How to Build a New York Times Bestseller (or Maybe Not)

Not that I’m harbouring any delusions of The Timekeepers’ War making the NYT Bestsellers list (maybe tiny delusions for future novels)… but this is an excellent list of all the different facets to be worked in order to get there. I’m going to be working with this list, or a small-press-friendly variation of it, to market my own novel. Hopefully with a small fraction of Scalzi’s success (though I would happily accept a larger fraction). What are your thoughts?


A question from the gallery:

Now that Redshirts has become a New York Times bestseller, to what do you attribute its success? Anything that could be replicated by the rest of us?

To answer the second part first: Maybe. To answer the first part second, there are several factors which I think came into play, which I will lay out below. But be sure to stick around for the end, because I will have a point to make there.

So, here’s how I think we — and by we I mean me and a whole bunch of other people at Tor Books and beyond — made a NYT best seller:

1. I wrote seven other largely successful science fiction novels first, two of which (The Last Colony and Fuzzy Nation) were NYT best sellers in their own right, albeit on the paper’s extended list. Which is to say

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