Post: Obscure trends of best-selling fiction novels

novels

While various genres of books may take center stage in popularity among avid readers from time to time, some types of stories never seem to lose traction in the marketing world. For instance, romance novels and mysteries/thrillers consistently rank high on most lists for trending story styles. It’s difficult to determine what readers might love or hate at any given moment, although there do appear to be certain commonalities among best-selling fiction novels. 

If your dream is to become a best-selling author, it’s helpful to study marketing analytics and book sale data to determine what types of novels are making to the top of the ladder or failing in the marketplace. You might be surprised by some of the obscure trends that have noticeably taken hold in the fiction realm. 

Best-selling fiction novels are often 375 pages long

As an inexperienced writer, you’ll want to make sure your manuscript meets requirements for submission. This can vary by publisher, although most publishers have similar preferences. For example, the average publisher will not consider a fiction novel manuscript for publication that is less than 40,000 words; however, most publishers would prefer 50,000 words or more.

Best-selling fiction novels are often 375 pages long on average. Publishers do not typically set page number requirements, though, just word count. This is because the font size of a text can greatly affect page count, which is why word count is the central focus. Keep in mind, however, that the average best-seller in the fiction genre is 375 pages. 

Words per sentence trends

Those who study trends among readers of best-selling fiction novels have noticed several other interesting developments over the past century. If you’ve ever worked as a copywriter, editors have likely warned you to make sure none of your sentences exceed 20 words. Using best-sellers as a guide, it seems today’s readers prefer even less words per sentence.

 In the 1800s, the average sentence in a fiction novel contained at least 23 words. In the early 2000s, the sentence word count for the most popular fiction books reached an all-time low at 9.7 words per sentence. What can we learn from this trend? If you hope to become a best-selling author of fiction novels, avoid verbosity.

Best-selling fiction novels have undergone a punctuation shift

Interestingly, there has also been a shift in trending punctuation among best-sellers in the fiction genre. Authors in 2024 typically use less than two semicolons per every 1,000 words in a fiction novel. In the 1800s, writers used approximately 13 semicolons per the same number of words.

While you might notice less semicolons in your favorite fiction novels today than you would have seen 100 years ago, the opposite is true for question marks. Best-selling fiction novels contain nearly seven more question marks per 1,000 words today than they did in the 1800s. 

Books with female protagonists sell better

Best-selling fiction novel analysts say that men prefer stories with male protagonists. A review of book sales charts shows, however, that novels with female protagonists do better in the marketplace. As an author, you must create characters that will appeal to your target audience. If the plot of your story allows for a choice between a male hero or female heroine, you might want to consider the latter since such novels tend to be more successful.