Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Understanding Kindle Bestsellers

This blog title is misleading. I make no claim to understand why a book becomes a bestseller on Kindle. I have a few hypotheses, but no real way to test them.

So I'm going to ask you what you think.

Currently, I have four self-published ebook novels on Kindle, each priced at $1.99. As of right now (Feb. 17 at 7:20am) one of these novels has sold 1327 copies so far this month. Another has sold 519 copies. The third has sold 212. And the fourth novel has sold 166.

There's a big gap between 1327 and 166. And I've been scratching my head for months, wondering why that gap has stayed so wide.

Is it cover art? Is it genre? Is it the writing sample people can download for free before they buy? Is it the product description? Is it bestseller ranking (meaning a bestseller continues to be a bestseller because people see it on the bestseller list)? Is it word of mouth?

The natural assumption would be that this book sells the best because it is my best. But I don't feel it's better than the others, and neither do readers if we go by reviews and the email I get.

This gets even stranger, because if I look at the downloads on my website (three of these books are available for free on my site) the bestseller on the Kindle store isn't the bestselling download on my webpage, even though the ebooks all have the same cover art and description as their Kindle counterparts.

Color me confused.

These books have been on Kindle since April. One might think that the numbers would have reached some kind of equilibrium by now. That the biggest seller would slow down, and those who read it and liked it would be buying the other three books. Or that the top bestseller slot would change.

But it hasn't. These four books have been in the same bestselling order since April. Here are their total sales so far:

First bestseller: 9691
Second bestseller: 5014
Third bestseller: 2239
Fourth bestseller: 1716

My question to you is: why?

I'm going to post the covers and the product descriptions for all four. I'm also going to post links, if you're so inclined to download the free sample.

After you look at the covers and descriptions for each, tell me which you think is best, and why.


A medical investigator tormented by secret guilt.
A beautiful doctor with an illicit desire.
A millionaire businessman indulging a passion for murder.
And a human guinea pig who has been awake for seven straight weeks.

DISTURB by JA Konrath
You’ll never sleep well again...

JA Konrath is the author of six mysteries in the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels series, including Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini, Fuzzy Navel, and Cherry Bomb. Disturb is Konrath's first medical thriller.

Disclaimer: This novel is filled with extortion, conspiracy, taboo sex, hidden secrets, shocking violence, and murderous betrayal. Not recommended for the faint of heart.

This ebook version also includes the bonus horror short story, "Dear Diary," about a very special pom pon girl.


A billionaire Senator with money to burn...
A thirty year old science experiment, about to be revealed...
Seven people, marked for death, not for what they know, but for what they are...

THE LIST by JA Konrath
History is about to repeat itself

JA Konrath is the author of six novels in the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thriller series. The latest is CHERRY BOMB.

THE LIST is a bit of a departure for Konrath. It's a technothriller about a group of ten people who each have tattoos of numbers on the bottoms their feet, and don't know why.

One of them, a Chicago Homicide cop named Tom Mankowski, has had one of these strange tattoos since birth. When he investigates a violent murder and discovers the victim also has a tattooed number, it sets the ball rolling for an adventure of historic proportions.

To say more would give away too much.

Like the Jack Daniels series, The List combines laugh out loud humor with serious suspense and thrills.


Thriller writer J.A. Konrath, author of the Lt. Jack Daniels series, digs into the vaults and unearths a technohorror tale from the depths of hell...

1906 - Something is discovered by workers digging the Panama Canal. Something dormant. Sinister. Very much alive.

2009 - Project Samhain. A secret underground government installation begun 103 years ago in New Mexico. The best minds in the world have been recruited to study the most amazing discovery in the history of mankind. But the century of peaceful research is about to end.


ORIGIN by J.A. Konrath
All hell is about the break loose. For real.


Several million bucks, stolen from the mob...

All caught on video, with no chance of redemption...

Now one man must face the entire Chicago Outfit, a group of hardened Mafia enforcers, a psychotic bookie, the most dangerous hitman on earth, and Detective Jacqueline Daniels...

His name is Tequila. And he likes those odds.



So tell me, based on the above, which is the most appealing? What's the best cover? What's the best description? Why is the bestselling ebook selling almost seven times the number of the least selling ebook, when they're all thrillers written by the same author and with similar styles?

I'm eager to hear your responses, because I flat out have no idea why one book sells more than the other three combined.

If you follow this blog regularly, or click on the links to read the free samples (you can download a Kindle reader to your computer for free), you already know which one is my bestseller. But please refrain from trying to explain why it's the bestseller, because that's attributing significance to an occurrence after it happens.

Instead, tell me what does or doesn't appeal, and if you had to buy one of these books, which one it would be and why...

Which JA Konrath Kindle Ebook Would You Buy First?