Most writers dream of hitting the bestsellers list, and some readers only read books from these lists. But what does it take to be listed there? You might be surprised.

For example, did you know that bestseller lists have editors? Yep. They scour the data, and if a book shows huge sales from one particular area, it will probably get knocked off the list even if the raw data says it belongs there. The editors are looking for books that show sales over a broad area.

Or, did you know that Christian stores are considered Specialty Stores. What does this mean? Many of the sales from these places are excluded from consideration on secular bestsellers lists like The New York Times. Other Specialty Stores would be places like coffee shops with book racks or card shops that sell gift books.

Although the music industry has a thorough reporting system for sales, the book industry does not. So any bestseller list you look at will not include all retail sales of any book. And because any store can return books they didn’t sell to the publisher, all sales reports tend to include several months (or years) worth of data.

And, none of the books sold by the author through a website, conference, ministry, or even often through book clubs, count toward sales on bestsellers lists.

Does any of this surprise you?

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