Author Topic: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists  (Read 2958 times)  

Offline JalexM

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #25 on: April 20, 2017, 06:48:24 PM »
There are some book promoters charging $2,000 buy in per author, for 20 authors to be in boxed sets (40k+ per boxed set) that are pretty much guaranteed to hit the USA. Used to be NYT as well, but I'm not sure if that's still happening with the changes. They get the numbers by either using the buy in to simply pay people to buy the set (eg: show your receipt for the 99 cent set and I'll send you $3-5) or thousands of copies are gifted to make the numbers. For some who really want the letters, and simply don't have the readers to do it on their own, they consider it 2k well spent to call themselves a USA/NYT bestseller for ever after. It depends on what your publishing goals are, some want the letters at any price, some would rather have a larger reader base.
Who would charge 2000$ to make the USA Today list?

Offline Concerned

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #26 on: April 20, 2017, 06:52:42 PM »
Why do people think you have to pay to get on these list? I mean, sure, you probably had a BookBub, but they tend to pay for themselves. Outside of that, what else do you have to pay? If you sell enough books via the BookBub ad to land on the list then you certainly made money even at 99c and 35% royalty. The BookBub's I've have broken even within 2 - 4 hours of going live. The ROI was a no brainer. Making a list was a bonus.

It's rare for a title to make the USA Today Bestseller list with only a Bookbub.

Offline JalexM

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #27 on: April 20, 2017, 06:57:23 PM »
It's rare for a title to make the USA Today Bestseller list with only a Bookbub.
And with the effectiveness of promo sites decreasing over the last few years, it's still rare when people stack ads.

Offline Cheryl Douglas

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #28 on: April 20, 2017, 07:15:46 PM »
So, for those of you who have done it, or tried it, is it worth the investment? I know this may be hard to quantify, but was it worth the extra expenditures in promos just to get that stamp of approval?

It was worth the extra expenditure for me to make the USA Today list because with a BB and ad stacking it was a positive ROI. It was also one of my bucket list items as a writer, so I can cross that one off and move on to the next one.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #29 on: April 20, 2017, 10:10:05 PM »
There are some book promoters charging $2,000 buy in per author, for 20 authors to be in boxed sets (40k+ per boxed set) that are pretty much guaranteed to hit the USA. Used to be NYT as well, but I'm not sure if that's still happening with the changes. They get the numbers by either using the buy in to simply pay people to buy the set (eg: show your receipt for the 99 cent set and I'll send you $3-5) or thousands of copies are gifted to make the numbers. For some who really want the letters, and simply don't have the readers to do it on their own, they consider it 2k well spent to call themselves a USA/NYT bestseller for ever after. If you're a small time author with a small following and books with 6-figure ranks, then you practically have zero chance of hitting the lists on your own, these sets offer a chance that wouldn't otherwise be possible.

It depends on what your publishing goals are, some want the letters at any price, some would rather have a larger reader base.

Oh, ok, thanks for explanation. I didn't know anyone could do that. What's the point?  As a reader, I don't know what any of the stickers mean on books, whether it's a best seller list, a nomination or an award.  That's a lot of money to spend on something that probably few people outside of the industry care about.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #30 on: April 20, 2017, 10:17:19 PM »
It's rare for a title to make the USA Today Bestseller list with only a Bookbub.

I didn't know that. I wonder how many people get on it without a discount promotion. It's one thing to get there with a BookBub and another to sell that volume organically. Does that ever happen or is that the domain of the trad pubbed books?

Online AliceW

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #31 on: April 20, 2017, 10:22:40 PM »
Oh, ok, thanks for explanation. I didn't know anyone could do that. What's the point?  As a reader, I don't know what any of the stickers mean on books, whether it's a best seller list, a nomination or an award.  That's a lot of money to spend on something that probably few people outside of the industry care about.

