Category: Uncategorized

Making A Best Seller List

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There are several Best Seller lists, like USA TodayWall Street Week and Barnes and Noble, but the one most everyone knows is The New York Times Best Sellers list. To somehow crack the code to the list is a once-in-a-lifetime dream for most authors. For Savant types like John Grisham, Stephen King and Nicholas Sparks, the code seems to work for all their books.

Today, making the New York Times Best Sellers list is easier than ever, with a total of 40 categories a book can land in from Hard Cover fiction and nonfiction to PaperbackEbooksGraphicChildren’s books and Young Adult. In addition, there are 22 monthly lists with sub-categories like Games, Family, Sports and Travel.

Since each category has 10 to 15 books, there might be 800 different books listed at one time and most of the authors are represented by mainstream publishers. To sell a minimum of about 5,000 copies per week to make the lists, the books must be in retail outlets. What’s the methodology used? According to the New York Times:

“Rankings reflect sales reported by vendors offering a wide range of general interest titles. The sales venues for print books include independent book retailers; national, regional and local chains; online and multimedia entertainment retailers; supermarkets, university, gift and discount department stores; and newsstands. E-book rankings reflect sales from leading online vendors of e-books in a variety of popular e-reader formats.”

How Many Books to Make the List?

The number of book sales to make any list varies greatly by time of year and by category. The 5,000 copy per week benchmark is a relative number that easily represents all major categories for the weekly lists. Even a book listed at #15 on the Hard Cover Fiction list is likely to be a major author whose books are found in bookstores, gift shops, Walmart, Costco, and the ever-popular airport lounge. If you want to be impressed by a book’s sales, look at the number of weeks it has been on the list. A one-week blip is just that, one big week of sales. A book that hangs in the top ten for 20-weeks is a new lifestyle with all the perks……………

However, small categories in the monthly listings might surprise you. For instance, Tracey Stewarts Do Unto Animals was listed at number 10 in the monthly listing for Animals. It’s a very good book and congratulations to the author for making the New York Times Best Seller list. It also made the USA Today list.

It also makes the Amazon Best Seller list by being #1 in the Animal Husbandry category. Again, well done. The book hovered at #3500 in paperback books and #50,000 in the paid Kindle store. The author sold lots of books, but not a clip that self-published authors can’t also shoot for with their Kindle books.

For lack of a better way of putting it, the New York Times Best Sellers list is the Major Leagues. Amazon’s #1 Best Seller ranking is the minor leagues. Sure, if you get that ranking in “Fiction” you will be very, very rich. But Amazon has a whole lot more than 62 total categories.

The #3500 Amazon ranking in paperbacks (or just non-Kindle) is quite good; selling perhaps 30 copies or more per day. With bookstores and other outlets considered, that could be more than 100 copies per day. And, a book like Animal Husbandry is more likely to sell in paperback than on Kindle. And, the shelf life is likely to be good.

The Kindle numbers are a bit different.

For Kindle sales, the ranking of #50,000 is mediocre. Sales-wise that’s 1 or 2 book sales per day. Everyone has a chance to do that if they produce a decent read for Kindle buyers. The overall ranking includes Kindle Unlimited (you must be exclusive to Amazon for Kindle Unlimited and KDP), where readers opt-in to read all the Kindle eBooks they can for $9.95 per month and authors get paid by page views. Those page views run about a half-cent per page, so a 300-page novel garners $1.50 for the author.

A Kindle book selling for $4.95 pays the author 70% in most markets or $3.47 per sale. At the same time, a KDP (Amazon paperback copy) book listed at $14.95 nets $5.16 for the author.

If you want to be in the Top 10 of common categories on Amazon Kindle, choose a more obscure one than “crime” or “romance.” Obviously, if you choose correctly, you can make an Amazon Best Seller list with fewer sales.

How few? Well, right now the #1 book under “blackjack” is selling at #23,500 which is about 5 books per day! That’s very nice for the author, and in a year, they might reach 2,500 sales. That’s about half of what a New York Times Best Seller does in a week.

I’m not disparaging the Amazon Bestseller’s listings. Not at all. I  love ’em. Just keep in mind you’ll need to keep producing quality work to get tothe New York Times list!

