High Republic “Best Seller”The Dark Herald
His total conviction caught my attention.
Author Charles Soule or be more precise “Star Wars Author” Charles Soule, it is a distinct subcategory after all. Announced on Twitter last week that his book, “LIGHT OF THE JEDI will debut at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.” And, yes, this was before his book had sold a single copy.
This didn’t seem to be like the usual cheerleading a trad-pub author is supposed to do for himself before a book launch. This wasn’t the yearning for success by a struggling writer hoping to finally hit the big time. There was an air of foregone conclusion to this. Almost as if someone had made him a promise.
He ended his tweet with “Thank you so much.”
Normally, I couldn’t give a crap about the NYTBS List. Not unless, someone I know has a book that’s dropping and is likely to be on it.
If you are a traditionally published author, “The List” is indeed a very big deal. It is one of the few measures of success there are in the writing field. It is a door marked, KEEP OUT, that you are allowed to walk through. It is having a table held open for you at your favorite restaurant. It is finding that the valets have kept your car in front of the hotel.
It. Is. Status.
It. Is. Also. Bullshit.
In theory, it is simple enough. There is a number of “secret” bookstores in the New York City area that report their sales figures to the New York Times. This is done on a weekly basis. The books with the highest number of sales in their categories make The List. Generally speaking, if you sell three thousand books in one week, you are a New York Times Best Selling Author, even if you never sell another copy.
Conversely, you can sell 100,000 copies of your book over the course of a year and still never make The NYTBS because you didn’t hit that sales volume marker in any given week. Or if you write the kind of books that sell like gangbusters in Houston but don’t move big numbers in New York, you still won’t make the list.
Notice how I subtly put quotation marks around the word “secret”?
Yeah, about that…
There are companies out there that will go out to those bookstores and buy enough copies of your book for you to make The List. A well-known author, who used to be the flavor of the month but has been sliding in sales for years is typical for this market.
Publishers know where these stores are too and will, (for various authors but not all of them), buyback enough copies of their own books to get that author a Best Seller rank.
The third player is the New York Times itself. It is well aware of the status that being on their Best Seller List brings and they are happy to manipulate it. There have been repeated allegations that the Times keeps authors that they disapprove of, off the List. On those rare occasions that they are brought to court over it, the NYT claims that it’s List is not news at all but “opinion.” You heard that right. Whether or not you sold enough books to make The List is an opinion, not a fact.
They will occasionally put a dagger by a book that made their list because it only did so because of bulk purchases. They also won’t do that if they do not feel like it. Again, depending on whether or not they approve of the author.
Charles Soule to the best of my knowledge has never been an NYT #1 best-selling author before now. The vast majority of his stuff has been comic books.
But sure enough, Star Wars The High Republic: The Light of the Jedi premiered as a #1 best-seller on Amazon.
Whoops, sorry, sorry, sorry! Got that last sentence completely wrong. I meant to say that it is a #1 New York Times bestseller. Despite the fact that there aren’t a lot of people who seem worked up about Star Wars in general anymore, let alone the High Republic at all. Or that this author is a UFO. But regardless, Charles Soule is now a #1 New York Times best-selling author. Congrats dude!
Beloved Reader: What about Amazon?
You have asked and the Dark Herald answers. As of this writing the Light of the Jedi is #495 in the Kindle store.*
But it is #1 in the Star Wars subcategory.
I am rather curious about whether or not LucasFilm has its own marketing department because that would explain a lot of the weird stuff I’ve been seeing lately.
More on that tomorrow.
Okay, I’m done here.
*1984 was #3 this week. A 70-year-old book was at #3. I wonder why?
Sadly It still couldn’t beat the shifter-porn romances.