How to Get on the New York Times Bestseller List – 4 Case Studies from Authors Who Have Done It

Posted on Apr 1, 2024

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Written by Gabe Muniz

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It seems like every author wants to learn how to get on the New York Times Bestseller list.

The prestige, the title, and the credibility are all super tempting…

But there’s more to landing on the NYT Bestseller list than just writing and publishing a book and hoping it gets there.

In fact, there are some huge misconceptions around the “New York Times Bestselling Author” status to begin with, but we’ll get to that later.

These dreams of yours are amazing. Lofty, and right on point. The amount of impact you can have by being a bestselling author is awe-worthy. But hitting “The List” may be tougher than you think, and you may learn there are other lists you’d rather be on.

Alas, let’s dive in!

Here’s how to get on the New York Times Bestseller list:

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Feel free to click on the section above that you’re most interested in. Otherwise, stick around and read this start to finish, so that you can gain a further understanding of what it actually means and what it truly takes to get on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Because it could impact your path to get there…

How to Get on the New York Times Bestseller List – Big Picture Overview

If you really have your heart set on becoming a New York Times bestselling author, here is a big picture overview of the things you’ll have to do in order to make it happen.

#1 – Know What the NYT List wants

A Stanford Business School analysis done years ago concluded by saying that the “majority of book buyers seem to use the Times‘ list as a signal of what’s worth reading.”

Knowing what the Times regards as a bestseller is important because it provides a helpful window into this segment of the bestselling publishing world (which has evolved past just the Times in recent years).  

It helps to know what is currently passing for a New York Times Bestseller.

Simply start with the category in which you would like to be published: fiction, non-fiction. Beyond that, genre: history, political, fantasy, science-fiction. It helps too to know who the Big Players are.

The Times is known to favor the Big New York publishing houses. Who are these? What are their submission guidelines? Who are some agents known for working with them?

#2 – Build a Strong Author Platform

For first-time and lesser-known authors it is especially critical to have a pre-existing audience before attempting New York Times bestseller status.

This is how you can start to build your author platform and audience:

  • Be active on social media: it goes without saying, people—potential followers, collaborators, industry leaders, publishers, agents, and readers—exist in the digital space. Find them, connect with them, and collaborate, if possible.
  • Be already building credibility / expertise on your particular niche / topic / passion: write a weekly blog, as an example.  This is perfect practice to hone your writing skills, develop your voice and writing styles, conduct research for your eventual book. The goal is to establish trust and credibility.
  • Collaborate with others in your particular area for more knowledge and broader exposure: if you want to get in with the Big Wigs you have to know your stuff. Once you have built up some credibility you can leverage this and reach out to important figures in your field. It is a win-win-win for you, the person you are reaching out to and the audience that is set to gain important information from the two of you.
Get On The Nyt Bestseller List
  • Engage with your audience: Assess your audience’s “book pulse:” how hungry are they for your words of wisdom, unique insight, creative mind? What questions are you asking them? What have they had to say about your previous blog posts, vlogs, tweets, etc? Are they genuinely impressed, suggesting you write a book perhaps?

Maybe they are giving you more fuel for your book—telling you about things you had previously not known before, mentioning other books that further your expertise?  Engagement is key. What, if any, do you have with your audience?

#3 – Have a Pre-Order List Before Your Book Launch

You should have such a list for any book you seek to publish. For a potential New York Times Bestseller it is especially important from a sales perspective.

Rob Eager, a notable book marketing consultant, explains that, in the case of a New York Times Bestseller, all pre-orders sold before a book launch are counted during the first week of official sales.

So, for instance, 5,000 sold during pre-release and another 5,000 during the first official week equals 10,000 total books sold—a critical number to reach during the first week for New York Times Bestseller status.

Having a pre-order list works hand-in-hand with a pre-existing audience.  If you already have the audience it is, of course, easier to have a ready pre-order list.  If you are successful enough to have both of these before launch you are in good shape.

#4 – Obtain Fast and Diverse Sales

In the age of digital self-publication and promotion, the traditional publishing route is virtually a thing of the past.  

