From agent Janet Kobobel Grant:
Publishing trophies come in three forms: signed contracts, making a best-seller list, and winning a writing award. But, with all the changes in the publishing industry, these trophies are beginning to look like kids’ sports trophies–if you were on the team, you receive a trophy. That way everyone wins; but that also means trophies lose meaning. Here are some hints to figure out what’s what:
Signed contracts. Scrolling through posts on Facebook, I see plenty of pics of writers turning into authors as they sign their first book contract. It is a heady moment, and the writers have worked diligently and probably for years to arrive there. But a contract with a tiny indie publisher that includes little or no advance is not the same as a contract with a long-established and revered publishing venue–let alone a contract with one of the Big Five.
. . . .
[T]he difference between signing with a publisher who will sell a couple hundred copies of your book and signing with a publisher who can bring in thousands, tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of copies sold is like the difference between riding a tricycle and revving the engines of a Harley.
. . . .
Making a best-seller list. You may have read about marketer Brent Underwood’s hoax in which he created a #1 Amazon best-seller with $3 and in five minutes. He recounts how he created a wordless book and sold three copies to make his book a best-seller.
. . . .
Underwood set out to reach best-sellerdom to make a point: If you become an Amazon #1 best-seller, that might be akin to the kid who showed up for every grade school baseball game wearing a uniform. If you understand what you need to do to win the trophy, it’s not all that hard to achieve.
Now, legitimately winning a spot on the New York Times list, Publishers Weekly list, USA Today list, ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers) list is not so easily achieved and holds real meaning.
Even managing #1 best-selling status on Amazon can mean significant sales have occurred. The caveat with Amazon is that fame can be fleeting (capture a screen shot of that #1 status because it can be gone in the next hour). And the book must achieve that status in highly-competitive categories (parenting, historical fiction, cookbooks, etc.).
Link to the rest at Books & Such and thanks to David for the tip.
PG says the best trophies are monthly direct deposits from Amazon with no deductions.