What writer doesn't want to see their names one of those iconic bestseller's list? New York Times or the USA Today? Wouldn't it be wonderful? What does it mean to you as a writer? What resources are used to determine those rankings?
I did some research on this and let me put it this way. It's complicated. Those two big name lists figure their rankings differently which is why their lists don't always match. This post would get very long even if I wrote about in even the most general terms. The USA Today lists seems to take ebook sales into account more but from my research its seems there are some mysteries involved in how exactly the numbers are arrived at. But one thing for certain about both lists. They measure the sales for one week, as one source called it, the velocity of sales.
For instance, a highly promoted book might sell like crazy on its release date. But if poor reviews come in the sales might drop off sharply. So a book that never makes the top of the lists but sells steadily over a period of time may out sell and out earn a book that hit the top ten for a week or two.
Many publishers, like mine at New Concepts, have a bestsellers list on their website. New Concepts sell a lot of books directly from their website which not all publisher do, so being on their list helps with sales.
And what talk of bestselling numbers would be complete without talking about Amazon ranking? Being on one of their top 100 lists gives an author a reason to tweet about. Getting one book on the top will lead readers to other of the author's books.
Have you been on a bestseller list? Do you buy books that are recommended by such lists? Have you ever investigated how those lists are determined?