Does bestseller status make a difference?

Someone submitted an AWESOME question to me:

There’s a comment on a book blog where an author commented about how book reviewers are more likely to work with or cover an author if she has a NYT Bestseller status or similar. This is the first time I’m hearing of such a thing. Is this true? Do book bloggers take bestseller status into consideration? Do you know if book reviewers in traditional media, e.g. magazines, do this?

It’s this comment that has my head scratching, btw:

This is such a great talking point! I think there are two sides to this: sales/exposure, and book bloggers. I’ll address both.

Having “best seller status” helps sales

If your book gets on a bestseller list, then all of a sudden you have a ton more exposure, and thus more sales! When people look to buy books, they obviously want good books, and more people try to narrow that down by clicking on “best sellers” categories or browse through Amazon’s “movers and shakers”. People often use this method to browse for books that are more likely to be good. it’s less overwhelming to deal with a small best seller list than to just browse through an entire genre.

So there’s no question about it that being on a best seller or “top picks” or “movers and shakers” list will help promote your book and thus encourage more sales.

Working with bloggers and reviewers

I guess every blogger/reviewer is different, so I can’t speak for all of them. So what follows are my thoughts and opinions alone.

I don’t give two shits about best seller status

I’ve read best sellers that are absolutely shit. And I’ve read books that are totally off the radar that are AMAZING. I’ve come to learn that being a best seller doesn’t matter. Everyone has different tastes and opinions, some books are over hyped, some books are under appreciated, etc. I don’t even glance at what “lists” the book is on or what awards it has won. I care about two things alone:

  • The synopsis: does the book sound good? Is it a story that appeals to me? Period. If the book sounds amazing or like something I’d enjoy, I’ll read it. If it doesn’t, then I won’t read it, even if it is a NYT best seller.
  • What my friends think: I always read through my friends’ reviews before picking up a book. If they loved it, I’m more likely to give it a try. If they hated it, I’ll probably avoid it, even if the synopsis does make it sound amazing.

So how about you guys—do you care whether or not a book is a NYT best seller? Does it factor into your decision to read (or not read) a book?

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  1. I don’t care at all if a book is a bestseller or not, that’s not a reason for me to pick it up. For example John Green, he’s been on the NYT list for ages, but I had never read any of his books. When I finally tried one of his books, it wasn’t because I knew he was a bestseller but because a lot of my friends and bloggers have raved about him. I do look at the list because I like to know which books sell a lot and I always like it if an author I love or a book I love become bestsellers.

    Kim recently posted: Review: The Immortal Rules
  2. I never really thought about it! I think I’m more likely to “trust” a book if it’s a NYT. Most of the time, I want to read them because I want to know what the fuss is about. But, for me, it’s all about whether the book looks/sounds awesome. I don’t depend on my friends’ reviews of books though…if I like the sound of a book, regardless of what my friends have said, I’ll read it.

  3. I’m with you 100%. I could care less about bestseller lists as a blogger/reviewer (though it would be awesome to be on one as an author). I have 3 things I look at. Like you, my friend’s opinions and the synopsis, but also the cover. It’s the first thing I see and I just can’t help but judge a little bit based on that, although I never not read a book if I hate the cover. But I do judge and it helps if the cover is awesome. :p
    But I don’t even look at those lists so…

    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted: ARC Review: Captivate by Vanessa Garden
  4. Oh, I love this, and I warn you that I’m about to jump into a rant.

    As far as I know, a book generally becomes a best seller after a minimum of 100,000 sold copies. I don’t know how old that number is, but considering how first world countries have developed over the last 50 years, it’s basically ancient and totally out of proportion. Back then, achiving such a number was a huge accomplishment, because people didn’t have time or money for books, while now so many books become best sellers because more is bought and read, so many are even bought wihout being read, it’s so not worth mentioning anymore in my opinion. Granted, the book market became way bigger, so it’s still a way to categorize and level books, but I still think to give the title some meaning again, the quota should be upped — big time!

