The Best Seller List: A Brief Overview
The New York Times has a long history. It was founded in 1851 and has run continuously since then, reporting on historical events in the U.S. and across the world.
As for the Best Seller list, that was created in the 1930s. It has evolved over time and as technology has changed, new lists have been added. One example are the audiobook lists. Notably, the list doesnt focus on the books with the best reviewsthe focus is on sales.
The New York Times currently publishes 11 weekly and seven monthly lists, per Jordan Cohen, the Executive Director of Communications at The New York Times.
In addition to the audiobook lists, theres a Hardcover Fiction list, a Paperback Nonfiction list, and a Childrens Picture Book list, just to name a few.
Which books end up on the list? The New York Times has published an article explaining their methodology, such as the criteria to be considered for the list, how they define sales, and when bulk purchases are made. There are also standards in place at the company, which includes the Best Seller list.
Exactly which stores send data on sales for the list is information thats kept private.
How Does A Book Become A Best Seller For The Nyt
There are several criteria for being included in the New York Times best-selling list. You might have noticed that virtually all the popular books out there are labeled as an NYT bestseller, but its much more complex than just having people buy your books.
To achieve best-seller status in the New York Times, a minimum of 5,000 to 10,000 copies must be sold. The catch is, these sales have to be diverse. To put it plainly, you need to sell well on many platforms, not just one.
For example, thousands of sales from singular platforms like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or your website cannot count for most of your sales. Instead, only a certain percentage will be counted, and the rest has to come from other bookstores or e-commerce stores.
Sales also have to come from different geographical locations, meaning across the country and the world. This contributes to the controversy that the New York Times best-selling list isnt an accurate measure of a books publication success.
How Do Best Seller Lists Work
For you, the aspiring writer whose goal it is to be published in their Bestseller list, probably the most important thing to know is what is worth writing if you are to get your work published on the list.
Again, The New York Times does not consider various categories for their bestseller list. A helpful article published on their site about their various guidelines and scoring method clarifies the matter.
Here is what those guidelines state:
Among the categories not actively tracked at this time are: perennial sellers, required classroom reading, textbooks, reference and test preparation guides, e-books available exclusively from a single vendor, journals, workbooks, calorie counters, shopping guides, periodicals and crossword puzzles.
Cookbooks, contrary to popular belief, are included, as are religion, spirituality, and faith books.
Don’t Miss: How To Apply For Nys Medicaid
How Much Money Does A New York Times Best
Authors who make the NYT bestseller list have to sell at least 10,000 copies, so at a 10% royalty rate with a book priced at $20, theyll make at least $20,000much of that going to pay back their initial advance.
That said, many authors who make the list sell more than 10,000 books, selling even more once their book appears on that list as well. However, if the author was paid a higher advance, lets say $50,000, they would have to sell 25,000 books at a 10% royalty rate for a $20 book in order to pay back the advance.
Only then will they start to earn additional income from book sales that surpass their initial advance.
All to say, how much you make purely depends on the books list price, your royalty rate, and how much of your advance you have to pay back if youre traditionally publishing.
What Happened To You By Bruce D Perry And Oprah Winfrey
Goodreads Rating: 4.29 Stars
For non-fiction fans, Perry and Winfreys latest book will change your perspective in life. Have you ever wondered why you did this thing or why you couldnt control your reaction to something? Self-blame is easy and often inevitable. But perhaps its time to ask deeper questions of what happened to you instead of wondering whats wrong with you.
With multi-awarded personality Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry, they delve into personal conversations that you may need to hear sooner rather than later.
You May Like: Toll Cost From Va To Ny
People We Meet On Vacation By Emily Henry
Goodreads Rating: 4.17 Stars
Alex and Poppy. Poppy and Alex. With their personalities on the opposite side of an imaginary spectrum, they never expected to be best friends during their college years. Every summer since, they have spent one glorious week of vacation. As friends, spiritual, nothing more.
Until two years ago. They havent spoken since. Both miserable without the other, Poppy asks Alex to go on one last week of vacation to set things straight or be out of each others lives forever. One week with the two of them together. Nothing could go wrong or something could go impossibly right.
What It Means And How To Get It
Making the list means everything to the marketing of a book and its author. It leads to bonuses, movie deals, speaking engagements, and sometimes controversy.
According to Dr. Miller, also allows for much more room for manipulation. An author will send out an email blast to everyone he or she knows that says, ‘My book is being released on X-day. It is extremely important that you buy it, so that it will go way up in the rankings, so if youre going to buy it at all do it on that particular date. And that skews the numbers temporarily.
