Lists – How Important Are They for Indie Authors *cough*… Like Me?

When I was much younger and a regular staple at the library or Borders, I used to judge books not only by their covers but by the words NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER.   It made me attend conferences with notable guests like Pulitzer Prize winners and Poet Laureates.  I learned, maybe erroneously, that “By New York Times Bestselling Author” were not hits compared to the ones that held the label, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER.  I mean, dang, that book was the bestseller so it must be good.

Funny thing, though – when I started publishing, I never paid any mind to making “the list.”  It was stressful enough just having your book edited, packaged with a nice cover and then released, even if it was to crickets.  And there are two more lists, by the way.  The USA Today and Wall Street Journal.

Late last year, I learned about the ways to make it onto a list, along with calls to join box sets designed to make “the list” and thus have the privilege to call myself a USA Today or New York Times Bestselling Author.  It’s definitely more eye-catching than just seeing just Liz Durano on the author line, right?  And with indies showing up on the lists for a few months now, it’s definitely an accomplishment especially when primarily traditionally published books make most of those lists since the day were published.  It was a chance for indie authors like me to catch that elusive label and, in the case of box sets, for much less than if I were making a run as a solo author.

Well, as of today, fellow indie authors are noting the absence of the E-Books list (the easiest entry to the list via ebook sales versus paperback sales) from the New York Times.

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It may just be temporary. (EDIT: it’s not) Maybe the list is late, although I doubt it.  But whether it’s late, intentional to exclude or make it harder for indies to make the list or not, it made me wonder just how important it is for me to make “the list.”

It would be nice, right?  And I’m not going to deny the chance if it were offered to me.  But writing my stories, I’ve discovered, is stressful enough.  I don’t write them as fast as I used to, or would like to, simply because real life is just too busy for me.

For one, my 7-year-old is acting out in school and I don’t have the luxury of deciding whether I should complete my novel or find ways to get him more active with after-school activities or socialization.  It’s not even a question.  I have a mother who loves to scare the bejeesus about my choice to be an author because she insists every week when I call her that the “recession is coming” and that my choice of vocation is poverty.  It’s enough to make this indie author paranoid of everything, much less spend thousands of dollars to make a list so you’ll pick my book over everyone else’s.

Some days, I think, life is just too short to worry about such things just so you’ll pick up my books.  I just want to write my stories and hope that whoever reads them finds joy in them.

… though I’m sure making any of those three lists would be a nice bonus.

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