Bestseller? ?




So something happened over the Christmas period and then again in January. No, I didn’t check my credit card statement and then instantly start making plans to fake my own death. Well, I did, but I’m not talking about that. No, it was something better. Much better. I entered the overall top 100 paid Kindle Chart on Amazon. What’s more it happened to three books, not just one.

We’ll start with December…

The Village Idiot Reviews (TVIR) & Dating in the Dark: Sometimes Love Just Pretends to be Blind (DITD) went in at different times, both due to promotions – one a freebie and the other a countdown deal (those being the promotion tools KDP Select allows you to use).

The highest I got, with some dips and jumps, was number 57 with TVIR. This also bought with it  a top ten entry in the overall humour chart, which has been my goal since I set out.


It started with TVIR selling a higher than normal amount during a short space of time. This put me in the Movers and Shakers chart, although my ideas about this were wrong. I thought that this chart was the quick road to easy street and that the sales would of course continue to get better and better. It was an opinion I’d formed from seeing other people getting into the chart and the ranking of their books increasing. Mine didn’t, though. It went down. Then back up, then down again, etc. Then after 24 hours it was out of the Movers and Shakers again, before going back in. It went on like that for a couple of days. Then DITD joined it. Both books ended up in the Top 100. That’s the long and short of it. I don’t want to give you a blow by blow account of how they got there. It was just up and down all the way… until they both dropped almost as fast as they’d risen. Which I’ll admit was almost physically painful.


Now, if that wasn’t enough, The Complete Idiot Reviews Boxset also started selling bucket loads when I set it on a countdown deal a week or so later. It was up and down all week, in the top 100, then out again, then 300. It was a real rollercoaster and every time it went up a bit I got excited, thinking it could go all the way, then every time it dropped, it felt like the end of the world. The countdown deal was due to finish on Saturday 18th at 12.00 a.m. It was the Friday afternoon that sales really started to clock up.


I’ve noticed that the ranking system on Amazon is behind the sales count on KDP and when there’s a BIG jump it seems to take a bit longer. I’m not sure how far this is behind the time when people actually click ‘buy’ – it’s fairly difficult to work out. When I’ve tried it during one of my test purchases, someone normally comes along and ruins the experiment by also buying the book, and thus I don’t know which sale was mine.

Anyway, the sales racked up throughout Friday and into the evening, although the ranking kept dropping. It got to the point just before midnight where I thought something must have broken. I’d been so close to the number one slot in the humour charts a few times over the previous couple of days, three ranking places away at a couple of points, only to drop again. Then at half past midnight, the deal finished and the ranking updated.  I’d moved from near #300 to #45, the highest I’ve ever been.  Now, a day or two before and that would have been a #1 in the humour chart but the daily deal two days previously had been a humour book which was now at #26, so I was #2 in the humour chart. I felt like screaming

However, I was glad nothing was broken and I was convinced there was still more to come. I’d sold more books on that day than I’ve ever done in one day and I’d been at #57 with fewer sales on TVIR. An hour later it updated again, to #30. I was now one place away from beating a friend whose book took off earlier in the year. There’s been a little friendly rivalry between us since this all started.  The worst part was, the number one in humour that had been holding me off all week had remained steady at about #50 but the daily deal book was now sitting at #28 overall and #1 in humour. I was still second.

It was late by this point, about 2 a.m. and with a little baby in the house that likes to start her days with some light hearted screaming at about 5, Ihumour no1 needed to sleep. I did wake up at 5 though and checked the ranking.  I was #1 in the humour chart. Matey from the daily deal had fallen. I’d made it.

So, I was number one in a paid mainstream sub-chart. I’ve been number one in sub, sub-charts many times. In 2013, myself and the parody 50 Sheds Of Grey had basically tag-teamed the number one spot. This was different though. This was overall humour, the chart that when I entered the Kindle game Nick Spalding and his hugely successful Love… books were dominating. The position he was in seemed so far away. I secretly hoped and wished that I’d be able to get to that ranking, but I didn’t go as far as believing that I could.

How does this feel? Fucking brilliant, to be blunt.

I have to admit to having thoughts of stopping pushing myself so hard now I’ve reached this point, although I know deep down I won’t. Aside from anything else, I earn money doing this now and with a child and a slight addiction to spending everything I get my hands on, it wouldn’t be a good idea. The other reason is, I love writing. Not the whole process, much of it is lonely, hard graft and a struggle to keep my head in. I do love having a pile of books that I’ve written myself, though, and if I can keep making that bigger until I’ve filled a shelf then I will – then I’ll re-think the strategy.


It doesn’t stop there though, because as of 5 a.m. that morning, I was also able to claim that I’ve been in the top twenty in the UK Kindle chart. At number sixteen, to be precise.


Now, without bragging further, I want to get to why I wrote this in the first place.

Does all this mean I’m a bestseller? Amazon has been labelling my books as ‘Number one bestsellers’ for a while, but it’s always been in a sub-chart. I’ve refrained so far from doing much more than taking a picture of the image and sharing it with my mates on Facebook. I really don’t want to be the guy who writes all over the cover of his books ‘Number One Bestseller’ when really all I’ve done is top a sub-chart once, or worse a sub, sub-chart, or triple worse, and as I’ve seen more than once, topped a sub, sub FREE chart and plastered that all over all other publications. It just seems a bit too ‘Look at me, I’m a cock’ to me.

I’m not saying I haven’t succumbed to excitement and changed my bio on Twitter a couple of times since, trying different variations of ‘best seller’. What I’m saying is, I’m not sure.

Maybe what I’m seeking is other people’s opinion on what this actually means. Maybe I still have a bit of an inferiority complex compared to traditionally published authors and feel like a bit of a fraud. Maybe I desperately want to call myself a bestseller but want to check if people will think I’m a wanker if I do?


Pete Sortwell – Comedy Author. 

If you’d like to read more of Pete’s work please grab a copy of Who Likes Short Shorts, which contains 11 short stories, samples of all his books and is free at all eBook stores. 



1 Comment

  1. Col Bury February 2, 2014 12:19 pm  Reply

    Firstly, well done, Pete, for not only working hard and getting your stuff out there, but also for hitting the tops of several charts.

    However, I do feel that the term ‘Bestseller’ has been diluted and lost some of its value, as it seems so many writers are making claim to it.

    I know what you mean when you compare yourself to traditionally published authors, too, and that’s why I’ve held back on self-publishing my longer works (I’m still subbing traditionally). Nonetheless, I think times are changing and you should be very proud of what you’ve achieved.

    Keep up the good work, feller.


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