Pub Rants

The NYT List

 11 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: It’s kind of hard to top yesterday but still, it is Friday and that’s worth celebrating too!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MY GIRL by The Temptations

How books make the NYT list is actually closely guarded proprietary information that the New York Times does not share.

However, what little is known about it is this: titles are selected based on a percentage of sales done in a certain period of time.

I’d tell you more but then, you know, I’d have to kill you.

11 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    I’ve never understood the NYT list. Shouldn’t any ‘bestseller’ list be based on the total number of sales? So strange that there are multiple lists that show different books being in different spots…

  2. Joni said:

    Ha ha, I suspect its “closely guarded” because it’s so darn unscientific that we’d all be appalled. FWIW, there was just an NPR story about this, and I’ve also heard a couple of different industry folks say that:
    1. Many bestseller lists are compiled by bookstores being prompted to report the sales of particular titles (not just their top sellers). There are politics and hype involved. So it’s very possible for a book that is quietly selling away — especially at indies or online or through nontraditional channels — to sell more than something that makes the NYT list.
    2. A NYT bestseller one week may have 10x the sales of the book in the same rank the week before or the week after. The rankings are not attached to any particular sales thresholds.

    Still, it’s an achievement anyway you slice it; congrats to Ally and Kristin and all involved.

  3. beverley said:

    Congrats!! It must be an awesome feeling for all involved. Do the stakes just keeping getting higher once you’re published?

  4. Termagant 2 said:

    There are criteria the NYT uses, too, that they’re not talking about. For example, until LEFT BEHIND sold so many books that people lost count, no CBA (Christian) book could make the list.

    Ask any CBA agent and they’ll tell you this was true. It’s rare, still today, for a CBA title to make it.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Why is it that no one wants to talk about the actual number of sales? In the movie business they are shouting there numbers every Monday morning.

    Johnny Ray

  6. Anonymous said:

    I believe it has to do with high sales in a specific time frame. I know of a book that was “embargo’ed” and shipped via air to stores so it would hit the shelves in a one or two day period, boosting its chances of making the list. And it did. But few books get that star treatment and the expense of air freight beyond Harry Potter.

  7. Tammy said:

    It was always my understanding that the NYT list was based on books shipped rather than actual sales. Thus, a highly anticipated book by someone famous can hit at #1 in the first few days it’s out (and sometimes before it’s even out), because x number were shipped.

  8. Janny said:

    Years ago, a NYT bestselling author who had a book coming out in the near future told our writers’ group to call, visit, e-mail, write, and generally pester bookstores prior to a release to ASK FOR her book. This, she advised, is becayse the NYT list is based on “presales.” From there, the shipped number comes, and as tammy said, THAT’s what they base the “bestseller” title on. Not according to actual sales.

    This author explained that the NYT list has a lot less to do with any actual book sales than it does with how much “demand” you can create for the book in advance of when it comes out…no matter if the demand is genuine or not. Buzz brings in the orders, and from there, you’re golden.

    Which is what makes the whole thing so suspicious, as do the rumors of selective reporting, politics, arbitrary exclusions, et al. in the process.

    All that being said, I still wouldn’t sneeze at the chance to be on the list. 🙂 It’s worth a whole lot of extra sales of future books just to be able to put that on the cover of a current one.

    A few thoughts,