Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bestseller List

Writers always wonder (and hope) that their books will reach the bestseller list--particularly the New York Times. But nobody really understands how those list are created. Daily I get this question from someone: "How are book sales going?" And the honest answer is "I don't know." That's because--like bestseller list--there is no way (for me at least) to accurately count the number of books that have actually been purchased by a consumer. Some stores report sales to Neilsen's Bookscan. Others (mostly Christian retailers) to the CBA's Crosscan or STATS.

Brandilyn Collins has a four part series this week on her Forensics & Faith blog about how the Christian book industry and the secular book industry create bestseller lists. The bottom line is that nobody really knows and the bestseller lists are not necessarily an accurate representation of which books are selling better than others.

Here is a link to the New York Times list. Here is a link to the USA Today list. And then this one to the Christian Book Association bestseller fiction list. You can readily see the noticeable differences between all three.

The publishing industry is both interesting and mysterious. It is difficult (perhaps impossible) to understand the bestseller lists or even readily calculate at any one point in time the number of copies a book has sold.

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Blogger Michael Patrick Leahy said...


Hello to a fellow Tennessean !

I just joined the CFBA....

Check out my blog. I just posted a comment on the atheist Sam Harris' new book Letter to a Christian Nation.

I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Michael Patrick Leahy said...


Thanks for your comments on my Letter to a Christian Nation posting.

If you haven't read the book, pick it up ! I would be really interested in your assessment of the arguments.

I am noticing about 2 errors per page so far.

The idea of writing a quick response --Letter to an Atheist, or Letter to Sam Harris -- is appealling, but I am finding so many errors that his 91 pages would probably result in a 300 page response to be comprehensive.

And my main task-- Fort Desperate, a novel of antebellum and Civil War New Orleans -- needs a polishing final draft. Fort Desperate is designed for the commercial fiction market, but has a strong message of covenental faith within the story line.

By the way, do you have an agent ? If so, how did you secure one ?

10:59 PM  

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