18 New New York Times Bestseller Lists

13 September 2014

From Melville House:

The New York Times Book Review is one of the last two stand-alone book review sections in the country, or the very last (depending on what you think about the San Francisco Chronicle). This isn’t a particularly interesting fact—though it is a sad fact—but it’s something most people say when they write about theBook Review.

. . . .

[E]very week, the Book Review does a hell of a job covering the country’s bestselling books. Five of the Book Review’s pages are devoted to the various bestseller lists, and what pages they are. In them you’ll find an ecstatic overlap of categories and differentiations—print, e-book, hardcover, paperback, fiction, nonfiction, and on and on. But yesterday, theBook Review’s editors decided that their glorious orgy of lists and information would not suffice and announced that they were adding a host of new bestseller lists. According to Publishers Weekly, the new lists will cover Travel, Humor, Family, Relationships, Animals, Politics, Manga, Graphic Novels, Food and Fitness, Family, Business, Celebrities, Science, Sports, and Spirituality and Faith.

More lists! More differentiations!

Link to the rest at Melville House

PG admits that his first thought on reading about the new NYT bestseller lists was that it would now be easier for publishers and authors to buy their way onto an NYT list so they can forever call themselves NYT bestsellers.

His second thought was that this was tradpub’s response to Amazon’s detailed and ever-growing collection of bestseller lists.

The World’s Top-Earning Authors: Veronica Roth, John Green And Gillian Flynn Join Ranking

9 September 2014

From Forbes:

Watch out Danielle Steel and Stephen King – the kids are coming. The world’s top-earning authors list includes three newcomers who made more than $9 million each in the last year – and were born after 1970. In a ranking long-dominated by stalwarts like crime writer James Patterson (b. 1947) and romance author Nora Roberts (b. 1950), these fresh ink spillers, two of whom write young adult fiction, rank thanks to the increasing commercial appeal of teen literature for readers of all ages.

Young adult author Veronica Roth‘s ranks 6th on account of her “Divergent” trilogy which sold a combined 6.7 million copies in 2013, earning her around $17 million from print and ebook sales between June 2013 and June 2014. She also benefited from the book’s 2014 film adaption, which grossed $270 million at the global box office. At just 26, Roth is the youngest newcomer on the ranking, and one of seven women on the 17-person list.

37-year-old newcomer John Green’s ”The Fault in Our Stars” propelled him to an estimated $9 million yearly paycheck before taxes and fees. The YA love story, which follows the trials of two cancer-stricken teens, has sold well over 1 million copies in the U.S. and spawned a weepy summer blockbuster.

. . . .

A 2012 Bowker Market Research study suggested 55% of YA books are bought by people 18 and older. Adults aged between 30 and 44 accounted for 28% of all YA sales, and the books are purchased for their own reading the vast majority of the time.

“The category has reached adult audiences and really become okay to read,” said Lori Benton, VP Group Publisher at Scholastic Trade Publishing. “Harry Potter was the very first one to reach that audience – it was quickly embraced by children, and just as quickly by adults.”

With $14 million in earnings, the original young adult tour de force, J.K. Rowling, ranks 8th on our list. She continues to earn from back sales of her iconic Harry Potter series, while Pottermore – a proprietary website she setup to sell Harry Potter ebooks – makes her a pretty penny. Unlike most authors, Rowling never signed over the digital rights to her books, so she sells directly to readers, earning far more from these digital sales than most authors do through ebooks.

. . . .

The top-earning authors list is perhaps the world’s most exclusive book club, with very few paths to entry. Most members have sold millions of novels, notched hit screen adaptations and have been doing so for decades. Take the No. 1 ranked author James Patterson, who published his first book in 1976 and made an estimated $90 million before taxes and fees between June 2013 and June 2014.

Patterson produces at an astonishing rate, churning out 14 books a year with the help of coauthors, making him publishing’s busiest (and richest) penman. The author of the Alex Cross and Michael Bennett series, Patterson has sold more than 300 million copies since his 1976 debut and pulled in an estimated $700 million in the last decade. This year, he earned $62 million more than second ranked Dan Brown.

