Those Best Sellers Lists

Earlier today Karen Mahoney asked for some clarification about those best sellers lists. I am far from the right person to ask– agents & publishers know better where the numbers come from and what getting on the lists mean for authors– but I can tell you more about the lists in general and why I track them here at Urban Fantasy Land.

UF on this week’s lists

New York Times Best Sellers

USA Today Top 150

The lists are supposed to rank books by the number of units sold, however the tracking of that much data is a bit of a problem. Sources for the numbers include warehouses shipping/receiving, specific small bookstores, and national chain stores. Again, agents & publishers know better than me.

The NYT splits up their rankings into sub-categories: Hardcover Fiction, Trade Paperback Fiction, Mass Market Fiction, Children’s Fiction, Hardcover Non-Fiction, Paperback Non-Fiction, Hardcover Advice, Paperback Advice, Hardcover Business, Paperback Business. Whereas, USA Today ranks the top 150 books en masse, so breaking into this list can be more difficult.

I’ve heard rumours that sometimes authors get a bonus if they hit one or both of these lists, but hitting the list is always a big deal.

A few months ago I read a snobby, nasty blog entry about urban fantasy being nothing more than a blip in time, and that UF was just a buzz word that would ultimately never amount to anything let alone achieve best seller status. UF-haters just had to ride out the fad, as if UF was a pet rock or a Furby. Well, this kinda made me mad. Who was this person to decide the fate of a genre that was already hitting the best seller lists and not showing any sign of slowing down?? As an experiment, I started posting the best sellers lists just to prove that UF is not a blip, not a fluke, and not temporary. UF is here to stay. I could have kept the experiment to myself, I suppose, but I’ve found that I am never alone with my ideas. If I’m wondering how UF is selling, so is someone else. It’s a bit more work than simply scanning the lists, but I like to share.

Your turn: Tell us in the comments if you like to see these highlights from the best sellers lists, or if you’d rather read the lists on your own.

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3 comments on “Those Best Sellers Lists

  1. I wonder if the naysayers are just focusing on the current crop that features strong female leads in UF books? Especially considering that UF has been around for quite a long time. It just hasn’t had the surge of popularity alongside paranormal romance as it does today. Either way, I don’t think it’ll go completely away. All trends are cycle around again but good books in all different kinds of genres still stay around even below the spotlight. I’m glad about that because I love reading and writing UF!

    As for bestseller lists. Yep they’re calculated by how many bookstores buy a certain amount of units before the book is released. That’s why the #1 NY TIMES BESTSELLER label is already there before the book is even out! There is a certain list of particular bookstores that big publishers must sell to in order to obtain that bestseller status. A lot of wheeling and dealing between the sellers and boom many books are sold.

    I hear that USA Today list works a little differently and some readers and authors trust that list a little bit more because it focuses more on sales to customers than to the stores themselves. But I could be wrong.

  2. You could be right, Rae. I do hope to see UF stick around for as long as possible. I love it!

    Karen– You’re welcome! Maybe one of these days I’ll get an agent and a publisher over here to talk more about this and other stuff.

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