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Okay, here’s today’s mystery achievement, and perhaps SOMEONE somewhere can give us a clue. As of 10 pm last evening, HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE by Ivory Madison and Cliff Richards was the #10 bestseller on Amazon. Not comics bestseller. BEST-SELLING BOOK. If you don’t believe us, here’s the screen grab! (Click for larger version.)

Don’t get us wrong, this is a fine book that has been relatively well-reviewed and all but…what? Did Ashton Kutcher tweet about it? Did Oprah? Does the New York Times have something to do with it? As we write this, the book has plummeted to #14 on the overall list…WHAT GIVES?

(Thanks to Todd for emailing us the link.)


  1. Well-reviewed? I thought it was considered as one of the worst comics published in 2008. If they only had bought Huntress:Cry for Blood instead…

  2. http://browse.barnesandnoble.com/browse/nav.asp?env=web&endecaid=&visgrp=fiction&bncatid=1133349&cds2Pid=16864&linkid=1017972

    Okay… I’m not privy to the sales ranking algorithm at BN.com, but from empirical evidence, it tends to be rolling, accounting for previous days sales as well as more recent sales.

    Today, April 21, at 9:25 AM, this title ranked 112,984 overall on BN.com.

    For comparison, the Watchmen trade paperback ranks: 243. Picoult’s Wonder Woman is an amazing #911. (Anything in the Top 1000 is exceptional; currently there are five graphic novels on that list.)

    #1000 on the graphic novels listing (type “graphic novels” into the search engine, click on “bestsellers”), ranking 70,263 overall, is “Buddha, Volume 4: The Forest of Uruvela”.

    Thus, I suspect the bestselling status of Huntress is probably a bulk order of some sort. Who would do such a thing? Warner Brothers Entertainment? Possibly as a spin-off character from Dark Knight? I wonder what Barbara Joyce is doing nowadays…

  3. I suspect what we are seeing is some bulk order as a result of an Huntress movie getting green lit at some stage. Thus Hollywood has descended on the character and picked the first thing they found.

    I predict:
    The Huntress – starring Miley Cyrus

  4. Right now it shows that it’s #16 in Books. Are there even enough copies of this book in print to satisfy that kind of demand? How many thousands of copies does being #16 on Amazon represent?

  5. DC cannot win. If something they have sells, they still get slamed.

    If Warner Brothers want more of the trades for a promotion of some sort, why wouldn’t they just print more?

    My question is with all the Wolverine promos, why don’t we see Wolverine trades at the top of Amazon? How is it that is seems DC’s media products have helped sale of DC trades on Amazon much more than Marvel? Were there any must have Iron or Hulk trades on Amazon last year?

    Who knows maybe the sales of the Huntrees trade is just a blip or glitch. My question considering Marvel’s #1 status is what is not there at the top of Amazon’s List. You could also look at the recent NY Times list list and ask the smae question.

    If we see the Huntress Trade on the NY times list, maybe will will be seeing more Huntress. I have no problem with that. :)

    By the way I enjoyed Huntress Year One.

  6. Assuming that there isn’t a glitch in Amazon.com’s system, the best explanation seems to be bulk purchases, whether or not the purchases were/are made for the purpose of manipulating the sales ranking. Bulk purchases could be the reason for the high rankings of the books on the list by Levin (#2) and Skousen (#8). If HUNTRESS doesn’t show up on any weekly bestseller lists, that would leave bulk purchases as the only legitimate explanation, IMO.


  7. Well, I’d initially been thinking some sort of coordinated e-mail newsletter more than bulk purchase (the Amazon rigging works better if you can get 50 people to buy it in the same hour, not 1 person buying 50… or so the experts tell me), but it’s been in the top 20 for 12 hours and that suggests sustained purchasing.

    With the Amazon rank at ~113K, my money is still on some sorted targeted promotion linking to Amazon. The bestseller lists for Amazon and BN.com are usually _fairly_ similar and that kind of a switch up shouldn’t be an accident.

