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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Who decides when your book is a best seller? Is it when it has appeared in the NYT list? Or is it when you have sold 5k/10k/100k, and is that eBooks or paper or doesn't it matter?

My book Invisible Tears has now sold in the region of 15k, that figure is huge to me but a drop in the ocean for some, but is that a best seller? Could I put, from the best selling author, on the cover of my next book?
 

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Good question, and I'm not sure there is one definite answer.  I think it used to mean you were on some sort of traditional "best selling" list, like the NYT.  But they don't include outlets like Walmart.  And now there's the whole e-book thing, which is largely untracked, or at least marginalized.  If you'd sold 15k hardcovers, I think your publisher would be pretty happy with that.  My dead-tree publisher promotes me as a "best-selling author."  Each of my children's books sells anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 copies to school libraries.  I've sold perhaps half a million copies total.  Yet I don't appear on lists such as the NYT.  I really don't know if "best selling" is something you can define nowadays.  It seems to be more of a marketing term with very fluid definitions.
 

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The term "best seller" is VERY relative.

My first ghost story collection, HAUNTED HARBOURS: GHOST STORIES OF OLD NOVA SCOTIA, has sold over 8000 copies here in Canada. In Canada, anything over 5000 copies is consider to be a Canadian best seller.

In America over 5000 copies is nothing more noteworthy than a tuneless popcorn fart.

Yet, last year small press publisher Cemetery Dance released a limited edition collection of four novellas of the weird west entitled FOUR RODE OUT. One of the novellas was mine. There were only 1000 copies produced. Hardcover, signed - only 1000. All one thousand sold in the first three days of release. That's a "best seller" - in the small press arena.

But among the larger American presses 1000 copies sold is a reason to consider strapping an anvil to your chest and taking a long cold swim in a cess pool.

It all depends on what ball field you're pitching in...

(freely mixed metaphors - get them while they're hot)  ;D

 

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I don't know, it's a fine line and I'm sure publishers cheat on it all the time. One of my books hit the top 20 on the overall Kindle store in April, so I'm planning to use this tag, when appropriate.

Steve Vernon said:
But among the larger American presses 1000 copies sold is a reason to consider strapping an anvil to your chest and taking a long cold swim in a cess pool.
I like your mixed metaphors, but that would be a long, warm swim, actually.
 

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I looked up the official definition of best seller: A best seller is a book that has been sold to more than just the author's friends and family and the publishers want to promote that fact.
 

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As far as I am concerned, my short story book has been in the Amazon bestseller charts in the UK since February. Therefore I consider the book is a bestseller by definition.

Publishers use all sorts of obscure charts, not just the NY Times chart, but of course they will shout that name out loud in marketing if that is the case.

It is the same if someone wins a competition, then they are award winning authors, but again if it is a Booker prize, the publishers will shout that in the marketing blurb.

Even If a book is only shortlisted, then publishers will use that to promote the book.

Any credits of whatever description, if they are true can be skillfully used in promotion.
 

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dgaughran said:
What do you consider an official best sellers list?
I count NYT, USA Today, the bestseller list overall at Amazon, the bestseller list overall at B&N (actually the top list at all the retailers).

But I don't count a genre bestseller list at Amazon as being a "bestseller". For example, I've been on both the Dance bestseller list at Amazon (I hover between roughly #4 and #40) ever since the first day I published. I fall in and out of the Children's/Teen Mysteries bestseller list (I think I've gotten as high as #50, but often I fall off entirely).

I'm proud of making those lists, but I don't consider that as making me a bestseller. I won't consider myself as a "bestseller" until I hit an official list or crack roughly the Top 50-ish overall at Amazon.
 

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Amanda Brice said:
I count NYT, USA Today, the bestseller list overall at Amazon, the bestseller list overall at B&N (actually the top list at all the retailers).

But I don't count a genre bestseller list at Amazon as being a "bestseller". For example, I've been on both the Dance bestseller list at Amazon (I hover between roughly #4 and #40) ever since the first day I published. I fall in and out of the Children's/Teen Mysteries bestseller list (I think I've gotten as high as #50, but often I fall off entirely).

I'm proud of making those lists, but I don't consider that as making me a bestseller. I won't consider myself as a "bestseller" until I hit an official list or crack roughly the Top 50-ish overall at Amazon.
I have to beg to differ on your quote about genre or niche rank. To a short story reader, If you reach a best selling rank for that category then I would think that would be more important than the overall rank as short stories are very unlikely to get in the bestseller overall rank.
 

