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Originally published April 23, 2014 at 1:08 PM | Page modified April 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM

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Washington’s best-selling authors of 2013

Washington state’s five top-selling authors of 2013, according to Publishers Weekly, include well-known romance novelist Debbie Macomber, Spokane writer Jess Walter and Kirkland resident and “Vampire Academy” author Richelle Mead.

Seattle Times book editor

On the Web

Author interviews on “Well Read”

You can find archived interviews of Debbie Macomber, Jess Walter and Richelle Mead from “Well Read,” state public-affairs network TVW’s author interview program. Go to and type the author’s name into the search box.


Lit Life

Every so often I dive into murky waters by writing about local authors’ sales figures, in search of an answer to the question: Who are the best-selling authors in our region? My source is the annual Publishers Weekly issue devoted to yearly book sales (PW is the trade publication for the publishing industry).

This is a sticky subject. Why? A few reasons. Let me prepare you for the convoluted world of tracking book sales.

First: PW itself acknowledges that its figures are not 100 percent accurate. For one thing, the figures are self-reported by publishers. Some publishers are scrupulous about calculating “returns” (books shipped to bookstores that don’t sell and are returned to the publisher); others are not.

Second: Some publishers are loathe to give exact figures, so they will say that a specific title has sold more than a certain minimum. For example, the publisher of Port Orchard author Debbie Macomber’s novel “Starting Now” reports that it sold “100,000+” copies, which means that the title sold between 100,000 and 125,000 copies (125,000 is the next category up). This guarantees that the total number of books listed here for Macomber, the No. 1 best-selling author in the state, is a low estimate (for context, an author of a work of literary fiction would be happy with sales of 20,000 books).

Third: Highly successful authors sell many books off their “backlist,” their previously published books. Seattle author Erik Larsontweeted in March that his best-seller “Devil in the White City” had spent 292 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. Sometimes publishers report these figures. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes authors with rights to their backlist republish their own work, and these figures are not included.

Still, who can resist a peek into the inner workings of the book business? Not me. I choose to gaze past the “Duck Commander” phenomenon and look for the good news: Thanks to the recent movie, the “The Great Gatsby,” one of my all-time favorite books, sold over a million copies in paperback and 566,929 copies in e-book form! “The Poky Little Puppy,” which was a best-seller when I was 5, sold 200,000-plus copies last year.

Enough throat clearing: Herewith are the five top-selling authors of 2013 for our state, according to PW:

1. Debbie Macomber. This Port Orchard writer of inspirational romance novels (also a business owner and self-described “devoted grandmother”) is the runaway queen of this list. She sold a reported 1,190,339 copies, including hardbacks, e-books and paperbacks, of five titles: “Starry Night” (150,000-plus hardbacks, 80,000-plus e-books); “Starting Now,” (100,000-plus hardbacks, 90,000-plus e-books); “The Inn at Rose Harbor,” (350,000-plus paperbacks); “Angels at the Table” (350,000-plus paperbacks); and “Hasty Wedding” (70,339 e-books).

2.Jess Walter. A critically acclaimed Spokane writer, Walter is finally a best-selling one. His lovely novel “Beautiful Ruins” sold 524,514 copies in paperback and e-book form. Walter quit his job as a newspaper reporter to become a novelist. His pals still chained to their newsroom desks are happy for him. Really.

3. Susan Mallery. A prolific Seattle-area author, Mallery juggles multiple series (“Fool’s Gold,” “Blackberry Island,” “The Lone Star Sisters,” among others) and has the sales figures to prove it: 494,993 copies of five titles. They’re all listed under e-books: “Three Sisters,” “Just One Kiss,” “Two of a Kind,” “Halfway There” and “Christmas on Fourth Street.”

4. Kristin Hannah. This Bainbridge Island author of what is generically called “women’s fiction” (women make most book purchases, so hard to think of what fiction isn’t) sold 474,889 copies of three titles in hardback, paperback and e-book form: “Fly Away,” “Home Front” and “Firefly Lane.”

5. Richelle Mead. Mead, a Kirkland author of young-adult and adult fiction, catapulted into the top five this year because one of her books, “Vampire Academy,” was made into a movie. She sold 450,000 plus copies of “The Indigo Spell, ” “The Fiery Heart” and the movie-tie-in edition of “Vampire Academy.”

If you are distressed that your favorite Seattle authors are not mentioned here, you can go to and look for them by using the search terms “facts figures 2013”, then straining your eyes by combing every list. Good luck!

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or Gwinn appears every Tuesday on TVW's "Well Read," discussing books with host Terry Tazioli (go to for archived episodes). On Twitter @gwinnma.

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