Not so for a New York Times Bestseller. Unlike selling on digital mediums where you can become a Bestseller by selling your book on, say, Amazon, to whomever, wherever, becoming a New York Times Bestseller follows a different system.

To achieve bestseller status on the Times not only do you have to sell at least 5,000 – 10,000 copies in one week,  but these sales have to be diverse sales.

That is, you cannot sell 10,000 books to a pre-existing list of followers through a personal website or thousands from only one marketplace like Barnes and Noble.

Rather, these sales must flow from retailers across the country and in different geographical locations—everything from Big-Box chains like Barnes and Noble and Walmart, small independent book stores, E-commerce giant Amazon, university bookstores, etc.

It is worth noting that the public does not have access to who the aforementioned retail outlets are, so as to prevent possible abuse from those looking to rig the system.

But the thing that is discrediting the NYT Bestseller List further and further is the fact that you can sell many more books than what is required, but would still not make it on the list. (More on this later!)

Therefore, Amazon sales only — where 64% of books are purchased! — will not count on their own.

#5 – Exchange Speaking Fee for Bulk Book Purchases

While it may not be the best course for everyone, speaking engagements are incredible opportunities to double-down on your writing endeavors and entrepreneurial goals more broadly.

They are not only great confidence-boosters but serve as great book marketing opportunities.

Exchanging speaking fees for a bulk book purchase is especially important during the pre-order phase because it allows you not only reach a broader audience (and hopefully make more sales) but allows you to meet the Times’ requirement that book purchases be in different geographic areas.

What Makes A Book A #1 New York Times Bestseller?

Generally speaking, to land on the Times list you must sell 5,000 – 10,000 copies of your book in just one week. For household names, this may feel do-able. After all, if their audience is eager to learn about their life story, they could easily become one of the best biography books this year.

If you’re not a household name (aka 99% of us), then learning how to hit the New York Times list may feel ambiguous. That’s why I created this case study of NYT bestsellers, which includes some people who aren’t necessarily household names, but are growing more and more popular in their respective niches. 

How to Get on the New York Times Bestseller List – 4 Case Studies and 13 Steps

While there is no guarantee of making this list, this case study of NYT bestsellers will help you better understand the process. What exactly do authors who hit this list do? What does their book launch preparation look like? What aspects of marketing do they focus on?

This guide provides you with concrete answers to the above questions. There is no secret sauce, but there are proven steps that almost every NYT bestselling author takes to sell more books.

First, let’s discuss Lewis Howes and his thirteen-step process.

Case Study #1 – Lewis Howes

Lewis Howes released The School of Greatness in 2015, but it wasn’t until later on that he decided to go all-in promoting a later book. To help him understand the technical aspects of marketing his book, he found twenty authors. 

These weren’t just any twenty authors. Lewis Howes interviewed twenty NYT bestsellers and asked, what did you do? Below is a thirteen-step outline of the answers he received. 

1. Bulk Book Orders

This case study of NYT bestsellers is about selling books in a specific time frame, and Lewis Howes understood his assignment. Instead of just accepting a speaking fee, going to the venue, and delivering, he made one request.

In order to book Lewis to speak, the host “would order the value of his speaking fee in books.” This allowed Lewis to rake in sales, but it also took care of his audience. One copy of his book was complementary to their ticket price. 

2. Podcast Tour

A second aspect of our case study of NYT bestsellers demands a nod to the importance of guest podcasting. Some of the podcasts Lewis guest spoke on were run by his friends.

However, not all of them were. Lewis secured 29 guest podcast appearances which helped spread the word about his book. Amy Porterfield did a similar podcast tour to sell her book, Two Weeks Notice, as have many other NYT bestsellers we’ve had on the Self-Publishing School podcast.

3. Street Team

One of the best ways to raise awareness about your book is to create a street team, also called a launch team. One of the first street teams I joined was for a nonfiction book. Today, it has over three thousand ratings and could even rank as one of the best books in inspirational nonfiction

A street team is simply a group of early readers who read your book and promote it via social media and reviews. Lewis had over 1000 applicants for his team. In the end, he chose the top 500. They helped promote his book all over their social media. 

