Monday, July 03, 2017

What Writers Can Do With Bestseller Lists

There are many different types of bestseller lists—New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly then every major newspaper has a bestseller list. Also the bestseller lists are often broken into different categories like nonfiction (hardcover and paperback), fiction (hardcover and paperback), children's books (hardcover and paperback), etc.

Book authors need to be reading these bestseller lists and keeping mental track of the books on them. Some authors are put off with bestsellers. When they read them, they don't resonate with the writing and wonder how it got on the list. There are many different ways that books get on the list.  Whether you "like" the book or not, I believe authors need to be aware of what is on the list for several reasons:

First, these list show you what the reading public is buying and reading. It also shows what publishers are creating and launching into the world.

Second, I encourage you to read or listen to these bestselling books. You can learn from them. You don't have to purchase these books but can often get them from your public library. If the book is not available, then learn how to get on the hold list for the book. Even if the book is very popular, eventually you will get the book.

Third, every writer needs to be aware of their competition and what is going on in your area of publishing. As an editor, I will speak with many authors. Some of these authors want to publish a romance novel while others are working on nonfiction and yet others are writing a children's book.  Often during the conversation I will ask if they read in their genre or area of the market. Their response is revealing whether they are in tune with their market or not. Some authors don't want to be “tainted” by the work of others so they are not reading. My contention is that you can learn a great deal about the reading public as you read and study your competition. This information will also feed into the competition section of your book proposal , your marketing plans and much more.

One of my bestselling author friends reads other books on the bestseller lists. It has been a part of his reading habit for many years.

Do you read bestseller lists and track on this information? Why or why not? How do you use them in your writing life? Tell us in the comment section. 


What can writers do with a bestseller list? Get some ideas here. (ClickToTweet)
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