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View Full Version : How much books are needed to sell to be considered a best-seller?



maxmordon
11-11-2009, 04:52 PM
I am reading Falke by Federico Vegas, and it was odd because it was the first time I see a Venezuelan book being a best-seller in Venezuela (Dan Brown and Stephanie Mayer monopolize the top ten along with Paulo Coelho and others); so apparently, the novel has sold over 10,000 books and is on its third edition now and someone commented to me, "isn't that a bit small for a novel to be a best-seller?" and I am having my doubts about it.

What makes a novel a best-seller?

Ken
11-11-2009, 05:04 PM
... my guess is that a book needs to sell 100,000 copies, at least, for it to be considered a bestseller. Again, just a guess. Curious to hear some factually-based estimates ...

ChaosTitan
11-11-2009, 05:20 PM
Someone told me once it has to do with the number of books sold within a certain time period. A book could sell 75,000 copies steadily over the course of a year without making a list. But if the same book sold 75,000 copies in the first few weeks of release, it would probably make a list.

There are a lot of authors who sell steadily and well, but never make bestseller lists.

And I'm sure the market is a bit different in Venezuela than in the States or UK.

DeleyanLee
11-11-2009, 05:33 PM
It totally depends on the requirements of the particular best-selling list.

From what I've heard, you've got to have high pre- and post publication sales at a select (and secret listed) stores for the New York Times bestsellers list. USA Today has a bottom limit of so many tens of thousands (I think it was 25K 10 years ago, don't know what it is today) to appear on its list.

Like anything else in writing, "it depends".

icerose
11-11-2009, 07:01 PM
I think part of it depends on how much other people are selling too. I mean if you have 10 books selling over 1 million copies in the first month, you'd have to beat out the bottom of that 1 million just to make it on the list. If the top 10 books were selling 100k-1 mil in the first month, you'd have to beat that 100k in a month to make it to the list.

Jamesaritchie
11-11-2009, 07:16 PM
It depends on which bestseller list you're talking about, and it depends on how sales went across the board that week. "Bestseller" means this book sold more than the books below it this week, so how many you need to make the list, or top the list, changes each week. Some lists require very few sales, others require a big bunch of sales. It also depends on hardcover or soft, adult or YA or children, fiction or nonfiction, etc.

It does seem something is wrong with the numbers on Falke by Federico Vegas. 10,000 copies will make you a bestseller in many countries, and on many lists, though this is tiny compared to the NYT list, but a book that's gone through three editions should have sold more than 10,000 copies, though this may be American market thinking.

Anyway, being a bestseller in Venezuela is not the same thing as as being a bestseller in Australia, which is not the same thing as being a bestseller in England, which is not the same thing as being a bestseller in the U.S., which is not the same thing as being a bestseller world wide.

Claudia Gray
11-11-2009, 08:19 PM
In order to be a USAToday or NYT bestseller, you simply have to be one of the top-selling books of that week. It's all relative to the other sales and other books out there.

I would guess that slow-burn books, that don't make one of those lists but build an audience over time, have to hit a certain area for publishers to start calling them bestsellers, but that probably varies from genre to genre.

Irysangel
11-11-2009, 08:23 PM
Just from looking at the romance bookscan list that comes out every week (that you pay for via RWA), I'd say about 8000 books in a week will place you on either NYT or USAT. Sometimes both.

Ken
11-11-2009, 08:26 PM
... pretty cool that it's relative. Gives a fellow like me a chance of getting a bestseller on the lists one day, if all other books happen to only be selling a one or two copies that week.

Jamesaritchie
11-12-2009, 01:14 AM
Just from looking at the romance bookscan list that comes out every week (that you pay for via RWA), I'd say about 8000 books in a week will place you on either NYT or USAT. Sometimes both.


It mightm but most romance publisher will, sooner or later, cut writer who don't make better sales than this.

Jamesaritchie
11-12-2009, 01:17 AM
There's also a HUGE difference in sales numbers from the top to bottom of the big lists, and the top ten on the big lists always sell a disproportionate number of It may be a few thousand at the bottom, and hundreds of thousands to millions near the top.

ChristineR
11-12-2009, 01:24 AM
Here's blog post (http://www.genreality.net/the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller) by a writer who debuted at #19 and believes she sold about 65,000 copies in the first months of the book's release.

Note that the book is part of a series, and that it did better than expected, so she will probably have sold more copies later in the book life cycle (as compared to someone like Dan Brown, who has tremendous sales on the first day). Her next book will probably have a larger print run and more advance publicity.

The NYT does not release their algorithm for "best-selling" to make it harder for people to game it, but in the past, there have been people who went out and bought every copy from stores near the paper's office, things like that. It's also believed that more copies in a single week gets more weight than copies sold over a period of time.

Norman D Gutter
11-12-2009, 01:25 AM
Industry professionals have told me you can claim your book is a "best seller" (which does not necessarily mean it was on any particular best seller list) when you have sold:

7,500 for non-fiction
5,000 for fiction

Claudia Gray
11-12-2009, 01:49 AM
Industry professionals have told me you can claim your book is a "best seller" (which does not necessarily mean it was on any particular best seller list) when you have sold:

7,500 for non-fiction
5,000 for fiction

Those numbers sound insanely low to me if we're talking about a large-press release.

Irysangel
11-12-2009, 11:42 PM
It mightm but most romance publisher will, sooner or later, cut writer who don't make better sales than this.

We're also talking about sales in one week. If you are selling 5-7k in a week, you are probably not going to get cut by your house unless they are expecting you to move Nora Roberts-like numbers.

I'd also like to point out that any publisher (not just romance) will cut you, sooner or later, if your sales are poor.

Ken
11-13-2009, 12:08 AM
... '5-7k per week' is, indeed, nothing to sneeze at. If a book maintains that throughout a year it will sell 260,000-364,000 copies. Not too shabby ;-)

kellion92
11-13-2009, 01:13 AM
I have no idea how many books it takes to get on a bestseller list or what good sales are considered. But I'm pretty sure that to say a book is a bestseller, it must be on a list, like NYT, USA Today, PW, WSJ, or Booksense.

Jamesaritchie
11-13-2009, 02:21 AM
We're also talking about sales in one week. If you are selling 5-7k in a week, you are probably not going to get cut by your house unless they are expecting you to move Nora Roberts-like numbers.

I'd also like to point out that any publisher (not just romance) will cut you, sooner or later, if your sales are poor.


True, and good point. That many per week will probably get you on even the bigger lists, but it's still a pretty small number compared to the big sellers, but if you keep those numbers going for a few weeks, the publisher will probably like you very much.

I do suspect the bestseller lists don't apply to a lot of writers, even ones who are very popular. I remember Louis L'Amour once saying that a book of his sold two million copies, but never made any bestseller list because it sold over time, and came up just a little short on the lists each week.