Monday, July 25, 2011

Longevity In The Bestseller Charts

The latest eBook bestseller chart from The Bookseller magazine shows The Basement holding steady at Number 6. That's pretty good going considering that it was published in November last year. Lots of Indie books have come into the charts, some even reached the Top 5, but one by one they have dropped down again but The Basement has stayed. Why? To be honest, I am not sure. My other eBook bestseller, Once Bitten, was Number One over Christmas but now stubbornly stays below 50. I have no idea why it went down but The Basement went up.

I have seen other Indie books soar up the charts but then disappear almost as quickly. A lot of the books that were selling really well over the Christmas and New Year period have now dropped out of the Top 100 which means that they are selling less than 100 copies a day. It's not through lack of promotion, either. It's as if books have a shelf life and after their time is over sales start to drop no matter what the author does in the way of self-promotion. Other books- Stieg Larsson's for instance - drop down but then come back. Why? Again, I'm still not sure.

I've been keeping an eye on the Top 100 in the US and that's dominated by regular-priced books written by traditionally-published authors. I think that's what's going to happen in the UK eventually. So when you hear Indie writers shouting that the old order is dead and that they're taking over the world of publishing, I'm pretty sure you can take it with a pinch of salt. Yes, independently-produced eBooks can do well, but I think they're selling mainly because they are cheap, and the market for cheap books is actually only a fraction of the total market. And as I've said elsewhere, the hard fact is that the vast majority of independently-produced eBooks simply aren't very good and people are starting to realise that. Obviously the fact that readers can download samples before buying does weed out the really bad books but I am pretty sure that as time goes on readers will become more concerned about quality than price, which has already happened in the US.

I am amazed - and pleased - at the success of The Basement, which has sold well over a hundred thousand copies. But everything is going to change in November when Amazon will take over The Basement and Once BItten for their Amazon Encore programme. Effectively they will become the publishers of both books which means they will do all the publicity and marketing and I will take a back seat. It's going to be fascinating to see how things progress....

Here's what The Bookseller said:

Philip Stone, charts editor: It may have been downloaded more than 10,000 times in its first week on sale (according to publisher HarperCollins), but George R R Martin's A Dance with Dragons is conspicuous by its absence on this week's e-bestseller chart. Although it currently sits in the Top 10 in W H Smith's Fiction e-books chart, its lowly (comparative) positions in the Apple (14th), Waterstone's (61st) and (24th) e-book charts mean it falls short of earning a place in The Bookseller's cross-retail Top 10 e-bestseller list

Benjamin Daniels' Confessions of a GP once again tops the chart thanks to solid downloads at Amazon (4th in the charts), Apple (1st) and Waterstone's (4th). Elizabeth Haynes' Into the Darkest Corner is the only new entry in this week's list, charting in seventh position. Sales of the £7.99 r.r.p. title will have been helped by the fact it has been discounted to just 99p on Amazon's Kindle store thanks to its position in the Kindle Summer Sale promotion.

Positive reviews will also have helped downloads—the book has received an incredible 141 five-star ratings out of 155 customer reviews. Such a five-star whitewash is so rare it is almost suspicious, but to those who say ratings/reviews matter little when it comes to decision-making, I offer you this evidence: I've just downloaded it.

Pos Title Author
1 (1) Confessions of a GP Benjamin Daniels
2 (3) Cold Kill Neil White
3 (2) A Tiny Bit Marvellous Dawn French
4 (4) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson
5 (5) That Summer in Ischia Penny Feeny
6 (6) The Basement Stephen Leather
7 (-) Into the Darkest Corner Elizabeth Haynes
8 (10) Life and Laughing Michael McInty


  1. Stephen, you're correct in that Amazon will do a lot of marketing--and clearly the Amazon algorithms do most of the work for a bestselling title, which is why there are so few books that are hot in both markets at the same time.

    If it truly was "quality," one would think the same "best" books would clog the charts on both sides of the pond. If it was truly an author or publisher's marketing muscle, then the best-marketed books would also stick. I used to get annoyed when Konrath reduced it all to luck, but a great deal of it clearly is--of course, fortune favors the brave, as well as those who work hard.
    Congratulations on the Amazon deal.


  2. Awesome achievement, Stephen. You really have shown us ebook writers the way. Brilliant!