How Many Books Do You Actually Need To Sell To Get In A Bestseller List?

Authors dream of becoming part of the bestseller list. But how many books do you need to sell to get on the list?

The answer to this question may surprise you. And it turns out, the answer largely depends on which list you're looking at. So, let's take a closer look at both lists and see what it takes to be a bestseller.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Bestseller lists: how many are there?

Getting your book on the bestsellers list is no small feat. But did you know that there are multiple bestselling lists? There are dozens of them!

The New York Times Bestseller list is probably the most famous in the US.

But there's also the USA Today Bestseller list, the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list, and even Amazon has its bestseller list.

Smaller niche markets also have their bestselling lists. This includes Barnes and Noble, Publishers Weekly, and many other smaller platforms.

How much do you need to sell on different platforms of bestseller lists?

While each platform has a different method for calculating its list, they all consider similar factors.

This includes how many copies were sold, which format the book was sold in (hardcover, paperback, etc.), and how long it took to sell those copies.

Here are some of the most well-known platforms:

New York Times

The New York Times Bestseller list is compiled using data from "more than 2,500 bookstores and wholesalers throughout the United States."

To make this list, a book must sell an average of 5,000 to 15,000 copies per week.

This means that if one week a book sells up to 15,000 copies and the following week it sells around the same range of copies, it will still be eligible for the list. 

However, the New York Times does have a few other lists that are more exclusive.

For example, the "Top 10" list is for books that have sold the most copies in a given week. To make this list, a book must sell an average of 15,000 to 30,000 copies per week.

The New York Times Bestseller list also focuses on traditionally published books. This means self-published books and e-books are not eligible for the list.

USA Today

In contrast to the New York Times Bestseller list, the USA Today Bestseller list requires a minimum of 1,000 books sold in a given week to qualify.

This makes sense when you consider that USA Today is a national newspaper with a readership of millions of people.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is primarily read by people living in or near New York City.

Consequently, the NYT list reflects what's popular with a narrower population segment than the USAT list. 

However, if you want to get into the list, you will need 5,000 to 6,000 sales in the first week.

This is because they consider other factors, such as how many weeks a book has been on the list and how many copies were sold.

The USA Today Bestseller list is also open to all books, including self-published and e-books.

Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal Bestseller list is considered among the most prestigious in the US. This is because the WSJ is a business newspaper with a readership mostly of business professionals and other high-earning individuals.

To make this list, a book must sell at least 7,000 copies in its first week. And like the NYT list, the WSJ list focuses on traditionally published books.


Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world, so it's no surprise that its bestseller list is also one of the most well-known.

The platform also focuses a lot on what category your book is in. This means that a book could be a bestseller in one category but not necessarily in another.

To make Amazon's main bestseller list, your book must sell at least 3,500 copies in its first week. However, to make it onto the more exclusive "Top 100" list, you'll need to sell around 5,000 to 6,000 copies.

Amazon's bestseller list is open to all books, including self-published and e-books.

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble is one of the largest brick-and-mortar bookstores in the US. To make its bestseller list, a book must sell 5,000 copies in its first week.

Some books that sell around 3,500 can also get into the list, considering that it increases the chances of selling more copies in the future.

Like Amazon, Barnes & Noble's bestseller list is open to all types of books, including self-published and e-books.

Many other platforms compile data to create bestseller lists, but these are some of the most well-known.

To summarize, you'll need to sell anywhere from 3,500 to 7,000 copies in your first week to make a bestseller list.

But remember that these are just averages—some books have made a list with as few as 1,000 copies sold, while others have needed 10,000 or more. It all depends on the platform and how exclusive the list is.

Ensuring your book gets into the bestseller list.

Getting your book into some of the earlier lists is not easy. However, it is not impossible.

When you want to get into any of the lists, you need to determine what type of book you are releasing.

While traditional publishing is the best way to get into some of the earlier lists, self-publishing or e-book might be the only option for others.

Another is making sure your book is well-prepared and edited. A book with typos, poor grammar, and other errors is less likely to make it onto a list than a book that looks and reads professionally.

You should also take a look at when you are releasing your book. If you want to release a book during the holiday season, you must start working on it much earlier.

Good reviews also help increase your book's visibility. Reviews make it more likely to be picked up by people for a new read.

It's also great to have a different pair of eyes look over your book to ensure there are no typos or other errors that could turn potential readers away.

Finally, create a marketing plan to ensure people know about your book before it's released.

Creating a social media buzz and getting word-of-mouth going can help increase the chances of your book becoming a bestseller.


It's not easy to make a bestseller list, but it is possible with the right amount of preparation and promotion.

Knowing what type of book you want to release and when you should release it can increase your chances of making a bestseller list.

Still unsure of how to get into these coveted lists? Then hit us up at!

Our team of experts has worked with many other authors and helped them get into all sorts of lists, including the New York Times Bestseller list!

So, what are you waiting for? Send us a message today, and let's start making your bestseller dreams a reality!