As a book publisher, one of the very first questions I’m usually asked is, “Can you help make my book into a bestseller?” Authors and publishers are always trying to get into the bestseller lists. To stay ahead in the game some authors pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to companies that guarantee bestsellers by buying thousands of copies of your book from a variety of outlets, both in stores and online. Some authors hire call centers and have them place orders for them.
Though there are many bestseller lists, but the most important one is The New York Times Bestsellers list. The New York Times itself currently has over 30 different lists based on genre. The team that compiles the New York Times list gets it’s data directly from bookstores as well as from Nielson BookScan and hence it is seen as somewhat incorruptible.
While there is no tried and true way, what I can tell you about are some of the secret tips that the big publishers use to give their books the best chance to hit the A-list.
Concentrate on sales:
The most important question authors have is, “How many books do they need to sell to make The New York Times Bestseller list?” There is no clear answer to this question. Bestselling fictional book “The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia” sold about 328 copies a day. Non-fiction titles can reach the A-list with as little as 1200 copies sold weekly. Social media expert and book marketing coach, Elizabeth Anne Hamilton whose recent client campaign resulted in a NY Times bestselling book that beat the new Harry Potter book on Barnes and Noble says a good number is 15,000 books sold in a week would result in having a New York Times bestseller.
The key point to note here is that best sellers lists are calculated weekly, so if a book sells a lot in its lifetime but never has a strong sales week, it won’t become a best seller. Hence, focus on doing one or more book signing events per day for few weeks when the book goes on sale. When setting up an event, always make sure that the store is a “reporting” store. Some stores don’t report to Nielsen Bookscan, which accounts for roughly 75% of total book sales. Ask them, do they report to The New York Times? If not, find another store that does.
Pitch your book to a Publisher:
Self-publishing or indie publishing is gaining popularity these days. It is one of the easiest ways to get your work in front of million of potential readers. However, if you are aiming to get your book as New York Bestseller list then you have to go with a traditional publisher as self-published books are not accepted by New York Times list. Having publisher support is a huge deal as it also increases the options available to you and the number of potential paths you have for success.
Have a killer book marketing strategy:
This is my strategy of choice. I am sure all of us have read a so-so book and wondered how did the book made it to the bestseller list? Thanks to the fact they had amazing marketing strategy. If you can combine a good quality book to powerful marketing techniques, you’ll sell loads of copies, hit the Bestseller list and you’ll also have residual royalties for a long time to come. Make sure that your biggest publicity hits come in the same week as your events. You’re trying to create a surge and strong publicity will give the last push to your sales.
Having a bestseller is worth paying attention to. This is because consumers often look to the best seller list to decide what they want to read.
May all your books be bestsellers!