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Find Out How a Book Becomes a Bestseller Today


Every author has this dream of writing bestselling novels because that is the best thing you can expect as an author.

But becoming a best seller is not that easy and the entire concept of what makes a book best seller is actually quite complicated and depends on the list you are talking about.

But you do not have to worry about that because we are going to tell you exactly what you need to do to get your book on any bestselling list.

Speaking of lists, we are talking about lists from reputed companies and news agencies that showcase top selling novels or books in the form of best seller lists.

Publishers always aim to get their books in those prestigious lists and they spend a lot of effort marketing the book to get it to that list.

This is because if you reach that list then it will do half the marketing for you after that.

Let us talk about a few of these lists and understand the kind of specifications they look for and the kind of metrics they utilise to analyse the performance of a book.

This is because each bestseller list whether it is the Wall Street Journal’s list or whether it is Amazon’s list has different specifications and when a book reaches those specifications, they get to be on their bestseller list.

If you understand how they rank books, then we will exactly know the answer to how does a book become a bestseller.

So, let us check out some of these companies and their bestseller lists.

Top Bestseller Lists in The World

Wall Street Journal’s Best Seller List

Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal is renowned for one of the most popular best-seller lists in the world and this list is respected by every publishing company out there.

WSJ looks at a lot of data points and they do a lot of sales data collection when they are creating their bestseller list.

The reason why they are so respected and their list is regarded as one of the best is that they analyse data from multiple sources in great detail.

Direct Sales

If you want the best kind of sales data then you need to look at direct sales from traditional channels. This means getting sales figures from bookstores to the publisher as well as book clubs.

This is a very involved process because this process entails data collection as well as data cross-checking to make sure they are accurate.


WSJ is trusted among most of the biggest bookstore chains in the world and that is why a lot of their data is dependent on these bookstore chains as well as independent bookstores.

Along with that they also have access to online retailers and it is actually quite a monumental task together all the data from different sources.

Nielsen’s BookScan

They do not just rely on their data because they also rely on other data collectors and their data and one of them is definitely Nielsen’s BookScan retail data.

This helps WSJ to cross-check their information so that they can be sure that when they create the list, it is only created with the most perfect data available.

The New York Times Best Seller List

The New York Times

If we are talking about bestseller lists whether it is physical books or ebook best sellers, we simply cannot ignore the New York Times list.

This is because it is not only one of the oldest, if not the oldest bestseller lists in the world, but it is also one of the best lists for books in the world, especially in the US.

They have been creating and continuously updating this list for nearly a hundred years and they are also constantly innovating how they collect data in order to make sure their lists are always relevant.

They are very stringent when it comes to creating such a list because they only produce a list for traditionally published books and you cannot find a list for bestselling self-published books with them.

Selection Criteria

One of the most important things you need to keep in mind about this list is that you need to sell at least 5000 copies to qualify.

Along with that, they are an exclusively US list which means these sales must take place in the US if you want them to qualify for the list.

They also are quite rigorous about the fact that the book has to be published through a traditional publisher.

Selection Process

The selection process is kind of similar to that of WSJ in the fact that the New York Times collects data from independent bookstores as well as from retail chains.

Since they have such a big and diverse network, they also cultivate a few confidential sources which they might not reveal to the public but they are definitely more accurate than any public source.

The selection process is broken down into multiple categories depending on the genre of the book as well as the kind of book print in the form of hardcovers or paperbacks or even a category for ebook best sellers.

Ranking Criteria

The criteria by which they rank bestsellers is actually quite simple because they consider the volume of sales as one of the biggest indications for qualification.

However, they might add or remove books at their discretion and since they are the ones to come up with the list, they reserve the right to do anything they want.

USA Today List

USA Today

We now have yet another legendary list and you should definitely consider them if you are ever planning on how to write a best selling book because if you get your book in the USA Today list then you are already at the top.

There are actually a lot of ways in which you can get your book into this list because USA Today has multiple lists depending on the genre.

They are also biased towards traditional publishers and that is why if you are looking for a best-selling self-published books list here then you might be disappointed.

Let us now look at their process of creating the bestseller list.

Selection Criteria

The first thing to understand is that your book is only going to qualify for their list if you have sold at least 5000 copies and we are talking about a week.

