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Top self-published Kindle ebooks in a first half of 2011 (report)

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Locke's "Saving Rachel" is the highest ranked self-published Kindle book so far in 2011 - at #9

It’s time for a first big summary of the state of self-publishing in 2011. I’ve already made two monthly lists, for April and June, but I think self-publishing deserves more than that. It’s one of the top stories in book industry in 2011 and it’s good to frequently monitor the state and development of this phenomenon.

Below you’ll find a description of how I collected data, an overview and, certainly, summary tables and graphs. Feel free to embed them on your blogs and analyze the figures.

The second half of the year is going to be really exciting as there is a huge question to be answered: who is going to be a next big name in self-publishing, after Amanda Hocking and John Locke.


After the February excitement about self-published authors the results are down to a January level

Amanda Hocking and John Locke are out of Top 100 in June

No author stayed in Top 100 for six months


The book is included in a list if under Product Details in the field Publisher:
– there is no info (there is no publisher) – the field is not displayed to customers,
– there is a name of the author,
– there is a publishing company which is run by the author (example: John Locke’s Telemachus Press).

I didn’t list books which had general or company names instead on the first name and surname of the real person.

All data for monthly lists is collected from monthly bestseller lists from Kindle Store. All data was collected between 30th June and 6th July. This also applies to monthly lists of previous six months. Please, have in mind that prices of certain books may have had changed since the time they were listed in Top 100.

To avoid it in the future I’ll post monthly lists at the end of every month, so that the price of the book can represent the current state. If the author will get a publisher and it will be reflected in the status of the Publisher field, I’ll remove a book from a list.


First, as a reference, some data from a year ago. In Kindle Store’s Top 100 in July 2010 there was not a single self-published book. Also, no book had a $0.99 price tag.

We all remember when self-publishing became a hot topic. It was the end of February. The Internet and traditional media were full of articles like that one: This 26-Year-Old Is Making Millions Cutting Out Traditional Publishers With Amazon Kindle. Having in mind that the news exploded at the very last day of February, we can assume, that it didn’t help much to move Hocking’s book up the February charts.

Books of Amanda Hocking were doing very well before – and without huge media coverage. In January she had seven titles in Top 100, out of 13 self-published. You could expect her books to do extremely well after the wave of news, but no – March comes with all her titles sliding down the ranking. In April she had four books in Top 100, the best one at #44.

It seems that Amanda Hocking’s popularity was transformed into John Locke’s success (check Graph 4). He was a follow-up story in media, but most importantly it’s his books to move upwards in Kindle Store. March, April and May lists were dominated by Locke’s Donovan Creed novels.

Take a closer look at Graph 1. Self-pubbed books are doing great for three months in a row, and then, in May, the numbers are going down to reach in June the same level as from before the February media excitement.

We have to remember that fantastic results of Amanda Hocking and John Locke were possible because they already had several titles published in Kindle Store. They used all ammunition – and in June they didn’t make it to Kindle Store’s Top 100. It will be really interesting to observe the trend in the coming months.

It’s too early to judge, but it looks like self-publishers are consumed fast – opposite to well established authors who stay at the charts for many months, naming only Suzanne Collins or Stieg Larsson.

Graph 3 is a comparison between an average number of self-pubbed books from six monthly lists and the number from 2011 UTD list. There are more books on a UTD side, which can prove that particular titles jump high enough to be included in a yearly list, but stay too short to raise the average monthly level.

Authors with biggest chances for a long-term presence in Top 100 are J.R. Rain, Heather Killough-Walden, Scott Nicholson and David Lender. Authors on the rise are Barbara Freethy, Michael Prescott, De-ann Black and Simon Wood.

When you look at the Graph 1, you may ask a question: is the downward trend going to end (and thanks to whom) or will we witness how self-published books disappear from the bestseller lists.

The second alternative may happen due to four reason:
– $0.99 not appealing any more
– no new books
– no new big media stories around self-publishing
– self-pubbed authors sign deals with publishers

• • •

Stay tuned. The lists will be published at the end of every month and in January you can expect a report on self-publishing in 2011.

