So, I decided to do some research on best sellers lists, tips and tricks, and have to admit I have been a little surprised by what I found. There is not necessarily a standard number of books you need to sell to reach this list, or any best seller ranking. Which only makes the feat that much more confusing. It is literally like the Oscars for writers.
So, here is what I have found:
- Best seller lists, such as the New York Times, takes the sales of your first week on the market to rank your listing. This is also done only on those stores and ebook sellers who report to such agencies as the NYT, so keep that in mind that not all sales may always be counted!
- To reach the NYT Best Seller list, it is suggested that you will need about 9,000 books sold (ebook, hardcover, trade paperback) to reach the top five in a respective category
- But it is also important to keep in mind, this number is a generalization! Sales ebb and flow with the time of year, like most sales. Christmas time is a high sale time, therefore, your numbers will need to be higher to reach the ranking. However, late summer, such as August, the requirements are much lower.
- The NYT breaks their best seller lists down to fiction, non fiction, paper back, hard cover, and ebook. Which is good in some ways as it gives more options and lists to strive for, but if you look at their currently listings, generally the same titles dominate all lists.
- It is also worth noting that in terms of the NYT listing, they are actually two weeks behind in terms of sales rankings. For example, if your book is released April 15th, if you make the mark, you will be listed on May 4th.
- Online sellers such as Amazon make reaching the best sellers list a little easier, with their rankings updated hourly on the website. However, it does not provide the number of units sold to make their coveted listing.
- A little more digging, and it seems that a title needs approximately 1,100 units sold across all channels PER DAY to make the listing.
These are just a few of the things I found in my little search. It is also relevant to note that NYT and Amazon are NOT the only lists to strive for. There are actually many more than I realized, such as:
- New York Times
- Barnes and Noble
- Publishers Weekly
- Boston Globe
- USA Today
- Wall Street Journal
- Los Angeles Times
- SO MANY MORE!
So, if you don’t make the coveted NYT list, don’t despair. There are plenty of lists to strive for! But you need to do your homework!
Learn how to market your work, learn when the best time to release is to meet your goal, if your goal is to make one of these lists, and most of all, promotion is key. Just as with any sales, making people aware of your book before it is released is just as important as your book itself! Make them aware, make them excited, and make them want to buy it the second it hits the shelf.
Social media is an excellent forum for this kind of promotion. Look at fellow Wattpad Authors Estelle Maskame and Anna Todd. They are incredibly active on Twitter and other medias, hinting at releases, engaging with readers and fans, and promoting their work.
Being an author is more than just sitting at your computer and writing. It is work. It is a full time job in many ways. And, in reality, most of us won’t make a best seller list. That doesn’t mean our work isn’t amazing and valuable. And it certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying to reach those goals!
Book Promotion Hub. (n.d.) How Many Books do you Need to Sell to be a Best Seller? Retrieved from http://www.bookpromotionhub.com/6103/how-many-books-do-you-need-to-sell-to-become-a-bestseller/
Writers Digest. (2014). 5 Tips for Hitting Bestseller Lists. Retrieved from http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/tips-for-hitting-best-sellers-lists