How to Top China’s Best-Seller List Without Really Trying

8 March 2015

From Foreign Policy:

Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong in southern China, 15-year-old leukemia patient He Danting reads The Kite Runner in between chemotherapy sessions. The high school student loves to read and wishes she were back at school, said a March 2 report about He in the local Guangzhou Daily, so nurses gave her Khaled Hosseini’s story of boyhood betrayal and adult redemption set in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, when children at the Bashu Primary School in the megacity of Chongqing were preparing for a monthlong spring festival holiday, parents organized a book lottery. Among the titles given to students for reading over the break was The Kite Runner,reported local news site Hualong Net on March 1. At Tsinghua University in Beijing, popularly known as the “M.I.T. of China,” the third-best-selling book among students in 2014 was also The Kite Runner.

The curious thing is that The Kite Runner is not new to China. It has been in print there since 2006, after being picked up by the Shanghai People’s Press. It’s long been popular, bouncing up and down the top 30 list compiled by, but recently it became a blockbuster. Over the last nine years, The Kite Runner has sold more than 3 million copies in China. Nearly a third of that total comes from sales in 2014.

. . . .

Why has a years-old text set in a distant land shot to the top of the Chinese charts? Bookseller notes that U.S. President Barack Obama bought The Kite Runner for his daughter. That might sway some Chinese readers. But the market-moving endorsement, appears to have come from Beijing-born actress Gao Yuanyuan, who recommended the book during a Nov. 2013 appearance on the hugely popular Chinese variety show “Happy Camp.” Gao is the star of Chinese romantic comedies such as “Let’s Get Married” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” One fawning reader, a woman based in Beijing who blogs under the alias “White Rabbit on the Moon,” wrote in an October 2014 post that she read the book out of curiosity and also “because the goddess Gao Yuanyuan recommended it.”

. . . .

[H]e added that Gao’s endorsement is part of a bigger snowball effect that has to do with word of mouth and the way books are sold in China today. Online sales mean that regional differences in taste are being minimized. The Kite Runner, for example, is the top fiction seller in poor mountainous Guizhou and in the central province of Shaanxi and in Dongguan, a manufacturing hub next to Hong Kong.

In essence, The Kite Runner is experiencing a China-style version of the Oprah effect.

Link to the rest at Foreign Policy and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Best-Sellers Initially Rejected

5 February 2015

From Literary Rejections:

Some writers continually submit the same manuscript until it is accepted. Others chose to do a more polished draft before sending it out again. A select few learn from the lessons ofsubmissions, to write a completely new book.

What they all have in common is a persistence to never give up on their dream; a dream that has elevated them from writer, to best-selling author.

They have written some of the most critically praised and commercially successful books of all time. In some cases their enormous sales were so consistent that they even kept their publishers afloat.

Yet in spite of this phenomenal success, every single one of these best-selling authors was initially rejected.

. . . .

After 5 years of continual rejection, the writer finally lands a publishing deal: Agatha Christie. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more.

. . . .

Louis L’Amour received 200 rejections before Bantam took a chance on him. He is now their best ever selling author with 330 million sales.

“Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” A rejection letter sent to Dr Seuss. 300 million sales and the 9th best-selling fiction author of all time.

. . . .

“It is so badly written.” The author tries Doubleday instead and his little book makes an impression. The Da Vinci Code sells 80 million.

. . . .

5 publishers reject L.M. Montgomery‘s debut novel. Two years after this rejection, she removes it from a hat box and resubmits. L.C. Page & Company agree to publish Anne of Green Gables and it goes on to sell 50 million copies.

Link to the rest at Literary Rejections and thanks to Dave for the tip.

The Henry Ford of Books

31 December 2014

From Vanity Fair:

The planet’s best-selling author since 2001, James Patterson has more than 300 million copies of his books in print, an army of co-writers, several TV deals in the works, and an estimated income of $90 million last year alone. But where’s the respect?

. . . .

It seems somehow fitting that James Patterson, the advertising Mad Man turned impresario of the global thriller industry, spends his summers perched high above the Hudson River in Westchester County, halfway between Don Draper’s Ossining and Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow, where the Headless Horseman once roamed the roads by night. Perhaps no author in literary history has more seamlessly melded commerce and creepiness to create an international brand, one that has transformed a wide swath of the publishing industry and given Patterson not only a Rockefeller’s river view but a Rockefeller’s bank account to boot.