Guest Blog – Alistair Cross

the-angel-alejandroThough I’ve been writing all my life, it wasn’t until ten years ago that I got serious about it. And I didn’t want to be a hobby-writer, either. I wanted to be a real-life, full-time professional who spends his time writing, editing, marketing, and well … doing it all – because that’s what writers do these days.

 The road was long and winding, but in 2012, I finally got published. Since then, I’ve written several novels with bestselling author, Tamara Thorne, and have now completed my second solo novel, The Angel Alejandro, which was released January 25, 2017, as well as several other collaborations and solo projects.

 I was lucky to be able to put several of my unemployed fictional characters to work in my latest novel, The Angel Alejandro. The Angel Alejandro is an urban fantasy/dark fiction story about an angel who crash-lands on earth, in the koi pond of an unsuspecting young woman named Madison who’s trying her best to make her way through the world alone.

The million-mile fall results in a severe case of amnesia – and before the stunningly beautiful angel, Alejandro, has a chance to figure out who he is, a horde of demonic entities come to town, eager to capitalize on his lost identity, and harvest his soul. As he and Madison set out to recover his past, the entire town of Prominence is slowly going mad: There’s vandalism and violence, brutality and bloodshed – and the terror is slowly closing in, putting Alejandro and Madison at its center.

It was the use of this fictional small town, Prominence, that allowed me to further explore some of the characters who’ve been living in my head – and some of them have been there for years, from the days when I used to sketch them out in notebooks, before I wrote novels.

Please take a moment and check out my website.

Rayme Michaels “Screw The Devil’s Daiquiri

screw-the-devils-daiquiri-book-coverScrew the Devil’s Daiquiri by Rayme Michaels is a strange brew of young, angry man angst and schizophrenia. The author knows this, as the preview runs:

“When womanizer, and possible schizophrenic, John Hazel, is suddenly offered a serious job promotion by the CEO of his company, David Wall, under the condition that John help him kill his wife, John finds himself between a rock and a hard place when Mr. Wall’s wife, Victoria Wall, asks John to do the same for her.

John, an office temp, photographer and university teaching assistant of philosophy, has more than enough on his post-traumatic, hyperactive mind, without something as absurd as this weighing down on him, not to mention that he is haunted—well, annoyed more than anything—by either the spirits or imaginary spirits of Giovanni Boccaccio, Francois Rabelais and a she-devil named Sabrina.

Life does not seem to want to let up on John. Will he make it through this very bizarre time of tribulation, or will he end up behind bars, stone-cold dead, or simply cracking under the weight of it all?”

This is currently available for 99-cents – Screw The Devil’s Daiquiri

Patrick Kanouse “The Clearing”

the-clearing-novel-jacketPatrick Kanouse is an author who knows where he wants to go with a story, and The Clearing begins in medias res with immediate, significant action, and pulls the reader along with the sometimes reluctant characters.

The protagonist, Dean Wallace, a divorced, former New York City detective, finds himself with something to do, something important enough to turn his life around if he demands enough of himself to allow the improbable to happen. And, that’s the real question. Not whether he will solve a twisted murder puzzle, but will solving the case made a difference in his own life?

The Clearing hit Amazon on September 20, 2016, through Walter Glenn Publishing. It is available on Kindle for $2.99. The print length is 276 pages, about 3470 on my Kindle Fire and it’s an easy read, whether you catch some pages before bed or pass the time in your favorite chair by the fire.

I enjoyed the fact that Police Lieutenant Dean Wallace takes charge and develops leads. He actively pursues his hunches, instead of being a caricature of a policeman who things just happen to. On the flip side, I fault the author for being a little lax with some of the forensic work. The story is set in 1979, and we’ve come a long way since then, but little details can add up to big issues. Fortunately in this story they do not.

The author also takes time to set his surroundings, giving the reader ample details about each scene. Main characters are also fleshed-out, minor characters less so. Readers are likely to find this novel readable and worth their time, and money.

FOUR STARS

 

Kerrie Noor “The Downfall of a Belly Dancer”

downfall-of-a-belly-dancer-coverKerrie Noor’s novel, The Downfall of a Belly Dancer, arrived on Kindle November 19, 2016. It runs 231 pages – that’s about 2870 sections on my Kindle Fire.

