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The Bestseller List

February 13, 2012

Something I see often is authors announcing they’re bestsellers. On Twitter, on blogs, on groups, on the covers of their books. Everyone and their brother seems to be some sort of bestseller, and they all want everyone else to know about it. Of course, that’s their prerogative, but it grates on me. I know what you’re thinking… sour grapes, right? Well, no. Two of my titles have been on bestseller lists, too, but I don’t put much in those lists, so I don’t feel the need to scream it from the mountaintops.

Why? Well, bestseller lists are only a barometer of sales. While this may mean something to some people, it means nothing to me. All it means is that the title sold a lot of units. That doesn’t mean it’s a good book. That doesn’t mean it’s a well liked book. It doesn’t mean anything other than it sold a bunch of copies. In my book, that isn’t success. It’s money.

Yeah, yeah, money matters. And it does. I like knowing something I’ve created is selling well, but it isn’t the ultimate measure of success for me. For me, success is in how many people like the book. My two bestselling titles are the two with the lowest Goodreads ratings. While people may shun Goodreads as anything other than a cesspit (and, I admit, it does have its skeevy qualities that I think could be fixed if those who ran the place gave a shit), it isn’t a bad place to get a general idea of what readers think.

So, every time I see someone post about their book being on yet another site’s bestselling list, I shake my head and sigh. Outside validation is great, and high sales are nice for the pocketbook, but I want more than that. I want to be proud of what I’ve written. I want readers to really enjoy the books I offer. I want to know I didn’t compromise my own style or vision in favor of achieving that bestselling title. In short, I want to write for the joy of writing, not some monetary measure of success.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2012 12:02 pm

    We’ve made it on Bestseller’s lists? XD Can you tell how much the title ‘Bestseller’ means to me just based on the fact that I didn’t even remember we’d made the cut sometime in the past? >.>

    I’m very much in agreement with you on this. Selling a lot of copies is great and all, but I’m looking for how people are enjoying the book. I get much more thrilled when I see that one of our books has made a reviewer’s top picks for 2011 list or something along those lines. It means that person loved my book out of all the books they’ve read that year. To me, that’s saying something much more profound than being ranked high in the sales on this site or that site. Connecting with a reader so well they put you at the top? That’s more a measure of success to me. ^_^

  2. February 13, 2012 3:51 pm

    K — Yep. Rachmaninoff was on ARe’s bestseller for its category, and The Keeper was on BookStrands bestseller list for about three weeks. 😀 While I do have a bit of pride on that, I don’t define my success by it. 🙂

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