With 305 million copies of his books in print worldwide, Patterson is the great white shark of novelists, a relentless writing machine who has to keep swimming forward in order to feed, and who, together with his army of about two dozen credited co-writers, has been the planet’s best-selling author since 2001 (ahead of J. K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, Dr. Seuss, and John Grisham). Of all the hardcover fiction sold in the U.S. in 2013, books by Patterson accounted for one out of every 26. Altogether, he has produced more than 130 separate works—the “books by” page in his latest novels actually takes up three full pages. Forbes estimates his income for the year ending last June at $90 million. When I had a chance to ask Patterson about that figure, he at first said, “I don’t know,” and then followed up with “Yeah, probably.”

. . . .

“I’m sure there’s no publishing relationship like it,” Michael Pietsch—Patterson’s former editor who is now C.E.O. of Hachette Book Group (Little, Brown’s parent company)—told me recently. “Jim is the smartest person I’ve ever worked with, across a vast landscape of things you can be brilliant about—suspense, emotions, and readers’ expectations and how to work them.” Pietsch said Patterson had built “a kind of studio system in which he can imagine these stories into being, then work with co-authors so that these stories come into the world.”

Indeed, Patterson is to publishing what Thomas Kinkade was to painting, or the television producer John Wells was to a series like E.R. He is not a tortured artist in a garret but rather presides over an atelier that produces mass popular entertainment on an astonishing scale. He once said of his work, in a profile a decade ago, “I look at it the way Henry Ford would look at it.” The remark has gained currency. Patterson today is busier than ever, in the midst of his current 24-book contract, preparing to launch a TV series based on his thriller Zoo, and campaigning with personal appearances and his deep pockets in support of young-adult literacy and independent bookstores. He has also been outspoken, loudly and prominently, on the subject of the long dispute—settled in November—between Amazon and Hachette Book Group, in the course of which the online retailer had penalized Hachette writers. Because Patterson is a Little, Brown author, many of his own books felt the pinch—they were often not in stock, or were unavailable for pre-order. (Books of Patterson’s on Amazon’s Top 100 list, like anyone else’s on that list, tended not to be affected.) Speaking to BookExpo America last spring, Patterson told the audience of publishers and booksellers, “If Amazon is the new American way, then maybe it has to be changed.”

Link to the rest at Vanity Fair and thanks to Karen for the tip.

Bestselling books 2014: the kids are alright

28 December 2014

From The Guardian:

At long last, kids ruled in 2014. Books aimed at them have often figured in the top 10 of the all-year sales chart for printed books, but in the respective heydays of JK Rowling, Stephenie (Twilight) Meyer and Suzanne (The Hunger Games)Collins the rest of the elite group usually consisted of grown-up titles and there was always a chance that one such mega-seller – by Dan Brown, say, or EL James– would pip them to the top spot.

This year, in contrast, seven of the top tier books including the No 1 – by John Green, David Walliams and Jeff Kinney, plus four Minecraft manuals – are for children or young adults and an eighth, Guinness World Records, is predominantly aimed at them.

. . . .

What’s fascinating about this is that there should be a market for video game spin-off books at all, let alone such a stunning one. There’s no shortage of Minecraft tutorials on YouTube, in its own online domain, but rather reassuringly young gamers en masse evidently felt a need for a hardback handbook opened next to their PCs – a demand reflecting the relative robustness of manuals of all types and children’s books, compared to other genres whose print sales and revenue have been hit harder by readers’ inexorable (though possibly slowing) flight to ebooks.

. . . .

Just like YouTube idols transformed into writers, reminiscing celebrities capitalise on their screen fame (usually on television) to win publishing deals; but the 2014 list confirms that the public long ago got out of the habit of seeing the resulting books as ideal Christmas presents. Besides the late Lynda Bellingham’s autobiography (12), two sports books, by Guy Martin (32) and Roy Keane (37), are the only hardback memoirs in the top 100. Yet publishers still seem in denial about the once-mighty subgenre’s slump, shelling out for much-hyped autumn offerings from John Cleese, Stephen Fry, John Lydon, Graham Norton and others that all flopped.

. . . .