4. Bonus Offerings Landing Page

When a customer purchases more than a single copy of your book you can hit your sales goals even faster.

To capitalize on this, Lewis created a bonus offerings landing page. There are many bonuses you can include that incentivize readers to purchase more than one copy. Consider adding a free video, extra chapters, an invite to a private forum of other readers, etc. 

5. Press

Lewis knew if he wanted to go big he’d need to land great press appearances. To ensure he spent enough time planning, he began securing slots ten months before the release of his book. All in all he did ten TV interviews. 

Never underestimate the power of one social media influencer or thought leader referencing your book. I know an author whose book was scheduled to go out of print, but when a well-known name referenced it, her sales skyrocketed. 

6. Guest Posts

If you want to land in the best books in health and fitness, consider guest posting for bloggers in this same niche.

With the help of his team, Lewis was able to put his content out on 35 publication platforms that supported his niche:

  • News sites 
  • Websites 
  • Blogs 

Whether written interviews or actual posts, Lewis’s team helped make sure he didn’t have to do it all on his own. Of course, he looked over every bit of material before allowing it to go out. 

7. Affiliate Promotion 

Done in good taste, affiliate promotions can go a long way. In this case study of NYT bestsellers, the power of networking stands first and foremost. Lewis says, “Having my network promote the book to their audiences, for free, because they’re awesome, was huge.”

He not only reached out to podcast guests but engaged in an affiliate deal as well as taught a class with CreativeLive. 

If you take anything away from this case study of NYT bestsellers, remember the power of surrounding yourself with a good network. 

8. Book Tour 

When Lewis launched his book he did not hold back. In fact, he went on an over six-week book tour and hit fifteen cities. 

This takes advanced planning, so if you hope to land on the New York Times list, start preparing early. 

Lewis also decided to host a pre-book tour. For this event he hosted a master class. He said that anyone who signed up for the class (through him) would receive ten free copies of his book. This spread the word about his book, one of the best forms of marketing there is (word-of-mouth-marketing, or WOMM). 

9. School of Greatness Podcast 

Many months before his book’s release date, Lewis began promoting it via his podcast. 

This promotion took three forms:

  • Pitching the book
  • Generating excitement
  • Reminding listeners to sign up for book updates

During his actual launch week, Lewis doubled-down and released a podcast nearly every single day. This kept his momentum going when he most needed it. 

10. Book Trailer

Additionally, when it came to investing in his How To Be Great book trailer video he went all in. To date it has 85,000 views and his YouTube subscriber list is 3.5 million. If this part in this case study of NYT bestsellers makes you nervous, just watch his video.

Lewis is not the face of the video. In fact, one reason it likely did so well is because he included so many various aspects. The video is not all about him. In just one minute and five seconds he reaches a wide audience.

Your book trailer does not need to center around you, but rather, your book idea. Remember, putting your audience first is crucial.

11. Social Media

Lewis Howes knows the importance of social media for today’s writers. This case study of NYT bestsellers would not be complete without acknowledging the impact social media plays in marketing your book.

Using social media may feel obvious, but that’s because it works. 

Lewis created an entire marketing campaign that he spread across all his social media channels. This campaign started prior to his book launch and extended through his full launch week. 

If you worry about what to post online, draw inspiration from the content he shared: 

  • Share images or videos of you doing press
  • Show behind-the-scenes of you going into bookstores
  • Lewis even shared content of him with my mom traveling between book events

Next up is to know when to post. Lewis says, “I posted all the big updates when we hit rankings, like top 10 on Amazon, and of course, the NYT #3 spot after the first week.”

Audiences love when you share video content, especially everyday, lifestyle content. They want to get to know the author they admire so much.  

12. Online Summit

Remember how many podcasts Lewis landed on? Well, he recorded twenty-seven interviews and hosted a free video summit two weeks after his book launch. This helped him continue to generate buzz and keep his book top-of-mind. 

