Friday, 21 August 2015

Beware the word 'Bestseller'

Every day my mailbox is bombarded with marketing emails from people who want to help me become a 'bestseller' but what exactly is a 'bestseller'?

"He’s launched 3 books in the last 12 months and each of ‘em were NO.1 bestsellers."  was today's claim - Yeah right. Let's take a look at today's 'bestsellers.'

The overall #1 bestseller in Amazon paid e-books at the time of researching this was 'Grey' (Shame on you readers!)

It's selling 4,000+ copies a day and is #1 Paid in Kindle Store. It's
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Romance
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance
#1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Erotica > Romantic

Now if the promoter was able to say he'd got 3 books in the top 100 paid sales rank I would be very impressed and he would undoubtedly be a stellar bestseller. He didn't say that though and if his book genre was Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Foreign Languages > Other Languages > Hungarian he could be a '#1 bestseller with an overall rank of 1,287,139. That would mean he's selling about one book every 1-2 months. There a lot of these obscure categories so when you see these '#1 bestseller' claims - take it with a pinch of salt. If the promoter's system really works well they would quote the Amazon overall sales rank.

You'll find many authors claim to be a 'bestselling' author if they have ever had a book in the top 100 of any category, Look for #100 in some genres at Amazon and you may find they stop at #18. That probably means the book in that rank has sold just a few copies.

Here's a few of today's #1 bestsellers chosen from random genres with estimates of their sales:

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Arts & Photography > Architecture > Architects, A-Z #11,301 Paid in Kindle Store (about 430 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Lawyers & Judges #3,744 Paid in Kindle Store (about 2,100 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Money > Taxation > Small Business #32,983 Paid in Kindle Store (about 140 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Interior Design > Upholstery & Fabrics #182,406 Paid in Kindle Store (about 4 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Higher & Continuing Education > College Guides #23,812 Paid in Kindle Store (about 245 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Foreign Languages > Other Languages > Hungarian #1,287,139 Paid in Kindle Store (Probably no sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Engineering & Transportation > Transportation > Ships > Pictorial #219,700 Paid in Kindle Store (about 2 sales in the last 30 days)

As to me I've been #1 bestseller in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Technothrillers with a best ever overall rank of #540 in paid. I've also been #1 in Science fiction > Genetic engineering and #1 in Science fiction adventure. I don't claim to be a bestselling author even though there are 50,000 of my books in circulation.

Beware the 'bestseller'; it's a word which can mean little and for an author to use it smacks of desperation.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

E-books or print - which do you prefer?

I'll choose e-readers - no contest.

  • Whilst I too love the smell and feel of a book, we buy them for their content not their smell and feel. If the lack of 'paper smell' bothers you you can buy a 'book smell' perfume to spray on your e-reader.
  • "I prefer real books" is a phrase I often hear. Usually I hear it from those who have not yet got an e-reader, Every time I hear it I imagine those people who first came across bound books. Did they think "Nice, but I prefer scrolls."?
  • My mother has just had her 92nd birthday and spends a lot of time reading. She finds it easier to read large print and prefers thinner books since she finds these easier to hold. You can change the text size in an e-book and they are much lighter.
  • I'd much rather carry an e-reader than the complete Encyclopaedia Britannica. I think my library of 3,000+ paper books probably weighs about a ton. Most of them could fit on my ancient Kindle Keyboard e-reader.
  • About a year ago I finished reading a hardback book I've had since 2009. Stephen King's 'Under the Dome.' I had not read it because it weighs 1.3 kilograms (2.3 pounds) - too heavy to read unsupported. (Enjoyable book if you want to read it) I'd looked for it as an e-book but due to the Amazon/Hachette dispute couldn't find it. In the end I read it in bed before sleeping with it supported on my knees.
  • Putting another book on the bookshelf may satisfy some people but I have trouble finding a space for an extra book on my shelves. I've used up all the normal space (two books deep) and have run out of space between the book tops and the next shelf! 
  • I like to read relaxing in a bath. I may fall asleep and a soggy book is not easy to salvage. Your e-reader may not like water either but you can read it inside a ziplock plastic bag far easier than a paper copy! 
  • My e-readers play music and can read my book to me. The only paper book I have that does that was bought years ago for my children. 
  • Can you get Internet on a paper book? Maybe this will be possible in the future when flexible screens become available. My Nexus 7 has full Internet, plays movies, makes video calls and takes pictures also. (OK - not very good ones)
  • Do you feel the author needs rewarding for the time they spent writing your book? If you do then be aware that authors earn more money from e-books than from paper books.
  • Price? In general e-books cost less than a new book. Second-hand paper books may cost even less but your choice may be limited.
  • When you buy an e-book you buy a licence to read it. Most people are not keen on this but if you face a disaster which destroys your library - a fire,  your ebooks will still be there in the cloud whereas your paper books will be in the smoke.
  • The 'wicked bible' error.
    Few books are perfect. They contain typos, spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, timeline errors, sentences which could be phrased better. Once you've bought a paper book - you're stuck with the errors but ebooks can be updated.
That's my choice. What about you?