Update to Indie Bestsellers and KDP Select

The holidays are over. All those millions of new Kindles are unwrapped and in use. So I thought it might be a good time to take another peek at those bestseller lists, and see how the indies are faring in a market which some analysts believe has doubled since this time last year.

The answer is, very well.

If you’ve been reading here a while, you’ll remember that on December 20th I was window shopping for ebooks on Amazon and noticed something odd. Last October, there were a few indie books in the top seats of most genres, but the majority of each top 25 list was traditionally published books. In December, something seemed to have changed, and self published books were everywhere. I did a survey of four genres and posted the results here.

Today I revisited those genres, and added two more. So I’m covering Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Mystery, and Horror today. What follows is an analysis of the top 25 breakdown in each genre on Amazon. Why Amazon? With around 70% of the US ebook market, Amazon represents a higher percentage of ebook sales than Bookscan does of print, making the Amazon lists the most reliable bestseller list for ebooks available today.

I’ve also mentioned how many of the top 25 were in the Kindle Select program, as this seems to be having an increasingly robust impact on bestseller listing.

  • Romance: 24 self published, 1 trade published, 20 Kindle Select
  • Fantasy: 18 self published, 7 trade published, 17 Kindle Select
  • Science Fiction: 18 self published, 7 trade published, 14 Kindle Select
  • Thrillers: 18 self published, 7 trade published, 19 Kindle Select
  • Mystery: 21 self published, 4 trade published, 21 Kindle Select
  • Horror: 23 self published, 2 trade published, 23 Kindle Select

So at this moment, self published books represent from 72-92% of these Top 25 bestseller lists.

Also noteworthy that 56-92% of the books on these lists were in the Kindle Select programs, and overall over 90% of the self published books were enrolled in Select. While Select may not be working perfectly for every writer, it does seem to now be key in reaching the very top of the Amazon bestseller lists.

Now, bestseller lists aren’t everything. They’re the top books right now. Tomorrow, some of those books will have swapped out. And thousands of other books, indie and trad pub, are selling just fine without ever reaching a bestseller list.

But it’s noteworthy that not only did indies grab the majority of the bestseller lists last month – they seem to have held that majority and even gained more ground on traditional publishers in some genres.

The prevalence of Select in those titles is also relevant, because it demonstrates the effectiveness of that program. While I still believe it’s something of a lottery – and most writers will probably do better to at least have *most* of their books available everywhere – it’s undeniable that Select is making magic for some writers. Having a book rotate through Select might be a powerful tool for indies to build name recognition on Amazon.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>