There is a big difference from being an author to being a bestselling author. Whether you do it full-time or part-time, whether you are an indie or with a publishing house, being able to call yourself a bestselling author increases your credibility. But, what does it take to become a bestselling author?
Well, that actually depends on many factors. The New York Times is the most famous of these lists. There are others of course including Publishers Weekly, The Boston Globe, USA Today, The LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, and even WalMart.com. Some of the most important nowadays in the e-market are Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Using myself as an example, some of my books have been on the Top 100 Amazon Bestselling Lesbian Fiction List for weeks on end. Some, have even made it to #1 many times or remained in the top five for a while! Many of my books have been in the top 300 for ever it seems. However, I have to point out that Lesbian Fiction (Lesfic) is a small market and frequently Amazon throws in gay fiction which really should have a separate listing of its own (that’s a blog for another time). A few of my books in recent years, I didn’t even put into Lesfic because they are good stories, everyone already knows I write Lesfic, and I wanted to see how they would do in the overall Amazon ranks. They did phenomenally well. Doctored and Veil of Silence blew my mind last year with their releases back to back. They are both still selling well. This year, Vetted is proving to be a best-seller. It has never been listed a Lesfic novel, I put it into Action-Adventure and Romance…get this, in the hundreds of thousands of books that it had to compete with, it got down to the low 40’s and STAYED in that area for three SOLID weeks! That’s incredible.
What does this mean? It means that my books, due to the rankings that fluctuate hourly (thank goodness it’s a digital age), only 39 or so books sold more copies than mine did at any given time. This, competing throughout Amazon and the hundreds of thousands in those specific rankings.
The New York Times bestseller list is different. Not better or worse, just different. They do not release exactly how these books get on the list and my own research has shown some of it is by trickery, bribery, and the big five publishers. I don’t think my little lesfic publishing group will ever get one of my Lesbian Fiction books onto this anointed and prestigious list…ever. That’s okay, I know I’m writing good fiction. I know I’m writing stories that fans will want to read over and over again…and share. They will stand the test of time. Also, the New York Times list counts on ratings, based on orders to brick-and-mortar stores. If your books aren’t in these, chances are you won’t get noticed. With the downsizing of these stores, and the homophobia that still exists in major chains, the chances decline even further. One clever entrepreneur (I use that term loosely, they were con-artists if you want the real term) managed to trick the list by placing a series of orders for their book to stores that didn’t exist, calling to see if they were available, and jacking up the system…only to cancel the order a day or so later…the numbers were already reported and their book sailed up the list. Apparently, the New York Times list only counts the sales, not the canceled orders or returns.
In my research I came across this gem:
Click on the picture above for the rest of the article for more information.
Another difference that I am aware of is that the New York Times list is for paperbacks and they compile these lists weekly. Because of its electronic system, Amazon’s list is hourly. So, being on Amazon’s bestselling list is actually better! It means you are SELLING more books! Who doesn’t want to make MORE money this way? Yes, being mentioned in the New York Times with millions of readers will get you more sales and especially more prestige over time, you are, after all, building a name…but, in the end, making money is really what it comes down to. While being lauded as a New York Times bestselling author will garner you attention and I think it’s wonderful to be able to say that, there are other lists, there are other factors, and again, it comes down to money.
As the publishing world changes, and let’s face it, whether you love Amazon or B&N or a bajillion other outlets (mine are available on almost all of these), the e-book has changed the way we authors and publishers do business. I am sad to see bookstores closing, I really am. I still remember standing in the middle of a Barnes & Noble in San Luis Obispo, California and just BREATHING in the atmosphere. I hope that libraries stay open and applaud the fact that they lend books that are e-books now too.
Another thing that I found as I researched for this blog is that literary agents, publishers, and others when looking for the next ‘rock star’ of the literary world are now sitting up and taking notice of those independent publishers and authors, and finding those ‘bestselling’ authors this way. They want a piece of the pie, they don’t want to be left behind in the ‘old’ ways anymore. They want to help those selling well to sell even more…so they can take their cut with their expertise.
I rely on proof, I have seen those hawking a book as a ‘must-read’ and I cringe at that. That phrase alone is like nails down a chalkboard for me. My first thought when I hear it is WHY MUST I? I would rather hear from their reviews, their reviewers, or the proof that shows the book is selling well. Here is my screen shot of Vetted taken the other day:
Don’t just take my word for it…really, I am the author and publisher, I’ll admit to being biased…but, since it’s selling so well, maybe you should just go find out yourself WHY?
Click on the picture to be taken to Amazon.
As always, you can get ALL the links at my website, or download it FROM my website at www.kannemeinel.com.