The New York Times Bestseller list. It’s a goal all author aim for. Once you’re on that list, you get that title for life. For every book your write, you get “New York Times Bestselling Author” printed on the cover of all your books. Unfortunately, getting this goal is a little complicated and the first step to getting on the list is to know how it works. So let’s break it down!
Self-Published? Not Going to Happen
You can be a bestseller on Amazon (which is still amazing!) you just won’t be a bestseller per the New York Times. Self-published books can never reach the mass quantity of sales needed to hit the bestseller title and in a little bit, you’ll see why.
I Have to Pre-Order How Many?
So the bestseller list is, in theory, based upon sales the first week a book is published. You sell the most books that week out of all new released? Bam! You’re a bestseller. But the thing is, in order to sell a huge amount of books, you have to have huge amounts of books to sell. A bookstore isn’t just going to magically stock hundreds of copies of your book. Last I checked you have to sell about 10,000 pre-orders of your book for your published to be like, “Well this is awesome, we need to thousands of books to sell!” Preorders are how publishers gauge how many sales they expect to make. Bookstores also use preorders to determine how many more books they want to order on top of that to sell to those who haven’t yet preordered the book.
But My Publisher Will Print Thousands of Copies!
There’s a lot of prep that goes into traditional book publishing. Publishers have a professional media team that markets the heck out of books so they can make the most out of that first week of sales. The thing is, they aren’t going to do this marketing or printing of thousands of copies unless they are 99.9% sure your book is bestseller material.
It’s About Supply and Demand
Or in this case, demand and supply. Once again, your publisher and bookstores will only request a huge supply of books if there’s a demand for it. And of course, you have to write a good story.
So do I, a self-published author, still dream of being on the New York Times Bestseller list? Of course! I’m an author and I could love to have that title! I don’t care if behind the scenes things are a little screwy and not fair. As long as I’m writing, I will continue to shoot for this dream (no matter how unrealistic it may seem).