“Rude people occasionally go, ‘Are you going to retire?” but you don’t retire from play, you retire from work, and I don’t work,” said Patterson. “I just do the stuff I want to do and within reason I can get anything I want published.”

Link to the rest at Forbes. Meryl sent this tip with a question, “Did they even ask indies?”

When Not “Earning Out” is a Good Thing

5 September 2014

From author Steven Pressfield:

Here’s how big shot literary agents make a compelling living.

A client brings an idea to the agent who advises the client about its commercial possibilities. It’s important to note that this advisement traditionally means whether or not the agent thinks he will be able to sell the project to a major publisher for a compelling advance against royalties. Not whether there are actual people out there willing to pay money to read such a book idea.

The way the best sale works (meaning to the best advantage of the writer and agent) with a major publisher is to make sure that the publisher’s advance guarantee exceeds the amount of royalty that the writer will actually earn.

For the life of the book.

. . . .

[After detailed calculations showing books sold and royalties earned]

So Ms. Bestselling Writer has earned $4,250,000 but has been guaranteed $5,000,000. So her book does not “earn out.”  She’ll never get a royalty statement with a check in it.

So the publisher lost money on that one, right? Not by a long shot.

The publisher has made a major return on investment even though it has paid $750,000 more than the book earned. How did that happen?

. . . .

[After more detailed calculations showing how much the publisher earned]

So the bottom line for the publisher is gross revenue of $16,550,000 minus the $5,000,000 guarantee to Ms. Bestselling Writer, minus the $2,800,000 to print and ship the physical books. Or a total of $8,750,000 ($16,550,000 – $5,000,000 – $2,800,000) to their bottom line.

Even though the book never “earned out.”

Everyone wins.

. . . .

How far would a publisher be willing to dip into their pool of revenue to overpay for a book? This is the question literary agents enjoy contemplating.

. . . .

The big books from big name writers (who don’t bleed red ink, but don’t earn out either) are the coveted ones for agents. Although it may be apocryphal, agent Andrew Wylie has been credited with having once said, “If my client’s book earns out, I haven’t done my job.”

But here’s the thing…

When I began in publishing in the 1990s, there were at least 20 “major” houses to submit a book proposal or novel. Today there are only 5 major corporations that control the trade book market. Sure, you’ll hear that there are tens of different publishing imprints within the major corps that “compete” with each other for properties. But when the time comes to put money on the table in a book auction, only one of those imprints from each of the five will end up bidding. The most big bids you’ll ever get as an agent today are 5.

And you can never discount the power of negative commentary around a book on submission.  Book publishing is so connected that if an editor at Random House didn’t care for a submission, you can count that an editor at HarperCollins who also received the submission will get that information before his having to make his own decision.  No one likes being the only one to like something.

. . . .

If only there were a way for writers to do their work, find people who like it, and then offer the book to them directly through free distribution networks as well as their own…  Instead of having to curry favor with a big shot literary agent, then hope the literary agent is able to drum up enough interest from the Big Five to make a good deal, and then wait 12 to 15 months for their work to reach the public and then another month to learn whether the book “worked” or not and then hope that their next book will be embraced by their publisher, all the while never knowing who actually bought their book or why…

Link to the rest at Steven Pressfield Online and thanks to Keith for the tip.

Here’s a link to Steven Pressfield’s books

Amazon Can’t Cage ‘The Goldfinch’ Publisher

25 August 2014

From The Wall Street Journal:

Donna Tartt’s novel “The Goldfinch” opens with a series of gloomy scenes—a museum bombing, the death of the narrator’s mother, and the theft of a 17th–century painting. The word admirers often use to describe it is “Dickensian.”

But the book has brought only good news to publisher Hachette Book Group, giving the publisher a much-needed boost this summer as it weathers the fallout from a lengthy e-book contract dispute with Inc.

