Sell 3K Books, Hit the Bestseller Lists

Recently I had a client ask how many copies of a book she needed to sell to hit the bestseller list. And she wasn’t talking about Amazon or any other digital retailer’s lists…she meant the oldest and most prestigious lists like USA Today and the New York Times.

She was shocked when I told her the number could be as few as 3,000.

The time factor is important with lists. Selling 3,000 copies a year or even in a month won’t put you on any lists. But selling 3,000 in a day could…or even that number over a week. Let’s look at some hard figures.

Publisher’s Weekly presents the week’s top-selling books. March 31 of 2014, Divergent had sold 87,563 copies to land at #1. This is for the Top 10 Overall listing, not the individual category numbers. Number 10, not that far down the list, only sold 24,494.

Now look at the individual categories. For Mar 24 through Mar 30, number 10 on the hardcover fiction section sold 4,086 copies; number 25 sold 1,818. In paperback mass market, number 10 sold 9,770 and number 25 sold 5,059. Paperback trade’s number 10 sold 7,182 and number 25 sold 3,643.

Note that these numbers might represent only 80% of actual sales due to the flaws in the tracking system publishers use. Still, 3,000 is often the magic number. And since only 3,000 units separate the number 10 slot from the number 25 slot, it is magical in a different way…boost sales just by doubling, and still be in the bestseller slot with fewer than five figures in unit numbers.

Finally, remember this key fact: since the big bestseller lists frequently offer more than 10 slots (some have as many as 100), the chances of hitting the list at any slot increases further.

Excited yet? You should be! Contact Writer’s Resource to discover ways to manipulate the sales-over-time ratio that is so important to creating a bestseller.


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