Female Authors Dominating Smashwords Ebook Bestseller Lists

By Mark Coker

Each month, Publishers Weekly publishes the Smashwords Self-Published Ebook Bestseller List.  We report our bestsellers based on dollar sales aggregated across the Smashwords distribution network which includes retailers such as iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, the Smashwords store and others.

The other day I was browsing our February 2014 Smashwords bestseller list at Publishers Weekly and realized that all the top 25 bestsellers were written by women.  Cool beans.

Wondering if this was a fluke, I looked at our December 2013 Smashwords bestseller list at PW and bingo, same thing.  All 25 books were written by women.

Then I looked at the bestseller list for November 2013.   Same thing again.  100% women.

Our ebook bestsellers for October 2013?  You guessed it, 100% women.

If you’re wondering why I skipped January in the examples above, it’s because we and PW decided to shift the publication schedule to increase timeliness, so we skipped January and published February in March.

Why are women dominating the Smashwords bestseller lists, other than the fact that these women are all super-awesome writers?  One likely factor is that romance is the #1 bestselling genre at Smashwords, and romance is overwhelmingly written by women.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  I’m constantly blown away the smarts, savvy and sophistication of romance authors.  These ladies have pioneered many of the ebook publishing and distribution best practices that so many indies take for granted today.

But strong romance performance doesn’t fully explain the story.  While 2/3 of our February bestseller list was romance, 1/3 was not, with the remaining categories including historical fiction, fantasy and mystery.

Could it be that there are more female writers than male writers?  I don’t know the industry-wide or Smashwords-specific gender breakdowns.

Could it be fiction readers, which skew female, prefer books written by women because the authors are women, or because women write stories that are most appealing to women?  I don’t know.

For another reference point, I looked at today’s top 25 bestsellers at the US iBooks store.  64% written by women.  At Amazon US, 56% of today’s top 25 bestsellers are written by women.

There’s a pattern here, but my data points above are too limited to draw a statistically significant conclusion.  For now, file the above under curious and unexplained observations.

Keep up the great work ladies!



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