This will then qualify your book for their list as they will be tracking the progress of sales throughout the week for the books that have qualified to be on the list.

They are more centred towards raw sales data but they also have their ways of making sure only the deserving candidates get to be on the list.

This is an exclusively US list and that is why they do the selection based on nationwide sales.

Selection Process

When it comes to the selection process and data gathering process, USA Today tries to get as much information as possible whether it is from independent bookstores or retail chains or even direct sales to the customer from the publisher.

The one thing that is different about this list compared to any other list is that they do not have individual categories for different genres. They have a single category and it is all about book sales.

They also make sure to keep on collecting data and they keep on releasing and updating their list every week.

Publishers Weekly List

Publishers Weekly

We now have yet another very comprehensive bestseller book list and it is comprehensive because it uses Nielsen’s BookScan for data.

The reason why this data is accurate is that this is not just some independent data. BookScan takes into consideration data from some of the most prominent book-selling platforms like Amazon, Walmart as well as Barner & Noble and many more.

Additionally, they also collect a lot of data from other sources and they also compile it and verify it and that is why they are reputed as having one of the best lists.

Data Collection

Their data collection comes from multiple sources and one of the primary sources is definitely going to be bookstores and we are not just talking about physical bookstores but even online bookstores.

Along with that they also match the data with wholesalers and they match that data with publishers to make sure every number is correct.

Data Compilation

The data compilation is also the process of ranking where they bring together all the data about book sales for a particular category.

They make sure that the data is correct and verify it with multiple sources and this is how they create their bestseller list.

IndieBound List


This is a very different kind of list compared to all the other names we have mentioned simply because IndieBound follows a different kind of approach.

They do not just focus on sales because they focus on preference and we are talking about the collective preference of independent bookstores and not large bookstore chains.

Data Collection

They basically get all their data from independent bookstores and they also talk with a lot of consumers to understand their preferences.

They primarily focus on independently owned bookstores and they do not even look at the data from big corporations and that is why they have such a unique list.

Data Categorization

The data categorisation is actually quite extensive because they create a lot of categories based on different popular genres.

The primary thing to understand here is that if you are an indie writer then you are more likely to find your book in this list than any other list.

Amazon List


Finally, we come to the most popular list among all bestseller lists in today’s day and age and we are talking about the Amazon list or the Amazon best sellers book list.

When we talk about the Amazon list we need to talk about two kinds of lists. There is the Amazon Charts and then there is the Amazon Best Sellers.

Amazon Charts

The best way to understand Amazon Chats is that it is more like a traditional bestseller list because it comes out once a week and has two distinct sections with fiction and non-fiction as its categories.

The data that is used for Amazon Chats is based on the books sold on Amazon’s primary platform along with other platforms like Kindle as well as Audible.

The best thing about this list is that pre-orders are also calculated.

This list is respected throughout the world simply because Amazon takes into consideration a lot of things such as engagement and even completion rates.

Since a lot of their books are digital, they also understand the engagement level of readers and that is why their list is accurate.

While you cannot find any Amazon book sales calculator, you can be assured that they have the correct data because it’s their own platform.

Amazon Best Sellers

The second kind of Amazon list we are going to talk about does not operate like a traditional bestseller list because a traditional list comes out every week or every month.

However, the Amazon Best Seller list is dynamic and gets updated every hour which means if you look at that list you are going to get the most updated information about the popularity of books.

This is a very comprehensive list because the categorisation is quite detailed and is about a broad range of topics from fiction and nonfiction to other specific genres and niches.

Since they only rely on their own sales data, their list is very accurate.

This Is How You Write a Best Seller

A Solid Story as a Foundation

If you want to create a best seller and if you want every rank calculator such as the Amazon book sales rank calculator to pick up your book, then the first thing you need to ensure is a good story.

It is just like owning a restaurant, you can have the nicest-looking restaurant in the best location with the best servers, but if the food is not good then the restaurant will never be popular.

That is why you should focus on the content first and foremost and then you can worry about other things.

Study The Audience

The second thing you must keeping mind is your audience and the reason why we have kept this after the point about the story is simply because of a reason.

The reason is simple and it is that you should never get influenced by your audience when you are writing the body of the novel.