  8. Amazon has been having a bunch of glitches recently — this may be one of them.

    With due respect to the people at DC, it’s hard to imagine they’d have printed enough copies to have the book be at that kind of sales level for long (it’s at #17 now) and still be in stock.

    It’d be great if that many people were buying the book and the creative team was going to get that kind of royalties, but I think it’s far more likely to be a computer glitch of some sort.

  9. I agree – computer error is far and away the most probable explanation. If there was a genuine reason which was causing that many people to rush out and suddenly buy a random DCU trade paperback, we’d probably know about it.

  10. Figuring out how to correlate Amazon’s sales rankings with real numbers of books actually sold is a source of great speculation. For what it’s worth, though, some analyses suggest that a book with an Amazon ranking in the 10-20 range may actually be selling a few hundred to a thousand units a day; not necessarily multiple thousands of copies.

    If this isn’t a glitch, and if the real sales for this book are really a few hundred units in a short period of time, and not multiple thousands of copies, it’s somewhat easier to imagine that the publisher may have printed that many copies, or that that much stock is out there in book distribution pipelines.

  11. A little birdy told me that Amazon confirmed it was a bulk sale to one customer. Not very twitterific as previously reported.

  12. TopJack–Why make a personal attack on Ivory, someone you don’t even know? I’ve met her several times and she has always impressed me as a pleasant, talented person.

  13. Looks like Ivory is pulling a Jay-Z (bulk buying her own stuff to put it on top of the charts). Huntress: Year One is the new Kingdom Come!

  14. The glitch theory seems the most plausible, although Todd also has a point; Amazon’s rankings are “updated hourly,” so it’s not inconceivable that a concerted effort of a few hundred sales happening at the same time could result in a high ranking.

    In other words, without knowing exactly how the Amazon.com list works, it’s really of no use to anyone.

  15. Coincidentally, a book published by the company I work for is very close to THE HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE on Amazon’s ranking right now, so I can look up sales on that book. (This all is assuming that Amazon’s ranks imply closely comparable sales patterns and that no glitches are going on at the moment — and those may be unwarranted assumptions.)

    But, if those assumptions are reasonable, it would imply that HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE sold somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand copies in the last twenty-four hours.

  16. Madison looks to be one of those rarities, a writer who understands business. Writers who don’t understand business tend to dislike people like this. Doesn’t mean she’s behind this Amazon spike phenom, but until someone who knows talks publicly, we may never know.

  17. Well… I don’t have any data on this, but the consensus changed a couple years back that being on the Amazon list doesn’t really give you an additional sales boost the way it used to, though it may have some impact on foreign rights getting picked up (obviously, that’s less likely a selling point with DC). Now, if the NYT is getting data from Amazon, we’re talking a whole different ballgame for the conspiracy theorists.

    Also, I wouldn’t think the bulk purchase entry at #10 (actually, it was #12, then #10) would still keep you in the top 20 12 hours later unless there was significant follow on sales… or the timing was extremely fortunate.

    Now down to #27.

  18. I’ve never even heard of Ivory Madison. I don’t know if she’s the Virgin Mary in Calcutta or Donald Trump. But the theory of some here is that she spent around $10,790 to bulk purchase 1000 copies to claim a statistical victory? I’d be happy to believe this if someone can tell me what step two would be. Adding a line to her website FAQ? Bragging to Paul Levitz (who has more detailed sales stats)?

    I await, credit card in wallet, for the explanation. I will then buy 1000 copies of Top 10 on Amazon so I can copy her strategy.

    I have heard of things like this being done by lobbyists as a form of payoff to politicians. Buy 10K copies of the memoirs. But I don’t see the payoff here.

  19. I like Gene’s analysis:

    Step 1) Buy 1000 copies of Huntress: Year One

    Step 2) ?????

    Step 3) Profit!!!!!

