Wednesday, February 14, 2018

USA Today Bestseller!

I neglected to add this announcement to my blog, and I wanted it connected to my other USA Today bestseller posts. 


I'm excited that the Murder & Mayhem boxed set hit #22 on the USA Today Bestseller List on November 16, 2017. My full-length thriller Poetic Justice was published in this boxed set (and is now available as a standalone). The Murder & Mayhem boxed set sold over 36,000 copies, placing above five other books in adult fiction that week that were included on the New York Times list. Because the NY Times list is editorially culled, publications such as boxed sets are typically left off. I think the most recent boxed set to be included on the NY Times list was in January 2017.

The USA Today list has two main requirements: 1. sales numbers, 2. wide distribution. The format of the book (or boxed set) can be e-book only, or a combination of e-book, paperback, and or hardcover. The books have to be "widely distributed"--in other words, selling good numbers on both Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

If you go to Amazon on any given day (or any given hour, for that matter), and pull up the Top 100 selling books, then look up the publishers. What do you see? In my research, I've found that about 20% of the Top 100 titles on Amazon are Apub titles. (Apub = Amazon imprints that operate as traditional publishing imprints. An author typically needs an agent to submit. Advances are offered. Contracts include foreign rights sales, audio production, print production, and e-book production--exclusive to the Kindle Unlimited program). These Apub titles include the imprints of Thomas & Mercer, 47 North, Montlake, Lake Union, Skyscape, etc. Full list here.

Since Apub publishes their e-books to Kindle Unlimited (meaning Kindle only), it's very rare to see an Apub book on the USA Today list, and even more rare on the New York Times list. Most of the Apub book sales are e-book/Kindle sales. So an author would really have to be hitting it out of the park to garner a high number of print sales as well on other distribution sites such as Barnes & Noble. This is why you won't see these 20/100 bestsellers on Amazon on the national bestseller charts . . . except for the Wall Street Journal. They take the best of all worlds. Distribution isn't dictated. Purely sales. This also means that Wall Street Journal bestsellers are selling an incredible amount.

Remember how the Murder & Mayhem sold over 36,000 copies in a single week? This number wasn't even high enough to get onto the Wall Street Journal list. (I believe we were very close, maybe 1,000 or 2,000 off.) 

It's staggering to think about.

Recently, Amazon (I believe in answer to the editorially culled list of New York Times and the distribution restrictions of USA Today), has created their own elite bestseller list called Amazon Charts. There are two categories: Best in sales, and Most Read. That's it. Check out Amazon Charts here. It's fun to see which books are hitting all lists, and which books are selling like crazy, yet are ignored by the other national bestseller lists. I'm sure the authors can take solace in their royalty checks, growing amount of readers, and movie deals ;-)

I'd also like to address some questions that authors might have. Yes, the Murder & Mayhem boxed set had 20 authors in it, and yes, we priced it at $0.99 for the first week of release, then the boxed set went up to retail price. This was done as a promotional effort in order to cross-promote readership, bring new readers to our thriller stories with very low risk ($0.99 cent risk), and some of the authors were hoping to get a "USA Today bestseller status" on their writing resume. 

Some might consider this "gaming the system," when in fact, all publishers and authors are looking for ways to increase exposure, increase readership, increase sales. Publishers will offer free Advance Reader Copies to reviewers. Publishers will pay for Publisher's Weekly, Book Life, and Kirkus Review ads. Publishers will pay for reviews (that are to be unbiased, or course). Publishers will buy advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and hire publicists to run social media campaigns. 

Discounting a title is simply a marketing strategy. 

More than you probably wanted to know, but information is education, and education promotes success.

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