But it means something within the industry - to advertisers (supposedly it helps land Bookbub spots) to other authors, agents, and publishers. As I said, totally depends on your business goals. To some, paying 2k is a small price for a label they can use for ever and that some use as a measure of success. Others would rather have the readers. For the organiser, 40k per boxed set is sweet money if you're doing one of those a month!

Offline Annie B

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #32 on: April 20, 2017, 11:12:12 PM »
I've heard that when you apply to Bookbub they look up your  claim of hitting a list these days, and if you hit via a multi-author bundle, they don't take it into consideration or list it as a thing in your blurb if they do take your book.  However, I haven't heard that confirmed, but given the number of multi-author bundles I know hit lists using very scammy tactics, it wouldn't surprise me if some of the bigger sites have figured that out and are taking steps to minimize the impact of it.

Generally if you want to hit as a single book or a single-author omnibus etc, you need to stack ads around your Bookbub and probably do FB ads or the like to target those non-Amazon buyers. Or have a huge audience (I know some people who hit it upon release because of their mailing lists etc, no Bookbub at all).

Offline JalexM

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #33 on: April 20, 2017, 11:44:31 PM »
I've heard that when you apply to Bookbub they look up your  claim of hitting a list these days, and if you hit via a multi-author bundle, they don't take it into consideration or list it as a thing in your blurb if they do take your book.  However, I haven't heard that confirmed, but given the number of multi-author bundles I know hit lists using very scammy tactics, it wouldn't surprise me if some of the bigger sites have figured that out and are taking steps to minimize the impact of it.
Never heard of that rumor before, I highly doubt bookbub is doing that.
They did split test showing that the letters improve click rate. I doubt they have time to scour a list for every book of every author that has claimed to be on the list.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 11:50:47 PM by JalexM »

Online AliceW

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #34 on: April 21, 2017, 12:02:56 AM »
...but given the number of multi-author bundles I know hit lists using very scammy tactics, it wouldn't surprise me if some of the bigger sites have figured that out and are taking steps to minimize the impact of it...

I heard a rumour that the scammy tactics used by some boxed sets was behind the recent changes to the NYT list. If so, I wonder if USA Today will follow and likewise remove mutli-author bundles?

Offline JalexM

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #35 on: April 21, 2017, 12:06:14 AM »
I heard a rumour that the scammy tactics used by some boxed sets was behind the recent changes to the NYT list. If so, I wonder if USA Today will follow and likewise remove mutli-author bundles?
Yet a box set recently made the NYT list after the change...so obviously that wasn't the reason for the change.
I didn't know this thread was about that though.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 12:08:16 AM by JalexM »

Offline Annie B

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #36 on: April 21, 2017, 01:31:29 AM »
Never heard of that rumor before, I highly doubt bookbub is doing that.
They did split test showing that the letters improve click rate. I doubt they have time to scour a list for every book of every author that has claimed to be on the list.

I absolutely bet they check to see if you've been on the list if you claim that in your notes while submitting. I know I would double-check (it takes a minute at most to do) if someone claimed that and I was running the biggest promo site out there. One wrong listing that someone gets mad about and that's bad press you don't want.

Offline Kate.

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #37 on: April 21, 2017, 01:38:42 AM »
Never heard of that rumor before, I highly doubt bookbub is doing that.
They did split test showing that the letters improve click rate. I doubt they have time to scour a list for every book of every author that has claimed to be on the list.
It's very possible they do. They employ more than fifty people. Hitting USAT is a big deal, and they probably want to make sure their authors made it with a standalone book or single-author boxset. Personally - and I know some people disagree with this sentiment - I don't think claiming USAT status from a multi-author boxset is fair. It follows the letter of the rules but not the spirit. IMHO.

Offline JalexM

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #38 on: April 21, 2017, 01:41:25 AM »
I absolutely bet they check to see if you've been on the list if you claim that in your notes while submitting. I know I would double-check (it takes a minute at most to do) if someone claimed that and I was running the biggest promo site out there. One wrong listing that someone gets mad about and that's bad press you don't want.
It seems like most of my statements in this thread are being looked over.
I highly doubt they are doing the things with multi author sets like you claim.

Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #39 on: April 21, 2017, 04:33:18 AM »
I've heard that when you apply to Bookbub they look up your  claim of hitting a list these days, and if you hit via a multi-author bundle, they don't take it into consideration or list it as a thing in your blurb if they do take your book.

Thank god.

On another note, "1/20th of a USA Today Bestseller" doesn't quite have the same ring to it, but at least it's truth in advertising. :)

Offline Steve Voelker

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #40 on: April 21, 2017, 06:18:05 AM »
It's totally lost its meaning in the last few years.

My guess is that is how it seems to you because the last few years is how long you've been in the writing game.
The NYT list has always been curated, and always been possible to buy your way onto. The only difference is now you are looking at it as an author, and the veil of mystery has been lifted.
PLENTY of readers still place stock in it. You are more likely to get a Bookbub if you have it, and people are more likely to click on your ads if you mention it. I've read research that says hitting the NYT list can boost a first-time author's book sales by over 50%. I'm not sure how well that still holds up, but I'd hardly say that it's totally meaningless.

You're probably right about it not being a sound investment for most writers if you look at it strictly from ROI on one book. But I know some nonfiction authors who make most of their money from courses and speaking gigs that are thrilled to have those letters. It is a mark of legitimacy to the average reader, who knows nothing about what is involved behind the scenes.

Speaking from personal experience, when people find out I am a full-time writer, they usually don't take it very seriously. Even when I tell them I make more now than at my old job, they still think it is a hobby for some reason. But when I mention I've been on the USA Today bestseller list a half-dozen times, they immediately change their tune.

You know that list doesn't mean much. I know that list doesn't mean much. But to the VAST majority of readers out there, it means a lot.

Also, there are a bunch of people on these forums that think it means something. People are constantly organizing promotions around list runs. Many writers have hitting a list as one of their writing goals. People on this thread have mentioned it as a bucket list item. To dismiss those goals as meaningless isn't exactly the most encouraging thing in the world.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 06:28:22 AM by Steve Voelker »

Offline Steve Voelker

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #41 on: April 21, 2017, 06:26:15 AM »
It seems like most of my statements in this thread are being looked over.
I highly doubt they are doing the things with multi author sets like you claim.

Why would they NOT check the credentials of every submission? They have a lot riding on their reputation with their readers.

As far as the multi-author box set thing goes, it seems to be the general consensus among the authors that I know.
The ones that have only hit with multi-author sets never get it mentioned in their Bookbub blurbs. The ones who have hit with their own titles do. I don't see how that would happen if BB didn't check.

Online CLStone

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #42 on: April 21, 2017, 06:50:03 AM »

Speaking from personal experience, when people find out I am a full-time writer, they usually don't take it very seriously. Even when I tell them I make more now than at my old job, they still think it is a hobby for some reason. But when I mention I've been on the USA Today bestseller list a half-dozen times, they immediately change their tune.


This is one big reason to say it is worth it. :) But just to say for my old job I worked from home, and people believed I got paid in play money until I mentioned I worked for Microsoft. Sometimes you have to throw out a name to get people to understand you're srius buzns.

Having USA Today only loses the 'starry-eyed' feeling of accomplishment when my books get there naturally via release week at full price, and then at one point you do a book bundle and get on the same list just on sales. I did a bundle once and managed to get that NYT bestselling status via a bundle, but I stopped doing it after. I didn't like the feel of doing it that way with a sale with multiple authors. Not when I got USA Today several times naturally from just a readership base launch.

In a way, this is why when I hit a list naturally, I show the readers and I go, "Hey! See this? Look what you all did! Congrats!" I put the 'reward' on them. Because they are the ones that really do it. Not me manipulating things. (Only slightly via planning by releasing on certain days of the week, etc.)