Because he was doing so much promotion in other areas, he chose to save his summit for after his book launch. It certainly seems like it ended up being a great choice for him! 

13. Book Launch Manager

The final of the thirteen steps in this case study of NYT bestsellers is hiring a book launch manager. Lewis went so hard with promoting his book that he needed help managing the launch. 

He hired someone to help him out. This person managed:

  • The launch team
  • The bulk orders

A manager can make a tremendous difference in how you execute your book launch tasks. Today, Lewis Howes is a proud New York Times bestselling author, keynote speaker, and industry-leading show host.

He focuses his niche on:

  • Personal development
  • Abundance mindset
  • Health and wellness
  • Relationships

His show, The School of Greatness, is one of the top podcasts in the world with over 500 million downloads. He was recognized as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the country under 30. 

Lewis has been featured in many reputable places, including The Today Show, People, Forbes, ESPN, Entrepreneur, and Men’s Health, among other major media outlets. 

Case #2 – Dr. Shefali

Next up in our case study of NYT bestsellers is Dr. Shefali. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Columbia University. 

Known as an expert in family dynamics and personal development, she not only has written six books but also teaches courses around the globe. Half of her books are New York Times bestsellers.

How did she do it? Dr. Shefali says Oprah’s Super Souls put two of her books on the list, but that her third was due to intensive marketing. 

“You need to train yourself to keep being a vessel for the message.”

Dr. Shefali

Dr. Shefali says there is no formula for landing number one. Each book she tries something different in her marketing techniques.

In fact, her book, A Radical Awakening, was released during the pandemic. She had to do her marketing from behind a screen. This goes to show that even if you can’t physically visit your audience, you can still reach them. 

The marketing for her book, The Parenting Map, looked quite different. To help launch her book she:

  • Engaged in a seminar 
  • Spoke at a summit 
  • Appeared on countless podcasts
  • Went live on Instagram

“You have to talk to death. That’s the strategy.”

While Dr. Shefali has never been on a book tour, she knows how to succeed. 

Case #3 – Jon Acuff 

Jon Acuff is the third in our case study of NYT bestsellers. Acuff has six New York Times bestsellers to his name.

A Christian author, Acuff focuses on nonfiction (looking for Christian fiction books and authors? Click the link!). 

His advice for launching a book well is to:

  • Start talking about your book before you think you should
  • Talk about your book more than you think you should 

Secondly, he asks:

  • How does this help somebody?
  • How does this serve somebody?

Whether you want to write the best books in historical nonfiction or make your mark in nonfiction as Acuff has done, good writing focuses on the reader. 

Third, Acuff says: 

  • Stay consistent 
  • Have fun 

If you don’t like what you’re doing, why keep doing it? Writing a book can be an uphill battle. It’s important to enjoy the process, not just the finish line. 

Today, Jon Acuff is the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including his most recent, All It Takes Is a Goal. His books have been translated into twenty languages and he is a well-known speaker on the topic of leadership. 

He’s spoken to hundreds of thousands of people from audiences at conferences, to college students, to companies around the world.

One of Acuff’s better-known traits is his proclivity to wrap his insights with humor. Additionally, for over two decades he has aided brands in telling their story. His writing appears on the Times list and in reputable publications such as The Harvard Business Review and Time Magazine.

For an example of his insights wrapped in humor, just check out this quote he gave on our podcast:

 “The worst time to start talking about your book is when the book comes out.”

Jon Acuff

Meaning… start talking about your book WAY before you think you should!

Like Acuff, you too can tell your story, and maybe even take it to the New York Times bestseller list.

Case #4 – Wahida Clark

To wrap up our case study of NYT bestsellers, let’s end with Wahida Clark. Wahida Clark wrote seven books and sold almost one million copies—while in prison.

How did she sell so many books? Wahida says the answer is threefold.

  • The story resonated with her audience and she knew her demographic 
  • She knew the prison system was a very powerful network and used it to her advantage 
  • Wahida was one of the first authors to pursue the genre of street literature, so her books took off

Because the other people inside the prison loved her books so much, they called home and asked to be sent copies. This turned into the best marketing out there, word-of-mouth-marketing. 

