Home » Amazon, Self-Publishing » Over 150 KDP Authors Each Sold More than 100,000 Thousand Books in 2013

Over 150 KDP Authors Each Sold More than 100,000 Thousand Books in 2013

26 December 2013

From The Amazon Media Room:

Amazon today announced a record-setting holiday season for Amazon Prime, the annual membership program offering unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items. More than one million customers around the world became new Prime members in the third week of December. On Amazon’s peak shipping day, more Prime items were shipped worldwide than ever before. The entire 2013 holiday season was the best ever for Amazon, with more than 36.8 million items ordered worldwide on Cyber Monday, which is a record-breaking 426 items per second, and millions of customers unwrapped Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets this holiday season.

. . . .

  • Selection in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library in 2013 grew from 250,000 books to more than 475,000 books—books that Kindle owners with a Prime membership can borrow for free with no due dates.
  • More than 200,000 exclusive books were added to the Kindle store in 2013.
  • The most gifted Kindle book during the holiday season was “Sycamore Row” by John Grisham.
  • 150 Kindle Direct Publishing authors each sold more than 100,000 copies of their books in 2013. Top sellers this year include “Hopeless” by Colleen Hoover and “Wait for Me” by Elisabeth Naughton.
  • The best-selling Kindle Direct Publishing author during the holiday season was H.M. Ward.
  • Kindle Direct Publishing authors sold hundreds of thousands of books in November through the new Kindle Countdown Deals.

Link to the rest at Amazon Media Room

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29 Comments to “Over 150 KDP Authors Each Sold More than 100,000 Thousand Books in 2013”

  1. How to parse this … how to parse this …

    Only 150 authors, or 150 authors who otherwise wouldn’t have sold very much did very well indeed.

    Without identifying them, we have no idea what genres they wrote in, how good of writers they were, or anything else about them.

    We’re any of them Bigfoot erotica authors?

    Is 100K a lot? In terms of best-sellers, it’s a blip. Years ago, when I was reading Publishers Weekly, the top 10 best-selling authors sold anywhere from 1 to 4 million of their books. But with so many hundreds of thousands of Kindle books out there, selling 100K is probably very good. There are nearly 5 million Kindle titles listed for sale, and 1.1 million fiction titles of various flavors.

    • Based on the way the rest of the paragraph is worded, it sounds to me like 150 KDP authors saw one of their titles sell 100K or more…i.e., this is not a calculation of an author’s entire catalog. But I’m not 100% sure.

      In terms of “bestsellers,” it totally depends on velocity, as that’s all the bestseller lists tabulate. If your number of units sold in one week increases a certain percent over your average sales the prior week, you’ll make a bestseller list. Although most bestsellers do sell a lot just in terms of volume, the number of books sold isn’t what’s being measured. It’s how quickly a book increases its average sales from week to week. It is totally possible (and has happened often) for a book to make the bestseller list for a spectacular week or two, then drop off into obscurity, while books which never made the list because they never had a rapid increase in sales went on to sell way, way more copies than the “bestseller” ever sold.

      A book that sells 100K could very easily make a big bestseller list, if most of those sales came in a short period of time. And a book that sold 1 – 4 million copies over the course of a couple of years may never make the list, if the sales were steady from week to week instead of rapidly peaking. And this is why the bestseller lists are kind of problematic in terms of gauging a book’s (or an author’s) popularity and success.

      Selling 100K is fantastic, especially if it’s a measure of one title and not all books taken together. If you’re selling at $3.99, that’s about $280,000. Nothing to sneeze at!

    • Is 100K a lot? If you priced at %2.99 or more, yeah, it’s a lot. That’s $200,000 a year, at least.

    • Yes, 100K is a lot. You can get in the top ten of the NYT bestseller list with 2000 sales these days, and the biggest selling authors have dropped from 1-4 million sales to 500K – 1 million sales. You’ll still have the Dan Browns and 50 Shades books that sell more, but 100K sales is huge today no matter how you look at it.

    • That’s 150 of them that have sold more than 100k. You can bet that the top ten of those did sell millions. The numbers curve.

  2. Big ol’ ad for KDP Select if you ask me. More and more authors I know are opting out of KDP Select altogether because they’ve seen sales plummet when cutting off other sales channels.

    Focusing on other channels has resulted in B&N or iTunes being bigger sellers than Amazon for some.

    • Well, it is an Amazon press release, Jinni.

    • Yeah, that’s the same thing I was thinking. I opted out of KDP a while ago and so have many authors I know. The numbers Amazon is celebrating seem a little low to me, but since that many authors don’t exactly want to be monogamous anymore when it comes to Amazon, I’m not surprised.

      We always need to keep in mind that Amazon is only going to tell us what they want to tell us as well. Part of Amazon’s marketing plan seems to be keeping the hype going to make people feel optimistic about buying and selling on their site. I can foresee a time in the future when we find out that Amazon has been less than honest about some of their numbers…

      • I don’t. I can see them spinning, as does pretty much every human being ever, but not making stuff up. There are still a lot of people gunning for them and if they get caught making material misrepresentations… it wouldn’t be pretty.

    • Jinni: The big sales numbers are not exclusive to KDP Select. At least, that’s not indicated here.