However, you should definitely get influenced by your audience when you are planning everything else like the book cover and the marketing.

Use The Book Cover as A Hook

If you are an author then you already know what is the meaning of a hook. It is something we utilise at the beginning of a story or a chapter to grab the audience’s attention.

If you do it correctly then everything can be a hook. The same goes for the book cover.

The book cover is going to be the first point of contact between your readers and the book and that is why you need to make sure to make it as attractive and as unique as possible.

The book cover is very useful if you utilise it correctly.

Proper Book Description

You need to understand the journey of the reader in the bookstore. First, they are going to look at the book cover.

The next thing they are going to do is to turn over the book and look at the book description and this is the second point of contact if they decide not to open the book.

That is why you need to make sure to create a book description with as much marketing language as possible.

Your book description is not your book’s primary content and that is why you can even utilise a marketing expert to write the book description for you.

Study Best Seller Lists

One of the other very helpful things you can do is to study how bestseller lists work.

This will give you an idea of how book ranking is calculated because it is not just about the number of books sold.

There are a lot of factors that go into bestseller lists and that is if you understand how these lists work then you can work towards them better.

Generate And Promote Book Reviews

The thing about a best-seller list is that once you get into that list, it will be the single greatest form of marketing for your book.

But until you get into that list you need to try out every marketing technique and method possible and one of them is to facilitate book reviews.

The way you can do that is to simply send out free copies of your book to reputed book reviewers who are respected in the market.

If you are a new author then most of them will probably not review it but if one of them does then it will help a lot in book sales.

Try Getting Preorders

If you follow the Amazon list then it is also going to count pre-orders and it will act as a headstart for you to reach the best seller list.

That is why if you want to get pre-orders then you can set special prices for people who order before the release.

You can also run a special promotional campaign that offers special discounts to your readers.

Have A Strong Social Media Strategy

If you are an author in today’s day and age then you definitely need to work on your social media because it is one of the best kinds of medium to promote your work.

That is why you need to be active on all popular social media platforms and have regular updates for people and also engage with your fans and readers.

The more active you are and the more engaging content you put out; the more people are going to show interest in your book. It is one of the best ways to generate traffic.

Invest In Marketing

And if you think this is too much work then you can always invest in marketing which means getting a social media manager as well as getting a marketing expert.

These experts are going to formulate marketing strategies for you so that you can target the perfect audience for book sales to reach a particular level.

You must understand that your objective is as many book sales as possible in a fixed time period so that your book reaches the bestseller lists.

We hope this blog helps to understand how bestsellers work and if you are a new author and you are confident in your book but bewildered about the entire publishing process then we are here for you.

We are Orange Publishers and we are one of the fastest-rising traditional book publishing companies in India. We do everything in-house when it comes to publishing.

We do the layout design as well as the book cover design, the printing and publishing and even the marketing and promotion in-house. We also take care of the copyright.

We welcome you to visit our website and check out everything you do.

Common Book best seller FAQs

How many books sold to be a bestseller?

Every bestseller list is different when it comes to the number of books that you need to sell in order to qualify for that list.

However, if we look at an average then the average is definitely going to be something between 5,000 copies every week to 10,000 copies every week.

This can vary depending on the category as well as the market and even the genre of the book.

How do I know if a book is a best seller?

You do not have to actively find out if your book is a bestseller because if it is a bestseller then your friends are probably going to text you and tell it.

If your book is a bestseller then your publisher is probably going to invite you to celebrate with you.

This is because creating a bestseller is a monumental task for any kind of author and if it is a best seller then the news this going to reach you.

Can a self-published book be a bestseller?

A self-published book can definitely be a best seller but it might not come up on every bestseller list.

This is because some bestseller lists exclusively rank traditionally published books and they do not look at the data for self-published books.

You do not have to worry about that if you are looking at the best-seller list from Amazon because it does not differentiate between traditionally published or self-published books.

How much do first-time authors make?

This is very subjective and while it is impossible to give you a figure on how much new authors or first-time authors make, we can of course talk about the factors that lead to earning.

If the first-time author creates a masterpiece that becomes a bestseller, they can earn as much as established authors.

There are also various other market factors that determine the earnings of a new author.