Wahida is known today as the Official Queen of Street Literature, a celebrity writing and book publishing coach, and mentor. She established Wahida Clark Presents as an original concept in 2008. 

However, Wahida Clark Presents Innovative Publishing (WCIP) represents the culmination of the dream of a Black woman and a former prison inmate who now enjoys the distinction of being a four time, New York Times bestseller author.

New York Times Bestseller Status vs. Writing as Means to an End

Given the age of digital entrepreneurship where self-publishing a book continues to gain significant traction, effectively taking down the traditional barriers of entry—publishing industry contacts, top-notch agents, and costly marketing plans—it is really up to you to figure out your writing goals.

Traditional publishing with the aim of appearing on an internationally-recognized Bestseller list like the Times versus self-publishing with the aim of achieving personal / business goals (and potential Bestseller status just not in the Times) is a tradeoff you’ll have to consider.    

For example, a few of our authors including Anita Oommen, Sean Sumner, and Omer Redden, not only wrote and published an Amazon bestseller, but the impact was immediate on those closest to them: their respective children, who went on to write and publish their own books.

You can learn more about Anita’s story here.

Anita, Sean, and Omer weren’t shooting for the NYT Bestseller List; they were shooting to make an impact in their circles and with their kids.

Remember publishing a book is not an end in and of itself. With its ability to boost your name, reputation, and authority, not to mention, depending on your industry, land you more consulting clients and speaking gigs, writing a book can open up some pretty amazing doors. A successful published book is a marketing tool like no other.

Whatever path you choose, keep in mind that achieving Bestseller status in places other than the New York Times Bestseller List has been proven to land equally promising and lucrative opportunities.  

And we are just in the beginning phases of this amazing trend. Self-Publishing School is here to help.

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Best Seller Lists are Evolving

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about the New York Times Bestseller list is that it is an evolving list.  

It always has been and, as historical and more recent trends seem to suggest, probably always will be. To be fair, it is not only the Times.  

Only as recent as 1995 did the Los Angeles Times begin to count paperbacks again on its bestseller list.  

Further back in time, in 1961, the Chicago Tribune more infamously denied certain high-selling books that it considered to be “sewer written by dirty fingered authors for dirty-minded readers” from appearing on its Bestseller list.  

Various genres and classic works of literature have historically not appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list.  The recent explosion of E-books (The Times began counting them in 2010), self-published books, and audiobooks have also contributed to a more evolving list.

Controversy: What Writers Need to Know About the New York Times Bestseller List

Even though it retains its prestigious reputation, The New York Times Bestseller list has been the subject of much controversy. Charges of “curated elitism,” an overreliance on books published by the major New York publishing houses, questionable methodologies, bribery, editorial and political bias have prompted lawsuits and intense debates among authors, book publishers, and industry executives.

A 1983 lawsuit by William Peter Blatty, an American writer best known for his novel The Exorcist and 1973 movie by the same name, is a case in point.  

While his book Legion sold many copies during its initial publication—enough to earn a comfortable spot for a while on the Times’ Bestseller list—his book appeared on the list only for one week.

Sensing bias and claiming that by it not remaining on the Times’ list his sales were being hurt, Beatty took his case to Court. In Court, the NYT defended itself on grounds that “The list did not purport to be an objective compilation of information but instead was an editorial product.”  The Court sided with the Times, dismissing a $3 million lawsuit.  

More recently, in 2023, James Patterson accused the New York Times of “cooking the books” when his book had outsold a few others that were ahead of him on the list.

Think of it like this: The New York Times is the newspaper equivalent to a prestigious university and fashionable high-end clothing brand.  When it comes to getting on their bestseller list, just as it is for gaining admission to, say, an Ivy League School, few get in.

For those that do, they did their due diligence, worked incredibly hard, made great contacts, followed the rules, met the editorial standards, among other things.

How Do Best Seller Lists Work?

