I am now the wife of a New York Times bestselling author! Oh my Elvis! Specials is number six and we here in the Larbalestier/Westerfeld household are over the moon. The congrats are flooding in from all over and champagne will be drunk in large quantities tonight. Woo hoo!
But what does this actually mean? Don’t worry you’re not alone asking. Several of my non-publishing friends—yes, I do have them—have also asked why it’s such a big deal.
The New York Times bestsellers list is one of the oldest lists going and definitely the most prestigious. It doesn’t matter that there’s a whiff of dodginess about how it’s compiled. As Scott points out, there ain’t a bestseller list in the world that reflects the true number of books sales out there in the real world. The real world is too messy, too big, and too unquantifiable. Bless the real world! In the meantime what we have is the New York Times list.
Whatever the reality of actual numbers, being on that list mean a book is selling more than somewhat and it is doing that in the shops that report to the New York Times.
Becoming a New York Times bestselling author means having those words appear on the front cover of all that writer’s books for the rest of their life. From now on it won’t be Scott Westerfeld making appearances—it’ll be New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld visiting your library or school.
In most publishing houses the amount of money spent promoting the New York Times bestselling author’s books will escalate. Some writers have contracts with a clause giving them a bonus should their book make the NYT list. Many are convinced it also increases the chances of actually being reviewed in the New York Times.
Rumours abound that Hollywood executives (or at least their scouts) automatically option every book that makes it on to the NYT list no matter how unfilmable. I know the Jane Austen Book Club was so optioned and while it’s one of my favourite books of all time I really can’t imagine it making a good film. But then I thought The Hours was unfilmable. (The Uglies trilogy on the other hand . . . )
It also means that the agent of the NYT bestselling author (NYTBA) gets to ask for more money for their next book and a better contract with less joint accounting and more rights retained. I believe they can also insist that gold petals descend from the ceiling whenever the NYTBA visits their publisher’s offices and that they only take the NYTBA (+ spouse!) to the very best restaurants and ply them with Krug champagne.
But way better than all of that is knowing that lots and lots of people are reading and loving Scott’s books. We’ve known that for awhile from the quantity of fanmail he gets and all the effusive comments on his blog. Listing in the Times is a big ole confirmation of that love.
I know exactly how all those Scott Westerfeld fans feel because I’m one, too. Go Specials!