This is a quirky, funny account of a troupe of women dancing through their friendship’s familiarity, and their life’s uncertainty in their small town located somewhere in the Scottish Highlands. Here’s a quote from the book:

Lochgilphead is not the sort of place that attracts visitors; in fact, there are usually only two reasons why anyone visits Lochgilphead – to spend time with relatives and gloat, or because they were offered a job, and didn’t investigate before they accepted.

As with other “sisterhood” novels (and often in real life), the characters have pet names, and the main character, a belly dancer extraordinaire and teacher, is aptly named Nefertiti. She commands respect and at least grudging admiration from her friends and students until disaster comes on two fronts. She slowly loses students to a more charismatic dancer – or dance – Zumba, and Nefertiti loses the interest of her longtime mate, Rodger, who has built and is now sequestered in a shed, or what some might call a man cave.

Author Kerrie Noor lives in Scotland, so the writing is an enjoyable change for us here, slightly tinged with pleasantries not heard in the US, but she still manages to turn a backhand to restaurant chain McDonald’s, so there is no language or societal barriers. And, readers will find a glossary at the end of this novel, just in case a word stumps.

FOUR STARS

 

John A. Heldt “Class of ’59”

class-of-59-book-coverJohn A. Heldt is the prolific author of American Journey, a series of books dealing with time travel and the mysteries they could present. Class of ’59 is the fourth offering, putting modern day Mary Beth McIntire on a collision course with Mark Ryan, who just happens to reside in the same house. The only issue is their date of reference. Mark’s is March of ’59.

Set in Southern California, the book reminds me of the 1980’s movie Peggy Sue Got Married, where a woman travels back in time to about the same date. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and Heldt doesn’t disappoint in his description of the late ’50’s.

The scenes Heldt sets in LA and Hollywood are vaguely familiar to me from movies of that period, perhaps a treat to relive for older readers. Class of ’59 is 293 pages, about 4118 on my Kindle Fire, and a pleasure to read. Published on September 1, 2016, the novel runs $4.99.

The writing is good solid fun, and quite entertaining as believable characters (with backstory and actual feelings) move back and forth through time. The author focuses much of the story on what was happening in his characters minds in 1959, with high school and young love, instead of trying to prove the experience is real or worrying about the difference in our American heritage from 50-odd years ago. There is a huge difference, and it has to be dealt with, but it’s not the main story.

Five Stars

 

Laura Hillenbrand “Unbroken”

unbroken-coverLaura Hillenbrand is the remarkable author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend, and of course her previous work is also remarkable, but her own story will probably be a movie at some point in our lives. She wrote Unbroken as well as Seabiscuit after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrom and suffering from such an acute case of vertigo that she wrote much of the manuscripts longhand while holding onto the bathtub and writing with her eyes closed. Remarkable.

That said, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,  tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a Depression-era youth who is saddled with running track by a school principle and his older brother after repeated scrapes with the law. So Louis gets off easy, emerges as a star runner, participates in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and then becomes a WWII Army Air Corps B-24 bombardier. Then things turn the other way.

Louis and his B-24 crew-mates ditch at sea after being shot from the sky. There are three survivors. Eventually, they are to endure weeks and weeks upon the ocean with no food, nestled into a tiny raft the size of a coffin. This is not the worst part. That comes later, in Japanese POW camps.

What is amazing, beyond the story, is the amount of work put into this book by the author. She does credit dozens of people for helping her with myriad details, but overall, this is a stunning work of nonfiction. It does not read quite as lively and free as Seabiscuit, but then again, the subject is much tougher.

Published by Random House, the book is 529 pages and a whopping 12610 KB. Originally published in November of 2010, the book has now been made into a motion picture. It’s not for kids.

As for the Kindle edition, it is $11.99, which is why I read the $9.89 paperback, sorry trees. On the readability side, it is long and very detailed, and certainly not lite fare. I could probably have done just fine with about 150-pages less. Still, you won’t go away unmoved by Louis Zamperini or the author.