“The Goldfinch” has been on the New York Times’ best-seller list for 43 weeks since publication last October. Its staying power has translated into sales of 583,000 hardcover copies, according to Nielsen BookScan, although total hardcover sales have now likely topped 600,000 including sales not measured by Nielsen.

That’s a hit by any standard, and would have put it on Publishers Weekly’s top 10 list for best-selling fiction in hardcover for all of 2013.

. . . .

[T]he dispute [with Amazon] hasn’t crippled the publisher. The Hachette Book Group generated about €226 million ($300 million) in the U.S. and Canada in the first half of the year, up 5.6% compared with the same period of 2013, according a filing made by French parent Lagardère SCA. Among the factors Lagardère cited for the gain were sales of “The Goldfinch” and “The Silkworm,” written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Hachette fiction best sellers this summer include new titles by James Patterson, Elin Hilderbrand, David Baldacci, as well as Ms. Rowling’s work, which published in mid-June. Those four authors also wrote best sellers that Hachette published in the summer of 2013. But a difference-maker this season has been “The Goldfinch,” which ranked No. 5 on the New York Times hardcover fiction best-seller list in the issue of the Book Review dated Aug. 31.

. . . .

And unlike many new Hachette titles caught in the crossfire of the e-book dispute, “The Goldfinch” is being offered at a significant discount on Amazon. As of Sunday the online retailer was selling the hardcover edition for $18, a 40% discount from the cover price, and shipping it immediately. The Kindle e-book was priced at $6.99. Both were cheaper than the same editions offered at Barnes & Noble’s online store.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Kindle Unlimited Titles Off the DBW Ebook Best-Seller List

30 July 2014

From Digital Book World:

Kindle Unlimited’s effect on the best-seller list has indeed grown.

Kindle Unlimited titles have been removed from the Digital Book World Ebook Best-Seller list due to an inability to sort out retail purchases from Kindle Unlimited “reads” when creating the list.

After discussing several possibilities with Amazon as to how to include titles that had robust sales but also had reads on the new ebook subscription platform counted toward Amazon Kindle sales ranking, no solution was found.

. . . .

If “reads,” where the user isn’t paying to purchase a book each time, are counted toward best-seller rankings on the Kindle list and they are unable to be separated out from regular purchases, then it would be unfair to include those titles on the list.

Had those titles been included, they would have elevated several Amazon Publishing, self-published and back-list ebooks onto the best-seller list, including MockingjayThe GiverRhett by J.S. Cooper,Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and more.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Richard for the tip.


How Kindle Unlimited Is Changing the Amazon Kindle Best-Seller List

24 July 2014

From Digital Book World:

Kindle Unlimited is minting best-sellers.

According to Publishers Lunch, the number of ebooks on the Kindle best-seller list that are Kindle Unlimited titles has just about tripled since the launch of the all-you-can-read service from Amazon last week. Amazon is counting Kindle Unlimited reads as well as Kindle store sales in its best-seller rankings.

Last week at this time, there were 15 ebooks that would have been part of Kindle Unlimited that were top 100 best-sellers on Kindle; this week, that number has ballooned to 45.

. . . .

As the chart shows, Amazon Publishing titles (which are in Kindle Unlimited), titles by other publishers included in the service, and Kindle Direct Publishing Select titles (those by self-published authors who only sell on Amazon and not other platforms like Nook and iBooks, which are included on KU), seem to have all benefited greatly from being a part of Kindle Unlimited. Books by self-published authors who aren’t exclusive to Amazon and those from publishers not participating in Kindle Unlimited have suffered — at least when it comes to hitting top-100 Kindle best-sellers.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Self-Publishing’s Share of the Kindle Market by Genre

9 May 2014

From author Edward W. Robertson:

I’ve taken a quick whack at looking at what percentage of Kindle ebook sales self-publishers represent by genre. To get there, I simply look at the top 100 bestsellers in each genre—romance, mystery/thriller/suspense, science fiction, and fantasy—and split them up by method of publication. Note that, unlike the Author Earnings study, this is merely a breakdown of the raw number of self-published titles on the bestseller lists, not the number of total book sales within each genre.