    Sooo.. no, I don’t give a damn about this title, because I think it’s worthless. But I think it has lots to do with the fact that I know about the details, while so many other people don’t. I can get while ppl would browse off the best seller list, but I think book bloggers are just not the type — because we also give so many debut and indie authors a chance, and see that they can be just as good.

    Caro @ The Book Rogue recently posted: Books-to-Movies Celebration: Daughters of Saraqael
  5. While there are some books that I love that have been NYT Bestsellers (like Harry Potter) there are also some books that I hate (like Twilight) and books that I will never approach (like the 50 Shades series) so it wouldn’t be a factor for me in buying/reading a book. I base my decision mainly on the synopsis and what I’ve heard about it from bloggers who have similar taste to me and who I can trust for honest reviews. Having said that, I’m sure there are people out there who only read what’s on the bestseller lists and use that as a basis for discovering books. I can’t imagine doing it, I love to find new books and new (to me) authors through browsing in bookshops, reading book blogs and GoodReads so having to rely on a bestselling list would take all the fun out of it for me!

    Ciara @ Ciara Reads Books recently posted: Promotional copy on books: are you influenced or indifferent?
  6. The best seller status means nothing to me. Obviously it’s great for the author to have and for them to get bigger high street brands to sell their books, giving higher profits but as a blogger I think everyone should have a fair chance.

    I admittedly judge books by their covers but it doesn’t stop me from putting something on my blog. I’ve learned how to be fair in this area. Plus I have never even looked at the NYT Best Seller list… EVER!

    Georgie @ What She Reads recently posted: REVIEW: INFINITYGLASS
  7. There literally thousand of so-called ‘bestsellers’, and I am totally with you on this one. Most of them are awful, badly-written thrillers and the like, which are not my kind of thing at all. I only read books I think I’ll like, and I’m pretty fussy on this point. I guess bestseller status must be good for sales but it in no way means that I’ll enjoy it.

  8. I don’t pay any attention to bestsellers. I like to make up my own mind if I want to read a book or not. Being a bestseller doesn’t say anything to me. That author just got lucky that many people pay attention to the book. I sometimes get it, but there are so many books with less attention that I love ๐Ÿ™‚ It really depends on your personal taste.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted: FF 22. Growing up as a reader.
  9. I guess I have never really gave it much thought if they were on the bestseller list or not. I know I read bestsellers but it has to do with the type of book and the fact that they write what I like to read. I don’t base what I read on it though because I know for a fact that just because it has bestseller status doesn’t mean it is good. I base things on if I think the book sounds good and would fit into what I like to read.

    Stormi recently posted: Review of Trouble Comes Knocking
  10. Way before blogging I went through a brief period where I only chose books that was bestsellers but that didn’t really work out when I realised bestselling books do not equal well-written books eg. Twilight. I think bestselling books just prove that the book is merely popular but doesn’t necessarily mean the quality is up to a certain standard. Now I barely pay attention to bestsellers and rather whether the book actually interests me.

    Very interesting topic Ashley! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Charlotte @ Gypsy Reviews recently posted: Stuck in the Mud
  11. I really don’t care if a book is a bestseller or not. I agree with Ashley, that it’s all about whether or not the synopsis sounds interesting to me. I do know that for a good chunk of the population, it does indeed matter. Why else would many bookstores have bestsellers right in front. I honestly don’t think that a bestseller equals a good book.

  12. I’m usually one of those people that avoid BESTSELLERS!! like the plague. I tend to like books that other people don’t, so sometimes I deliberately stay away from bestsellers for that reason. I know that isn’t fair, because I do love some bestselling authors, like Stephen King. But I don’t like going with the masses, so I don’t care at all what the status of a book is when deciding to read it or not.

    Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy recently posted: Stacking the Shelves (45)
  13. I feel the same way! There’s PLENTY of NYT bestselling author’s books that I hated. In fact, I’m more likely to be the black sheep when it comes to hyped up and really popular books! If the book sounds good, and my friends with similar tastes liked it, then I’m much more likely to pick it up. I don’t give two shits about bestseller status, either!

    Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat recently posted: Breakdown: Favorite Books of 2013
  14. Absolutely not. I could care less about bestseller status when choosing a book. I have read some NYT bestsellers that I absolutely hated. It really comes down to personal preference. I’ve also read books that everyone else seemed to hate that I enjoyed. *shrugs* But I don’t even look at bestseller status when choosing books. I choose books that sound interesting to me or books from authors that I have previously loved. I wonder where that idea came from? I am more than willing to work with authors that are lesser known and they certainly don’t have to be on any bestsellers lists.

    Rebecca @ The Library Canary recently posted: Discussion Post: Navigating the Adult Genre
  15. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I actually avoid bestseller lists. I don’t know why, but it’s pretty rare that I really enjoy a book that’s on that list. Like you, I read the synopsis to see if it catches my attention, or I check Goodreads to see what readers I trust have to say about it.

  16. I could NOT care less if a book is a best seller or not. It doesn’t make me more or less inclined to buy a book if it’s a best seller. For me what matters is if it sounds like something I would like or/and if it has come highly recommended by book bloggers I trust. (:

    Haley @ YA-Aholic recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday (#56)
  17. Fiction wise, best seller lists are a complete turn off – the book will never meet the hype for me.

    Non-fiction wise I’m more inclined to read, not exactly sure why I make that distinction though.

    Alice recently posted: Merry Christmas!
  18. Best seller status has no effect on whether or not I review. It’s completely based on my interest. As reviewers we read a lot of ARCs and the book hasn’t even been released to the general public yet.

    I will say, though, that the opinions of the blogs I follow have a definite impact on what I read. If there is a “blogger favorite” out there, I am more likely to move it towards the top of my pile, provided it was already on my TBR.

  19. Fantastic post, Ashley! Overall I think it comes down to your reading tastes and whether a book sounds like it’ll appeal to you. I don’t pay attention to best seller status, because half the books I love can be best sellers but half the books I hate can also be best sellers. I definitely agree with you, Ashley. I pay more attention to the opinion of those with similar tastes as me and the synopsis than the status that the author has above their name on the cover ๐Ÿ™‚

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
  20. I did care at one point, I thought that I would hate books that were NYT or (in Canada) Heather’s Picks, but I’ve slowly learned that even if somebody else found “that” book good doesn’t mean I’m not going to like it too.
    – Krys

    Krys recently posted: New-to-Me Authors of 2013
  21. I agree with you. A bestseller might have worked for a hundred different people out there, but it didn’t for me, and that’s all that matters. Books that I hate but have that status makes me hate it even more. (Example: Divergent)

    And I don’t get asked at all by authors for anything, though, so that’s not a problem.

    Shannelle C. recently posted: Why Does Everyone Have A Best Friend?
  22. I actually never try to look for a ‘bestseller’ when I decide what books I want to read. I have some authors whose books I have on autobuy – because I just love the way they write a story so much. To find new-to-me authors, I read the synopsis of the book, and sometimes, I might check out the first chapter on amazon before I click the buy button.

    For ARCs I work the same way – I have some genres I really love reading, and if I can find my favorite authors on Netgalley, I will request their books (and more often than not, I buy the book afterwards anyway if I enjoy it). I am pretty lucky, because I really enjoy most of the books I read, so what I’m doing is working for me.

    I also have a few blogger friends with whom I almost always agree about books, so if they enjoyed a book, I will put it on my TBR shelf as well ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted: Reveiw: Bonjour Cherie – Robin Thomas
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  24. I don’t care if a book is a bestseller — some of the books I’ve hated the most were “popular” reads. What I care about in terms of taking review request/promo pitches is whether the book has a coordinated marketing plan and some existing online/print media presence. I know I’m more likely to make a few cents via affiliate links by promoting a book that is already on the reading sphere’s radar than I am by promoting a book nobody has ever heard of.

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