Women authors own UK ebook best-sellers’ list

Women writers dominate the list of the  best-selling ebooks sold through the UK Kindle store this year and Amazon is getting a bonus from the craze for colouring books by selling pencils as well as books to stressed-out folk seeking mindfulness through art therapy.

An overwhelming 18 of the top 20 ebooks are by female authors, with Paula Hawkins in No 1 spot with The Girl On the Train and E L James second with Grey. There are six debut novels on the list and 17 of the books are by British writers.

The figures were released this week by Amazon in its Summer Report and cover sales in the year so far.

Independent publisher Bookouture has a double whammy with two ebooks by crime author Angela Marsons in the top 20 — Silent Scream taking third place and Evil Games at No 20.

Bookouture was set up by Oliver Rhodes a couple of years ago and pays authors 45% of net ebook receipts, which is considerably higher than the 25% generally paid by traditional publishers on ebook sales. The firm accepts unagented submisions from writers across a wide range of genres and it’s particularly looking for ‘entertaining, emotional stories for smart, modern women’.

Self-publishing star Rachel Abbott is in 11th place with Stranger Child and Kathryn Hughes takes 18th spot with The Letter, which was originally a self-published smash before being signed up by Headline Review.

Another independent publisher, Black and White Publishing, takes 15th place with The Ballroom Cafe by Irish writer Ann O’Loughlin. Black and White was founded in 1999 in Scotland by Campbell Brown and Alison McBride. It also accepts unagented submissions from writers and at present is looking for:


  • Commercial women’s fiction, especially chick lit, saga and romance
  • Crime and psychological thrillers
  • Contemporary YA and New Adult crossover books
  • Children’s fiction



  • Memoirs
  • Sport (UK and Ireland in particular)
  • Humour
  • Food and drink
  • Activity books


Most of the ebooks in the top 20 are at the darker end of the genre spectrum, covering psychological thrillers, crime and police procedurals. Paula Hawkins moved from writing chicklit romances to dark psychology with The Girl On The Train, and Fiona Neill, who has written The Secret Diary of a Slummy Mummy newspaper column and book, has made a similar shift from light to dark with The Good Girl taking 16th place in the UK Kindle best-sellers.

Here’s the full list of the Top 20 ebooks in the Kindle UK store so far in 2015:

  1. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
  2. Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian by E L James
  3. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons
  4. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
  5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  6. The Lie by C L Taylor
  7. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
  8. The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams by Fiona Harper
  9. Hide Her Name by Nadine Dorries
  10. Personal by Lee Child
  11. Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott
  12. Us by David Nicholls
  13. The Throwaway Children by Diney Costeloe
  14. The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond
  15. The Ballroom Café by Ann O’Loughlin
  16. The Good Girl by Fiona Neill
  17. Closer Than You Think by Karen Rose
  18. The Letter by Kathryn Hughes
  19. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
  20. Evil Games by Angela Marsons


However, when it comes to the Top 20 of all the books sold by Amazon in the UK so far this year, only five novels make the list while there are eight books about (mainly) healthy eating, four colouring books (with Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom in second place), a book about mindfulness, Zoe Suggs’ Girl Online and The Official Highway Code.

The domination of women authors continues in the overall top 20 with Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward in the No 1 spot and colouring book Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom placed second. All of the leading 10 books are by women — 11 authors, as one title has two co-authors.

Out of the 12 authors of the books placed 11-20 (I’m excluding The Highway Code as there are no authors listed), seven are women and five are men, making an overall total for the top 20 books of 23 authors comprising 18 women and five men.

Colouring seems to be a peculiarly British obsession at present. The comparative popularity of the category can probably be seen in the relative reception given to Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom, which has 1,083 reviews on Amazon.co.uk with a 5-star average while on Amazon.com the book has just 81 reviews (also 5-star average though).

Animal Kingdon sold over half a million copies in just six months since publication in August last year and has since gone over the million mark. Marotta’s new colouring book Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland, which is being published this weekend (August 29), has seen a staggering first print run of 500,000.

Marotta has just signed a new deal with her publisher, Batsford (an imprint of independent publisher Pavilion), for two new colouring books, including Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah to be published early next year.

The Art Therapy Colouring Book, which is 11th on the top 20 has 718 customer reviews on Amazon.co.uk (four-and-a-half-star average) while there are just 40 reviews on Amazon.com (also four-and-a-half stars).

The Art Therapy Colouring Book is published by independent Michael O’Mara Books, which says it has sold over 340,000 books in its range of colouring titles.

Amazon notes in its report that colouring is particularly popular in South London (presumably with its high stress levels) and Wales (not so stressful, I’d have thought) and it boosts its book sales with orders of Staedtler Noris Colouring Pencils.

The Top 20 of all the books available on Amazon.co.uk so far this year are:

  1. Deliciously Ella: Awesome Ingredients, Incredible Food That You And You And Your Body Will Love by Ella Woodward
  2. Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta
  3. Grey: Fifty Shades Of Grey As Told By Christian by E L James
  4. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
  5. Nourish. Glow: 10 Easy Steps For 
Losing Weight, Looking Younger & Feeling 
Healthier by Amelia Freer
  6. Davina’s 5 Weeks To Sugar-Free by Davina McCall
  7. Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites 
by Mary Berry
  8. Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
  9. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
  10. The Art Of Eating Well by Jasmine Hemsley and Melissa Hemsley
  11. The Art Therapy Colouring Book
 by Richard Merritt and Hannah Davies
  12. The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy For Busy People
 by Emma Farrarons
  13. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt And Colouring Book by Johanna Basford
  14. Mindfulness: A Practical Guide
To Finding Peace In A Frantic World by Professor Mark Williams
The Official Highway Code by The Driver And Vehicle Standards Agency
  16. Girl Online by Zoe Sugg (Aka Zoella)
The Hairy Dieters: How To Love Food And Lose Weight by The Hairy Bikers
  18. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  19. The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer
  20. Get The Glow: Delicious And Easy Recipes That Will Nourish You From
 The Inside Out by Madeleine Shaw