What do you do when your 14-year-old, 5’2” daughter, tells you she wants to play professional basketball? Of course, you don’t want to crush her dreams (after all, Spud Webb made it to the NBA and won a professional slam dunk contest, and he was only 5’7”), but at the same time, you’d feel some responsibility to wake her up to how hard it will be because it’s hard enough to make it at professional basketball even if you win the genetic lottery.
Likewise, if you believe your book is going to sell a million copies or skyrocket to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list then we need to have a little heart-to-heart because, in all likelihood, it’s not going to happen.
Fewer than twenty books each year reach sales of over a million copies, and most of them take several years to get there.
To get on The New York Times Best Seller list you need to publish through a reputable New York publishing house and sell at least 10,000 copies of your book the first week (pre-sales count). Even then, you may still not get on because The New York Times Best Seller list is not a list of best-selling books, it’s a list of best-selling books The New York Times thinks are worth reading, and which they feel will make them look good. This is no secret, The Times openly admits that their best seller list is whatever they want it to be.
Don’t let me talk you out of working to get on The New York Times Best Seller list if that’s an important goal for you, but take into account how difficult it is and ask yourself why becoming a best seller matters. What would best seller status do for you?
For example, if you want to generate a healthy income, getting on best seller lists may not align with that objective. It might be much easier to mail out 100 copies of your book to the right people and sign up twenty new clients.
Expect big things, work toward big things, but broaden your perspective about where those big things might come from or what they look like.