Friday, June 30, 2006

Bestseller Lists

I was at MPH 1 Utama today, and voila! Dark City is on the bestseller lists!! They said it was a compiled list for the month of May, and they'd be changing it soon. Still, I'd better enjoy it while I can...who knows if I'd be there next month...

Anyhow, who would know more about being on the Bestseller List than Yvonne Lee at And exactly how many books do you have to sell to get on that bestseller list?

Note that the bestseller lists in the newspapers like Star and Sun reflect only the sales tally for ONE bookstore for that particular week, in Star's case MPH MidValley and for Sun, Kinokuniya. Popular has its own bestseller list tallying everything they have sold from all their stores.

(Estimates that to get on a bestseller list for that particular bookstore for that particular MONTH = you have to sell circa 100 books.)

What drives a book to a bestseller's list? The answer: concerted publicity in one concentrated period of time from the bookstore/media. Miss that time period, and you might never get on it again.

Let's listen to the guru herself!

"I think it's true that which genre ( Fiction or Non) your title falls into can make a difference. Mine was under Non-Fiction on the Kino BS listing. It was there for about a month, from no. 8 to 6 to 4 then no. 2, I was told. (Lucky thing I got hold of the paper which stated it was no.2)

But in Popular, it was best-seller under Fiction (?), together with all the Mat Salleh best-sellers. In all honesty, I wasn't able to find out how many copies sold in a week to be named BS.

Local books, if you want to compare with international bestseller, a bit susah laaa. When Tash's book came, with so much hype, of course his books sold like hot cakes. It has all to do with publicity and the fact that it is an international BS.

That also made stores anticipate by ordering by the hundreds. Here, if one local book is ordered by a hundred, can say the store is very " hor bin" or very confident of the author oredi ;) But that has its season. Whatever naysayers say about a title being a hot-for-the-moment thingy or not, if you can hit it off when it first comes out, it's better than never to hit it ever, betul?

But for the record ( some people are curious and ask about this), my title sold 6000 copies in over 8 months and is going for the 4th print run ( btw, if you see the fresh print, please check the additional endorsement page! Some more got my favourite cartoonist's endorsement, hehehe...)

Then again, I was told that 6000 reflects the copies taken by the retailers from our distributor but how many books actually left the stores to readers, must wait for ALL stores to tally their latest updates together (very susah....even the stores themselves don't update the computer on how many books sold by weekly basis, some stores, I mean. some are frank to tell me that they didn't update yet!)

PS, I think a good rule of thumb of whether a book has been a b/s or not is to check the copyright page. See the date first published and the gap between first print and subsequent reprints. The more frequent, the healthier laa. I think).

The lesson here is, book selling involves too many 'moving parts'. There must be synergy from all parties, author's gungho attitude, active distribution, retailers who are active in paying the distributors on time,in order to get their stock, the display effort in stores, the promotions by 1)author 2) publisher 3)stores 4)media.....oh, yes, one more, I personally believe that book cover is VERY VERY important."


Anonymous said...

Hi! Stumbled upon your blog and quite interesting.

This author seems to be everywhere! And an ex-stewardess turned author seems like a novelty.

I used to think they are good at saying 'Coffee or tea?' 'Chicken or 'Beef' but this time I'm proven wrong.

Not just a pretty face in the sky but also can string words together.
I got her book, her prose is not exactly top cream literature but for Malaysian masses, a highly entertaining scope. Now we know what fly girls do....hehehe

Her book is good light reading when your flight is delayed or when you wonder why the f*%& you can't get your beef.

Xeus said...

She's the woman all right :)

Lydia Teh said...

Xeus, congrats on making the bestseller list!!

It's true what you said about concerted publicity helping to push a title into the BS list. Yep, I did miss the boat for Life's Like That. Hopefully I'll be able to hop on it before I miss it again! This time, I've got you and Yvonne to learn from :)

bibliobibuli said...

congrats xeus!

when the book i edited ("collateral damage") made the bestseller list at kinokuniya and i was over the moon, but i never asked how many copies it sold

i think it made the list because kino had it on the table by the door and there was a 20% off sticker on it!

Xeus said...

Dear Lydia and Sharon,

Thanks! Like I said, I don't know how long I'll last there though....Malaysian English fiction is not known to sell by the thousands:) I was especially cheered because my book only hit the bookstores in the middle of May month, so it was tabulated sales for half a month. But MPH 1 Utama is very supportive. I only wish the Star newspaper list took their figures instead of MidValley, but I suppose the latter is the older shop.

But Yvonne did say that a book is the 'hottest' immediately upon its launch.

Congrats, Sharon, for hitting the bestseller lists. How long was the book released before that? It's so nice of Kino to slap a 20% sticker on it!

Lydia, with concerted publicity from the newspapers, I'm sure you will get there. You already write for them, so they'll be more than willing to help you. Pl invite me to the book launch! I never had one myself.

Lydia Teh said...

Xeus, I didn't get the publicity I sought when Life's came out :( not even from the newspaper I wrote for, only a small announcement when the book signing was scheduled. I didn't have book launches either. Here I'm distinguishing between a launch where you get a VIP or some celebrity to officially launch the book and book-signings (that I had) which came with the mandatory "talk" or reading of excerpts. I will definitely invite you when Honk comes out.

Xeus said...

Thanks Lydia. I never had a book signing yet. Mightn't dare to have one might turn up!

Maybe we should have publicity blitzes together!

I know. Some of the newsies are very sticky. It's the same PR routine with them...begging, pleading.

Yvonne Lee said...

Xeus, what have I been missing! My internet access went kaput until now.

Anyway, THANKS for the comments!

COngrats to you ( yes, Sharon too! )for being best-sellers! (Now, you can belanja us!)

Yes, it's true that in-house promotional efforts (displaying large amount of copies at entrance and discounts) help shift the sales.

Lydia, count me in to honk for you when the book comes out!

I'm so excited when there's a new title in the store and wish all new authors enjoy the support Xeus and I (and others) receive.