The New York Times Bestseller list is made up of various lists divided by different categories such as fiction and non-fiction, hardcover, paperback, Ebooks, audiobooks, and various book genres.

For you, the aspiring writer whose goal it is to be published in their Bestseller list, probably the most important thing to know is what is worth writing if you are to get your work published on the list.  

Again, The New York Times does not consider various categories for their bestseller list. A helpful article published on their site about their various guidelines and scoring method clarifies the matter.  

Here is what those guidelines state:

“Among the categories not actively tracked at this time are: perennial sellers, required classroom reading, textbooks, reference and test preparation guides, e-books available exclusively from a single vendor, journals, workbooks, calorie counters, shopping guides, periodicals and crossword puzzles.”

An Image Of Text Explaining The Nyt Best-Seller List Rules

Cookbooks, contrary to popular belief, are included, as are religion, spirituality, and faith books.    

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the NYT Bestseller List

Why do authors want to get on the New York Times Bestseller list?

Getting published in the New York Times Bestseller list is traditionally regarded as the gold standard in the publishing world.  While many notable bestseller lists exist in the publishing world —The Wall Street Journal bestseller list for business-themed books, for instance—the New York Times Bestseller list, published weekly since 1931, is the oldest and most prestigious list.  

To that extent, getting your work published on the list is a major dealbut there are “rules” that bars many ridiculously great authors from ever reaching this status.

Getting published on the Times’ list not only raises your profile as an established author but can offer many more opportunities.

Here are some benefits of becoming an NYT Bestselling author:

  • Land future writing contracts with established printing houses
  • Broader industry recognition
  • Establish you as a major thought leader and expert
  • Provide increased sales particularly if you are a lesser-known writer
  • Lend a good deal of bragging rights.  

How much money does a New York Times best-seller make?

Authors who make the NYT bestseller list have to sell at least 10,000 copies, so at a 10% royalty rate with a book priced at $20, they’ll make at ballpark of $20,000—much of that going to pay back their initial advance.

That said, many authors who make the list sell more than 10,000 books, selling even more once their book appears on that list as well. However, if the author was paid a higher advance, let’s say $50,000, they would have to sell 25,000 books at a 10% royalty rate for a $20 book in order to “pay back” the advance.

Only then will they start to earn additional income from book sales that surpass their initial advance.

All to say, how much you make purely depends on the book’s list price, your royalty rate, and how much of your advance you have to pay back if you’re traditionally publishing.

Is the NYT Bestseller List a true measure of bestselling status or not?

It may seem contradictory and still remains controversial to say but it is nonetheless true: The NYT Bestseller list does not represent a true best-seller list–that is, when accounting for actual total sales.  

Just what constitutes “Bestseller” status has been the decades-long battle – legal, political, commercial, and otherwise between—the Times, various authors, and book publishers.  

Like any traditional gatekeeper, the Times has its set of rules, standards, and procedures. As such, they hold the “keys” as to “who” gets in…and who is left out (even if they’re deserving).

It is best to think of New York Times Bestseller status as something that is subjective in nature. A book that becomes a New York Times Bestseller doesn’t necessarily have to sell millions of copies, or hundreds of thousands, for that matter. While book sales do meet the subjective criteria that the Times uses, it is a specific kind of “book sale” that counts toward New York Times Bestseller status.

Moreover, given the explosion of online sales and the diminishing number of traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores (and, consequently, bookstore sales) the sales methodology behind how books are counted has influenced which books appear or do not appear on the list.  

As explained in this article previously and in another article about how to become a best-selling author, it’s stated that the New York Times in particular, considers:

  1. Books that sold in a very specific time period: The Times does not track cumulative sales. Hence, why the Bible, the best-selling book of all time, will not appear on the list.  Books like Don Quixote and The Tale of Two Cities, worldwide beloved classics that have sold millions over the years, also will not appear.  Dan Brown’s Davinci Code, however, will appear, as it did for several years between 2003 and 2006.   
  2. Books sold at very specific places: certain book sales are “weighted” more favorably depending on where they originate. Bulk sales, under certain conditions, are counted toward bestseller status; ebooks published by a sole vendor are not, etc.

