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...