How Much Do Bestseller Lists Help Sell Books?

Founded in 1997, Smith Publicity has evolved from a one-person operation run in a bedroom office to one of the leading book publicity agencies in the world. Founder Dan Smith’s goal for the company was to offer unparalleled customer service and work to exceed, not simply meet client expe

The need to spark book sales is on the mind of all publishers and authors. Of all the possible book promotion services available, bestseller lists receive an outsized amount of attention – but do they help sales that much? News in the past several years has given varying answers to the question. Therefore, it's reasonable to reconsider the value of bestseller lists and the emphasis they receive in book marketing. Also, there is a general concern that the definition of what a bestseller means have been diluted. While it can give book credibility, marketing experts say it is not a guarantee of sales success.

Book PR firms confirm that a bestseller mention gives authors a sense of accomplishment and can boost their interest in promoting their books. In terms of book marketing campaigns, inclusion on a significant bestseller list can be noted in press materials, author websites, social media, and book covers. It has more value for fiction titles and can help separate them from other competing novels. But with the varying methodology for gathering data and deciding which books make a list, what it actually means is more of a question. In the opinion of booksellers, reviews matter more than bestseller lists.

Also, traditional publicity in media interviews and articles is seen as sales boosters by booksellers. Everything appearing in the media is repurposed online in today's world, and its exposure is increased exponentially. Articles and interviews help interested readers discover books, and many of them may tell others, which begins word-of-mouth promotion. Reviews on popular book-centric websites and significant bookselling websites can be directly tied to increased sales. They give books exposure and help create the buzz that encourages interested readers to make a purchase.

Fiction authors are well-advised to try other promotional tactics such as giveaways on a platform like Goodreads. Anything that gets the book in front of prospective readers to help them discover it is beneficial. The key is to connect with readers who have sustained interest in a book's genre. One way to find them is to check out those who have submitted their titles to a site like BookBub. It's a quick way to do targeted promotion and make potentially interested readers are given opportunities to find out about a book. Sometimes promotional discounts to select groups are also an effective strategy.