      I’m trying to find the Kindle Boards survey that has indie writers self-reporting on how many books they’ve sold. Only a small percentage of writers have responded, but there are lots of us who sell in high numbers.

      • That Kindle Boards survey you are looking for is this one

        kboardsdotcom/authors/

        (use . instead of dot)

        28,682,894 e-books sold over 15,522 titles by 518 authors

    • Seems someone must have opted in if the number if books in Select increased by 225,000.

  3. Very cool stats! Congrats to Holly for being the bestseller on KDP during the holidays! Woot!!

  4. Hi Bill,

    You’re comparing a Top-150 KDP cutoff to a Top-10 from PW. Apples to oranges.

    I’d say Holly and the rest the Kindle Top-10 easily sold 1,000,000+ books each in 2013 on Kindle, putting them in the same ballpark as what you remember PW saying about Top-10 best-selling authors. Consider: Joe Konrath sold 1,391,000 in the first 3 quarters of 2013 alone… mostly on Kindle.

    And don’t forget these KDP authors also sell books on Nook, iBooks, and Kobo, too, adding another 20%-50% on top of their Kindle sales.

    Based on how trad-pub concentrates all of its marketing dollars on just a few big bestsellers, it’s a safe bet that below those very top few, the sales curve falls off steeply for traditionally published authors. So what this 150 number really tells us is that great KDP success isn’t limited to just a handful of bestsellers.

    Even more interesting would be data on how many KDP authors are selling in the next couple tiers down–the living wages tiers:
    25,000-50,000 sales/year
    50,000-100,000 sales/year

    As Hugh Howey so often reminds us, the very top bestsellers aren’t the true story of indie publishing. It’s the vast numbers of midlist authors who are finally able to make a living from their writing that is the real story here.

  5. These are impressive figures. Ad or not, I assume they are true.

    Whether an author wants to join Select is another issue, but the strength of indie publishing is a nice ‘take’ from this. 🙂

  6. It would be even more interesting to qualify this in terms of net dollars earned. I know quite a few authors, all self-published, who earn six figures a year, and they aren’t selling 100K books. More like 50-80K units a year. And I know several who are earning seven figures, and they’re not exactly household names. They have nice backlists, price their work at the higher end of the curve ($4-$6 for indies), and go quietly about their business as new Kindle millionaires and millionairesses.

    As an example of why statistics might be misleading, consider that 100K sales at .99 will yield $35K, whereas 100K at $4.99 will yield $350K. I mean, 100K sales of any sort are great, but there’s a lot more financial impact if the books are more expensive.

    While units are neat, it’s the cash in the bank I tend to pay attention to. Having said that, I’m happy I’m one of the 150 this year. Here’s to hoping 2014 is another big year!

    • Congrats Russell. I’m really happy to see you’re doing well.

    • Ditto. Congrats! Coincidentally, I just finished King of Swords yesterday. Kudos 🙂

    • Agree. There are two very important figures in all this. First, how many books sold? That tells us about consumption. Second, how much money did each link in the production chain make?

      A third figure that is hard to calculate, but interesting to contemplate, is how much more money the big publishers would have made if self-publishers were not in the game.

    • Congrats!

      And that’s quite true about the units sold vs. gross receipts. It seems as if people often conflate or confuse the two.

  7. Bah. Lies and anti-legacy propaganda! Every Amazon condemning, self serving pro-publisher/agent article I’ve read this year stated very clearly that there have only been 3 or 4 successful indies.

    Maybe 5. Tops. And they either paid a fortune to SP “correctly” or “gamed” the Zon system. Nothing more.

    Happy Holidays 😛

  8. So much for the old saw about only a couple hundred people in the US making a “living” writing fiction.

    If you count down to even $50k/year as “making a living, I’d bet we’re coming up on a thousand, maybe more, just from KDP. And many, many thousands *ahem* making a real difference to their standard of living by independently publishing.

    • Yup. And this revolution for writers (mid-listers making a decent wage) has YET to be covered by major media outlets. They all want to concentrate on the outliers and bury the lead.

      • It’s because that allows them to claim the few stories ARE outliers and that other indies shouldn’t expect much.

        Some people just really like to ignore facts.

  9. In confidence I was told of one author and she writes cozy mystery, which happens to be a hot genre right now. She also published 12 books this year. She didn’t use KDP Select to drive her sales either. I didn’t do half that, but I sold quite well the last six months of the year. 2014 here I come.

  10. I’m one of those 150 authors and here is my ‘story’, pun intended:

    -17 total books published-
    -6 in the last 12 months-
    -I write full time, have no kids-
    -only a few are amazon exclusive-
    -average price of $2.99ea-
    -made the USA Today list with 6,000 sales in one week-
    -I use Bookbub as often as they will let me-
    -lots of interactions with readers on social media-
    -was approached by 2 trad pubs with junk offers-
    -some straight mystery, some witches and vampires-
    -no cussing, no sex (although I do quite a bit of both in real life)-
    -sold about half that many last year-
    -was rejected 500+ times by experts before self pubbing-
    -my first day of sales in April 2011 was 7 units-

    Good luck to all in 2014, come join me!

    • AND you sold over a hundred thousand books, apparently, without a website, so it’s that much more impressive! Nice summary, thank you for sharing it.

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