More surprising is the decline of cookery titles, which until recently gave crime and children’s fiction a good fight for the highest positions. The genre’s talisman Jamie Oliver, who up to 2012 routinely occupied a top 10 spot and for several years running was the Christmas-week No 1, now languishes at No 23. Mary Berry is ahead of him at No 13, but you’d expect her to be higher, given The Great British Bake Off’s vast audience.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Amazon Announces Best-Selling Books of 2014

12 December 2014

From the Amazon Media Room:

Amazon today announced its best-selling books of 2014, best-selling Kids & Teens books, as well as the Most Gifted and Most Wished For books of the year—just in time for last-minute holiday gifting. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is the best-selling book overall and John Grisham’s latest novel Gray Mountain comes in at number two. The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan is the best-selling Kids & Teens book, followed by Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney. The Long Haul was also the Most Gifted book this year, while All the Light We Cannot See byAnthony Doerr and Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty were the Most Wished For. The top 20 lists take into account first editions that were published in 2014, consider only paid units, and combine print and Kindle editions.

. . . .

“This year’s best seller lists include a lot of familiar authors and characters—over half of the books on the lists are part of a series,” saidSara Nelson, Editorial Director of Books and Kindle at

. . . .

The top 20 best-selling books overall are:

1. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

11. Unlucky 13 (Women’s Murder Club) by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

2. Gray Mountain by John Grisham

12. Edge of Eternity: Book Three of The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett

3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

13. Shadow Spell (Cousins O’Dwyer) by Nora Roberts

4. Twenty Seconds Ago (Jack Reacher, #19) by Lee Child

14. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

15. Blood Magick (Cousins O’Dwyer) by Nora Roberts

6. The Target (Will Robie Series) by David Baldacci

16. Field of Prey by John Sandford

7. The Fixed Trilogy by Laurelin Paige

17. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon

8. The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

18. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney

9. Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum) by Janet Evanovich

19. City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare

10. Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General by Bill O’Reilly

20. Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

. . . .

To see the full top 100 lists of Amazon’s best-selling print and Kindle books of 2014, visit

Link to the rest at Amazon Media Room

Ebooks can tell which novels you didn’t finish

11 December 2014

From The Guardian:

The Goldfinch may have won Donna Tartt the Pulitzer, praised by judges as a novel which “stimulates the mind and touches the heart”, but the acclaimed title’s 800-odd pages appear to have intimidated British readers, with less than half of those who downloaded it from e-bookseller Kobo making it to the end.

New data from Kobo shows that, although The Goldfinch was the 37th bestselling ebook of the year for the retailer, it was completed by just 44.4% of Kobo’s British readers. Kobo speculated that it “likely proved daunting for some due to the length of the novel”.

Twelve Years a Slave, Solomon Northup’s account from 1853 of how he was kidnapped and sold into slavery – “I sighed for liberty; but the bondsman’s chain was round me, and could not be shaken off” – was, according to Kobo, similarly overwhelming. Ninth on their British bestseller list, following the hugely successful film adaptation, the book was completed by just 28.2% of British readers.

The onset of digital reading means that Kobo – and other ebook retailers – are able to tell more than ever before about how readers engage with books: which they leave unopened, which they read to the end, and how quickly they finish.

. . . .

Kobo’s first analysis of trends in e-reading, released on Wednesday, reveal an unexpected divide between bestsellers, and the books that readers actually complete.

After collecting data between January and November 2014 from more than 21m users, in countries including Canada, the US, the UK, France, Italy and the Netherlands, Kobo found that its most completed book of 2014 in the UK was not a Man Booker or Baileys prize winner. Instead, readers were most keen to finish Casey Kelleher’s self-published thriller Rotten to the Core, which doesn’t even feature on the overall bestseller list – although Kelleher has gone on to win a book deal with Amazon’s UK publishing imprint Thomas & Mercer after selling nearly 150,000 copies of her three self-published novels.

“Rotten to The Core by Casey Kelleher was the most completed book in the UK, with 83% of people reading it cover to cover,” said Kobo, “whereas the number one bestselling ebook in the UK, One Cold Night by Katia Lief [also a thriller] was only completed by 69% of those who read it.”

. . . .

A book’s position on the bestseller list may indicate it’s bought, but that isn’t the same as it being read or finished,” said Michael Tamblyn, president and chief content officer at Kobo. “A lot of readers have multiple novels on the go at any given time, which means they may not always read one book from start to finish before jumping into the next great story. People may wait days, months, or even until the following year to finish certain titles. And many exercise that inalienable reader’s right to set down a book if it doesn’t hold their interest.”