Tables and graphs

Table 1: Self-published books in Top 100: Summary Jan-Jun 2011

Data collected between June 30th and July 5th, 2011, from Kindle Store’s Bestsellers Archive.
Click on months for detailed monthly tables.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
No. of self-pub books in Top 100: 13 26 27 26 22 13
No. of self-pub books in Top 50: 8 17 17 16 5 7
No. of self-pub books in Top 10: 2 3 4 1 0 1
Best self-pub book ranked at: 6 4 1 6 19 6
No. of $0.99 self-pub books: 7 17 16 16 18 10
Share of $0.99 self-pub books: 54% 65% 59% 62% 82% 77%
Average price of
a self-pub book:
$1.99 $1.72 $1.62 $1.62 $1.58 $1.61
Most expensive self-pub book: $3.99 $3.99 $3.99 $3.99 $4.99 $4.99

Graph 1: Number of self-published books in Top 100: Jan-Jun 2011

Based on data from Table 1.

Graph 2: Average price of a self-published book in Top 100: Jan-Jun 2011

Based on data from Table 1.

Table 2: Self-published books in Top 100: 2011 UTD

Data collected on July 5th, 2011, from Kindle Store’s 2011 Bestsellers Archive.
# – position in Top 100 in 2011 UTD.
Title and Author # Price
Saving Rachel (a Donovan Creed Crime Novel) – John Locke 9 $0.99
Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1) – Amanda Hocking 13 $0.99
Torn (Trylle Trilogy, Book 2) – Amanda Hocking 23 $2.99
Ascend (Trylle Trilogy, #3) – Amanda Hocking, Jason Letts 24 $2.99
Lethal People (a Donovan Creed Novel) – John Locke 25 $0.99
Wish List – John Locke 26 $0.99
A Girl Like You (a Donovan Creed Novel) – John Locke 35 $0.99
Lethal Experiment (a Donovan Creed Novel) – John Locke 37 $0.99
Vegas Moon (A Donovan Creed Novel) – John Locke 40 $0.99
Summer Secrets – Barbara Freethy 41 $4.99
Now & Then (a Donovan Creed Novel) – John Locke 43 $0.99
My Blood Approves – Amanda Hocking 49 $0.99
The Heat (The Big Bad Wolf Series) – Heather Killough-Walden 53 $1.00
KILLER – Stephen Carpenter 54 $2.99
Not What She Seems – Victorine E. Lieske 59 $0.99
Fate (My Blood Approves, Book 2) – Amanda Hocking 61 $2.99
Trojan Horse – David Lender 63 $0.99
Moon Dance (Vampire for Hire #1) – J.R. Rain 64 $0.99
Flutter (My Blood Approves, Book 3) – Amanda Hocking 65 $2.99
Wisdom (My Blood Approves, #4) – Amanda Hocking 69 $2.99
Diary of a Mad Fat Girl – Stephanie McAfee 71 $0.99
The Strip (The Big Bad Wolf Series) – Heather Killough-Walden 74 $1.00
The BITCH-PROOF SUIT (Romantic Comedy) – De-ann Black 77 $0.99
Follow the Stone – John Locke 78 $0.99
Liquid Fear (A Mystery Thriller) – Scott Nicholson 85 $0.99
Free Kindle Books and How to Find Them (revised April 2011) – Michael Gallagher 91 $0.99
The Spell (The Big Bad Wolf Series) – Heather Killough-Walden 94 $1.00

Table 3: Self-published books in Top 100: 2011 average vs UTD

Data collected from Tables 1 and 2.
Average Jan-Jun 2011 2011 UTD
Number of self-published books in Top 100: 21 27
Number of self-published books in Top 50: 12 12
Number of self-published books in Top 10: 2 1

Graph 3: Number of self-published books in Top 100: Jan-Jun vs UTD 2011

Based on data from Table 3.

Graph 4: Number of books in Top 100, Jan-Jun 2011: Hocking vs Locke

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