Monday, July 17, 2017

If You Want to Reach the Bestseller List...

...I don't recommend reading this blog.


My goal is to create a large catalog that will provide consistent income well into my old age. Unlike a lot of other writers, I'm not looking to hit the NYT, the USAT, or any Amazon bestseller list.

Why not?

1) In a best case scenario, the lists are nothing more than a popularity contest. And they consist of what's popular at that specific moment in time. Despite marketing claims, the lists cannot and do not predict the longevity or endurance of a particular literary work.

2) Manipulation of lists make the popularity of the listed books questionable at best. The NYT is constantly changing what criteria it uses to calculate their top books, everything from banning children's books after a certain boy wizard became popular among the adult set to disregarding e-book sales because the Big 5 gave them more money in advertising and wanted to kill the fledgling market.

3) Making a list doesn't guarantee longevity of career or sales. Just in the last ten years, I've seen writers hit the lists with their first book, then quietly disappear when successive books don't make the splash that the first book did. Some writers will change their pen names and try again, but I pruned my social media contact lists/follow lists by roughly a third of writers who quietly sank beneath the waters of anonymity with nary another word.

4) I know many writers, especially indies, who are quietly making a living without hitting the lists. Hell, without any fanfare whatsoever. They get by with a small, dedicated fandom in a subgenre they love that is underserved. These are the writers with a solid sense of who they are and what they are trying to accomplish.

5) Which brings me to my own goals. There's quite a few writers who kept me going through a lot of dark times in my life. These writers crafted delightful tales that let me forget about my problems for a moment or two. They gave me a break when I desperately needed one. My goal from the beginning was to be that type of entertainer, to give someone somewhere the respite to catch their breath before they tackle the next hurdle in their lives.

So if you've been reading this blog in hopes of learning the secrets of a successful writing career, please take a step back. Figure out for yourself what you want as success. If attaining a bestseller spot (AKA getting your letters) is your ultimate goal, then more power to you. But it's not what I want, and I definitely won't be covering the how-to's for that particular goal here.

Now, let's all get back to writing...


  1. Agree. I mean, I'd love to hit a list some day, but it's not what I'm actively working toward.

    And it's amazing how many people just don't get how someone who's never made "a list" could possibly be making any kind of decent money. Brain of them no math good. :P


    1. The definition of success is different for everybody. That's where most of the drama in this industry comes from. I've had people who don't know me try to tell me how to run my business. It irks me because they assume I want the same things they do.