Kobo also revealed that the people of Britain were most likely to finish a romance novel, with 62% completion, followed by crime and thrillers (61%) and fantasy (60%). Italians were also most engaged by romance (74% completion), while the French preferred mysteries, with 70% completion.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Dusty for the tip.

With a Little Help From Her Friends

7 October 2014

Harper Lee’s big break:

…in 1956 Lee was a rather taciturn 30-year-old ticket agent for the British Overseas Airways Company, who, like many aspiring writers, had come to New York City to pursue her dream. But after seven years of struggle, it seemed beyond her grasp. And without further help, and with no Kickstarter for another 53 years, that is perhaps where her dream would have ended.

Luckily, thanks to an introduction from Truman Capote, her childhood friend and neighbor, Lee had made two very good friends in New York: a Broadway composer named Michael Brown and his wife, Joy, a Balanchine dancer.

Lee became a bona fide extension of the Brown family, and any free time she had that was not devoted to writing was spent with Michael, Joy and their three boys at the Browns’ East 50th Street brownstone. The Browns had read Lee’s short stories, and they appreciated her dream — and her immense gift — better than anyone. They also shared her frustration at the challenges of writing while holding down a full-time job.

So, in the fall of 1956, when the Browns came into some cash because Michael had been hired to create a show for Esquire magazine, they decided to do something about Lee’s situation and to give their friend a big break — literally. When Lee opened her Christmas present from the couple that year, she found a note that read: ”You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.

Author nurturing, 50’s style.

Just over a year later, she had a finished manuscript and a publisher. And the result of the Browns’ generous gift (which Lee later repaid in full) and Lee’s newfound freedom was no less than the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling novel of the 20th century, To Kill a Mockingbird .

More detail at OZY.

That Book cover is ugly!

6 October 2014

What Makes for a Brilliant Book Cover? A Master Explains
By Kyle VanHemert at WIRED

If you find yourself in a bookstore, Peter Mendelsund can be hard to avoid. His dust jackets wrap big-name contemporary releases like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. He’s created ingenious covers for reissues of Dostoyevsky, Kafka, and other literary giants, updating a wide swath of the canon with a striking, graphic look. Cover, a new monograph of Mendelsund’s work, showcases the designer’s uncanny talent for capturing entire books with succinct, compelling imagery—a talent that has led some to deem him the best book designer of his generation. What makes it even more remarkable is that Mendelsund started his career with zero design experience whatsoever.


On one level, dust jackets are billboards. They’re meant to lure in potential readers. For a certain contingent of the publishing industry, this means playing it safe. “The path of least resistance when you’re designing a jacket is to give that particular demographic exactly what they want,” Mendelsund explains. “It’s a mystery novel, so you just splatter it in blood, and put the shadowy trench coat guy on it, and use the right typography.” Familiarity, the thinking goes, will always sell something.

Mendelsund does not subscribe to this view. He’s said that he prefers an ugly cover to a cliche one, and looking at his body of work, the thing that holds it together is that nearly all of his jackets have something weird going on, in one way or another.


Of course, catching a potential book-buyer’s eye is only part of Mendelsund’s job. A truly great jacket is one that captures the book inside it in some fundamental and perhaps unforeseen way. As Mendelsund describes it, his job is “finding that unique textual detail that…can support the metaphoric weight of the entire book.” That, of course, requires actually reading a manuscript closely enough to A) determine the metaphoric weight of the book and B) find a handful of relevant details within it. In other words, making a great book cover isn’t just about making. It starts with understanding.


Ideally, every dust jacket is unique to the book it’s wrapped around. But the realities of the marketplace often dictate how experimental a design can be. Mendelsund will have more interpretive freedom for a small volume of poetry, for example, than he does for a hotly anticipated piece of new fiction. “If you spend a lot of money on a book or an author, then you ratchet up the scrutiny the jacket’s under a lot—a hundred fold,” he says. “If this author got a big advance, then you’re going to have to jump through some flaming hoops with the jacket.”

Take The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Such was the buzz around the manuscript that when it came time to design the jacket, there were already a chorus of voices adding their take.


The final version, sure enough, had “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in huge type. To round it out, Mendelsund did what he describes as the “dumbass thing” of echoing the title visually on the cover itself, putting the text on top of an image of… a dragon tattoo. It was the rare case in which a novel had so much momentum that the best thing a designer could do was stay out of the way. “The book was going to sell well no matter what,” Mendelsund says.