Not saying authors shouldn't do try to get any of the letters via BookBub in any way. Use the letters to help you launch your business and get advertising. Do it while you still can before they change rules for USA Today next. But just to be clear it isn't insta-mega fame thing. Look at it as more of a tool you can then use to help with a few other things...but also not essential for success, either.

But once you've got it, use it and do more strategic things that mean more readers and more money. :) Like for me, now that I've got letters if you were to ask me if I'd rather hit a list or Amazon #1 for a week...that's hard to say but I think I'd pick Amazon.

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Offline notjohn

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #43 on: April 21, 2017, 09:05:42 AM »
It was worth the extra expenditure for me to make the USA Today list because with a BB and ad stacking it was a positive ROI. It was also one of my bucket list items as a writer, so I can cross that one off and move on to the next one.

That's refreshing! Thank you for posting it.

My own list is the Wall Street Journal's, which appears every Saturday, and which is provided by Bookscan. I have been following it since February 2016. Here is the quick synopsis:

Of two lists, each with 10 books showing, non-fiction almost never has a self-published title. The most significant exception was Donna Mabry's "Maude," a sweet memoir of her grandmother (I think -- maybe a grand-aunt, something like that). It was on the list for multiple weeks -- months, I think, but it was already there when I started taking score -- and remains the only title to accomplish that. I emailed and asked her how she had built the book, and she explained that she really didn't know; it was her daughter who'd formatted it!

On the fiction list, which I gather is what interests most of you here, there is almost always a self-pubbed book on the list, and sometimes two, so the average is certainly one a week or perhaps a bit higher. The book is always midly or explicitly naughty, and very often there's an eff-bomb on the first "page" if not in the first paragraph. The authors all have female or androgynous names, and the books all seem to be targeted at a female audience. All or almost all are available in paperback (though the paperback understandably doesn't sell nearly as well), and all or almost all are available on Barnes & Noble etc. Finally, all or almost all (the notable exception is Donna Mabry) were professionally edited, formatted, and cover-designed.

Offline JalexM

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #44 on: April 21, 2017, 09:18:58 AM »
That's refreshing! Thank you for posting it.

My own list is the Wall Street Journal's, which appears every Saturday, and which is provided by Bookscan. I have been following it since February 2016. Here is the quick synopsis:

Of two lists, each with 10 books showing, non-fiction almost never has a self-published title. The most significant exception was Donna Mabry's "Maude," a sweet memoir of her grandmother (I think -- maybe a grand-aunt, something like that). It was on the list for multiple weeks -- months, I think, but it was already there when I started taking score -- and remains the only title to accomplish that. I emailed and asked her how she had built the book, and she explained that she really didn't know; it was her daughter who'd formatted it!

On the fiction list, which I gather is what interests most of you here, there is almost always a self-pubbed book on the list, and sometimes two, so the average is certainly one a week or perhaps a bit higher. The book is always midly or explicitly naughty, and very often there's an eff-bomb on the first "page" if not in the first paragraph. The authors all have female or androgynous names, and the books all seem to be targeted at a female audience. All or almost all are available in paperback (though the paperback understandably doesn't sell nearly as well), and all or almost all are available on Barnes & Noble etc. Finally, all or almost all (the notable exception is Donna Mabry) were professionally edited, formatted, and cover-designed.
I never heard of the WSJ list, maybe because you have to pay to view their articles now. It must be as hard to get on as the NYT list.

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #45 on: April 21, 2017, 10:24:51 AM »

On the fiction list, which I gather is what interests most of you here, there is almost always a self-pubbed book on the list, and sometimes two, so the average is certainly one a week or perhaps a bit higher. The book is always midly or explicitly naughty, and very often there's an eff-bomb on the first "page" if not in the first paragraph. The authors all have female or androgynous names, and the books all seem to be targeted at a female audience. All or almost all are available in paperback (though the paperback understandably doesn't sell nearly as well), and all or almost all are available on Barnes & Noble etc. Finally, all or almost all (the notable exception is Donna Mabry) were professionally edited, formatted, and cover-designed.

