Whats The Tradeoff Of Going For A Bestseller List
The tradeoffs of going for a bestseller list:
Why Try For It For Most Authors Its Usually About Status
The people we see who are most obsessed with bestseller lists are the authors who view it as a status marker that they can reach that will make people see them differently, and thus feel differently about themselves.
For these authors, striving for a bestseller list is about making them feel important. There is no real business reason. The unstated implication when an author says I want a bestseller is usually something like, I want to brag to people about this and feel important because of it.
Look, I am not judging anyones desire to raise their status by writing a bestselling book. My godI put three books at #1 in the New York Times Best Seller List. Obviously I am guilty of this desire. My ego is fragile and needs recognition and validation, just like everyone else.
But understand this: a bestselling book might make you feel good for awhile, but it will not get you any real respect or fill any holes in your soul.
I say that from experience.
And even if you recognize that status as the reason you care about being a bestselling author, the best thing you can do is admit this to yourself. If you admit it, you can focus fully on that goal, make a realistic plan, and give yourself a realistic shot at actually hitting it.
How Books Get On The New York Times Bestseller
The New York Times has been publishing bestseller lists since 1931. Today, there are many competing lists both in print and online, but the ones in the Times remain influential. Getting a book onto the lists is a sign of prestige. Publishers are thrilled to plaster the words New York Times Bestseller on the covers of their books.
What does it really mean, though, to say that a book is a New York Times bestseller? The Times doesnt count every book that is sold in the country. So how do the lists really work?
Recommended Reading: How Much Are Tolls From Virginia To New York
The Formula And The Purpose
According to The New York Times, the list works as followed: Rankings reflect sales reported by vendors offering a wide range of general interest titles. The sales venues for print books include independent book retailers national, regional and local chains online and multimedia entertainment retailers supermarkets, university, gift and discount department stores and newsstands. E-book rankings reflect sales from leading online vendors of e-books in a variety of popular e-reader formats. Considering that Amazon makes up 65% of ebook sales, that figure is actually fairly easy to estimate. Much like Amazon or Google’s search algorithms, the actual formula for the NYT Bestseller list is a closely guarded secret.
But the list does more than tell us who sold the most books: it elevates the material, offering benefits that industry lists, like Billboard or Publishers Weekly, do not. The Times provides book readers with a sense of what other book readers are reading.
Gaming the system
A week later the Cruz book did appear on the list and the Times official statement said, This weeks bestseller list was arrived at using the same process as last weeks and the week before that That process involves a careful analysis of data, and is not influenced in any way by the content of a book, or by pressure from publishers or book sellers. That turn of events accompanied, A Time for Truth, falling off of the Washington Posts bestseller list.
The New York Times Fiction Bestseller List 2020
Go beyond just the current list of New York Times Fiction Best Sellers to discover every bestselling book listed on the NYT Bestseller List in 2020.
Since 1931, The New York Times has been publishing a weekly list of bestselling books. Since then, becoming a New York Times bestseller has become a dream for virtually every writer.
When I first started reading adult fiction, one of the first places I went for book recommendations was the New York Times Fiction Best Sellers. I wanted to know what books were the most widely read, and start with those.
However, scrolling through the list week by week on The New York Times website is rather annoying. I just wanted all the bestselling fiction books gathered together in one place.
When I couldnt find it, I decided to create it.
Here are all the New York Times fiction bestsellers from 2020. Instead of just the current best seller list, which you can find all over the place, Ive compiled a list of every book that has appeared on the New York Times Fiction Best Sellers list in 2020 for Hardcover Fiction.
Note: The week count in this list stops on the last week of 2020. Visit the 2021 Bestseller List if you want to find out which books kept ranking into the next year.
Since this is a bit of a sprawling post, feel free to jump to the section that most interests you or take your time scrolling through the complete list of New York Times fiction best sellers.
Recommended Reading: How Much Are Tolls From Virginia To New York
If You Enjoyed The Lions Of Fifth Avenue Then Youll Love The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo
What a great read! Perfect balance of pure gossip and Hollywood drama with a gut-wrenching love story all told from the perspective of a woman who is so flawed and so endearing. This book went somewhere that was so surprising and yet made so much sense. It turns all preconceived notions of Hollywood on their head and certainly makes you question anything you’ve read in tabloids and online. A must-read!I just re-read this for my book club almost 3.5 years after the first time . Damn, it is still an engrossing read. The audiobook was narrated by three faves: Alma Cuervo , Robin Miles , and Julia Whelan .
Kimi, Buttonwood Books and Toys
The Rules Of The Bestseller Lists Matter
Even though the odds are against you, its not impossible to do it. But if you want to have a shot to make a list, you must understand how bestseller lists work, so you dont accidentally do something that interferes with the possibility of hitting the list.
For example, when Marc Eckos book, Unlabel, came out in 2013, it sold over 15,000 copies the first week. This was more than enough to hit the New York Times Best Seller list, but the publisher had improperly listed Eckos book as an art book instead of a business book, and this decision alone kept the book off all the bestseller lists .
Know the rules to bestseller lists, because breaking them can keep your book off the list, even if it deserves to be there.
Don’t Miss: Www.nyc.gov/parkingservices
What Exactly Is A Bestselling Book
If you ask a typical person this questionsomeone who has never descended into the muck of the behind-the-scenes reality of the bestseller liststheyll of course answer something like, Its a book that has sold tens of thousands of copies, or, Its the book that has sold the most copies.
