Some inaccurate Gemmell figures

So I thought I needed to do a follow-up to my last, esp in light of Stan Nichols replying to my last. To get more of a clue I fetched up the list of winners and shortlisted books for the Legend award to see what Goodreads ratings they have – yes, I know that’s hardly scientific, but it’s a handy rough guide for how books have sold in the US & UK markets so it’s a starting point:




Best novel: Andrzej Sapkowski for Blood of Elves – 20k

Nominated: Juliet Marillier for Heir to Sevenwaters – 10k

Nominated: Brandon Sanderson for The Hero of Ages -128k

Nominated: Joe Abercrombie for Last Argument of Kings -61k

Nominated: Brent Weeks for The Way of Shadows -98k




Best novel: Graham McNeill for Empire 335 ratings

Nominated: Joe Abercrombie for Best Served Cold -32k

Nominated: Pierre Pevel for The Cardinal’s Blades – 575 ratings

Nominated: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson for The Gathering Storm – 89k

Nominated: Brandon Sanderson for Warbreaker – 53k




Best novel: Brandon Sanderson for The Way of Kings – 129k

Nominated: Pierre Pevel for The Alchemist in the Shadows 0 269 ratings

Nominated: Brent Weeks for The Black Prism – 52k

Nominated: Peter V. Brett for The Desert Spear – 51k

Nominated: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson for Towers of Midnight – 87k

Nominated: Markus Heitz for The War of the Dwarves – 3k




Best novel: Patrick Rothfuss for The Wise Man’s Fear – 230k

Nominated: Brandon Sanderson for The Alloy of Law – 67k

Nominated: Kristen Britain for Blackveil – 7k

Nominated: Joe Abercrombie for The Heroes – 25k

Nominated: William King for Blood of Aenarion – 200 ratings




Best novel: Brent Weeks for The Blinding Knife – 36k

Nominated: Helen Lowe for The Gathering of the Lost – 464 ratings

Nominated: Mark Lawrence for King of Thorns – 32k

Nominated: Joe Abercrombie for Red Country – 19k

Nominated: Jay Kristoff for Stormdancer – 8k




Best novel: Mark Lawrence for Emperor of Thorns – 24k

Nominated: Peter V. Brett for The Daylight War – 32k

Nominated: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson for A Memory of Light – 61k

Nominated: Scott Lynch for The Republic of Thieves – 40k

Nominated: Adrian Tchaikovsky for War Master’s Gate – 537 ratings

(because I was curious, seeing that as the most obvious outlier, I checked book 1 in that series: 6k ratings – very good, but not high enough to be an explanation)



Best novel: Brandon Sanderson for Words of Radiance -81k

Nominated: Joe Abercrombie for Half a King – 24k

Nominated: John Gwynne for Valour – 3k

(was also curious about that one, book 1 won the Morningstar award but only has 5k ratings, so not enormous, Valour’s got over 200 Amazon reviews, more than Prince of Fools so maybe it’s sold better than this suggests, maybe just highlights the flaws of my method and original thinking!)

Nominated: Mark Lawrence for Prince of Fools – 11k

Nominated: Brent Weeks for The Broken Eye – 21k



So there are a number of outliers there, Pierre Pavel being one, McNeill, King, Lowe, & Tchaikovsky. Pavel is translated from French so there *may* be a distortion there given Goodreads is an English language  site, (similarly Heitz is I believe bigger in his home country than in English language territories) McNiell and King are Games Workshop books which I suspect distorts the figures, but Lowe and Tchaikovsky are very interesting results that my theory certainly can’t explain. I know Tchaikovsky is active on social media and his series has a good following, but not to the extent that he could (or would) game the vote, and I assume Lowe is the same on that front.


So all this doesn’t prove or disprove much, not least because some of these books weren’t massive sellers at the outset. Books like Hero of Ages have sold vastly more than those they lost to, but I believe Sanderson’s sales were more modest at the time.


However, it doesn’t offer a huge amount of hope to a minnow like me for next year’s award (Stranger of Tempest is eligible for next year, this year I’ve got Old Man’s Ghosts on the longlist but really almost no-one bought that and it’s less of a Gemmell type fantasy anyway).


But for all this, there’s little more to say until the shortlist is released (on Friday I believe?) so I’ll do a follow-up when I can get near a computer over the weekend.



2 thoughts on “Some inaccurate Gemmell figures

  1. Amazon reviews are typically a better measure than Goodreads, if only because of how integrated reviews are to their system. Generally there will be a review for every 100-200 sales. And don’t forget the different marketplaces. Uk, and US are the main ones to look at.
    I looked over you last post, and certainly see your point. You are a fantastic author. The Twilight Reign is among my favorite series of all time. In many ways because of how it reminds me of a more personal Malazan Book of the Fallen. But possibly due to the same similarities it is harder to get into, and likely as polarising.
    An award would serve you well to open up more readers to you. You certainly deserve one.

    1. I’m not convinced about Amazon reviews being better, not least because not everyone sells that well on Amazon, such as me. Using your figures as a guide I’ve sold less than 1/3 of my actual sales for Stormcaller. I reckoned Goodreads was a more useful site because it merged UK & US ratings, and often people can’t be bothered to put a review up but will at least log it as read, something you’re not able to do on Amazon. But I certainly acknowledge the flaws in the system!

      Thank you for what you said about my books also, that means a huge amount to me! I’m not sure about deserving of awards, but given this one is almost the only one aimed at the sort of books I write, it would be nice to feel I had a chance.

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