To Be A New York Times Bestseller

Every writer dreams about achieving this goal. But do you really know what it means? How do you become one of these elite and how does it really effect your career as a writer? We'll start at the beginning.

New York Times bestsellers are based off how many books are ordered in by the booksellers, not by how many are sold. But if they order more in won't they sell more? Not necessarily and here's where it gets tricky. If a bookseller orders a bunch of your books in and they don't sell, they get sent back. You could still make the list but may not even make your advance back for your publisher! This decreases the chance that your publisher will want another book or could mean you'll be getting a much smaller advance the next go around. There is good news. If your publisher gives you a large advance they are going to do their part in making sure you get a lot of publicity to increase the chance of your book selling very well. They want to make that advance back and then some! So don't panic, they'll be putting in the work to make your books sell. But don't just sit on the sidelines either, be active in your own promoting.

So how does becoming a NY Times bestseller affect your career? There is no doubt that it's a good thing. It's great to be able to put on your letter to editors and even better to be able to print it on the cover of your next book. But, will you be able to tell those editors that it sold through, meaning all those books weren't returned? Hopefully so.

Don't think any less of the prestigious title of NY Times Bestseller, but now that you understand what it really means be prepared. No matter how much your publisher promotes your book, get out there and do all you can to promote it as well. Blog, get a web site set up, Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, whatever it is you prefer, or all if you prefer. Start to build your audience and then amp up your efforts once your book is ready to hit the stores. Be the key to your own success!


  1. You know how I love platform talk!
    Thanks for posting this. I think it is often a mystery with new authors the actuality of making the big time (awards and such) and the big advances that come with them and how it all works out. No doubt it's an exciting adventure to land on the NYTimes bestseller list, but a lot of work goes into it and there is definitely no sitting on the sidelines if you have hopes of your next book to land on that same list.

  2. This was a big mystery to me when I first started querying and I was dying to know. I'm glad I could finally shed light on the subject for others!


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