I just read the most excellent news!
Early each year, Publishers Weekly does a rundown on the best and worst sellers by genre from the past calendar year, looking specifically at print book sales.
In 2014, most adult categories fell off, including romance, horror, and fantasy (remember, this is strictly print book sales. Ebook sales are not taken into account). In only two adult fiction categories did print sales increase over 2013: graphic novels and … wait for it … Westerns!
By no means are Westerns the most popular category, encompassing less than 2% of print book sales, where Romance (the strongest category other than “General Fiction”) is almost 25%. But it’s still good news: Westerns are gaining print book readers.
Now, my novels are not Westerns, per se. Westerns, like Romance, usually follow a pretty standard outline. Where romance is usually a variation of “boy meets girl, boy marries girl”, Westerns follow more along the lines of “hero cowboy/rancher/lawman saves the day/ranch/girl” (usually killing all the bad guys along the way).
(Yes, I do realize that these themes are boiled down to their simplest elements, and that there are many Romances and Westerns with other themes as well. But, within these genres, the basic themes are almost always there.)
All that being said, why is it good news? Especially if my stories don’t qualify as Westerns? Because for a very long time, the Western has been almost completely overlooked. If not ridiculed. Their rising popularity among readers may foretell a better future for print books set in the Old West, whether or not they qualify as genre Westerns.
And I choose to see that as a very real plus.