Publishers even, reportedly, buy their way onto the list through bulk purchases sometimes through a third party. An author may actually write a successful book but never even touch the NYT’s list because they don’t have a powerful enough publisher to buy their way on or create a loud enough buzz. The hypothetical author may also just have a book on their hands that sells slowly but steadily. Or, this author might have just missed some other random checkbox from the magical formula that only a few know.
With so much at stake, authors continue their fight for inclusion on the list because it is the single best way for readers to hear about their book. Validation, money, and popularity are hard things to come by in the literary world, and to get them, you have to be #1.
The New York Times Bestsellers
at the time of this article’s publication
COMBINED PRINT & E-BOOK FICTION
GREY, by E. L. James. A sequel told from Christian’s point of view.
Don’t Miss: Nys Legal Name Change
The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers Of 1982
- This page was last edited on 4 May 2021, at 00:22 .
Why Every Bestseller List Is Always A Lie
Simply put: every bestseller list is a lie because no bestseller list measures the best selling books.
Let me repeat that, so you can grasp the gravity of what it means:
No bestseller list measures the actual best selling books.
Every single list is either measuring a limited number of sales in a few places, or far worse, its a curated list and a small group of people are what to put on their list. And theyre picking books based on what they think are important books, not based on what is actually selling.
This is not my opinion. They all admit this.
The most important bestseller list is The New York Times Best Seller List, and they are the worst culprit at this curated elitism. They readily admit that their list is only reflective of books that are selling at a certain number of bookstores and online retailers around the countrybut not an actual best seller list.
You know why they have to admit this publicly? They were sued about it.
For most of the 20th century, they pretended to use a scientific method to count book sales, and claimed their list was authoritative and accurate.
And then William Blatty wrote a novel called The Exorcist . It sold more than enough copies to be high on the list for a long time, but initially did not appear on it.
He lost the case. Why?
Because the New York Times defense was that the list did not purport to be an object compilation of information but instead was an editorial product.
Read Also: Www.nyc.gov/parkingservices
The Prerequisites For A Bestseller Campaign
Goals trade off in all aspects of life. You cant have pizza and Mexican food and Italian food for dinner. You have to pick one.
Goals for your book act the same way. You cant get everything you have to focus on one or two goals.
This is especially true for bestseller lists. In order to even have a chance at getting on the New York Times Best Seller list, you must do all of these things:
Surprise: Republican Politicians Also Cheat At Book Sales
The bestseller list is a surprisingly complicated creature. A good and thorough explanation is here, but basically, to get on any official list of bestsellers, you have to sell at least 5,000 books in a single weekwhich seems straightforward, except that its really hard to count books sold week-to-week, even harder to count books sold by non-traditional outlets, and also not everyone is looking at all the same numbers. Publishers Weekly uses BookScan, but BookScan doesnt track everything. Other bestseller lists rely on reported data from bookstores , or a combination. The New York Times list is the most prestigious, of course, because its the New York Times, but also, at least in part, because its the most opaque. The Timess best-seller lists are based on a detailed analysis of book sales from a wide range of retailers who provide us with specific and confidential context of their sales each week, a New York Times spokesperson told Vox. These standards are applied consistently, across the board in order to provide Times readers our best assessment of what books are the most broadly popular at that time. Which doesnt tell us much, and the Times is notoriously hush-hush about which stores they track and how they interpret and arrange their data.
Not everyone will forget, though. Considering the recent spate of bestseller-list drama, here are eight notable instances of list-hacking in its various forms, from the very cynical to the very silly.
. . .
Don’t Miss: Submit Poems To The New Yorker
What Writers Need To Know About The New York Times Bestseller List
Even though it retains its prestigious reputation, The New York Times Bestseller list has been the subject of much controversy. Charges of curated elitism, an overreliance on books published by the major New York publishing houses, questionable methodologies, bribery, editorial and political bias have prompted lawsuits and intense debates among authors, book publishers, and industry executives.
A 1983 lawsuit by William Beatty, an American writer best known for his novel The Exorcist and 1973 movie by the same name, is a case in point.
While his book Legion sold many copies during its initial publicationenough to earn a comfortable spot for a while on the Times Bestseller listhis book appeared on the list only for one week.
Sensing bias and claiming that by it not remaining on the Timess list his sales were being hurt, Beatty took his case to Court. In Court, the Times defended itself on grounds that The list did not purport to be an objective compilation of information but instead was an editorial product. The Court sided with the Times, dismissing a $3 million lawsuit.
