics are showing that out of the seven most popular sub-categories, only mystery and crime book sales have been increasing. Categories including debut novels and general fiction have held steady. Romance, women’s fiction, science fiction and fantasy have had a slight decline. But the real news — sales for thrillers and inspirational novels have decreased sharply which means there will be fewer of these types of novels on the bookshelves in the upcoming years.

US Fiction Sales, By Top Sub-Categories For The Month of September

In order to get the complete picture for publishing dealmaking, it is important to look beyond just the number of books sold and also investigate the amount the publishers are willing to invest in the deals. After all, the more money spent acquiring the title, the more likely there will be a major marketing push to get the attention of readers like you. This marketing can mean anything from extra or bonus content available online to in-person book signings and other engagements with the author and their work.

So what we are seeing? Definitely a decline in the number of “major” deals, or projects sold for over $500,000. This means while a lot of big name authors like Debbie Macomber, James Patterson and Janet Evanovich are all still getting huge paychecks, new authors are not readily entering the million-dollar-per-deal club. But the good news is that there is an encouraging mix of “good” and “significant” deals ($100,000 to $250,000 and $251,000 to $499,999, respectively). This means that in the future we can expect some great titles from new and upcoming authors that publishers believe will be big hits with readers. 

Six-Figure US Deals In Fiction For The Month of September