Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can You "Make" A Bestseller?

by Catherine McKenzie

I read recently that book sales are generated by 7% of books and that most books released every year sell less than a thousand copies. I can’t vouch for the validity of these statistics, but if they’re even partly true that’s a pretty scary prospect for most of us writers who are lucky enough to get a book deal.

But is there something we can do about to tip the odds in our favor? I wasn’t sure, but I kind of wanted to find out. So, inspired by the Betty White Facebook SNL campaign, I started a group on Facebook. I called it “I bet we can make these books bestsellers” (OK, I didn’t think that long about the title). As my first experiment I chose two books by Wyoming author Shawn Klomparens: Jessica Z. and Two Years, No Rain (you can read some great reviews of these books in the discussion section of the group).

Five months later, the group has over 2,400 members including prominent authors like James Frey, Tom Perrotta, AS Winn, Jane Green, Sarah Pekkanen, Leah Stewart, Julie Buxbaum, Katherine Howe, and Therese Walsh to name a very few. And, of course, we have literally thousands of readers in the group, and readers, dear readers, are what make any of us authors a success by any measure (and by “success” I mean people outside our immediate families actually reading our books).

And through sheer interest and a bunch of giveaways, lots of people have read the books I picked (and bought them too). So on the level of spreading the word about and author and two books I enjoyed, the group has certainly been a success.

But can you “make” a bestseller? Should you even try? I mean, should you try if you’re not Oprah? These are questions that I, frankly, don’t have an answer for. But should you recommend books that you love to others? Absolutely. The more readers, the better. So, come join us if you’d like. We’d be happy to have you.

I bet we can make these books bestsellers.

Catherine McKenzie was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. A graduate of McGill University (B.A. ‘95 in History (Hons)) and McGill Law School (BCL & LLB ‘99), Catherine practices law in Montreal. Her first novel, SPIN, was published by HarperCollins Canada in January, 2010. It debuted at #15 on the Globe & Mail Canadian best-seller list. Catherine did a happy dance upon learning the news from her editor. Her second novel, ARRANGED, will be published by HarperCollins Canada in January, 2011.

Follow Catherine on Twitter: @CEMcKenzie1
Follow Shawn on Twitter: @sklompar
Catherine’s website:
Shawn’s website:


  1. Hi, Catherine! Thanks so much for being our guest today. I love the idea of spreading the word about books you adored and trying to get them more attention. Word of mouth (however it happens!) is the best marketing tool of all. Much success with your books and your project!

  2. What a cool idea, Catherine. Going to check out the facebook page, now.

    The stats on publishing ARE scary for those of us trying to make some semblance of a living, but the industry is evolving so much, so I think it's anybody's guess what the future holds.


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