    My own theory is that the man in the hat from XKCD escaped from the Island, revealed that #1 is in fact Supergirl’s breasts, and is using these copies of Huntress to frame Bob Arctor.

  20. Is it possible that one of the creators (or all of them) ordered copies of the book ahead of con season, thus to have something to sell at the booth/table?

  21. Actually, I heard she purchased around 900 copies, not 1000.

    And I think the plan goes:
    Step 1) Buy a bunch of copies at once to boost your ranking.
    Step 2) Send them out to everyone you know and hope for good blog mentions.
    Step 3) Profit, or at least another book deal.

  22. Maybe she ordered 1000 copies with Amazon Prime shipping and then will refuse delivery, temporarily inflating her sales but costing her nothing?

    What…makes as much sense as some of the other stuff floated here. ;)

  23. doesn’t that screen grab indicate that it’s on;y numero uno under comics & graphic novels?

    I mean, there could still be a number one, books, under the subcategory science fiction or something? O.o

  24. Good point by Gene Ha.
    I read the Huntress mini-series. It wasn’t great, but it certainly wasn’t “…one of the worst comics published in 2008.”
    Heidi or Mark, please check to see how many of these posts are from the same person/computer. The number of replies about such a minor subject seems excessive.

    Or perhaps people are feeling more argumentative after coming down from their 420 Day buzz.

  25. phunengames: “My question is with all the Wolverine promos, why don’t we see Wolverine trades at the top of Amazon? How is it that is seems DC’s media products have helped sale of DC trades on Amazon much more than Marvel? Were there any must have Iron or Hulk trades on Amazon last year?”

    I think that’s more a testament to DC’s marketing of their books than anything else. They’re very good at it and are able to promote related books of interest that have an easy entry point for readers. Marvel seems to focus more on single issue comics when a movie comes out instead of collected editions. Just giving their website a quick glance, I don’t even see a single mention of the term “graphic novel” on their main page

  26. This is the first chance I’ve had today to clean up this thread and I have removed a few posts that seemed to me to be unduly personal. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with a writer aggressively promoting their work. It’s definitely an oddball story, but let’s not get nasty here.

  27. Rob S – you are assuming she is spending her own money. She’s had Redroom staff working promoting her book for weeks, it’s not so difficult to believe that the book money came out of a company marketing budget.

    Also, giving away a bunch of free books isn’t such a bad idea. If some people don’t like it, they won’t say anything; who trashes an author who just gave you a free book? And the people who do like it may write something good. So you won’t get any negative reviews, and will probably get some positive ones.

  28. Lower tier book from major comics publisher gets publicity: WIN
    Relatively unnown writer gets noticed by Publishers Weekly, and by readers of PW blog: WIN
    Author’s website, a business site to help promote authors, some who read this blog, gets some notice: WIN
    Graphic novel fans notice sales spike, consider reading the book: WIN
    (conjecture) Review copies sent with promotional material (perhaps mentioning sales on Amazon) generate publicity for author and website: WIN
    Author’s reputation as savy marketeer is polished: WIN
    Book released in February continues to sell months later: WIN

    If sales of mini-series and/or book are profitable, author might receive more work from DC.

    If copies are sent to other publishers, and press is favorable, author might receive offers of employment.

    One big minus: no hook to handsell book or grab attention. No “she’s the daughter of Batman-Catwoman in an alternate universe”. No “what if Batman had been a girl?” No “what if Batman’s father had been a mafia don?”

    Hmm… what royalty do creators get when a book sells?

  29. I’ve had people in comic book stores come up to me, with rampant excitement, and tell me that Huntress: Year One is as good as Watchmen.

    So someone. Somewhere. Out there. Feels very justified.

  30. Clearly not on par with Watchmen, but this was a nice little book. It works pretty well as a companion piece to Rucka’s Cry For Blood. I’m interested in seeing some more comic work from Ivory Madison.