USA TODAY, here I come!

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So, after all your hard work, you’re now a USA TODAY bestselling author.  What’s the big deal?  Sure, you get to put this milestone on every single future book cover. Also, ever notice how at hotels, the one newspaper slipped under your door is USA TODAY?  Or that it caters to the entire country and not just one region? The other great thing about USA TODAY is that it tracks sales on books. If you’re in the top 100, it means your sales are stellar—not just that you’ve got the right press package, the perfect pedigree or are well reviewed.  If you get onto the USA TODAY list, it means that readers are buying your books and loving you. 

You might notice, too, how many Harlequin books are on this list: a lot!  And that is because our books can be found everywhere and readers want them.  As a publisher, we’re delighted when our authors make the list, of course.  And some of our authors would like to share what the USA TODAY bestseller list means to them….

From RayeAnne Thayne:

One day last February I was deep in deadline and needed some uninterrupted writing time so I decided to use a cool piece of software that will shut off my web access for a specified amount of time. I set it for ninety minutes and settled in for what I hoped would be a productive writing morning. About fifteen minutes in, my phone rang. I automatically checked the caller ID and saw it was one of my writing friends, New York Times bestselling author Nicole Jordan.

“Did you get the email I just sent you?” she demanded as soon as I answered.

“Um, no. Sorry. My internet’s disabled for another —” checking  here ” —hour and fifteen minutes.”

“You need to check your email. You’re on the USA TODAY bestseller list!”

My jaw dropped. “I’m what?”

“I just checked the list and A Cold Creek Secret is right there!  Number sixty-five. I sent you the link!”

After scrambling around my office floor for my stomach, I checked my email via my iPhone (I still don’t know how to override the software to turn my internet back on before the timer goes off. And I don’t want to find out, so don’t tell me!).

I followed the link on the little screen of my phone and there it was in black and white. Sure enough, my thirty-fourth book, a Silhouette Special Edition, made the USA TODAY bestseller list … and now I had to wait another hour before I could spread the news via email, unless  I wanted to wear my thumbs out typing on my phone!

Discovering I had hit the list for the very first time was an inexpressible thrill. My wonderful husband (whose internet was working fine, thanks very much) emailed the news to a few friends at the university where he works and before an hour had passed, one of those friends had forwarded it to the editor of the daily newspaper where I used to be an editor. He ended up putting a little snippet about it in the paper and suddenly everyone in town—many who had no idea I write romance novels—wanted to know about my books.

The only downside: I’ve never been one of those authors obsessed with numbers. But you can be sure that even if I’m on deadline, the second Thursday after my next book release, I will *not* be disabling my web access … at least until after I’ve checked the USA TODAY list!

From Kathie DeNosky:

Finding that my book Expecting the Rancher’s Heir had made it onto the USA TODAY bestseller list was not only a complete shock, it is one of the most exciting things that has happened to me in my ten-year career as a Silhouette Desire author. I was in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains when I decided to see if any of my friends had made the extended bestseller list. When I saw my name and book title listed on the newspaper’s website as debuting for the week in the top fifty, I couldn’t believe it. The next morning, I made a beeline down the mountain to buy a copy of USA TODAY and sure enough, there it was in black and white. I had made it onto the same bestseller list with some of the biggest names in the publishing industry. Words can’t begin to cover how it feels to see the dream of a lifetime come true.

From B.J. Daniels:

When I first started writing I had only one dream–that someone would want to read my stories. I never dreamed how blessed my life would become or all the people I would befriend along the way. Just being published by Harlequin was amazing enough.
I really thought it couldn’t get any better than that.

And then my Intrigue title Gun-Shy Bride made the USA TODAY bestseller list earlier this year.

A friend called to tell me. My hands were shaking as I looked for the list online, thinking how embarrassing this was going to be when we both realized it was a misprint.

I was stunned and thrilled and a little sick to my stomach. I remember asking my friend, “How did this happen?”

Later I had the worst headache. I told my husband it was probably from my head getting so big. He jokingly? agreed.

I never dreamed half of the wonderful things that have come with being a writer. I celebrate each though, then I go back to work because in the end, I just love to write.