FIVE STARS

 

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli “The Mentor”

the-mentorThe Mentor, by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, is a fast-moving Crime/Detective novel originally written in Italian and translated into English. That does leave the reader struggling a bit from time to time with specific words used in the text, but those aside, the writing translates well into a  good novel, providing you don’t mind the story and characters sounding like this is happening in some random US city and not London.

This work was published by Amazon/Crossing in November of 2015. The text is 226 pages and on my Kindle, there are 3015 positions.

As the story begins, Eric Shaw is a forensics detective who investigates a triple murder and finds a small child, still alive, under a bed. Why this child is never interviewed about the murders is a mystery to me. So this is Mystery, more than a Detective story.

There are plenty of twists in the plot, and in the minds of the bad guys, but the most twisted mind is the main character, Eric Shaw, since he manipulates his own forensics work to punish and convict criminals when they can’t otherwise bring them to justice. This isn’t Jack Reacher taking the law into his own hands as a private citizen, this is the head of the department presenting falsified claims. Hmmm.

Characters are sometimes presented and forgotten but for the most part, at least the “good” guys have some backstory and aren’t just cardboard cutouts. Unfortunately, I had no respect for the protagonist. That makes this review tough. However, if you are reading this to see a bunch of false reasons to read this, forget it. If you want a quick read with some gore and plot twists, the book is $5.99 at Amazon Kindle.

As for the police and forensics work, well, the author does admit:

“Although I included some real information about the organization of police forces in London, I nevertheless took full artistic license concerning professional positions of numerous employees, as well as the logistics and procedures utilized by the Forensic Science Service Laboratory and Murder Investigation Teams of London’s Metropolitan Police Service in order to better adapt them to the plot.”

I don’t think every book can be perfect, and some “poetic license” is always fine with me, but I’ve grown to expect a little more specific about actual procedures, and I love to learn something new, providing it is accurate.

FOUR STARS

 

 

Jane Paterson “Gatekeepers of the Grapevine”

gatekeepers-of-the-grapevineAuthor Jane Paterson’s first novel, Gatekeepers of the Grapevine is a solid offering. It offers a look at the lives of several women as their struggle through relationships, time and the fortunes of living in Cape Town, Africa. Paterson, herself born in South Africa, has a natural flair for the vernacular, and her storytelling is good.

This novel is considered women’s literature, or women’s fiction, only because the main characters are all women as if that negates men from having an interest in the story. Right now the book is available on Kindle for $2.99 and runs 258 pages, about 3650 positions on my device.

This isn’t Out of Africa, nor a James Michener tome, so don’t expect a narrative deep in African culture.  Instead, consider it lighter fare, perhaps equal to the 1980’s US TV hit Dynasty, with the main characters all female and the gatekeeper of Vintner’s Estate, the puppet master.

Pacing is moderate, a good novel to sit and enjoy a cup of tea with, and the plot stays steady. The characters and their traits are established early, although not in great depth, and the story begins in

FIVE STARS

 

Emily Kendricks “Badge Without Honor”

badge-without-honorBadge Without Honor is a new Detective Thriller from author Emily Kendricks.  Previously, Kendricks authored The Fantasy Maker, an Erotic Thriller, but this time she gets down in the dirt with hard-boiled cops and killers. Available on Kindle right now for $2.99, the book runs 250 pages. That’s 3460 positions on my Kindle.

Kendricks sets up a good story, using her working knowledge of New York and police sciences to mold a believable story.The protagonist, Detective John Bocello, cuts his teeth in Brooklyn as a homicide detective before moving out of the city and heading to what he hoped would be is a slower, more productive life in the small town  of Darlington. Of course, things don’t work out that way.

He’s linked up with fellow Detective Steve Parson’s, who provides the annoyance and worry factor for Bocello. Parson’s a friend as well as a detective, but he has trouble keeping his mind on his work. That’s not a good thing, since what starts out as a simple robbery turns into much more, including cold cases that have lingered for years and a modern-day Jack the Ripper.

Is the killer trying to leave a message with his work? The detectives aren’t sure, but Bocello’s life is further complicated by his own interest in a local widow, who may herself be in danger.

FOUR STARS

 

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