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.
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.