From Kimberly Lang:

What’s it like to be a USA Today bestselling author?

In a word… awesome.

Selling my first book was exciting. Seeing my book on the shelves was gratifying. But seeing one of my books on a list with Nora Roberts, Beverly Barton, and Diary of A Wimpy Kid… well, that feeling can only be described as totally, completely, awesome. Like jump-up-and-down-squealing-with-tears-in-my-eyes awesome. I still smile just thinking about it.

But, of course, there’s the other definition of awesome — the “inspiring awe” one. I was completely awed to realize that people –lots of people – had bought my book. That meant they probably even read it. Lots of them. And most of them were people I didn’t even know… Wow.

I don’t write with the hope I’ll hit the USA Today or any other list. I write with the hope readers will enjoy the people and stories that crowd my brain. Hitting the USA Today list was just an awesome bonus. And I have to admit, I love seeing “USA Today Bestseller” in front of my name – especially when Harlequin put it on my October cover! That’s pretty awesome too!

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18 Responses to USA TODAY, here I come!

  1. I think it’s great that so many Harlequin authors make it onto the list.

    How is the list calculated?

    Congratulations to all who make the lists!

  2. Squeeeee…stories like that make my tummy swirl and my lips curl (y’know like in a smile!). Congrats to all of you!! Excuse me while I go work on my work in progress so maybe it will have the chance to be a star one day :)
    Nancy Naigle

  3. Wonderful success stories! I’m adding this to my lofty lifetime goal list. :-)

  4. Great stories, thanks for sharing them.

  5. robincovington

    Fun stuff!!!

  6. Cheryl Sanderhill

    Thank you RayeAnne, Kathie, and B.J., for each of these remarkable, inspiring, personal triumph moments. You are all clearly very good writers. I love what B.J. said about it being enough just to be published; and I am happy I can say, I knew and loved B.J.’s writing before she became a \bestseller.\ Sorry about the headache.

    Hurray you talented authoresses!!

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  8. I am hoping someone from our retail marketing group pops in to explain how the USA Today list is calculated, but here’s what I know. It is based on cash register sales from a wide variety of stores, including mass merchandisers, which is why you will find it quite different from other bestseller lists. It really reflects what people have been buying that week. And that is why you find a lot of Harlequin titles, and romance titles, on it.

    Malle, Digital Team

  9. Coming in to say hello from Montana on this beautiful fall day! Just wanted to thank you all. Maurine, I have no idea how it is calculated. I really have never paid any attention to this part of it. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. :)
    Nancy, it was head spinning but a lot of fun. I never dreamed of making the list but darn it, Natasha, now I have had to add it to my goal list too for every book. I’ve always tried to make every book better than the last one, but now I really feel it. :)
    Catherine, Cheryl, thanks.
    Cheryl, you’re like my friends who say, “I knew her when.” They also say they would be more impressed if they didn’t know me. :)
    BJ

  10. You’ve fueled my dream and made me want to kick my writing into turbo-drive. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Great stories and congrat’s.

  12. Fantastic stories — very inspirational. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Wonderful stories! @RayeAnne, can you share the name of that internet-blocking software? I’m doing nanowrimo right now, and my will-power could use some back-up…

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  15. Excellent insight into “names” thank you. I’m amazed this is going on and very excited to be a part of the SYTYCW. Thank you, Jewel

  16. Birgit Davis-Todd

    Maurine, thanks for asking how USA Today sales are tracked. Here’s the official word for everyone from the USA Today website.

    Rankings for USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books List are based on retail sales data collected each week that include more than 2.5 million volumes from about 7,000 physical retail outlets in addition to books sold online. USA TODAY’s list ranks titles regardless of genre or format, providing one of the best assessments of which books are most popular among readers and consumers each week. USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list has been published each Thursday in the newspaper’s Life section since October 28, 1993.

    http://www.usatoday.com/marketing/media_kit/pressroom/2009/releases/072209_best_selling_books_list.html

  17. Birgit, I was told that those totals don’t include books sold at Kmart and Walmart. Do you know if this is true?

    Thanks everyone for the congrats!

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