Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One List to Rule them All.

The New York Times Bestseller List is synonymous with success. Though it does not sway me from reading a novel without one, it stands boldly out on those that do. Awards and mentions of any kind are always helpful in the pursuit to sell more books, but the attention garnered from this list seems more valuable than most. We've all heard of it, and for the general reading populace I think it strikes a familiar--perhaps subconscious--chord.

So how does one make this list and attain Star Writer status? Ensuring a future and a steady income to rely upon (or so we hope)? Unfortunately...I don't know, and after doing some research, it seems no one else does either.

It is a trade secret.

Yes, numbers count, but there is more than that. Read this fascinating and occasionally facetious article by Jamie Ford for more.

In my wanderings I also found this Wikipedia entry both intriguing and horrifying, where co-authors schemed to gain the NY Times Bestseller list artificially by buying up their own books in strategic locations. Apparently it worked--as unethical as it may have been.

I have heard (by Brandon Sanderson--I believe) that you can gain a foothold in this esteemed list by as little as 10,000 books sold (not bought by bookstores, but by actual people). This seems such a small number, yet so large when you consider that time is of the essence and the ever-increasing glut of content you have to stand out from.

So, do you care about the NY Times list? Do you see it as beneficial or helpful? Are there other lists that are more relevant and helpful for one pursuing fantasy or sci-fi publishing? I can't recall ever seeing them on the cover of a novel before, but perhaps I was merely blind to it...


  1. As a fan of SF&F, I'd rather win a Hugo or a Nebula than make "The List".

    Also, some politician got in trouble this year for enlisting a consulting firm to buy his book in mass quantities at strategic locations to make the NYT list. Sad...

  2. Hi Jamie. Thanks for the comment. Certainly one of those awards are probably more difficult to achieve, so I can see the appeal. But with such a few titles that ever make it to that status, I wonder if there aren't some other worthwhile "lists" out there besides the NYT's.

    I guess he read the Wiki. Tsk, Tsk. You make me curious as to who it was.

  3. At this stage in my writing career (can I call it that?), the New York Best Sellers list is so far out there, I can't even imagine it. But all things sorts of lists and awards are biased one way or another. That's the point. Yes, I think it is fine to aspire to one (an award or list), but just writing and getting a product out there for the public to buy is my focus at the moment.

    1. Dare to dream. In the meantime lets create our own lists so we can put their banners upon our works. *thinking* Shall we call it the "Kick-Ass Book List"?

      Suggestions? ;-)


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