When I was young, Sunday was ‘visiting day’; the day where we had our Sunday lunch then bundled into the car and visited my mum and/or dad’s family who lived about 35 miles away. It wasn’t every week but it was regular.
We’d stay for tea at my grandma and granda’s house or occasionally dine with or visit other relatives. Tea was always afternoon tea-style food with sandwiches and scones and cakes. Lovely. Ooh, I could just fancy a bit of cake right now. Nom nom.
On the way home in the car, we’d catch part of the UK Top 40 Singles Chart on BBC Radio 1. We’re talking the late 1970s and most of the 1980s here and this was way before the days of digital downloads. In fact, most of that time was before CDs, with the charts compiled purely on the sale of vinyl records. Showing my age here!
In those days, singles would typically enter the charts and gradually climb up week on week, sometimes only one or two chart positions at a time. It would be exciting listening out for whether our favourite records would have gone up that week and, if so, how far and it would be so disappointing if they’d dropped, especially as that would typically mean the song wasn’t played.
What was even more exciting was predicting who’d be in the Top 3. One of the DJs – can’t remember which one now – used to get listeners to phone in with their predictions.
Many amazing records didn’t make it to number 1 but still sold in significant quantities and the ones that did make it to that coveted position often stuck around at the top slot for weeks. Anyone remember Bryan Adams being at number 1 for eight years with ‘(Everything I do) I do it for you’? from the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Okay, so it was 16 consecutive weeks really but it felt like eight years although I never fell out of love with that song despite it being played constantly. This was 1991 and Bryan Adams still holds the record (literally) these days for having the longest number of consecutive weeks at number 1 in the UK.
You might be wondering where I’m going with this on a blog predominantly about writing and I promise there’s a link!
Over the past month or so, the four books in my Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series have been steadily climbing up the Kindle charts and, over Easter, I blogged about how excited I was that they’d all received a best seller tag for at least one of their categories and that they’d all broken into the Top 1000 with Book 2, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, storming ahead at #352 on the morning of 10th April. You can read that blog post here.
Breaking the Top 1000 was so exciting for me. All the books had previously been released under different titles across 2015-2016 and, after my publisher ceased trading, I re-released them as an indie author. They had never got anywhere near this type of chart position so this was an absolute dream come true. But it kept getting better. By late April, they’d all cracked the Top 500 and, a week into May, they’d all cracked the Top 400 with the trailblazer, Seaside Blooms, making it into the Top 100 at #91 on 5th May. Wow!
It didn’t end there and this is where the chart connection comes in. Once a book makes it into the Top 100 on Amazon in any chart – including category charts – then you can see all the books in that Top 100 displayed beautifully in a chart showing the covers rather than just a number at the bottom of the book details.
It’s a lovely visual representation of how your book is performing and which authors have the books out either side of yours.
New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms made it to #51 in the overall Kindle chart a couple of days later on 7th May and suddenly a new milestone of Top 50 seemed realistic. The next day, it got to #42. Was the Top 40 possible? Yes, the following day, it reached #32. But that meant another potential milestone of Top 30. Could it? Would it? The day after – Sunday 10th May, it did. And, not only that, it also reached the Top 25 on the same day. Eek!!!!!
I will admit that, by this point, chart-position-watching had become a bit of an obsession. I think all ‘firsts’ are for writers. I remember staying up until midnight on the day of my first release to watch it arrive on my Kindle. I don’t do that now.
The charts are meant to get refreshed hourly but my experience is they don’t seem to – more like bi-hourly or even every three hours. I couldn’t sleep at night, waking up every couple of hours, wondering if I’d have made it even higher. I am still shattered from several days of doing this. I have, thankfully, got it out of my system now. I wasn’t setting an alarm or anything like that – I’m not that desperate – but it was like my body clock would go, “Right, you, a couple of hours have passed so it’s time to get up and check the charts”. So up I got and padded into my office across the landing to see where I was.
In the very early hours of the Monday morning, I hit #20. Top 20!!! Yay!!!!
But, of course, I wanted more. That’s the problem with achieving a goal; you instantly make a new one! Could I actually get inside the Top 20 into the teens?
It didn’t look like it. On Monday 11th May, Seaside Blooms began to drop to the mid-twenties. Boo. But 20 was absolutely amazing and when it first dipped inside the Top 1000, I’d never have dreamed of reaching that sort of number.
Like the UK singles chart where records go up and down, Seaside Blooms did the same. A good friend of mine tagged me on Facebook on Wednesday 13th May with a screenshot to show #19. I’d done it! I’d made it inside the Top 20 and figured that surely it would end there, especially when it began dropping again.
Up and down, up and down, it gradually moved towards the Top 10 with the highest position to date – #14 – being secured on Sunday 17th May. At some point over the past few weeks, it has held every single position from 14 to 30!
My mum and husband were convinced I’d make it into the Top 10 still but, with a few days having now passed since hitting #14, I think Seaside Blooms has definitely peaked. Although I thought that at #20 and, a few days later, it hit #19 so you never know.
Meanwhile the other three books are all doing me proud:
- Making Wishes at Bay View (Book 1 in the series) is currently at a personal best of #157. Top 150 next?
- Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (Book 3) has a PB of #182 from Monday but has mainly hovered around #200 since then. I’m hoping it will follow Book 1 and 2 nearer the top of the charts as readers steadily work through the series
- Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (Book 4) achieved a PB of #214 earlier today so I’m hoping it will break the Top 200 soon. It would be so amazing to have the entire series in the Top 200 together. Even better if they were in the Top 100 together! I achieved that on AppleBooks UK back in March with all of them being in the Top 75 at the same time which was another really thrilling moment.
I am absolutely delighted and so very grateful to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, for giving me this opportunity and to all the readers who have helped the series rise. I will admit, though, that it doesn’t feel real. When I was at #14, it didn’t feel possible that only 13 books in the UK out of the millions of eBooks on Amazon were higher in the charts than mine. As I’m typing this, it feels like something that must be happening to someone else; not to me.
Without wishing to sound pessimistic, I don’t think this is something that will happen to me again unless one of my books is on something like a BookBub promotion. I think a combination of factors have all come together at the same time to lead to the current positions enjoyed by Seaside Blooms:
- Lockdown Time – people have the time to read a lot more and sales of eBooks have rocketed
- Lockdown Comfort – readers want escapism and they want books that will uplift and hug them, which is what I write
- Whole Series – because these are re-issues, the whole series are out at the same time, creating an appetite for binge-reading and more so during lockdown
- Prime Deal – Seaside Blooms is currently on a Prime deal so lots of Prime members are downloading it too
I don’t have another whole series in my back catalogue to re-issue and I hope we are never, ever in a scenario of lockdown ever, ever again so the above set of circumstances won’t happen again. Or at least I hope the lockdown scenario doesn’t happen again.
Going forwards, I will never forget the moment I broke every goal I dreamed of and those I hadn’t even dared to imagine.
I’ll never forget that unreal moment at 4am, lying back down in bed thinking, ‘I’m at number 14 in the charts!’ and having to fight the urge to wake up hubby to tell him.
I’ll never forget watching my books steadily moving up the charts, just like when I listened to my favourite songs moving up the charts on ‘visiting day’ as a child.
And I’ll never forget those who I’ve been unable to visit for many years. RIP, Granda Wiseman, Grandma and Granda Williams, Uncle Stan, Uncle George and Auntie Olive. Sending love and I hope I’ve done you proud.