I'm of the opinion those aren't targeted at women. WSJ has more male readers than female. This is how WSJ sneak in male entertainment
for "respectable" men. I haven't looked at a print copy for years but before the internet, they used to always have lingerie sales ads splashed all over the pages. It's a kind of nod and wink. My girlfriends and I always knew what those ads were really for. I mean, if you're a woman looking to buy bras, is the WSJ thing medium you'd go to?  ::) No. That'd be the Victoria Secret catalogue (when they used to do mail marketing.)

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #46 on: April 21, 2017, 10:45:09 AM »
Why would they NOT check the credentials of every submission? They have a lot riding on their reputation with their readers.

My thoughts exactly.
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Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #47 on: April 21, 2017, 04:41:58 PM »
My guess is that is how it seems to you because the last few years is how long you've been in the writing game.

No, I said as a READER, it means far less today than it once did. James Patterson releases a new book and it's on the list for weeks and months on end. You look at the book on Amazon several months after it was a NYT BS, and it's still ranked in the top 500. Once upon a time, the books listed in the NYT were by and large, well-written, and they got there though primarily organic sales, not advertising gimmicks. If I see an author claiming BS status and their book is ranked in zip code digits or worse, that NYT BS moniker means nothing to me as a reader. Success is tied to ongoing sales, not a flash in the pan.

True, as a writer, I know how that author got the BS title and it's not because their book is best seller material. I'll come very close to earning half a million this year. How many of those who get their "letters" this year will be able to say that? I have no desire to see any of my books in the Times, WSJ, or USAT. It means absolutely nothing to me and never has.
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Offline Annie B

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #48 on: April 21, 2017, 06:04:32 PM »
No, I said as a READER, it means far less today than it once did. James Patterson releases a new book and it's on the list for weeks and months on end. You look at the book on Amazon several months after it was a NYT BS, and it's still ranked in the top 500. Once upon a time, the books listed in the NYT were by and large, well-written, and they got there though primarily organic sales, not advertising gimmicks. If I see an author claiming BS status and their book is ranked in zip code digits or worse, that NYT BS moniker means nothing to me as a reader. Success is tied to ongoing sales, not a flash in the pan.

True, as a writer, I know how that author got the BS title and it's not because their book is best seller material. I'll come very close to earning half a million this year. How many of those who get their "letters" this year will be able to say that? I have no desire to see any of my books in the Times, WSJ, or USAT. It means absolutely nothing to me and never has.

But you are not representative of all of readership ;) I think it's important to remember that, no matter who you are.

Sometimes the letters matter. They can help with things like getting a Bookbub if you got them outside of a multi-author bundle, for example. Trad publishers sometimes base their offers on if your last book hit a major list. Some readers basically browse those lists and use them as recommendation lists to figure out there next read (one of my sisters does that, for example).

Will hitting a list make or break your career? Probably not. Is it nice if you can do it? Sure. It definitely won't hurt you.  Is it worth throwing a lot of money and energy into? It depends, just like most marketing decisions in this biz. It just depends.

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Re: So.. about those USAT/NYT lists
« Reply #49 on: April 21, 2017, 11:40:16 PM »
Hmmm... this has been an interesting discussion and I appreciate everyone's viewpoints on it.

After some consideration, I've decided that while I am going to try to stack some promos, my goal will firstly be ROI and generally increased visibility and long-term sales. I'm not going to go ballistic booking inefficient promos just to hope to land enough numbers to hit the list.

I'll round up as many good promos pre-bookbub as I can and do that, and let the chips fall into the guacamole where they may. :D

If I hit it, sweet. It'd be pretty damn nice to have as validation and for promotional purposes. If I don't, who cares, I'm just psyched to see the results of the bookbub  ;D

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