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I think you are both right, to an extent.

Generally I wouldn't use the term "bestseller" on its own unless it had the success that Amanda described or something like it.

But I would have no problem with someone saying "bestselling short story" if they were in the Top 50 for more than an hour or two or "bestselling horror" etc.

Some genres don't have big enough numbers to ever crack the Top 50.

Should that stop someone labeling the #1 Poetry book a "Bestselling Poetry" book?

I don't think so.

However, it does get a bit ridiculous when people drill down too much and you have something that cracks the Top 100 in Kindle Store -> Fiction  -> Genre Fiction  -> Action & Adventure  -> Seafaring Stories  -> British Captains

That doesn't really wash.
 

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tim290280 said:
I looked up the official definition of best seller: A best seller is a book that has been sold to more than just the author's friends and family and the publishers want to promote that fact.
Wouldn't it be nice if that really is the definition, lol!

My opinion is that Bestsellers in paperback/hardback are, and should be, based on sales. For eBooks listing. But the term is most strongly associated (by the average consumer) by total sales.

Anyway, if you're going by sales figures; New York Times, USA Today & Guardian (UK paper hardback only) are pretty much the final word on the old skool Bestseller (they get all their data from Nielsen's I think).

But with eBooks that all changes. We have Kindle, iBook and Nook Top 100 Bestseller lists for eBooks - books which sell a lot, but still will not make the NYT & Guardian BS lists.

All of my books have made BS lists in Kindle UK (and US). I made the Kindle UK Top 100 with one. Does that make that eBook a Bestseller? I say yes, but no doubt many would say a resounding no.

From Wikipedia (a semi reliable source of knowledge);
A bestseller is a book that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on lists of currently top selling titles that are based on publishing industry and book trade figures and published by newspapers, magazines, or bookstore chains. Some lists are broken down into classifications and specialities (number one best selling new cookbook, novel, nonfiction, etc.). The New York Times Best Seller list is one of the best-known bestseller lists for the US. The New York Times Best Seller list only tracks National and Independent book stores; it does not include sales from Internet retailers. In everyday use, the term bestseller is not usually associated with a specified level of sales, and may be used very loosely indeed in publisher's publicity. Bestsellers tend not to be books considered of superior academic value or literary quality, though there are exceptions. Lists simply give the highest-selling titles in the category over the stated period. Some books have sold many more copies than contemporary "bestsellers", but over a long period of time.

In the United Kingdom, a hardcover book could be considered a "bestseller" with sales ranging from 4,000 to 25,000 copies per week, and in Canada, the rule of thumb is 5,000 copies sold.[5] There are many "bestseller lists" that display anywhere from 10 to 150 titles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestseller
 

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Amanda Brice said:
I count NYT, USA Today, the bestseller list overall at Amazon, the bestseller list overall at B&N (actually the top list at all the retailers).

But I don't count a genre bestseller list at Amazon as being a "bestseller". For example, I've been on both the Dance bestseller list at Amazon (I hover between roughly #4 and #40) ever since the first day I published. I fall in and out of the Children's/Teen Mysteries bestseller list (I think I've gotten as high as #50, but often I fall off entirely).

I'm proud of making those lists, but I don't consider that as making me a bestseller. I won't consider myself as a "bestseller" until I hit an official list or crack roughly the Top 50-ish overall at Amazon.
What about best-seller lists in other countries? What about world wide? What about total sales, not just a couple of major bookstores?

My point being that best-seller lists are arbitrary.
 
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Abigail said:
Who decides when your book is a best seller?
I do. At the point where a project has earned back my initial investment and turned a profit. ;D :D ;D So long as I do that with each title, I'm golden.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
I do. At the point where a project has earned back my initial investment and turned a profit. ;D :D ;D So long as I do that with each title, I'm golden.
Yes, I like that. ;D

I'm loving this discussion. My book did get to number 68 overall Kindle US, and in the movers n shakers list too before it started the slippery slide, so I guess it made that list. ;D
 

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I wouldn't use the term "best seller" unless I was on some kind of official list.  For indie authors, probably the only one we could get on would be the top 100 of the Kindle store.  So I would consider using "Top 100 Amazon best selling author", or something like that. 

If you just tack on "best seller" after you hit your own random achievement, you are sure to be called out on it.  Do you think the publishing industry is going to stand by and watch an indie author claim to be "best selling?"  Sooner or later someone will ask where you were listed as a best seller...and when they find out the answer is "based on my own statistics", all hell will break loose, and they'll smear your name on the internet. 
 
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