Think of it like this: The New York Times is the newspaper equivalent to a prestigious university and fashionable high-end clothing brand. When it comes to getting on their bestseller list, just as it is for gaining admission to, say, an Ivy League School, few get in.
New Best Sellers Run The Gamut From Escapist To Galvanizing
- Read in app
CLEAN SLATE I love books the way Lennie in Of Mice and Men loved his pet mouse, writes Nita Prose on her website. For this reason, I dont advise you ever to lend me your prized first folio edition of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies as I may return it dog-eared and enhanced with a shabby chic patina of Scotch tape. The aptly pseudonymed debut novelist her real name is Nita Pronovost lands at No. 8 on the hardcover fiction list with The Maid, a rip-roaring mystery about a housekeeper at a five-star hotel who discovers a dead body in a penthouse suite. Our Crime columnist described the book as an endearing debut, with real emotional heft but, for grounded travelers, it also provides a much-needed sojourn to the world of crisp sheets, room service and constantly replenished Crabtree & Evelyn shampoo. Remember the pleasingly generic smell of a bustling lobby? Prose captures it perfectly: The mélange of ladies fine perfumes, the dark musk of the leather armchairs, the tangy zing of lemon polish thats used twice daily on the gleaming marble floors. It is, she writes, the fragrance of life itself.
You May Like: How Much Is Car Registration In Ny
The Wall Street Journal Best Seller List
This list is not as prestigious as the New York Times list, but for business books at least, carries almost as much social capital. And most of the weirdness and elitism from the NYT list doesnt apply to the WSJ list.
How they describe their methodology, from their site:
Nielsen BookScan gathers point-of-sale book data from more than 16,000 locations across the U.S., representing about 85% of the nations book sales. Print-book data providers include all major booksellers and Web retailers, and food stores. E-book data providers include all major e-book retailers . Free e-books and those sold for less than 99 cents are excluded. The fiction and nonfiction lists in all formats include both adult and juvenile titles the business list includes only adult titles. The combined lists track sales by title across all print and e-book formats audiobooks are excluded.
This is about as fair and reasonable as you can getvery much the opposite of the New York Times list.
Tips & Tricks:
- It usually takes about 3,000-5,000 sales to hit the WSJ bestseller list.
- You can absolutely get books that arent from traditional publishers on this list. We did it with James Altuchers Choose Yourself, Josh Turners Connect, and many others.
- Theres not much trick here. Just get the sales and you can get on this list. The important thing is making sure all of the sales come from different people and are during the opening week. Bulk sales are not counted.
How To Get On The New York Times Bestseller List
Do you want to learn how to get on the New York Times Bestseller list?
If soyou may have the common aspiration to become a bestselling author. The prestige, the title, and the credibility are all super tempting
But theres more to landing on the NYT Bestseller list than just writing and publishing a book and hoping it gets there.
In fact, there are some huge misconceptions around the New York Times Bestselling Author status to begin with, but well get to that later.
These dreams of yours are amazing. Lofty, but right on point. The amount of impact you can have by being a bestselling author is awe-worthy.
For example, our student Anita Oommen not only wrote and published a bestseller, but the impact was immediate on those closest to her: her children, who went on to write and publish theirown books.
If you want to skip right down to these steps, .
The Anatomy of A Bestseller
How To Get 5-Star Reviews
Create raving fans without compromising your original vision! Learn how to structure your book to sell more copies in this free online class!
Otherwise, stick around so that you can gain a further understanding of what it actually means and what it truly takes to get on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Because it could impact your path to get there
Recommended Reading: How Much Is It To Register A Car In Ny
The Cheat Code: Buying Your Way Onto The List
Services exist that will guaranteefor a large feethat you get on the list. They are very expensive, and for the most part, if you read the fine print, their results are not actually guaranteed .
I have never used one directly, but I know the three major companies well, because weve had clients who used them, and the results have been mixed. Sometimes they work well, other times not.
I would estimate that a large number of books that hit the bestseller list are bought. At least 50-100 per year, on average for the last decade.
And like I said before, buying a place on the list is a pure ego play. If spending $200,000 to see your name on the NY Times Best Seller List is worth it to you, then go for it. Just be up front with yourself about what you are doing and why.
Regardless of whether or not you reach the top of a bestseller list, your book can still have a huge impact on your bigger business goals. Scribe has worked with over 2,000 Authors, many of whom have made well over 6 figures in revenue from the new business their book brought them.
If youre ready to become a published Author, schedule a consultation to speak with one of our Author Strategists.
Read This Next