Monday, February 14, 2011

More and more self-published romances in Amazon Bestseller Lists

After a great Saturday meeting with my RWA-sisters in Berkeley (RWA stands for Romance Writers of America), where lots of them asked me again how I manage to sell my books so well on Amazon Kindle, I kind of got curious to how many other romance authors are doing well without the backing of a publisher behind them.

So, I looked through the Amazon Bestseller lists today to see which self-published authors are in there (for this purpose I'm only looking in the "paid" bestsellers, excluding all those freebies).

28 novels within the Top 100 Kindle Romances were written by Indie Authors and self-published, with one indie author (we all know her name: Amanda Hocking) having 9 titles in the top 100 romances. She's followed by Heather Killogh-Walden with four titles and H.P. Mallory with three titles.

How is this even possible?

  1. I've read several of those romances, and the ones I've read are damn good books (Monique Martin & HP Mallory in particular).
  2. Price: most of those 28 titles are priced extremely low: $0.99 - $2.99. Only one book out of the 28 was priced as high as $3.99 which by any stretch is still much lower than what the NY publishers price their e-books at.
  3. Most book covers look intriguing and professional - in fact so much so that unless I recognized the author's name I had to look at the detail page to find if the author had a "proper" publisher or was self-published.
Will we see more indies break into the bestseller lists? I sure hope so. For one, I'd love to be in there too. Yes, you heard right, even though I sold over 27,000 books across all my titles in January alone, I haven't quite made it into the top 100 romances yet. I am, however, ranking in the paranormal romance sub-genre with five of my books.

And my first book in the Scanguards Vampires series, Samson's Lovely Mortal, is inching closer to the top 100 romances. At present, it hovers around the top 600 Kindle books. To make the top 100 romances on Amazon, I'd have to get around the 400 overall on Kindle. But I know that's a tough nut to crack: my book is priced at $4.99 - still well below what traditionally published vampire romances cost, but above what people seem to be willing to pay for an indie author at present.


  1. I have to say Tina that until I was contacted by H.P. Mallory last fall about reviewing her books I was not aware of the huge presence of selfpubbed authors in ebook format. I was just barely starting to even dabble in ebooks then and since getting a Kindle for Christmas I've started adding more and more of them to my wishlist.

    I think as ereaders are becoming more common and writers are taking the chance with selfpublishing the whole industry is going to change. It's (IMHO) an exciting time to be a reader and blogger watching it all unfold.

    And speaking from a more readerly than bloggerly position a good cover can make all the difference in catching the interest of readers who might not notice a book was self published. On the same token a really unattractive cover can scream "I made this myself" in a bad way. Not saying it's right but it is what it is. lol

    Your new covers are really lovely and I appreciate the work and cost that goes into that when you're self-publishing. :)

    I really think that this sort of ... cutting out the middle man is going to be very beneficial for both the authors who SP and the readers. You get more for your work and we spend less. Win/Win. ;)

  2. You're right Rhianna, it still has to look and be professional. And the more my income from the book sales allows me, the more I try to make my books more professional: new covers, new editing/proofing etc. Many authors can't afford that at the beginning when they operate on a shoestring, so I can often excuse a cover that's not as fancy, but sloppy writing and plotting is something that I can't forgive as easily.

    Things will change in the NY publishing industry. While at the moment, I still get rejections when asking whether a foreign rights agent wants to represent my work abroad, maybe in a year or two that tide will have shifted. With more and more self-published authors getting into the bestseller lists, they will have to take notice eventually.

    And I think it's a good thing for the readers too: they will get to read books that would have never made it through the gatekeepers. Books like Samson's Lovely Mortal - it was rejected because the vampires weren't dark enough.

    Well, they're still not dark enough - but I hope they're hot enough!

  3. Hi Tina!

    Thanks for stopping by The Enchanted Book and commenting on my review for Gabriel's Mate. I have to say that I don't know what agents and publishers would be thinking rejecting the Scanguards books. I've only read Gabriel's Mate so far, but the story is solid, the writing is polished, and the approach is unique. And to be honest, your writing is better than a great deal of the writing I'm coming across from the Big 5 or 6 publishers.

    Here's to continued success with your writing, no matter which way you choose to publish it!

    The Enchanted Book

  4. Thanks Selena, that's so nice of you to say. I work hard on my writing, and my critique partners help me a lot, as does my newly hired freelance editor. I try to do my best to get the best product out there.

    FYI: newly edited versions of the Scanguards Vampires series are in the works (getting rid of those remaining little typos!) and should be out in the next few weeks.