Could your book be a best-seller?
It depends on the format/genre of your book, which list you hope to hit, and what you will do to earn a spot on a best-seller list.
So, how many book sales does it take to hit a list?
Could be 20,000.
Or just 20.
It really depends!
Of all books and formats, Publishers Weekly says to be a Top 10 best-seller, you need to sell at least 18,006 units. At least that is what it took one week in April to make the last spot on the list. But that number fluctuates wildly by the week.
They use Nielsen BookScan to tabulate book sales. Other lists use different sources to register book sales.
On the other hand, Publishers Weekly has numerous best-seller lists. If you sold 2,674 copies of a Children’s Frontlist Fiction book, you became a best-seller in that same week in April. If you sold 5,960 copies in one week, you made the Hardcover Frontlist Nonfiction Bestseller list. It only took 4,328 units sold to net the final spot on the Hardcover Frontlist Fiction list.
For The New York Times, to hit one of their lists, you typically need to sell 10,000 – 12,000 copies in a given week.
USA Today has a lower threshold than the NYT, and The Wall Street Journal sometimes requires fewer sales than USA Today, though USA Today has more spots on tis list.
Sell 20 copies on Amazon? You could hit a best-seller list!
Amazon reassesses its bestseller lists every hour, across a zillion genres and subgenres and formats. In any given hour, thousands of books could temporarily hit a best-seller-list – and then disappear.
There is no legal term “best-seller.” Anyone can claim they have a bestselling book without hitting a best-seller list. For instance, someone who sells books could say “This is our store’s best-seller this week.” It could have sold 50 copies. It technically outsold all other titles at the store for a short period of time.
Probably, of all the best-seller lists out there, BN.com (Barnes & Noble) would be the easiest to make. Fewer people buy books on BN.com, than Amazon, so it takes fewer sales to outsell a book on their site.
There are many, many ways to pay and manipulate one’s way on to a best-seller list. There are also many organic or inspired ways to have sales generated at a clip that earns a spot on a best-seller list. Considering there are over 1.6 million new books published annually, hitting a best-seller list still has value and means something to most consumers, even some media.
Can your book be a best-seller? Absolutely – but it depends.
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Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand.
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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum.
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