Heres a brief intro to how it really works. Further points will go deeper into some aspects of this.
Opinionwe Want To Hear What You Think Please Submit A Letter To The Editor
The New York Times bestseller list is also not the only book list in the game. USA Today also has a popular list Triggered is currently No. 5. Bookscan is another well respected list Triggered is No. 3.
To a certain extent, Sarem said, All the lists are bulls–t. Theres always an ability by anyone with money to influence what happens, and theres no way to completely control that.
This is all pretty fitting, when you think about it. “Triggered” may not win any literary prizes, but it is a good reminder of how easily and often influence is bought and sold.
You May Like: How To Submit Poetry To New York Times Magazine
Your Book Isnt Quite Good Enough
Hugh Howeys Dust sold more than 50,000 copies in its first week, yet only debuted at No. 7 on the NYT bestseller listeven though it far, far outsold books that were higher on the list.
Fantastic question. Apparently, the people making the decisions about which books are selling the most copies didnt think Dust was quite good enough.
This is the problem with having these decisions made by a hidden group of people who are highly selective with their data. Real numbers dont matter to them.
Who Should Try For A Bestselling Book
All this being said, it does make a lot of sense for professional writers to focus on bestseller lists. Professional writers look at bestseller lists as a necessary evil in their industry, because they do confer status and help them gain credibility.
So they get a smart long term plan to hit them, work the steps, and then once theyve been on a few times they ignore them. Then, they focus on selling books directly to fans , not hitting bestseller lists .
But for authors whose main revenue source is their business and use books as marketing tools, I can tell you: hitting a bestseller list creates very few tangible results for your book.
It doesnt get your book much more attention. It doesnt mean much for your business. It doesnt help sales much. It doesnt get in front of many more clients or help your marketing.
Im not saying it has zero effect. It can have some effect.
Almost all of the impact of hitting a bestseller list is personal and social impact. There is not much business or sales impact, and when you measure the low impact against the high tradeoffs, its a bad decision. This is why almost all of our authors dont end up pursuing it.
You May Like: How To Get A New York Phone Number
Reporting Sales Is Key
Not all book sales count for all lists, because there is no list that actually measures all book sales from all outlets. In the purest sense, there is no such thing as a real bestseller list.
Each list has their own method of counting sales, and each list only counts a fraction of places that books are sold. Amazon only counts books sold on Amazon. The New York Times only counts the physical bookstores that it tracks .
Ill describe the counting methods of each list below, but the point is that you must know the way that lists counts sales, and then focus on creating velocity of sales in those ways only.
Build A Strong Author Platform
For first-time and lesser-known authors it is especially critical to have a pre-existing audience before attempting New York Times bestseller status.
This is how you can start to build your author platform and audience:
- Be active on social media: it goes without saying, peoplepotential followers, collaborators, industry leaders, publishers, agents, and readersexist in the digital space. Find them, connect with them, and collaborate, if possible.
- Be already building credibility / expertise on your particular niche / topic / passion: write a weekly blog, as an example. This is perfect practice to hone your writing skills, develop your voice and writing styles, conduct research for your eventual book. The goal is to establish trust and credibility.
- Collaborate with others in your particular area for more knowledge and broader exposure: if you want to get in with the Big Wigs you got to know your stuff. Once you have built up some credibility you can leverage this and reach out to important figures in your field. It is a win-win-win for you, the person you are reaching out to and the audience that is set to gain important information from the two of you.
- Engage with your audience: Assess your audiences book pulse: how hungry are they for your words of wisdom, unique insight, creative mind? What questions are you asking them? What have they had to say about your previous blog posts, vlogs, tweets, etc? Are they genuinely impressed, suggesting you write a book perhaps?
You May Like: Can I Register A Car Online In New York
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.
Its The Good Hardworking Authors Who Get Screwed
As I type this, theres a huge shift happening inside the bestseller lists.
Ive been on calls with people from two major publishers, and they cant seem to give me a straight answer about how books are being reported and what is making the lists. They cant tell me because they dont know.
They dont know because the lists keep changing the rules without telling anyone. Apparently, WSJs list has tightened its rules on bulk purchases. A recent book supposedly sold enough individual copies to make the list, but then was thrown out, because it had also sold a lot of bulk copies.
This, of course, makes no sense, but as an author youre at their mercy.
One of my clients has worked really hard to establish great relationships with their clients, who are now interested in buying the authors new book in bulk, but with the new rules were not sure what to do. Should we go ahead and let them order in bulk, and potentially get the book blacklisted?
This author has done the work ahead of time to make the book successful, with the goal of hitting one of the major lists, and now it could very well be for naught.
When the rules are fuzzy, hidden, and constantly changing, what can you possibly do?
Don’t Miss: Tolls From Baltimore To Nyc
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:
How Does The New York Times Bestseller List Work
Most people believe that The New York Times bestseller list is based solely on measuring actual book sales. That makes logical sense, right? But, you may be surprised to learn that the opposite is true. In 1983, an The Times claiming that they kept his book off the bestseller list even though he sold enough copies to qualify.
However, the judge sided with lawyers from The Times who countered that “the list was not mathematically objective, but rather editorial content and thus protected under the Constitution as free speech.” Therefore, bestseller lists are legally considered editorial content, rather that factual content. That means the New York Times has the right to exclude or include any book from a bestseller list at their discretion. At the end of the day, it’s their judgement call.
Recommended Reading: Nyc To Cabo
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.