Again, the Times explains this in more detail on their site.     

What are the top 10 books on The New York Times Bestseller List?

Publishers Weekly shares the top 100 sales in Nielsen Book Scan, which often, but don’t always correlate to the top ten New York Times bestsellers:  

  1. The Woman, Kristin Hannah
  2. Rhett and Link Present: The Mythical Cookbook, Josh Scherer
  3. It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny, Marilyn Sadler
  4. A Touch of Chaos, Scarlett St. Clair
  5. A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
  6. How to Catch a Leprechaun, Adam Wallace
  7. Dune, Frank Herbert 
  8. If Only I Had Told Her, Laura Nowlin
  9. Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss
  10. Fourth Wing, Rebecca Yarros 

Reading through these titles is a great way to do your own case study of NYT bestsellers. This will show you what type of writing sells over many genres. 

Additionally, you may want to conduct a bit of research on how these authors promoted their books. Did they follow the thirteen steps Lewis Howes did? 

A second factor to notice when doing your own case study of NYT bestsellers is the author’s writing voice: 

  • Does their voice stand out among others who write in the genre?
  • How do they use sentence variation to keep you reading? 
  • What about their voice grabs your attention?

Answering these questions will help you notice what these bestselling authors do well. You can then draw inspiration from their success as you seek to find your own. 

Who is the #1 bestselling author for The New York Times?

Agatha Christie comes in as the top bestselling fiction author with over two billion copies sold. That said, there are many authors who sell exceptionally well and hit the New York Times bestselling list over and over. 

For instance, Jerry Jenkins’ books have been New York Times bestsellers twenty-one times. 

To hit the milestone of a New York Times bestseller once is a feat, but then to do it twenty more times? It can be helpful to pay attention to the authors who not only rank well, but rank well more than once. Think Christie, Jenkins, James Patterson, Stephen King, John Grisham, etc.

The next question to ask is: why are these particular authors bestsellers?

Marketing plays a tremendous role in whether or not you land on this list. As you have seen from this case study of NYT bestsellers, every one of the authors we looked at focused on marketing.

With this in mind, don’t forget why readers commit to reading their books: the writing engages the readers. Both of these aspects go hand-in-hand. Effective marketing starts with great writing.

Who is the longest New York Times Bestseller, or which book has been on the list the longest?

The Road Less Traveled, written by M. Scott Peck, has the Guinness World Record for its duration on the New York Times bestseller list. On April 14, 1995, it had its 598th week on the list

Touchstone, a division of Simon & Schuster, published it. Lest you think this book lost its appeal in 1995, over 5 million copies are still in print. You may want to give it a read!

Your Next Step

It’s time to take your next step toward earning your own place on the New York Times bestseller list. To try to accomplish all thirteen steps that Lewis Howes outlined may feel overwhelming. This is understandable. The good news is, no one lands on the Times list by doing it all in one day!

Instead, choose just one of the below steps to pursue. Which step of the thirteen-step process feels like one you can work toward today?

  • Ensuring bulk book orders
  • Going on a podcast tour
  • Launching a street team
  • Creating a bonus offerings landing page
  • Pursuing press opportunities 
  • Finding websites where you can guest post 
  • Using affiliate promotions
  • Planning a book tour 
  • Starting your own podcast 
  • Filming a book trailer
  • Engaging on social media
  • Building an online summit
  • Hiring a book launch manager

Now that you have a list to work with, it’s time to choose the best path for you.

To help make your decision as simple as possible, I included our free Publishing Path Assessment. This 2-minute quiz will help you identify which publishing path is right for you. Take this short quiz today!

Find The Best Publishing Path For Your Needs!  Take This 2-Minute Assessment To Learn Which Of Our Publishing Paths Will Be  The Best For You And Your Unique Needs As An Aspiring Author. Answers Delivered  Immediately!  Take The Assessment!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally written by Gabe Muniz, significantly improved with additions from Sarah Rexford, and arranged by managing editor, Omer Redden.

Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Self-Publishing School may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.
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