And yet, Mendelsund insists that it wasn’t the most obvious approach he could’ve taken. The design featured at least one small victory against the obvious: the bright yellow backdrop. “Up until that point, I would defy you to find a dark gothic thriller with a day-glow cover,” he says.

For another view, an indie one if I may, I found Derek Murphy

Here’s what’s wrong with Peter Mendelsund’s Book Covers
From Derek Murphy at Creative Indie

A couple weeks ago I saw an article about Peter Mendelsund’s new book on book cover design; and I scoffed. Now I just saw another article on Wired, shared by Tim Ferriss.

Peter is obviously doing the rounds (and quite well) to promote his new book. Kudos to him. Here’s the big problem: Peter’s had a luxurious career as a cover design rebranding already famous and classic works of fiction, and breakout bestsellers – amazing books – supported by a heavy media campaign and a major publisher.

He’s said that he prefers an ugly cover to a cliche one, and looking at his body of work, the thing that holds it together is that nearly all of his jackets have something weird going on, in one way or another.

Looking at Peter’s work, I agree with his own take on his design philosophy. They are all creative, potentially clever, and ugly. And that’s fine – for literary fiction appealing to high brow readers. The tragic mistake is in applauding Peter’s work as a “golden measure” for book cover design, because it absolutely will not work for most books.


You see, most authors start out with no platform and have to catch reader’s attentions. They don’t have a big media or marketing campaign. Readers aren’t going to spend more than a couple seconds looking at their cover while browsing thousands of others in the same category.

The cover has to tell readers, immediately, what the book is about and what genre it fits into.

This can’t be done by being clever or thoughtful. Nobody is going to appreciate the cognitive associations and playful visual metaphors. Not to mention that a vast majority of authors are writing popular genre fiction or non-fiction (not literary) – and while literary authors may want to adopt Peter’s style to ‘fit in’ with other literary fiction, that in itself can be accused of being cliche; in other words, books in the same genre should look similar.


I pick the cover that is going to sell the most copies – and I’ll test it out with paid advertisements if I have to (though I’ve gotten very good at knowing which will perform the best). Selling more copies is all that matters for most authors. If you have a literary career, or are a professor, and are writing a book just to make yourself look good, then sure – go for something smart and obtuse and a little hard to figure out; something most people won’t like but a few people will think is brilliant.

But if you want to make money as an author, don’t be swayed by the sirens warning you to avoid the obvious and focus on something deeper and non-representational. Don’t worry about avoiding book cover cliches. Don’t focus on being creative. Get a damn fine cover that looks professional and immediately broadcasts the right genre. It SHOULD look a lot like the other bestselling books in the same category.

After you get enough people to buy it, read it and love it, and your name is so famous that people will buy anything you write, then you can start having fun with your book cover and taking risks with the design.

I’m not saying Peter isn’t a brilliant cover designer, of course he is. Another designer I like a lot is Chip Kidd.
And I’m obviously jealous of their talents. I’m not saying I’m a better designer than they are; only that, if they had to design covers that would sell popular fiction, they would probably look entirely different – and a whole lot more like mine – than the creative samples they’ve built their careers on.


So you have to decide what kind of author you are.

1. Are you the artist, who just wants to make an amazing book, even if nobody recognizes it in your lifetime and nobody loves and understands it like you do; you get no acknowledgment until decades after you die? Or, are you writing professional literary fiction with an established marketing campaign and recognized name? Great! Your book cover is a blank canvas.

2. Do you want people to read and like your book? Do you want hundreds of reviews? Do you want to make a bunch of money so you can write full-time? Then you better make sure your book fits the conventions of bestselling books in your genre, and appeal precisely to the readers who love that genre, and broadcast the core story message, and most importantly, make an emotional connection (in away that literary book covers almost never do, being purely conceptual).

In other words, the publishing methods that apply to famous authors are not and should not be the same for unknown authors on a small budget. You need to be more careful with how you do things. Your cover needs to look like it belongs in the top 10 books in your category.

While Peter’s new book should in no way be used as a manual for commercial book cover design, as an exercise in creative thinking and design it’s definitely worth perusing.

Peters Book Cover at Amazon

Derek Murphy at Amazon

From Guest Blogger Randall

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?”

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