Meet the most successful indie writers on Kindle in 2018

You cannot read online articles about self publishing without coming across a blog or two claiming to hold the secret to help you become a successful indie writer on Kindle.

I am not writing to dispute the efficiency of their tools nor to cast doubt on their shrewd tricks, far from it. I just would like to approach this subject, like any other, from a data-oriented perspective.

After all, if so many blog writers claim to be serial bestsellers, then we should easily find their books in the top 20 of at least 2 or 3 Amazon categories, right?

Reaching the best seller status on Amazon relies on one single factor: sales! The clue is indeed in the name.

When you think about it, it is more of a marketing feat rather than a writing accomplishment. Be that as it may, who does not dream of having the famous #1 sticker adorning their book’s cover in any given category.

Amazon assigns each book an absolute rank based on its sales number. The books then compete in categories to elect specialized best seller lists: One in the romance category, another one in the contemporary category, etc.

Obviously, the more categories you get referenced in, the more exposure you get and therefore the more sales you make. A higher number of sales raises your absolute rank, which in turn raises your rank in every subsequent category. A chain reaction of sorts that you should well keep in mind that’s why I wrote a small piece on how to list your book in multiple categories.

Who are the most successful writers on Kindle in 2018?

For this study, I gathered a little over 100 000 books, eBooks, hardcovers and audiobooks in all of Amazon’s categories. This number is not that arbitrary. It represents the top 20 best sellers in all of Amazon’s 10 000 categories (some categories have less than 20 books. Some currently have 0 books actually).


I extracted the main author and publisher of these books and crunched the numbers. Right off the bat I can tell you with absolute certainty that only 5% of the bestselling authors manage to have more than 3 books in Amazon’s top 20.

Which author holds the record of bestseller books on the 10th of September 2018?

Before I divulge the results, remember that books’ ranks get update almost hourly. The sames goes therefore for bestseller lists. Some of them only change 20% of their list every 4-5 hours. Others reach as high as 80% rotation every couple of hours.

Perform a quick search on Kindle Ranker to measure the category’s volatility as it can greatly impact your book’s visibility!

Back to our most successful writers.  To my surprise, the winner – by far I might add – is the Lonely planet with over 400 bestsellers, followed by an author named DK  who seem to have around 188 books listed in bestseller lists on Amazon.

When you look closely at the data however, it appears that these “writers” are actually publishing entities. They simply register their names next to the actual writer.

Maybe there is indeed a dedicated writer that oversees all of Lonely Planet’s book projects. All 1500 of them…but then again, that does not really make him or her the writer of said book anymore than the freelance editor that proofread your book.

The Lonely Planet is not the only publishing house doing these sorts of shenanigans. Many others follow their trail.

After cleaning up the data of the many publishers masquerading as authors, we get the following list of the most successful writers on Kindle as of September 2018:


The clear leader is a mysterious indie author named “Dartan Creations”. There may be many writers hiding behind this alias since they published more than 1000 books on Amazon alone. They seem to exclusively write non-fiction material, from nutrition advice to preschool workbooks. Impressive to say the least.


Moving on, we find of course Stephen King (#4) and J.K Rowling (#11) in the lot. But surprise surprise, we have four indie writers who made it to the top 20 bestselling authors:

  • Dartan Creations – 170 bestsellers in multiple non-fiction themes.
  • Jade Summer – 42 bestsellers in coloring books
  • Book List Guru – 36 bestsellers mainly as anthologies and compilation of short stories
  • Martha Stephenson – 34 bestsellers in cooking and baking categories

Pretty neat! Who said Indie writers did not make it to the top?!

Let’s solely focus on indie writers this time. Will we find those famous indie bloggers and writers offering $1000 courses to be a bestselling author? Instead of naming and shaming, I will just print the raw data below and let you perform your own research.

Next time you come across a blog post promising the 10th wonder of the world, you can make up your own opinion based on this data.

I only list indie writers with more than 5 bestsellers. Again, keep in mind that this data is but a snapshot frozen in time of the current bestseller lists. Things may and will chance in the future:

Indie writer# of Amazon bestsellers
Dartan Creations171
Jade Summer42
Book List Guru36
Martha Stephenson34
Ariana Planner26
Anton Chekhov23
Premise Content23
Pretty Planners23
Gordon Rock21
V Moua19
Crafty Nichole18
Daily Journal18
Doug Gelbert18
James McFee17
Yatir Nitzany17
Philipp Winterberg16
Journals For All15
Kerry Hamm15
Perfect Papers15
Jolly Journals14
Lisa Chamberlain14
Simple Print Press14
Maxwell Fox13
Project Fluency13
55 Secrets12
Adele Baker12
Creative Notebooks12
Guidora Team12
Martha Stone12
Melanie Marks12
Neville Goddard12
U.S. Government12
Bert Casey11
David Clark11
Efrat Haddi11
Happy Coloring11
Henry David Thoreau11
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe11
King James11
Rogue Plus Publishing11
S. L. Watson11
Sigmund Freud11
Weekly Planner11
Wild Pages Press11
Bella Forrest10
Carla Hale10
D.J. Creative10
Dianne Harman10
Jack London10
Lora McNeil10
Marc Boney10
MY Diaries & Journals10
Rachel Mintz10
Tatiana Bogema (Stolova)10
Alex Stallman9
Balloon Publishing9
Daniel Humphreys9
Daniel Turner9
Honey Badger Coloring9
Jonathan Jones9
Kenneth Kee9
Lettering Design Co.9
Lilt Kids Coloring Books9
Matthew R. Kratter9
Nancy Dyer9
Nicholas Bella9
Penelope Pewter9
Ryan James9
Sketchbook Creative9
Susan Hollister9
Thomas Balinger9
Traveling The World9
Alex Wong8
Alexandre Dumas8
Alison Weir8
Anthony Boundy8
Brien Foerster8
Chase Hassen8
Cherina Kohey8
Elans Pocket Planner8
Finest City Guides8
I. T. Lucas8
Kapoo Stem8
Matt Clayton8
MedicalPearls Publishing LLC8
Mlenge Fanuel Mgendi8
Morgan Rice8
Worldwide Travellers8
Amanda Oosthuizen7
Annie Clemens7
Bobby Akart7
Charles H. Spurgeon7
Charles Hughes7
Coloring Book Cafe7
Damon Brand7
Emma Katie7
Gameplay Publishing7
Grace Wilkinson7
Jack Rosewood7
Jennifer Smith7
Jerry Cole7
Joel Salatin7
Kahlil Gibran7
Karen Anne Golden7
Kathy Schwalbe7
Madison Faye7
Marc Thil7
Mr. Larry E. Newman7
Roberta Kagan7
Robloxia Kid7
Rocket Publishing7
Sarah Rowland7
Swami Vivekananda7
Valerie Estelle Frankel7
ZenMaster Coloring Books7
A. L. Dawn French6
Anton Swanepoel6
Antonio Araujo6
Benjamin Franklin6
Clayton Geoffreys6
Colleen Houck6
Composition Notebookers6
Damon Zahariades6
Dongxia Zheng6
Federico García Lorca6
Francois Bissonnette6
Gregg Michaelsen6
Jackie D. Fluffy6
Jason Ryan MD6
Javier Marcó6
John Slavio6
Justin Davis6
K. M. Shea6
Lindsay Buroker6
Lisa Brian6
Louise Davidson6
Marti Jo's Coloring6
Mary Ting6
Michael Gordon6
My Hockey Journal6
Nick van der Leek6
Nicole Planner6
Nifty Notebooks6
Nyx Spectrum6
Osie Publishing6
Patrick King6
Phil Ward6
River Breeze Press6
Sam Key6
Sigal Adler6
Steve Allen6
T S Paul6
The Tutorverse6
Tri-Moon Press6
Wax Pages6
William Sullivan6
Younghusband World Travel Journals6
A. Togay Koralturk5
Alexa Riley5
Alexa West5
Amy Sparling5
April Blomgren5
Benjamin Lewin MW5
Cara Miller5
Chad Bomberger5
Charles Fuchs5
Charles Wood5
Claire Svendsen5
Code Well Academy5
Creative art planners5
Daniel Jones5
David K.5
Dottie's Crazy Dot-to-Dots5
Douglas DeLong5
Edward Bailey5
Elans Pocket Calendar5
Emily Byrnes5
Hank Wysocki5
Harry Altman5
Henry Albinson5
Inspired To Grace Adult Coloring Books5
Ivan Turgenev5
J. Gresham Machen5
Jason Patrick Bates5
Jaymin Eve5
Jerry Autieri5
Jessica Sorensen5
Joel Thielke5
John Book Publishing5
Jonathan Edwards5
Joyful Journals5
Kat Andrews5
Kate Lattey5
Katherine Hayton5
Kay de Silva5
Ken Johnson5
Knowledge Powerhouse5
Languages World5
Lea Rawls5
LIKE Test Prep5
M.E. Martin5
Mark Mulle5
Marlene Winget5
Max Hudson5
Memory Keepers5
Michael Phillips5
Michael Shaw5
Nadine Hays Pisani5
Olivia Kiss5
OneHour Reads5
Paul Moxham5
Peter Hollins5
Pharm Ibrahim5
Piper Sullivan5
Polyglot Planet Publishing5
Queenie Law5
R. A. Steffan5
Richard CUI5
Robyn Wideman5
S Daly5
S Murphy5
S. T. Joshi5
Sean Donnelly5
Stephen Satoshi5
Tutorial Books5
U. C-Abel Books5
Vernon Coleman5
Wilma Peterson5
Yeon Rhee5
Yoshihito Isogawa5

What about the most successful indie writers?

Instead of focusing on specific writers let’s look at the general trend of the publishing ecosystem on Amazon.

Around 12% of the top 20 books on Amazon are self published. 12% is not much by any standard. It perfectly illustrates the hardest challenge for any indie writer: Marketing and book promotion! Very few succeed indeed.

Turning our attention to the traditional publishing world for a second, here are the top 10 publishing houses on Amazon based on the number of bestselling authors they signed:


Funny how none of the Big 5 Trade Book Publishers made it to the top 10. We find Penguin and HarperCollins in positions #11 and #19 respectively, but the others are further down the ladder.

Interestingly enough, however, the big 5 are clearly amongst the leaders of the audiobook movement with some solid bestselling authors:

  • HarperAudio – 329 writers
  • Simon & Schuster Audio – 321 writers
  • Hachette Audio – 267 writers
  • Penguin Audio – 216 writers
  • Macmillan Audio – 191 writers

In case you did not already start your audiobook, this should be serving as another reminder to focus your energy on it! Read my piece about why audio books are easier to market and might earn you much more cash than printed books!


What started as a funny interrogation ended up providing some interesting insights on the Kindle ecosystem. Indie writers do make it to the most successful writers list.

Some try gaming the system by massively publishing books, others follow the more conventional road of only writing about their area of expertise.

Much progress needs to be done in order to catch up with traditional publishing but we are getting there!

Alex from KR