Also, instead of five categories of publisher, I use four: self-published, small/medium press, Amazon Publishing, and Big 5 (including, where appropriate, major genre publishers like Harlequin and Baen).

. . . .


Self-published: 49%
Small/medium: 11%
Amazon: 9%
Big 5/Harlequin: 30%


Self-published: 11%
Small/medium: 5%
Amazon: 16%
Big 5: 68%


Self-published: 56%
Small/medium: 9%
Amazon: 5%
Big 5 (plus Baen): 30%

Self-published: 49%
Small/medium: 7%
Amazon: 7%
Big 5: 37%

. . . .

[T]his is just a look at the top 100 in each genre out of hundreds of thousands of total books. It’s quite possible, perhaps even likely, that a broader look at the data would present different trends. However, it does match up well with the Author Earnings study of these genres combined, so I’m not sure a bigger sample would be that much different.

Link to the rest at Edward W. Robertson and thanks to Mike for the tip.

Tess Gerritsen Sues Warner Bros. Over ‘Gravity’

1 May 2014

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Best-selling author Tess Gerritsen is suing Warner Bros. with the allegation that its blockbuster film, Gravity, is derived from her 1999 book by the same name.

The complaint filed in California federal court on Tuesday doesn’t allege copyright infringement. Instead, it’s a contract claim stemming from a film option she sold when the book was released. Gerritsen’s book is described as featuring “a female medical doctor/astronaut who is stranded alone aboard a space station after a series of disasters kill the rest of the crew.”

. . . .

A company called Katja picked up film rights to herGravity book for $1 million. Additionally, she was promised that if a film “based on” her book was made, she would receive a $500,000 production bonus, screen credit and, maybe most importantly, 2.5 percent of defined net proceeds. Last year’s film — which won seven Oscars — grossed more than $700 million worldwide, putting potentially a lot at stake in the new lawsuit.

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter and thanks to Glinda for the tip.

PG hopes “defined net proceeds” are well-defined for Gerritsen. The general rule for movie deals is always get a piece of the gross because there aren’t ever any net profits from movies.

Ebook Publisher Power Rankings: Top 10 Publishers of Q1 2014

23 April 2014

From Digital Book World:

The DBW Ebook Best-Seller Power Rankings is a list of publishers whose ebooks have appeared on the weekly DBW Ebook Best-Seller list. The publishers are listed in order depending on how many appearances their titles made on the ebook best-seller list on a week-to-week basis.

. . . .

[For Q1, 2014]

Rank Publisher Appearances  No. 1 Best-Sellers 
1 Penguin Random House 122                                      0
2 HarperCollins 67                                    10
3 Hachette 42                                      1
4 Amazon 30                                      1
5 (tie) Simon & Schuster 12                                      0
5 (tie) Self-published 12                                      0
7 Scholastic 7                                      0
8 Macmillan 4                                      0
9 Harlequin 2                                      0
10 (tie) Kensington Books 1                                      0
10 (tie) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 1                                      0

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

700-page book by French economist is Amazon’s top seller

21 April 2014

From CNN Money:

A 700-page economics tome about income inequality isn’t an obvious hit, but it currently tops the list of best-selling books on Amazon.

Thomas Piketty’s book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” was originally written by the 42-year old French economics professor in French, and then translated to English.

Amazon is sold out of the book, which is now in its fourth printing. Publisher Harvard University Press says it’s already sold 41,000 copies of “Capital,” and is rushing to get another 25,000 print versions to book stores and Amazon as soon as possible. The book is the publisher’s first best seller, and is poised to sell more copies in one year than any book in its 101-year history.

. . . .

In the book, Piketty argues that income inequality is getting more severe, and that governments must do more to address the issue. He cites detailed tax data from across many developed nations.

Link to the rest at CNN Money and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

PG checked just before posting this and the book was still #1 – Capital in the Twenty-First Century

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